Once you've got the care of a flock of backyard chickens under your belt, it seems like nothing at all to take in a friend's pair of ducklings she can no longer keep. And then one day, you open an email from someone selling Dwarf Nigerian goats and you look over at your unassuming little 45 lb. mutt and think, I could handle a couple of goats that might not even get as big as you, NoNoBadDog.
You could keep a pair of Dwarf Nigerian Goats in a standard sized urban lot, even one that's largely given over to food production. I ruminated on this (see what I did there?) awhile. A couple of goats could share 1500 square feet with 8 chickens, 2 ducks and a few fruit trees. Not much else would grow back there, but it could be done.
Or, if you lived next door to a small urban farm, you might one day broach the subject of a goat share with your neighbor and be pleasantly surprised when they enthusiastically welcome the proposition. Ah, their land, half of my goats...half the cost, half the work, everybody's up to their elbows in goat milk, goat cheese, goat yogurt, and excellent source of manure for the gardens.
Still, the care of living creatures is a responsibility best not taken lightly, so the other morning we (my farming neighbor, the kids and I) drove a little ways to visit a couple of Boer goats and their owner. I'd posted a message on a local permaculture yahoo group about my desire to keep goats in a more urban setting and asked if anyone was up for letting me visit and ask a few questions.
Boers are a lot bigger than Nigerian Dwarves, and I have to say, walking up a hill towards these goats was a little...intimidating. At four years old, they were still quite playful, which pretty much translates into pretending they are going to cripple you with a head butt. Pretend is the operative word though, because these two stopped just short of actually butting you every time. Which is not say goats aren't a full contact kind of animal. There was much leaning in for nuzzles and scratches, but I never did get used to them rearing up on their hind legs and hurling themselves in my general direction.
I still need to find some goats to visit in a more urban setting than Bill's 2 acre backyard - his goats are a couple of lucky fellows, getting to free-range his property and go on accompanied foraging walks in a tract of undeveloped land adjacent to his property. Still, before he kept these Boers (primarily for companionship and to keep the vegetation under control), Bill kept a small herd of dairy goats, so had a lot to share with us about milking schedules, equipment, etc. We're going to go back and visit when the vet comes at the end of February. I know I'll have even more questions, and hopefully get an "in" with a ruminant vet that makes house calls, sorry, ranch visits.
Goats! I'm so excited!