At first I was worried about having the responsibility of having to milk the goats twice a day every day through all of the craziness that was our lives last year. I thought it might be too much for me to handle on top of everything else. But turns out that for the most part my fears were unfounded. On the day we were actually moving from our old house and putting all of our belongings into storage I asked a good friend of mine to goat sit until we could get our selves and our stuff out of one place and into any other. As soon as we were installed in my parent's house, I ran to get my "girls" as fast as I could.
Turns out I loved having them with me. No matter what was happening, the milking and goat chores got me out of the house for a minimum of 20 minutes twice each day. It was always so peaceful, the goats had adjusted completely and were quite happy to jump up onto the milk stand and be milked, without making a fuss. They were always affectionate and so happy to see me. I told Rodrigo several times during those tumultuous months that if possible I never wanted to be without goats on our homestead. Emmett and Claire often joined me playing in the yard and toddling around under the giant old shade trees playing or standing close to me petting the goats and "helping" me milk them.
October came and we moved into our own home and relocated the goats to a lovely large pasture here on our new land. As cooler weather arrived the goats came into heat for the first time. My goats, like most dairy goats, are seasonal breeders. That means they only come into heat for a few days each month for a few months each year and if they aren't bred then, we will have to wait an entire year for them to get pregnant and freshen again. (Give birth and come into milk again!) Without baby goats there is no milk...so we need baby goats!
In order to get baby goats we needed one thing... a buck! We do not have a buck (male goat) and I did not want to own a buck! They are rumored to be bad tempered, stinky escape artists with precisely one thing on their minds! But without a buck, the plain fact is there will be no baby goats! I asked around and scouted every farm I passed in hopes of finding a good looking guy to visit my girls but a couple of months passed and I had no leads. So I did what any respectable newbie homesteader would do... I posted a personal ad on Craigslist!
In my ad I described my goats (Nubian-Saanen crosses) and explained that I was searching for a healthy goat of an appropriate breed to do us a favor. ;-) Within a couple of hours a gentleman with a herd of full blooded Saanen goats contacted me via email and said he might be able to help. After a nice long informative phone call he gave me his address (turns out he lives just across the mountain in the same tiny town we had moved to) and I drove over to borrow Cooper.
Cooper was quite large and really, really stinky! He was not exactly bad tempered and while he never attempted to butt us, he did repeated ram the fence and break out/jump over while he was here. Mostly the escapes where to get out to eat the pretty bushes just on the other side of the fence, and thankfully he never wandered off of our land. He was also very easy to catch, we just called and shook a bit of grain so he could hear it rattling in the bottom of the bucket and he would come running. But I did find his enthusiasm a bit disconcerting. A very large goat, with very large pointy horns running full speed towards me made me slightly nervous. He honestly never tried anything rough towards me, and the children were all warned to stay away from him, just in case! Because of his escapes we invested in a strand of electric wire to circle the top of the fence around the goats' entire pasture area. After that he never tried to escape again. He stayed here rooming with my goats for a total of 5 weeks. We wanted to be sure that both of my goats did get a chance to get bred before we returned him home.
And now we wait. If I managed to guess correctly when my goats were in heat then I think the first birth should be sometime in the very first week of April! It is very exciting! Both Daisy and Larkspur had one baby each last time, and it was the first birth for each of them. According to most other goat people I've spoken with, goats often have one baby their first time around and the second time they will often have twins or even triplets!!! I think both girls are already looking plumper, but it might just be their thick winter fur... after all they are only about a month or a month and a half pregnant right now. I'm not sure how soon goats start showing. I've got lots to read up on over the next couple months so I am ready when the time comes for them to give birth. I can't wait, I just hope they both are pregnant! We are undecided about what we are going to do with the babies right now. One of the doelings (assuming we have a doeling!) will be going to the man who lent us Copper, and for the others, we will just have to wait and see. If we have little bucks we will probably raise at least one for meat. The boys are talking about keeping a buckling to train as a cart goat. :-)
Goat Cart image found here.