Category Archives: Goats

How many?

We’ve been playing ‘how many jelly beans, but this time it’s a little harder. How many babies are in the goat belly? One huge baby that will kill Sophie Wackles to deliver? Two? Three? Judging from her complaining it’s five, minimum. I feel her pain.

Mrs. G. has babies in her too, I think. But she’s  a little more dignified. She doesn’t complain much. She and Sophie Wackles are due about the same time.

Libby is always a little chunky. She’s huge right now. She had triplets last year, and she was a quad. Three babies again? or will she have four this time. Two? It’s hard to say. Libby is due three weeks after Mrs. G. and Sophie, and her belly is pretty good sized

The guessing drives me crazyish, but not as crazy at wondering WHEN they’re going to have their babies.

Before bed, I run out and check them. A picture of class and dignity in my pink bathrobe and muck clogs, sans rifle, don’t want to be too north Idaho . Hector comes with me to run ahead and turn on the motion detector light. That’s his job, at least the part he knows about, the rest of his job is to be the one who gets attacked by any cougars that happen to be hanging around. He is happily unaware of this important duty assigned to him. He’s good boy, but he just cries for his nice safe cage. Not exactly a lion heart, although he’s pretty good at running off the house cats.

Somehow, I kept my baby monitor. Our house was so small when our babies were little, I’m a little puzzled as to why I had to have a baby monitor. It didn’t get much use. It got kept, ostensibly for friends when they came over and wanted to let baby sleep while we played volleyball, or something. Now as I reach middlish age, I suspect that it was a tiny not letting go of never having a baby to monitor again. Now it monitors my barn during kidding season. It’s not on all night, yet, I just check it a couple times. In a couple days it will be on all night until Wackles and Mrs. G kid. Marcus will be delighted. He’s amazing, but even he has his limits.

Those of you who have used baby monitors know how a baby breathing somehow turns into Darth Vader next to your head. Just be glad baby doesn’t chew a cud. Those monitors pick up the craziest sounds. Our neighbors are hopefully all too far away to have my transmitter interfere with any baby monitor receivers they may be using.

How many babies to expect when you’re expecting?  I’m thinking anywhere from 3 to 9.

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More new babies

Aren’t these babies pretty? Missus G. kidded last Monday without the drama and trauma of Libby. Two o’clock in the afternoon she was clearly having contractions, forty-five minutes later the last kid was on the ground. Did I ever tell you she is my favorite goat? She’s been a brat lately, to try to make up for being so compliant, but it will take a lot to offset the convenience of kidding in the afternoon.

They are without question babies of the Alpine buck, which is not a huge surprise. They are super nice, despite being crosses, but however nice these babies are, they won’t give any milk. They would have been really nice does…
A carting home would be ideal for these two boys, they are strikingly cute.
Baby goats are some of the most darling baby animals around. It is amazing how precocial they are. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly they go from a bundle on the ground, to up dancing around. The larger one was trying to play with the other babies before it even ate its first bottle. Kidding season over already, 4 bucks to 1 doe. Not a great percentage, but maybe next year it will turn around.

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New babies

Last night was another one of those experiences that makes me truly doubt my abilities to become the farmer woman I would love to be. Does that sound too down? Maybe it’s because I was up in the middle of the night last night and have currently consumed enough coffee to make my hands shake and up my typing speed to 70wpm. When you consider what it takes to make that happen for a hardened caffeine fiend… well… don’t ask about cups, ask about pots.

I am a carnivorous consumer of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Last night was one of those nights that makes you realize that no matter how much theoretical knowledge you have on a subject, it is no substitute for a few minutes of hands on experience. This is something that we in the information age, with so much available at our fingertips know, but forget.

