Monday, July 14, 2014

Mountain Goats

Since vehicles aren't permitted in the wilderness, travel is either by foot or hoof. Many use backpacks, horses or mules to carry supplies and equipment, but fellow goat-lovers Dan and Linda train their three wethers to pack. 

Young LaManchas, Leo and Buster, on a recent training hike to get used to their pack saddles. A fit, mature goat can tote up to a third of his body weight. Dan explains:

"It is not recommended to put a significant load on a goat until they’re about three years old when they reach their full maturity. Three years ago (the last time we had a mature “crew”), Linda and I packed our three goats into the wilderness. The goats were not in great shape, and thus we kept the pack weight to about 10 to 15 lbs/goat – more than enough to account for all of our camping stuff for two days. We probably covered 7 miles/day and the goats did just fine, although they were obviously tired at the end of each day."

"Note that we don’t have leads on the goats. When in strange surroundings, they stick to us like glue. We do keep leads handy in case we run into any dicey situation, such as livestock on the trail or dogs (we also carry a weapon in case the goats were under threat of attack by either dogs or other predators).


"Night time is interesting. Goats worry about everything and, if left untethered, you run the risk of either a predator chasing them off or of them burrowing into your tent (I’ll guarantee you that they’ll be in your sleeping bag with you once it gets dark!). 

"We string an overhead line between a couple of trees, put the leads on the goats, and connect the leads to the line with carabiners so that they can slide around. It’s best to tie knots in the overhead line to act as stops so that the goats don’t get tangled with each other or with the trees on either end.

"Goats are desert creatures and thus don’t do well with wet/cold (again, conditioning is important). If rain, heavy dew, and/or cold temps are a possibility, we’ll bring along a tarp to build some cover for them to crawl under at night."

Gus, a Nubian-Alpine cross, follows Leo and Buster, with Linda as rear guard. Gus still has issues from a terrible dog attack last summer so is not wearing a saddle. I can think of no better therapy for Gus than a family hike!

Many thanks to Dan and Linda Close and company for being my guests on today's blog!




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