Monday February 24, 2014
The first question I always get asked by people when I tell them I have dairy goats is “Do you get goat milk or make cheese?” And then I tell them that as with a human female, a goat must give birth first to produce milk. You can’t just milk a female goat and expect milk to come out. Then they get it. Also, milking a goat twice a day is a commitment that I’m not sure I want to sign on for. Today we started our journey to breed our first goat on the farm, Hanna.
The process actually started months ago with the decision to delve into animal husbandry after owning goats for almost two years. All of our present goats we bought from other breeders but now it felt like it was the time to try our hand at procreation and become “real” goat farmers! Currently we have 3 females and 4 weathers (castrated males), so we are missing a handsome fellow to take our girls out on a date. Purposefully we do not keep an intact male on the farm because basically they stink and apparently Mary Ann is very sensitive to this smell and very vocal about it I may add. We would have to keep him separated from the herd to control unintended breeding.
Where does one find a strong gentleman to court his little ladies? (I use court loosely). Surprisingly, Craigslist and goat associations are usually the go to for, in this case, a small dark handsome stud with blue eyes. After weeks of searching I could not find a suitor that was acceptable for my precious girl. (No man is ever good enough for a father’s daughter.) After almost giving up, a trip to the local feed store gave hope. There he sat in the middle of the aisle as if a light from the heavens was shining down on him, the perfect little Nigerian Goat kid. Turns out that this little fellow belonged to Jaymi, a feed store employee, and she had handsome goat studs in her herd that she was more than happy to give them a hall pass for the night or a few weeks to sow his royal oats! Bingo! Unfortunately for Jaymi, we always give our friends at the feed store names that associate them with their specialties There’s Ann the Chicken Lady, a man we call the Hay Guy and Jamie would become the Goat Lady. Trust me, these are all labels of endearment from us but I’m not sure if they love it or cringe when we call them as such. Numbers were exchanged, excitement was barely contained and images of my own baby goats jumping in the barn clouded my head. We were on!
The call came a month later that one of the boys was ready to visit our chicken ranch, I mean our goat farm. But then the doubt crept in. Was I acting like a pimp for my girls? Was Mary Ann the new Hollywood Madam? What if Hanna didn’t want a male suitor or was only into other female goats and I was forcing her into a private stall/champagne room with this stranger alone? What kind of father would that make me? Then I stopped my crazy. I was over thinking it and realized that Hanna was a strong girl and could make her own decisions. I would have to leave it up to nature, either it would happen or it wouldn’t.
We picked up Mr. Le Pew, not his real name, and brought him home. The first meeting with our herd I thought he was not being very gentlemanly. He immediately peed right in front of their pen and then proceeded to do the same on his beard! An outrage I thought! Where were his good Southern (California) manners I thought? What rogue had we brought home to our refined ladies? Quel dommage! Then I remembered that this was just an act that actually was quite attractive to female goats and I felt better. We led Mr. Le Pew to his private stall and his interest in the ladies increased. Hanna was led in and the chase began. She held her own and let him know she was not ready (not in heat yet) but eventually agreed to have dinner with him that night a la Lady and the Tramp. We joking suggested playing a little Barry White or adding oysters to their feed. Was Spanish Fly still a thing?
For now, they are getting to know each other slowly and I think a love match might be in the future but that will have to wait. If it does work out, we will have to wait 5 eager months to welcome our new kids to the farm, and then I just have to figure out how to deliver those babies! As they say, timing is everything even in the goat world.