18115Re: Gila Wilderness trip report
- Oct 1, 2007Neither I, nor the goats, carried any food for them. They did carry
a couple liters of water, but they didn't drink it. I did. They
drank from stream crossings. They ate wild forage (pine needles, oak
leaves, twigs, flowers, weeds, etc, etc). They eat a little grass,
but not much. Having had a very good monsoon (rainy season) this
year, the Gila country is lush and green now. The goats really
thrived on this food, and actually gained weight during the trip.
When they are full grown (at about age 3) they will weigh 200-250
lb, and will be able to carry about 40 lb each on a trip like this.
There are several manufacturers of goat packing equipment. They make
little sawbuck pack saddles and panniers. A complete saddle/pannier
combo will cost about $200. The gear they need consists of a tarp, a
leash for each of them, and a first aid kit. They sleep under the
tarp, the leashes allow me to control them when we're near a road or
other hazard, and we share the first aid kit.
I bought these guys last year in June (for about $70 each), when
they were 3 mo old. At that age they were ready to wean, or switch
from milk to an adult hay/forage diet. I got them from a dairy. Each
year the dairies have lots of little billy goats they just want rid
of. Since then I've taken them camping and hiking a lot. At about 7
months old I had them castrated by the vet. By that time they were
stinking and fighting and I just about couldn't stand them any more.
After their "attitude adjustment" procedure, they quit stinking and
became mellow good natured guys. I waited that long before having
them castrated so their urinary tract equipment would mature as much
as possible. This is important because wethers (neutered male goats)
can have problems with urinary stones, that can kill them. But for
the most part they are very healthy animals. They will live and work
for 12-15 years. For packgoats you want goats that are big and
athletic. Avoid Nubians. They have a reputation for laziness. Mine
are Saanen and Oberhasli. Alpines, Toggenburgs, and La Manchas are
They I have had to learn a lot. Behaving on a leash, hopping in and
out of the trailer, trail and camp manners, etc. They need a small
shed and a pen or pasture with a GOOD fence. Goats are not easy to
contain, and they are very vulnerable to predators, especially dogs.
The more you can take them out to forage the better, but if you
don't have the time, hay and a little grain will do. They aren't
much trouble to keep, about like dogs. A lot less trouble and
expense than horses or mules. They stay right with me while hiking,
and just quietly hang around camp. If they start making noise
there's something wrong (predators, forest fire, sasquach, UFOs,
etc). I don't have to worry about them running off. Sometimes I have
to zing a pine cone or stick at one when he gets too nosey around
the cooking area, tho.
I do worry about predators such as mountain lions, coyotes, bears,
and wolves. But the boys stay close to me all the time. And if
something scares them they come running to me. They are alert in the
boondocks, and know they are prey. I put up their tarp near my
hammock so they bed down close by. Predators here are hunted (except
for wolves), and are wary of people.
I transport them in a funky old trailer made from the bed of a
pickup truck, with a camper shell on it. The US Forest Service
office in this are has all kinds of strict regulations about using
pack animals in the wilderness and surrounding national forest.
These regulations are focused on keeping horses and mules from
destroying meadows where horse people camp all the time. Horses and
mules need grass and daily water, so certain areas tend to get
overused by them. With the goats I can camp anywhere, the rougher
the better. The forest service people I've run into have reacted in
various ways. The trail maintenance crews are glad to see them
eating stuff along the trails. The ranger in the pickup thought
there should be more of them out in the woods thinning out the
zillions of little trees that are growing like grass on the hills.
All the brush and little trees make for a lot of forest fire fuel
during dry weather. The district administrator didn't even come out
of her office to talk to me about it. She just told the receptionist
to hand me the official policy pamphlet on pack animals, which is
written for horses and mules. Typical bureaucracy BS. For anybody
who is interested in more packgoat info there's a good book on the
subject. "The Packgoat", by John Mionczynzki. There's also a yahoo
We were along the northern edge of the wilderness. The roads into
this area are long and rough. The trails are poorly maintained,
rocky, and vague in places. This is very rough, remote country and
the nearest towns are pretty small and far apart. Civilization is
pretty sparse. About the only time many people are around is elk
season (Sept-Oct). The rest of the year it's almost empty. We took
the trail in from Willow Creek (about 30 miles east from Glenwood)
and hiked about 8 miles south and east to Clayton Mesa (near Turkey
Feather Pass and the Jerky Mountains). Elevation there is about 7500
ft. We found later that there were lots more elk closer to the
trailhead, where the elevation was 8000-9000 ft. We saw elk, wild
turkeys, deer, a bear, and a bobcat. Great trip. Going back soon.
Thanks for the tips and other hammock forum info.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, N Thomas <norvell1@...> wrote:
> I am curious as to what supplies you carried for the goats. You
mentioned that they foraged, but what type of food or other items
did you carry for them? How much weight do you expect them to carry
when they fully mature? What type of pack/saddle/whatever did you
use for them? Did you transport them out there yourself? Any
problems from the park people?
> Nice pics. I am in central Texas and goats are a dime a dozen
here. I have pondered starting a herd for such activities, but am
curious about the overall effort.
> Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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