The Billy Goat Yard
Also known as The Cattle Yard.
I’m all for anything that fulfills more than one important function. It’s one of the cornerstones of the permaculture* approach to agriculture, horticulture and gardening. We are not permaculturists, per se, but most of our self-sufficient enterprises have more than one key purpose. Such is the case – although it certainly didn’t start out that way – with our cattle yard.
Five years ago, we decided to get our own billy goat rather than rely on someone else’s to get our does in kid. Up until then we’d dismissed the idea because of the work that would have to be done beforehand on goat housing and fencing to keep a billy goat and his companion well-fed and housed and separate from the goat herd. Much more convenient, economical and timesaving (in the long run) to take an in-heat doe to a friend’s buck. We’d be back home after a couple of hours – doe serviced and once again contentedly grazing with the herd.
Two considerations finally tipped the scales in favour of getting our own buck. Our friend, although still keeping goats, no longer had a buck, which meant a 40-minute drive one-way to a goat stud where, for a fee, we could get a doe serviced. Also, when it came to dairy goats and “meat for the table” wether goats, we decided we’d like to be more self-sufficient.
The cattle yard easily converted into a dual-purpose facility. The yard rails sloped slightly down (to conform to the slope of the ground), and in the direction of the loading bank, so I attached roofing iron to the back half of the yard and when it rains the water flows away from the yard into a small, vacant area behind it. I nailed plywood to the back and side rails and to the couple of pallets I used as flooring. Voila! Goat housing.
The paddock that the cattle yard is in borders our long, winding drive. I replaced the temporary electric cattle fence with a permanent 1.5 metre high goat fence, adding extra fencing to divide the area into four small paddocks. Rotationally grazed by the buck and a companion goat, the pasture has improved, and the yard structures, tidy fencing, gates and four small paddocks have made the approach to our house and grounds more inviting.
*”The original meaning was a combination of “permanent” + “agriculture”, that is to say, to design edible landscapes and food gardens so that they improve and support the local ecosystem.” (Taken from What is Permaculture? Designing a Resilient Garden – Tenth Acre Farm)