The baby monitor has been in the barn for the last few nights.
Last night Marcus wasn’t home, last night I was exhausted, last night at 2am I was awakened by soft moans from Libby. I almost didn’t go out, she moans a lot, but this was different, but still not painful. I grabbed my kidding kit and my girl Friday and headed out to the barn. There was a kid on the ground already, just pushed out as we walked into the barn. We cleaned him up and moved Libby into the kidding pen. The kid was a tiny buck. Could that be all that was in that fat goat? She showed no real signs of discomfort, and delivered no placenta. (Umm -if you’re really squeamish you might want to go away for a while.) She would have an occasional contraction, but she never cried or acted anything more than a little uncomfortable. Until about 4am, she started pushing, but nothing was happening. Finally a little bit of the birthing sac came out, still pushing with way far apart contractions, and nothing happening. She was now acting as if she was in distress. I was pretty sure that a dead kid was in the canal. I knew I was going to have to go in after it, with my fair little hand, up there…
In an ideal world this doesn’t happen. This is not the first goat birth I have seen. My mother had goats. My recollections of her herd queen’s births were one of the things that convinced me to try natural childbirth myself, to read all those Lamaze books and to drink their kool-aid. That girl made it look easy. A little crying, a little push and boom, baby on the ground.

Gloves placed on my fair little hand; hand slipped up there a couple distressing inches. It all felt good to my inexperienced hand. There was a small hoof right there, one more good push and surely all would be over. One more good push… and out popped a second birth sac. Oops, not good. My mind, with it’s preconceived idea that a first freshener could not possibly have triplets, denied that sacs true meaning. Suddenly, poor Libby started one of those long, continuous pushing contractions. The horrible kind, that make you desirous of death, when you’re having a baby. Out came three, four hooves. Back in went my hand, it had no choice. I still really couldn’t tell right away what the heck was going on. Two heads were pushing in the canal so close together I thought it was a big butt. My vocabulary lacks the proficiency to describe how painful this looked. It seemed like one huge monstrous buck that would never fit through that hole.
My first impulse was to run back to my bedroom and crawl under my bed and never come out again. That impulse is what causes me to bemoan the fact that I will never be any more of a farmer than Marie Antoinette, tripping around in a muslin dress, carrying a silver milk pail, playing at being a peasant. You either are or you ain’t.
When I realized that it two kids trying to go through the space like the Three Stooges, I was able to push the what I thought was the bigger kid’s nose back in-between the poor girls contractions. Her contractions had been so far apart all night. One more contraction and the nose was visible, my fingers were still holding the back most body in, so that the other baby would have room to come out. The adrenaline was flowing for me so much here that the details are a little fuzzy in my memory. I was able to hook my finger around the front goats hooves and nose and pull him out, hopefully gently, with the next contraction. Her contractions were so weak and she’d been through so much on that last push. As soon as the front goat was out of the way the feet from the other goat came out. That big nose was actually a butt, the feet came way out first. There was no movement, surely this one was dead after being trapped in the birth canal with the other one. One more weak contraction and again I helped to pull (maybe eased would sound nicer) the baby out. Much to my surprise, this lifeless looking creature was alive. As soon as the goo (slime would be more accurate, albeit less genteel.) was cleaned off and some mucous sucked from it’s mouth, she was trying to stand and looking for something to suck on.
Apparently something is off in my management to cause this slow delivery and small kids. I’ve been trying to do it all by the book with the information that is available from reputable places on-line and every goat book I can devour. There is still much to learn and most of it is going to be hands on. Literally.


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Goat tales-part 2

You’ve all been patiently waiting to hear more about my goats. People can be amazingly patient about that – so patient you’d think they’d rather talk about something else. There were other things I had to do. There are always other things to do, such as this goat rodeo. Mrs. G’s black glossy coat is getting brown patches and Libby’s coat is rough. This is a sign of copper deficiency. Like most simple problems this one has a simple solution. Copper deficiency is corrected by convincing the goats to swallow these pills, called boluses, which are full of copper shavings. The goats are not supposed to crunch these, and they can’t take them with water or they’ll go down into the wrong stomach, one of the hazards of having four stomachs. One just walks up to them, pushes the pills into their mouths with a little pill pusher gun and it’s all done. How hard is that? Sophy Wackles crunched hers right up. Mrs. G tried to spit hers out. Libby was very tricksy, I carefully placed the bolus into the back of her mouth, held her chin and stroked her throat until I heard her swallow. I let her go, and then the crunching began and went on and on. Blasted goat, my un-swearing repertoire needs some new additions.

Sophy is the ‘baby’ she’s un-bred and a little undersized, she’s catching up and we’re hoping to get her bred soon, as in maybe this weekend.

