Tuesday, October 6, 2009

G-Man's Adventure

On Wednesday, September 16, the rain started (the beginning of an 11-day stretch). On the morning of Monday, September 21, the 6th day of rain (cumulative total of 4 inches by Tuesday morning), G-Man was on his side, valiantly chewing what cud he could. He caught a chill: bona-fide hypothermia. I have learned that if you can pick up a goat or hug it then something is wrong. I gathered him up and picked some tasties for him to munch on. Bailey Goat, the one who got stuck in the hawthorn tree last year and who now has a children's book written about her, came over to investigate and had a knowing look in her eyes.

G-Man seemed to perk up with the fresh food and I put him down next to a pile of mostly Mountain Ash (with berries) and Blackberry and Beech leaves. Then I went to look check on the other goats. When I got back to G-Man he was on his side again. Couldn't do much for him with the winds and rain and the need to keep an eye on the other goats as well as cut more fence line and put up fence (rain or not) to get all the goats on fresh browse, so I decided it was best to evacuate him.

I called all my emergency numbers as well as left messages on the other phones that I was packing him out with hopes that someone would meet me so that I could get back to the rest of the goats. Wrapped him up in my fleece pullover that I had just packed in the day before and worn overnight and a garbage bag to block the wind, then tucked him inside the front of my rain jacket for the trek out.

Took 2 hours to hike the 2 miles from the AT - Grassy Ridge Trail fork area with frequent stops for me to rest (I don't have daddy arms / muscles for carrying any kind of kids for any kind of distance) and for him to munch, which he did most of the time. I kept telling him how much we needed him and to hang in there, that we didn't have far to go and that he would be warm and dry soon.

Got him settled into the middle of my truck seat with AC and heater on full, made one stop at Twin Springs for Sugar Maple and White Ash leaves, then continued on down the mountain. I was able to get Todd on the phone when I got to the town of Roan Mountain and we made plans to meet at Barker's, a drive in diner we both enjoy. I got there first, ordered 2 BLT's, a grilled ham & Swiss, french fries, and sweet tea with lemon (first food of the day for me). Ate the sandwiches and was finishing up the fries when Todd got there. By this time G-Man had roused himself and devoured the remaining leaves. Todd ordered a chocolate dipped cone. We got G-Man settled into Todd's car and I headed back up to the goats with 15 pounds of corn to give them all an energy boost (they loved it!).

Todd reported that G-Man quickly recovered and never lost his appetite, and has generally been keeping another goat kid who did not go up to the balds company while awaiting the return of the other goats.

His mother, Lady Chrevaset, just wasn't the same after he left. They have been or will soon be reunited. His twin brother Pete inquired about G-Man on my return and I told him that all was well and that everyone would be back together in another 9 days and asked him to pass the word along to his mother. Pete seemed satisfied with the answer.

We were lucky in that on Tuesday it did not rain but was still cloudy (I got the next paddock set up; we were actually working out the details of an emergency evacuation for everyone but thankfully the weather improved). Wednesday brought some sunshine which everyone needed. Some rain resumed both nights and then pretty much light-moderate rain Thursday and Friday. We had an intermediate herding from the east end of the saddle back into the saddle on Saturday. Had 9 people help with this - hard core folks - who braved the beginning of a storm that added 1.7 inches of horizontal rain and a bit of sleet making it 7.1 inches cumulative total for the 11 day stretch that ended late Saturday night / Sunday morning... The goats were, at this time, on fresh browse on the lee side of the ridge.

So that's the story of G-Man's Adventure that ended well. As I mentioned to some folks recently, most of this project runs on "blood, sweat, and tears". G-Man's Adventure involved all 3, at least on my part.

The herding of the goats off the mountain on September 30 went well.

I often think of a story (perhaps Judy told me) of a sheep rancher out west who only hires women shepherds. His reasoning is that "the women will do whatever it takes to take care of the sheep". High and hard standards for the guys to live up to but we have to try.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Goats Journey off the Mountain

Greetings All,

A brief note to say that all the goats made it safely off the mountain yesterday and are snug in their barn in Shady Valley. We had a great turnout of volunteer goatherds (especially considering the low-mid 30 degree temperatures in the clouds at the start of the herding), perhaps 40 or more helpers but the final tally has not been done. i am heading back up today to finish wrapping and packing up the equipment before tomorrow's possibility of rains so that it can go directly into storage once leaving the mountain. More details to follow in a few-several days.

With much appreciation for the help, jamey

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Update from the Shepherd


Attached is photo #1801, 55mm from the East Photo Point (from Harriet Bald, viewing Jane), a momentary parting shot as the goats are, as of this past Thursday, September 3, at the Appalachian Trail - Grassy Ridge Trail junction (mostly on the NC side of the line and up to but not beyond the trail fork). The ca. 6 original acres from 2008 are now 13 days behind us. Later this week we begin our descent back into Sisters' Saddle on the TN side of the AT, probably re-browsing a previous paddock or two in the final week as we hope to get the goats back atop Jane Bald to facilitate their Herding off the Balds on Wednesday, September 30 (meeting at Carvers Gap at 9am, planning to be out with the goats by 10am).

Baa-fully yours, jamey

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Article in A.T. Journeys

Check out the wonderful article about the baa-tany goat project by Jamey Donaldson:
Baa-tany in the Balds (PDF)Angora goats serve as maintainers on Roan Mountain.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Herding of the Goats

The 2nd Annual "Herding of the Goats Up Across the Balds" successfully took place the morning of June 24, 2009. Todd Eastin, with the help of at least 40 friends, led 44 Angora goats, 1 milk goat named Blue, and their 2 Great Pyrenees guard dogs across Roan's Grassy Balds from Carvers Gap to the summit of Jane Bald where they will spend the summer eating Canada Blackberry and other woody plants that are invading these rare high elevation grasslands. Supporters included the Charger / Recharger Hiking Club (9 members), the Family Salisbury (5), the Usual Suspects & Friends (17), and Cherokee National Forest (10). Photo by Jeanne Berkley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


If you would like to camp with these lovable animals, in one of the most scenic places along the entire Appalachian Trail, we have volunteer goatherd opportunities available!
Sign up for one of these times:
June 19-21
June 26-28
July 3-5
July 10-12
July 17-19
July 24-26
July 31- Aug 2
Aug 7-9
Aug 14-16
Aug 21-23
Aug 28-30
Sept 4-6
Sept 11-13
Sept 18-20
Sept 25-27

Welcome to the Baa-tany Goat Project's Blog!

The Roan Massif, of the Roan Highlands, has the world's premier examples of the globally rare Southern Appalachian Grassy Bald ecosystems. These grassy balds are declining due to soil changes, climate change and lack of large herbivores. This makes these beautiful, grassy balds susceptible to woody plant invasion, which is shrinking the corridor of the remaining Roan balds.