Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goatless, Alas

Blossom and Alsiki are with The Buck. We loaded them into a dog crate in the back of our (covered) pickup this morning and drove two and a half hours to the farm where they were born. Sharon, the knowledgeable and kind-hearted breeder, had prepared for them the very pen where they had lived until we bought them.

It was a bright early-spring day, the grass emerald green and the trees just beginning to bud. The girls were glad to be out of the crate, and went right for the hay and grass that Sharon had thoughtfully provided.

I had hoped that they would come into heat and mate tomorrow, if not today, so we could get them back right away. But Sharon advised that we leave them seven days after they mate, to make sure they don't come into heat again. If the hormone shots don't take effect until a week from now, that could mean that they would be away for as long as two whole weeks.

I trust Sharon completely, but can I stand this separation?

We left B and A in their pen and went to meet the “boys.” There was Uproar, B and A's father, marigold-colored like Blossom and with a gorgeous, full orange beard. And there was Challenger, the groom-to-be, darker and smaller and taking a nap, perhaps in anticipation of later exertions.

Then we went into the nursery, where the recent arrivals and their mothers live. One little goat, barely larger than my own, had just had quads. Unlike when this happens to humans, everybody looked in great health and spirits.

How can I describe a newborn Nigerian Dwarf kid? Let's just say that, with its legs folded, it would fit inside a soup bowl. A big forehead, wide-apart eyes, a tiny muzzle—all the neotenic features that we are hardwired to lose our heads over. And a tiny voice, high and melodious as a little bell.

Clearly, five months to wait and all those long drives in the truck are nothing when compared to the thrill of having a couple of these babies in my own barn. But there is a dark side to all this: it is the fear that, once they arrive, I will not be able to part with the little creatures.

I have had baby goats born under my care before, exquisite and adorable kids for whom I have found excellent homes right away. I am proud to say that so far I have been rational and uncompromising in my belief that two goats, and only two, are the optimum herd size for me. Two goats mean only eight hooves to trim, two udders to milk, a moderate amount of hay and grain to fetch and carry, and a tolerable pile of poop to compost.

But with this tiny breed, I don't know what will happen. I know it's a slippery road from the first decision to keep “just this one kid” to a herd of hundreds.

But all that is a whole five months away.

For now, the goat stall is empty. The chickens seem quieter. And Wolfie can't figure out where those clever, unpredictable creatures went. I've had goats go away for breeding before, and rather enjoyed the break. But this is different. I feel nostalgic, not to mention foolish, already.

4 comments :

  1. I've been reading your older posts...did not know uou could eat Bishop's Weed or that it was goo for gout...Live and learn...

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  2. It's supposed to be good for a slew of other things, too--arthritis and other inflammatory conditions (this is all according to stuff I found on the web--who knows if it's true?). But I do find it mild and delicious, sauteed in olive oil and garlic, at a time of year when spinach is too small to pick. You're also supposed to make an infusion with it--haven't tried that yet.

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  3. Those irresistible kids are why I decided 30 years ago not to keep goats. Good luck with this.

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  4. I'll never understand why science hasn't come up with a way to keep dairy animals producing without reproducing!

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