We love our goats! Three little boy babies were born here, two bottle-fed doelings were dropped off when their mama died, and two older milkers were walked here from the neighbors. All in one week. We also have a lead on two new yearlings. That is a lot of goats for 1.67 acres in a high desert. Thankfully there is a lot of grass this year due to heavy snow and now equally heavy spring and summer rains. Not worrying about crowded pastures has given us a little time to get the numbers sorted through and thinned back down. I love to train up new milkers and send them on as family milk goats, bottle train little ones and send them on as 4-H babies, and best of all, have a big fridge full of cheese and milk for the two families on the property! Deciding which doelings to keep is the hardest part. You have so much into your genetics and you want to see how each one turns out in personality, quantity of milk, and flavor. However, no one can keep all the does born on their farm, they would be overrun in two breeding seasons. Most must go and only a couple of the newest babies can stay.
The little bucklings this year are going to be pack goats when they grow up. They are purchased as babies so that they can be bottle fed and trained early to be strongly attached to humans and follow wherever they go. They will climb through mountain passes behind a horse or human while carrying a pack on their backs. Believe it or not this will be the most freedom and fun that a domesticated goat can have in our modern world, they get to browse and cavort to their hearts’ delight out in nature for weeks at a time. This useful job means I can keep their horns on (thank you Lord!) but take their testicles off (sorry babies!). The horns will get long and thick and allow them to protect themselves better from predators and also to keep cool in warm weather. At this point we have one big buckling left and he may or may not get both things done to him if it takes too long to find him an owner.
The two little baby girls are the daughters of my favorite milk goat, Chamomile. While I was visiting Esther Emery a few weeks ago, the girl who had Chamomile called and said that she had passed away after breaking out of her pasture. I cried for a few days but was so very grateful that she had doelings this year so that we can preserve her wonderful personality and genetics. These little darlings don’t look like their mama but they are very friendly and their dad was a really nice buck and they look like him instead. These girls will be old enough to breed at 7 months but we will wait until February to breed them so that they will kid in the summer and put a little more growth on themselves before they start growing babies. Chamomile gave almost two gallons a day of sweet milk and always had a friendly, loving personality, so both of these girls are a great addition. Their brother (they were triplets) was purchased by the owner of the best herd in the area because he is the last of that line and it is just that good!
In a few days Violet and Marigold will be coming as well. We are taking them because a friend is moving and can’t take all of her stock. They are very good, expensive does and it will take us some time to pay them off. If milking girls like this show up in your area, is it best to snatch them up quickly because goat breeders don’t sell their main breeding stock unless they are in some kind of emergency and they are selective about who they will sell to. Violet is in her first lactation and giving 3/4 gallon with a once a day milking right now. She is the niece of Chamomile. Marigold is not bred yet and is daughter of a distantly related doe. She is out of a fantastic buck (Logan) who is distantly related as well. This kind of in-breeding is common and there is enough new genetics brought every year to keep any bad deformities or problems from popping up. All of these animals are strong, big, and beautiful with intelligent eyes and gentle personalities.
Pumpkin Spice and Apple Blossom are old favorites. They have been at the farm down the road for about three years and I have milked them a lot when we have exchanged farm chores and vacations. Both are good does with good genetics. They milk easily and have great babies every year. These are the girls we might sell since we got them as family milkers before we knew that Marigold and Violet were going to be available and our numbers are just too high with all of them. Our younger milkers from our own milk lines are Chai (out of Cloud) and Lemon Drop (out of Empress). They are in their second and first years respectively and both are giving a lot of milk with nice open orifices. I can’t see selling them as I want to hold onto both of their genetics for different reasons and they are taking to their milking careers with gusto.
So, that is my most recent, crazy adventure! We are working on paring down on the numbers so that we have six at most with four that are milking at one time. That way we can stagger breeding and the girls get several months rest and are not milked at all during their pregnancies. This is definitely my happy place in a big green pasture with happy shiny caprices waiting to be milked and scratched on the head!