And then there was this...the doeling has been sitting on one side of the fence, and her mama has been sitting on the other side of the fence. Occasionally she stands up to look over the fence. Sometimes they make distressed cries for each other.
[Feta screaming at the door, by the Comcast internet cable which they have pulled down, and doeling by the fence, where her mama is on the other side. Feta made a rotten babysitter.]
The mama goat hates being milked, too. Goats normally like to be milked, because they don't think of it as being milked, they just think of it as being fed good stuff, and it's kind of nice that we relieve the pressure in their udder while we're sharing such good food. Each time we milk the mama goat we have to corner her, or trick her into coming for grain so that we can catch her. Then we drag her across the yard, pick her up and put her onto the milking stand, make her actually stand up, and we only get about 2 cups of milk each time we milk her, and she doesn't eat much grain, so it isn't fun for her. So for that it just really isn't worth all the trouble.
Plus, now that I've spent some quality time with the mama goat, I've gotten to know her a little better. I'm realizing the people we bought her from took awful care of her. Basically, I think they just didn't take care of her. When we got her up on the milk stand we realized her feet are a mess. You're supposed to clip goat hooves every couple weeks or so, but I would guess that she never had her hooves clipped at all. They are all torn and misshapen, and they've grown really messed up. Plus, she is missing some of her front teeth. Poor goat!
We have bad goats.
So, what to do? J and I have been talking about just spending the money to get good goats. Good goats mean more milk, a more pleasant milking experience, and then when we breed them, more good goats (which will sell for more money, too).
After listening to our goats complain so much, and rationing our precious milk that we've been able to get, we think it's time. So today my assignment was to find a good goat, and just buy it. And then, we can sell the mama goat and keep the baby, or whatever.
So, I looked online and found some good goats for sale. I talked to the owner for a little while; she was selling her whole herd because she is moving. So, these were not her rejects, which is a good thing. I ended up buying three Nubian goats! They are:
"Sunday" who is 3 years old, and she's had triplets the past two years. She gives 8 cups of milk each time you milk her and she has awesome teats, which makes her a really amazing dairy goat. Her head looks Nubian and her body has a lot of white (not normally a Nubian thing), so I don't really know what the deal is there, but she's supposedly full Nubian.
Sunday is very friendly, and after you milk her she won't get off the milk stand until you give her some kisses. Sunday was actually raised indoors, as a pet, kind of like a dog. The people kept her as long as they could, and then she got to be too big. One time they got a call from a neighbor, "Your goat is on my counter eating my bananas!" She just went through the neighbor's dog door. Oops. The only other thing is, the people who raised her taught their kids to pull her ears if she knocked them over. So she doesn't like her ears touched, and she isn't good around kids without supervision. (The lady said, "But, what I've found is that if one of your kids wants to go visit her, you can give them a spray bottle, and if she tries to stand up on them have them spray her and she will leave them alone.") Sunday is great.
"Claire" who had her first kids in December. If you let her hang out with her kid, the kid doesn't nurse much anymore, and she still gives 4 cups of milk each time you milk her. The funny thing about Claire is, she's a papered goat (fancy) and...she is from the same farm that Caroline came from! I thought that was funny. So there's this lady who lives up in northern Utah, and we've bought two of her goats...from other people! Supposedly she likes to keep track of her goats, though, so the lady I was buying from gave me the other lady's phone number, and I'm supposed to call her any time I have questions. She runs the 4H stuff up in her area, and she judges in goat shows, and so forth. Funny, eh? So, Claire is a really nice goat. She looks like Nubians are supposed to, but she is pretty skinny. She just never put weight back on after her pregnancy. A vet checked her out and she's okay, though. She just needs to keep eating good stuff and she will be fine to breed again later this year.
"Star" who was born in December. She is Claire's daughter. Claire was pregnant with Star when the people bought Claire, so we can register Star and she will be a papered goat too! Star is very friendly. She still follows her mom around a lot--when we put Claire into the crate in the back of the truck after I bought them all, Star followed Claire and wanted in too. When I go outside, Star forgets all about her mom and follows me instead. It's really cute. For a doeling, she has very good teats, so she looks like she will be a promising milker. She will be old enough to breed in December too.
and enough milk for cheese and cream. Maybe even enough for butter. And milking will be pleasant, because these goats willingly come to the milk stand and they like to be milked.
Also, it turns out I like to milk them. I thought it would be fine, but it actually feels pretty fantastic. I get that same excitement that I felt when I picked up the meat from our cow. We're being self-sufficient! I am pretty good at milking, too. There's a little bit of a trick to it, but I got the hang of it right away.
So, I talked to the people today about our mama goat. I told her maybe we should just sell her; she isn't producing much, and she's not very good, etc. They suggested it could be because this is her first year. They said she will probably do better next year. They said maybe we should let the doeling be back with her mama, and milk the mama goat once a day (to make up for the buckling that we left behind), and then try again next year. J and I talked about it and we think she may be just really stressed, too, and that could be part of why she's having problems (with her attitude and her production).
SO, we reunited our herd. Now we have eight happy goats in one happy herd. Or, three happy herds, actually, since Feta and Caroline hang out together, the mama and doeling hang out together, and the three from today hang out together. (Bucko just goes around flirting with all the girls, and the cow likes everybody.) Now, we will sell Bucko (so that he doesn't get anybody pregnant next month when breeding season starts), and we may sell Feta (since who knows whether she will get pregnant or not, and we don't want goats with horns), and then later in the year we will probably get a good, papered buck, and produce a bunch of fancy, papered kids. In the meanwhile, I don't have to listen to goats complain, except when they complain because they want to be milked--NOW, please!
We are still waiting for Caroline to kid. She faked us out yesterday by moaning for hours, and rolling around, and scratching at the ground, and laying down and standing up and laying down and standing up, etc, but then in the evening she stopped the whole charade and started wondering why we were off in this area away from everyone else?? so this morning I released her from the special birthing area. Maybe she'll just stay pregnant. Hopefully not. (And, I don't think that happens.)