It takes a village…..

It takes a village to raise a child

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On September 5 I saw a post on a local community Facebook page regarding a group of goats who were frequenting a local property. The property owner had posted asking if anyone knew the carer of the goats as they were roaming the neighbourhood, causing damage.

Elevated Plains goats 1


After suggesting the local Shire be contacted, I sent a private message to find out what was happening, as no one had claimed the goats.

The property owner was frustrated at the damage to their garden but did not want the goats to come to any harm, so I suggested I bring over some panels to try to secure the goats and take it from there. Thus started a three month journey…….

I dropped off the panels but at that stage realised the enormity of the challenge. This was in a local area I had not previously visited. A gorge, bushland, ravines…

Then the ‘owner’ of the goats became known. A relatively new property owner, a largely absent property owner, had decided to purchase five goats, but did not make provision for them to be contained. In the area is a herd of abandoned goats. Before long the five goats were lured into the wilds…and so the problem began.

Roaming far and wide across impenetrable terrain, the goats visited olive groves, vegetable gardens, and caused angst amongst the land holders. They did however regularly return to their ‘home’ but because the fencing was inadequate, sooner or later they were on the prowl again.

We were given permission to take the goats, if we could secure them….

So a rescue began……

It is all very well to take on animals, but you need to know where they will go to be safe for life. We have a large property and our goats are happy here…but they are the type of goats who hang around. We could not risk letting these goats roam again, and our secure yards are already occupied, A call for help was answered, and a deal struck. We would take in five rescued sheep from another rescue to join our flock,  in exchange for them providing 5-star goat accommodation in their existing secure enclosures.

Then I received a call. The owner of the goats was planning to shoot the goats.  Not only was this a cruel and unnecessary outcome, unless a goat was killed immediately it would run off to die an horrific death in the bush.  Getting the goats was now critical.

The goats had returned to base and I was advised, contained in a yard. So I headed off with the horse float to collect them…….

When I arrived it was apparent the yards were not secure. We tried our best in the circumstances but to no avail…and the end result was the goats headed bush again

Another call that the goats were back…but this time when we arrived and they were running loose in a 100 acre paddock.

We were then advised that the goats were back at the neighbours. So we set up an appealing ‘goat retreat’ in their shelter with straw bedding, water and feed, hoping they would decide to make it their base. Our plan was to set up a feeding station in a secure yard, and use this to capture the goats.

We heard nothing for a number of weeks, weeks where we were busy with incoming rescues. When  we next made contact we found out the goats were still roaming and the neighbourhood was up in arms. The owner still refused to do anything but get a shooter in.

We had already discussed options with other rescues skilled in goat recovery. With time running out and the logistics being so tricky it became clear that there was now only one viable option….the expertise of Manfred, from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue.

It is a huge ask to dart and capture five goats. With any shot being fired the rest will disperse, and this was impossible terrain. Wild, steep, bushland going for miles, with nothing to contain the goats.

The neighbour agreed to coordinate with the representative of the goat’s owner and  the neighbourhood to allow us time. They also agreed to coordinate directly with Manfred on the goats’ whereabouts. We were pulling this together when a friend sent me a Facebook post that was being circulated.

Elevated Plains goats 2

‘Free to good home 5 lovely whipper/snippers (goats), they are for the chop If nobody takes them’

It was late at night when I opened the message and saw with horror the five goats, with comments on the post about how wonderful they would be in various meat dishes.

Several frantic messages and texts later, Manfred rearranged a full schedule to get to the farm. The owner was contacted to agree that the property be accessed.

Amazingly, and totally to the credit of Manfred, four of the five goats were successfully darted and captured…..this was incredible given the situation where the goats could not be contained. The four were transported to a new home.

Elevated Plains goats 3

We were so happy…but each and every one of us could only think about the last goat, who had run off before she could be darted. Manfred, so professional and so compassionate, would not rest until the fifth goat was brought in.

The two days later I received a message. The fifth goat had appeared. Manfred went back and darted her…but the dart glanced off and she took to the bush. Manfred, Helen and everyone searched through thick bush terrain for hours but she could not be found.

Holding onto hope we waited….

Then on Sunday morning, another message. The goat had reappeared, seeking comfort from the resident alpacas. Once again Manfred drove to the farm. We waited for news. Then I received a message…could I head to the farm, help was needed.

By the time I got there Manfred had secured her. Climbing again through the horrific terrain was about to return, desperate that the goat again had got away when he spotted a ‘strange looking rock’….

Getting her back was a heroic task but he did it…Safely contained…the fifth goat….hardly to be believed.

Within an hour all five were reunited, now safe forever.

Elevated Plains goats 4

Sadly the owner has no interest in contributing to the cost of securing the goats, no interest in their welfare, no interest in even making contact to say a thank you.

Please, only ever bring animals into your life if you are willing and able to take full responsibility to care for them and protect them from harm, and this includes making sure they are not causing disruption to others.

It takes a village…not only to raise a child, it takes community of rescuers, it takes people like the neighbours in this case, who wanted the best outcome for the goats, who were willing to do whatever it took…it takes this to do right.

