Farm Horizons, Dec. 2017

Goat and dog are good friends on McLeod Co. hobby farm

By Starrla Cray

People who visit Matt Gruber’s place between Lester Prairie and Glencoe will likely be greeted by a black lab named Jack – and a friendly goat named Jewel.

The Gruber family got Jewel from the sales barn in Hutchinson about a year ago, and she’s been friends with Jack ever since.

“They run around together,” Matt said. “They rest by each other near the shop – and there’s usually a cat lying on top of them.”

Matt and Shauna’s four children – Abagail, 13; Alyssa, 12; Autumn, 5; and Axel, 3 – are Jewel’s primary caretakers. They had two other pet goats a few years ago, and ever since they sold those, they had been looking for another goat. They’ve been very happy with Jewel, and Abagail said she’s “more playful” than other goats.

“She doesn’t have another goat, so she’s a little different,” Matt added.

The kids taught Jewel how to “shake hands,” and she usually comes when called. Matt said he tried to teach Jewel to sit and to get out of his workshop, but hasn’t had much luck. When Jewel is bored, she loves playing with a swing in the backyard, pushing it around with her small horns.

Overall, Abagail said their goat is “really easy compared to other animals.” Jewel drinks right out of Jack’s water dish, and munches on grass and hay. She isn’t fussy, and will try to eat any other food she comes across, if given the opportunity. In the spring and summer, Jewel usually has to be tied up so she doesn’t snack on Shauna’s flowers.

In addition to Jack and Jewel, the Gruber family also has a pet cat and five Scottish Highlanders (two cows, one bull, and two calves). One new addition to the Gruber farm is a beehive, but Matt said it’s too early yet to know if beekeeping will be a success.

The kids also have pigs, rabbits, chickens, and horses that they show in the McLeod County Riders 4-H Club.

“The mini horses are the girls’ project,” Matt said, explaining that they are selling, breeding, and training them.

Whether it’s brushing the horses, collecting fresh eggs from the chicken coop, or watching the antics of their pet goat, the Gruber children have plenty to keep them outdoors and learning every day.

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