Friday, January 4, 2013

Goat Sex and Other Adventures

I know.  What a hell of a post title to start the year off with.

It wasn't my plan.  I was going to write all about goals for the year and nice stuff, but you know farming.  Plans are nice and fun, but often need to be changed, and at the last minute.  Since I want to be honest in this space, I can't write about plans and such when there are other things going on. 

So you're going to hear about the other things first.

Back before I knew about the CAE results for my goatie girls, my plan was this:  breed Minerva and Lilly, my Alpine girls, and wait on Dulcinea until the following fall (2013).  Dulci is petite in size for whatever reason, and she is not my first choice.  I truly think that she would benefit from an additional year's growth before breeding, to catch up some.

Then the CAE results came back, and Dulci --born in someone's backyard to questionable parents--was the only clean one in the bunch. 

My little petite banana girl would get to be the first to be bred due to her clean status, and then after she'd kidded --whenever that was-- I would breed Minerva and catch her kids and so on and so on.  By then Dulci's babies would be too big to nurse (and hopefully gone), so the chance of them becoming ill from Min's milk would be minimal to none.  So, Dulci went off to meet her lover last month, and after a lot of trouble and a pulled back, she was presumably bred.

Fast forward to this week-which is her heat week.  If she went back into heat this week, then the breeding didn't take, and Dulci would need to make the visit again.  What happened this Tuesday?  Yep, she went back into heat.  At first, I thought it was a minor thing, some tail flagging, a little swelling.  You know, just hormones.  But this morning, she was mounting Minerva.  So yep, that's a heat alright.

Great, so off she needs to go to visit the boy again.  But wait!  Yesterday she slid on the ice and today her front hock is swollen.  Yeay!  I brought her in, splinted her and wrapped her (didn't feel anything broken), and out she goes.  But she can't stand on three legs for breeding, can she?  And she wasn't exactly willing the first time, so this time might not be any better.  And my back is still sorta out, so I can't hold her up.  We're all going to get hurt!  I'm going to miss this one, yes I am.

It's life, and it's not the end of the world.  But the truth of it all is that as much as I love my girls (and I do, I really do), they need to hold up their end of the bargain and produce.  They are not the most expensive animals to feed (that dubious honor goes to my many non-laying chickens right now), but they're not free.  And waiting it out means more months go by without a goat in milk.  Or the potential to be milked.  This is why a fourth goat will be joining us next month.  Her name is Winter, and I mentioned her here.  Winter heads to the breeding pen tomorrow on my friend's farm, to be kept and bred for a few weeks (to make sure she goes into heat) and then I'll be bringing her home.  The plan was that then I would have Dulci and Winter in milk and that's two goats, and they are both clean, which is what I wanted for this year, so I was a happy, happy camper. 

But Dulci's breeding didn't take, or seemingly did not, so I am potentially down to one milking goat again.  That's a lot of goats to feed for only one in milk.  That's not good, from a cost/benefit standpoint.  From a heart standpoint, it's just fine, mind you.  I love them and I love them.  But the realism of life is that they all need to be paid for, and I have to justify the cost (to myself, really no one else is asking).  So ugh.

I'm so pretty!

However, life is funny.  And when Dulci came back from her love tryst, she smelled like stinky boy, and threw Minerva into a wild heat that same day.  You know what that means, right?  That means if Dulci was in heat three weeks ago and threw Minerva into heat at that time, then Minerva is in heat now, three weeks later.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Dulci says "No thank you"
I don't get paid the big bucks for nothing.  After some quick thinking and changing of plans, I called my friend and asked who she thought I could go to to get Minerva bred.  There is a dairy farm up the road from me (up the road being a general term--it's actually a little further up the mountain in reality), and my friend is friends with the owner.  After getting phone numbers, I made the call.

After dropping names and talking goat, I got the ok to bring Min to meet Prince.  He's a stinky Nubian buck who's not too much bigger than Min.  They met in the driveway.  Minerva hardly looked at him.  She was so in heat, she just stood still as a stone.  He snuffled her, blubbered a tiny bit in her ear (I imagine that he was saying "Stand still woman, I'll be done in a second", or something equally romantic), and 12 seconds later, it was over.  And yes, I'm sure he did what he needed to do.  It was -um-obvious.

No drama.  No me holding up the front half while the back half collapses.  She didn't run away.  He didn't read her love poetry.  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.  Done and done.  There is nothing pretty about goat sex.  Nothing at all.

I count Min as being bred.  She should kid in early June, as long as the planets are in alignment.  What will her babies be?  Albians?  Nupines?  Should be interesting.

My plan will now be for Winter and Min to be in milk, and I'll catch Min's kids and probably tape her teats so there's no accidental nursing from anyone's babies.  It means bottle babies--again--and man, that was a LOT of work, but it is what it is.  If Dulci is having a false heat and is actually bred, then the more the merrier.  If not, which is what I suspect, then I will have the two, and I will breed Dulci in the fall to get three in milk.  In the meantime, I am seriously considering adding a buck.  I was going to add a wether from one of my girls (whichever girl gave me the nicest boy) to help keep the peace, but I am seriously thinking about adding an un-neutered buck as well.  It will be far easier for me to put the girl in heat in with the boy instead of all this clandestine driveway loving they've had so far.  I think I would feel more confident in that method as well.  We have some fencing and an area that could easily be used, so it's definitely a consideration for us.

Plans, plans. I'll keep working on it.  I'll keep you posted.  And I promise that my next post will have nothing to do with goat sex.

Well, let's hope not, anway.

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1 comment:

  1. I feel for you - so determined to have things go as planned. Sorry for the trouble you are having. It is handier to have your own buck because breeding is more controlled as well as disease. Keeping a weather then will be necessary too. I woke up this morning to my buck peeing reddish colored pee. This could mean stones. It is days like this I don't like raising goats. We will get through...


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