Goat breeding isn’t quite as simple as it seems when you don’t own a buck.

Mrs. G looks like a lady but don’t let her fool you. She was supposed to be bred to a nice young Nubian buck named Java. She just didn’t like him, and he didn’t seem too fond of her. I cruelly left her overnight to his mercy. Next morning it was still a no-go as far as any one knew. Fact: If you want goat milk, you have to have goat babies first. I told the owner to throw her in with the other buck, an Alpine with a husky musky beard. She liked him much better. ‘Who’s your daddy?’ babies on the way.

Sophy and Mrs. G are both papered girls. Libby is a grade goat, which means no papers, and a background vouched for by her previous owner only. On a good day she wouldn’t have been coming home with me. It’s usually not difficult for me to tell people, no-, my life with four children affords me a lot of practice. It was a day of weakness and compassion the day I purchased Libby. The poor thing was having her floppy ears chewed off by her herd mate LaManchas. Nubians are the nicest goat breed, other breeds are nice as well, Alpines, Toggs, Sannens, Oberhaslis, all are friendly healthy looking animals. LaManchas are relative newcomers on the scene, it’s hard to trust them, I suspect them of being horse thieves.

Libby is the fat girl who nobody loves; it’s a terrible thing to see in a goat. She puts her head in the manger and makes soft moaning noises, as if she’s never tasted such good hay before. I can hear her asking “Is this hay sun-cured?” It’s embarrassing to watch the way she eats with pure unabashed, unrestrained, untamed greed, as if one of the seven deadly sins is on flagrant display. The other goats persecute her mercilessly, Mrs. G chases her out of the barn and Sophy shuts the door on her, you can almost hear their goaty laughter. Libby is bred to a LaMancha buck. Will her babies have ears? Is Mrs. G. having Nubians or Nupines? Will we get Sophy bred anytime soon? These are the questions that currently rock my little world.

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Goats part 1 in a series

Everyone has those items that they covet, blatantly ignoring the tenth commandment, my item has long been Nubian goats. When we first moved out to these knapweed infested acres, which we mistook for paradise, goats have been in the future. We had other missions to accomplish first, we had to build a house, pop out a couple more babies, add on to the house, (Yes, those two items were related.) put up the garden fence, put in a lawn, move the garden fence, build a shop, re-move the garden fence, tear down part of the house and re-model it, and finally build barns and fences. All of these things take time. Lots of time, about a decade when you must do everything the hard way. All of that is fodder for another day. Today our topic of discussion is goats.

Many people proudly class themselves as dog lovers or cat lovers. Some people even keep mice, rats, ferrets and other creatures of dubious nature. I like goats. The first goat to make an impression on me was Malcolm, a big black shaggy beast of a creature. His life must have been a little dull because his favorite pastime became making my little child life miserable. Off I’d be trotting up the path to grandmothers house, just like little Red Riding Hood, only to meet my nemesis in the form of a four legged creature with horns lowered at me. It wouldn’t have been a difficult stretch for me at all to associate that terrifying creature with witchcraft and all of the traditional devilry traditionally ascribed to goats. To be fair, he never personally hurt me, likely due to my skill in running to the nearest stump and screaming bloody murder until some busy adult dropped their work and came to rescue me. The adults in my life insisted that if I didn’t run he wouldn’t chase me, and he just wanted to listen to me scream. The logic behind not running did make some amount of sense to my limited five year old reasoning. Those horns! Those pounding hooves! My courage would turn to fear and send my short little legs churning for higher ground. As for not screaming… My accomplishments at that age were few, it just didn’t seem fair to ask me to refrain from demonstrating my proficiency at the blood curdling scream.

Most goats are not that ornery, generally they’re personable and sweet. They love human attention and would be happy to take the place of man’s best friend if you gave them a bed by the fire.

There are several different breeds of goats, with Nubians reportedly being the most popular. Nubians are known for their friendly personalities, not liking the cold, being very vocal, and occasionally stubborn. There is a wives tale about people choosing to raise the breed of goats most like them.

Next up- More about Goats –My very own Goats.

Malcolm paid his debt to society by becoming cabrito.


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