First Kid of 2012

It seems like everyone is birthing late this spring. I’ve got several ladies overdue. I went out to the barn this morning for another “check” eager to get back into the warm house. I was sure there wasn’t going to be any baby activity. I looked into the goat stall to see a little black spot. I shined my flashlight onto this sweet thing born probably about 15 minutes before my arrival.
snow 1

It’s a boy! Our first baby of the year, and my first EVER angora kid. The other kids in the house were excited too.

snow 2

He’s been named “Snow” by the kids (apt name for a black goat eh?). He’s snuggled in the barn with his mama this morning.

snow 3

Help With Kids

With kidding season upon us, THIS is what goes on in our house.

Kids and Kids

These are some of our baby goats from last spring. The kids love to be involved in taking care of them.

Life and Death

When people come out to the farm, it looks like so much fun.  Usually the sun is shining and all the animals are at their charming best.  I love to show people around and enjoy our beautiful farm.  Lots of people have that as the idea of what farming is like.  They don’t consider having to get up before the sun and go out to milk the cow in 16 degree weather.  Or having to go out and move several tons of hay to keep it from getting wet.  Or the devastation of when the pigs get out and find something to eat that they should not.  And especially, illness or the death of an animal is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind, even if the death is a purposeful harvest.

This past week, I had a 6 month old goat kid get injured to the point that it looked like he was not going to recover.  I made the hard decision that we were going to butcher him here on the farm.  The backlash that I got from this decision was quite surprising.  Almost everyone that heard about it had a shocked reaction as though I was doing something inhumane, vile and disgusting.  It surprises me over and over again that people react in this way.

I did the correct thing.  The goat was not going to recover, we put it down and we made use of the animal.  I do no like to waste life.  To me, that is the highest form of respect that I could give to an animal that is giving it’s life for me and my family.

This just shows the lack of connection that exists between the general population and their food.  Meat comes wrapped up in nice little packages at the grocery store.  Most people don’t even know that the meat was a living breathing animal.  Nor do they realize what part of the animal what they are buying comes from, much less which animal.

I assure you that an animal killed and processed on my property is killed as humanely and with as much respect as can be given.  I can also assure you that that is not the case in the big-time packing plants.  The meat we eat comes from animals that were once living and have given their lives to nourish us.

Death is an inevitable part of life for all of us.  As livestock farmers, death visits more frequently than some of us would like, but I for one spend a great deal of time ensuring that life is not wasted.

A Goat Named Dot

I’ve been around dairy goats for quite a few years now.  Somehow, I’ve always ended up with Nubians.  They have their own special (loud) personalities, but I secretly coveted the small, sweet Nigerians I saw everyone had.  This fall, I got the opportunity to get some Nigerians that I could use as a test in our dairy.  Oh boy, what an adventure.  I’ll spare you the details of them breaking out of a chain link fence and eating all the rabbit food.  We had finally gotten everything to settle out–or so we thought.
I was out one day feeding the goats and the sheep.  I turned around, and there, in front of me, was my black Nigerian doe, Luna.  She had a Huge bag (udder).  This was a surprise to me because she wasn’t supposed to kid until late January.  Well, it didn’t surprise me when 4 days later I was out in the barn and I heard the cries of a newborn goat.  I ran out to see that Miss Luna had three little doelings running around demanding to be nursed.  One was black, one was white, and one was white-caramel.
The black little goat was smaller than the others, and kept being pushed out of the way when it was time to eat.  A day later, she was getting almost nothing to eat, and she was lethargic and no longer had the will to eat.  I scooped her up and brought her into the house where Daphne and I worked to get some food into her.  Slowly, slowly with lots of breaks for sleeping in the middle, she got a tummy full of milk.  I wrapped her up in a towel, put her in a box and carefully placed the box next to the wood stove for warmth.
That’s the story of how we got a house goat.  She lived in the house with us over the next week.  She went from not being able to stand to running and leaping and jumping and challenging our dog to battles.  Daphne even managed to potty train her.  She would take her outside and let her pee, and she never once peed in our house.  In his excitement, Cyprus started to refer to her as “Dot the Goat” and so we named her Dot.
I had a visitor over looking at buying some wethers that I had, and he inquired about Dot.  He had a little girl at home that would love a bottle goat, and he asked if I would consider selling her.  She was obviously going to a good home, and because of her runtyness, I had no intention of keeping her as breeding stock.  I agreed to let her go.
When Miss Daphne found out that I had sold her goat, boy did I hear about it!  I had to spend an entire morning comforting her and convincing her that there were others in the world that needed goats, and that she would be well taken care of.  So, when the man came to get precious little Dot, Daphne marched out of the house, handed her over, and slowly, with tears in her eyes, walked back to the house, sad.
When all was said and done, I was asked to always remember Dot because Daphne would always love her!  What a lucky little goat to have so much love!  Dot has a good home now, and Daphne has taken on the task of managing Dot’s sisters, Milly and Tilly.