Tim and I try to follow permaculture principles. Permaculture or Permanent Agriculture/Culture has been defined in many different ways but essentially it:
"tackles how to grow food, build houses and create communities, and minimise environmental impact at the same time. Its principles are being constantly developed and refined by people throughout the world in very different climates and cultural circumstances."
Our goats are a good illustration of how you can get multiple outputs from one element in a well designed system.
Food costs are very low as apart from small amounts of bought in maize and barley they are fed from our land. They eat all of the rough grazing, brambles and ivy and some vegetable garden waste saving us the effort of scything. In the future I hope to grow food crops for all of our animals so the bought in grain input will no longer be required.
Catherine and I have just spent a few days making hay the traditional way, scything the grass, turning it by hand and gathering and storing the dry results. We should now have enough to last through any bad summer weather and the period immediately after the delivery of their kids.
We use their manure to fertilize the vegetable garden and all being well we should get some milk from them to be made into yoghurt cheese and ice cream as well as delicious meat from any male kids. Once we have enough goats we can always sell any excess female kids once they are old enough, to give us much needed cash.
They also provide us with endless entertainment and some of my best memories involve walking the goats around the Galician lanes on sunny afternoons and sitting on warm grass filled with wild flowers, dreaming the afternoon away, whilst they eat their way through the nearest bush or tree.
What's not to like?