Our sincere thanks to those who cared, the compassionate neighbours, willing to give practical support and help,  to Pam from Edgars Mission who offered advice and support, to Jason for coming out to try and get the goats in,  to Anne from Horse Shepherd for providing a safe haven, and to Manfred and Helen, for their compassion, skill and boundless determination, for making it possible.

It takes a village…………………









A very different summer

Summer in 2015/2016 was tough.

With no spring rains, paddock feed disappeared quickly, hay crops were at 25% of usual harvest, hay was scarce and expensive. After 5 years of low rainfall, our dams dried up and we were buying in our tank water.


Luckily we were able to secure nearby agistment for the cattle. With the purchase of a round bale feed out trailer, we could to use round bales to feed the remaining pasture animals.

Many many animals were in need and it was not possible to rehome.


Then finally after months, the rains came, and came, and came. Just fantastic. The creek flooded, the paddocks greened up, and the dams actually overflowed.



It was all just in time, as we had fed out our hay supply and the cattle had returned from the agistment.

Unlike other regions, central Victoria has had a relatively mild Summer for 2016/17. Hot days have been spaced with more mild days in between. Although it is dry, there are episodes of rain to freshen the paddocks and fill the water tanks.

Hay harvest have been plentiful and there is still a good amount of grazing in the paddocks.

We now also have access to a 4WD diesel tray ute. This has made moving around the property and transporting feed and bales, so much easier. We have also relocated our feed storage and re configured our hay store to reduce the amount of manual handling of heavy feed bags and bales.

So with less time needed on feeding out, our focus has been on sorting out our infrastructure.


After ten to fifteen years many of our fences need upgrading. The changing weather causes posts to move, gates shift, and fencing wire needs restraining or replacing, as well as repairing some of the yards.  We also need to upgrade the electrical fencing and to fence off the access to the hay shed to make the stocking of the shed and retrieving bales easier and less fraught.

We started on our fencing upgrade in spring. Our contractor needed to take a break for hay harvest and will soon recommence to finish the work.


The sheep

We are planning to construct a new purpose built paddock for the sheep. Most of the sheep are happy ranging the olive grove but we have a few determined explorers who need very secure accommodation. PS the sheep below had decided to visit the cattle on their neighbouring agistment…this was on the walk home!

With he success of using our main shed for shearing in 2016, we will be working on having more available room in time for shearing 2017, as well as purchasing more portable panels for yarding and runs. With a flock of nearly one hundred sheep in residence at any one time we need to upgrade our sheep specific infrastructure.

We would also like to purchase a

  • sheep ‘deck chair’ from the USA to make the handing of individual sheep for hoof trimming more manageable.
  • a trailer hay feeder for our special needs sheep to reduce waste


The goats

With the increase in our goat residents we need two dedicated goat areas with suitable shelters and activity areas. At present our special needs goats are housed in the horse yards and loose boxes. We need to free up the these for new arrivals.

The rest of the goats are loving having the olive grove to roam. They have a dirt mound on the hill that gives them a splendid view of everything.  They have also appropriated the new studio….destined as WWOOF accommodation…not a long term option! The sheep, and often Samba the donkey, love sleeping under this structure but again…not a permanent option.


The poultry

With the recent assistance of two young travellers, we have rearranged the poultry accommodation. This is a work in progress.

So far we have emptied out the main poultry house so we can re-lay the bedding and put in new perches. The aim is for the chickens to be the sole occupants of this enclosure, which, over time, have been taken over by  the geese and the ducks. With this achieved we are working on integrating newer chicken arrivals with the flock.

The geese now have new sleeping quarters, totally separate from the other poultry and giving them more ready access to one of the dams.

Our next step is to set up new sleeping quarters for the ducks. This will need the purchase of a new poultry structure.

We will then have a larger  A-frame available for special needs chickens who need to be permanently housed separately from the flock.

The horses and donkeys

Last week three long term visiting horses have moved on, with Flip joining them. This, together with herd integration, has given us the opportunity to rest some of the paddocks. We have been  harrowing the paddocks after rain and will be keeping them free of grazing for as long as possible.

After a break over Christmas, the farrier will be back next week to start on hoof trims and there are a few horses needing their dental work brought up to date.

We then need to do organise our winter rug supply. At least three of the older horses are going to need their rugs adjusted and lined to lift off their withers.

Darling Louis, now well into his forties, will need extra special care this winter. He is very sprightly and alert but struggles to maintain weight.


We have also lined up a trainer for young George, now three. After some initial training on site he will go off site for further development. We will then be looking for a great home for

The cattle

The increased pasture feed has been such a boon for the cattle. This will not last over winter.  To assist with resting paddocks we are hoping to secure agistment on a neighbouring property for over winter and into spring.

Bess is ageing but still keeping up with the herd. Annalise and Rupert have both made wonderful recoveries from their dislocated hips and are now fully mobile.


The alpacas

Clarence and Henry are a very relaxed pair. As long as they have someone to look after, a small flock of sheep, or Robbie the pony, they are happy! Clarence continues to insist on visiting any paddock of his choice but he always has a purpose!

The vision

Our aim is to further improve the accommodation for the animals, caring for the land, ensuring we have readily available facilities for animals presenting in need, and using what we have efficiently and to ensure the safety of the animals and us.

As always, we thank you for your support.