Journal: The Urban Goat Herder

goat 10 compressed






The Ioder family live on the West side of Chicago raising chickens and goats on their urban farm.  They share land space with the Root Riot Community Garden with the pasture space for the goats and also maintain bee hives.  The family attempts to raise as much of their food as possible producing milk, eggs, honey, vegetables, and cheese.  They continue to learn as Carolyn Ioder organizes a bread coop with fresh ingredients from local sources including her own.  Carolyn occasionally shares her learning experiences, challenges, and successes as urban farmer with Chicago Farm and Table.



News from West Austin Goat Farmers, by Carolyn Ioder

This week I learned that I can give injections to my goat, I am able to squirt aspirin down an animal’s throat to help her with pain, and face my worst fears for these animals.   I praise God for our breeder Leslie who helped me provide extra help to a sick animal.  So what happened?  Other goat forums reminded and warned that the fencing is not only to keep the goats secure it is also a protection.  Apparently our fencing was not solid enough for a big dog.

We were less than one hour away to bring the goats home from a small pasture, to be transported in our van.  Because of the weather, I asked for another hour in the afternoon so they could go to the pasture in the Root Riot Garden when the area would be shaded.  We received the call at 3:15. Apparently a dog had bolted his home, jumped a fence, ran down two houses south of his, and pushed his way through the fence.  Another neighbor, new to the neighborhood and relatively unknown, observed this dog and actually crawled into the area pulling the dog off our goat.  His children saw this horrible act as well.

Meanwhile, we arrive to find Salvi with half her nose torn off and several puncture wounds on her jaw.  David and I put all six in the car.  We took her home, washed the wound and fed her grain.  I called Leslie our breeder who owns 20 goats and lived through other wounds worse than this.  She asked me to breathe slowly and assured me that this is not the first time such things happen so we assessed the wound and decided that we could not help her.  So where in Chicago do we find a large animal vet on Sunday afternoon?

Skokie.  Five hours later, and lots of cleanup in a waiting room meant for cats and dogs, we head home for another 40 minute drive. Those padded chairs will never be the same after goat kids jumped and peed on them.  I did not realize that my biggest problem was going to be feeding Salvi on some of the hottest days of the year.   Her nose was swollen, she scratched off her pain patch, she had a swollen tongue, she could not bite any large bits and could not distinguish how to separate the chaff from the leaf on hay.

After another call to Leslie, slowly I stopped hyperventilating. So here are good goat goals when a medical emergency in the heat of summer shows up:

  • Have the proper injections available in your house.
  • Feed pain medicine in the form of buffered aspirin.
  • Organize an alfalfa mash using alfalfa, ground soy, electrolyte liquid and water
  • Use a bowl for sore noses instead of a bucket
  • Break small pieces for eating around sores to be able to swallow
  • Learn to give antibiotic injections
  • Help goat eat five times a day.
  • Feed electrolytes in water for high temperatures



We have learned big lessons and continue to learn them in the urban environment.  We praise God for the dog owner who paid for the vet bills and for all the help we have received in feeding the goats as well as milking them this last week.  With support of friends and knowledgeable colleagues , we met the challenge of another week on the urban farm.  Now looking for another pasture to browse…
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