Our new series, Ag in my Land, takes a look at farming worldwide. What is life like on an Australian sheep farm, or farming in the middle of Ukraine? Our first farmer focus is Irene Pence, a goat farmer from Austin, Texas.
Irene Pence farms goats in the Northeast of Austin, Texas. Here she gives us an insight in to what life is like on-farm, along with the highs and lows of farming in her area.
"We live on twenty-five acres outside a small town northeast of Austin, Texas where the ground is hilly. We have it fenced off into four pastures, three of which have a stock pond and the back of our property has a creek. The pastures where the goats live have mesquite trees and grass. The pasture for our horses has larger trees and our houses are on the top of a hill, so it’s usually breezy. We actually moved out to our property after our daughter was ‘given’ a horse - the most expensive free horse I’ve ever come across. ”
“We got into raising goats because we had some knowledge of their care. Also, the friends we bought our place from had raised goats here, so the goat barn was here. Before moving here six years ago, I did a lot of volunteer work with the animal shelter in the town nearby and learned how to give vaccinations and other minor medical care there. I now raise commercial goats for meat, with a current herd of thirty. I take the goats to market about twice a year, depending on how many kids are born. I have two livestock guardian dogs that live with the goats and the herd pretty much graze on grass, but also eat hay, some feed, browse on mesquite trees and their beans. They also, of course, like their snacks. Taking care of goats here is different than in other parts of Texas because it’s so grassy and the issue of parasites is greater.”
“I really enjoy raising goats. They have their own personalities, and I recognize a goat's bleat. It can be difficult at times, and very sad too, but there’s nothing much cuter than little kids bouncing around their mothers. I also think the meat goat market is coming along here. It's becoming a more popular choice. Some people don't eat beef or pork, so goat and lamb are what they eat.”
“Some of the other farmers around us where the land is flat grow corn or cotton. When its harvest time, you can see their lights at night and hear them working until it’s all in. The cotton farmers had some rain and wind from Hurricane Harvey and the fields down by the coast were ruined. The fields here got wet and may not be good now either. Usually, a cotton boll will look like a big popcorn ball, but they don’t now.”