It gets involved…. Last season (if you check Seasonal Reflections, posts headed “Kidding 2011”) my does were birthing from Dec 27 thru March 24. Determined not to stretch it out that far again, I planned to begin turning them in with Nobel as soon as any of them cycled, beginning in mid-August. (They may cycle in July or earlier, but I didn’t want a repeat of the 14-degree day in December when Jonquil, Hyacinth and Columbine unexpectedly produced 2 sets of twins and one of triplets!)
Meanwhile I checked with Goat-Raising Mentors Larry & Genia about the best way to go about selling Nobel. I’m keeping 2 of his daughters, so I’ll need an outcross buck for next season. But since I didn’t keep any from ’10, I have gotten a very satisfactory 3 seasons’ use of him.*
The reply, out of the blue, was that (after an unsatisfactory first season, both in number and quality of kids) they had sold their buck to a neighbor for ground-clearing use, and needed one for this season. Aaack! Would he be able to get 8 does covered by Sept 15? He would darn sure try.
I did not reckon on swirling cross-currents of goat fertility. Nine does (including Trill, whom I did not plan to breed this Fall, so that I could have milk thru Winter – what a treat!) all cycled in the space of about 10 days. What I also did not count on was the power of the breeding motivation in a full-grown buck goat. The effect of, apparently, a dense low-hanging cloud of caprine estrogen was to turn placid, biddable Nobel into a cunning and heedless weapon of barn destruction.
5 of the 9 are “people goats,” friendly and broke to lead, associating it with pleasant recollections of milking, extra grain, being extricated from fence, etc. 4 others, docile enough, just don’t make a connection between a hand on their collar and anything positive. It is especially difficult to convince a full-grown doe who has been hanging around the barnyard, sidling along the fence nearest the buck’s stall, twitching her tail and bleating longingly, that to be led away from the fence, through two stall doors and the barn aisle, will shortly give her access to the same buck. Difficult? By myself, impossible.
Complicate this with the same buck, butting his full-grown horns against (very often through) barn siding, stall partitions, stall gates and reinforced stock panels, and trying to climb or jump newly installed fence, to reach the same doe. This led to some scary moments, mostly here by myself, when he was out of his stall, ranging freely thru the barn and pens adjacent to the does, and “challenging” (up on hind legs) at any effort to corral him.
Thanks to neighbors (geographical or cultural – we here define “neighbor” pretty widely) RK, Kayla, Leslie, Steve, Polly and John for the extra hands, and the fact that yesterday, I was able to assure Larry that all were covered, and that he was welcome to take Nobel off to his “second shift” with 20-odd does at Windhover Farm.
*6 kids for 4 does in ’10, 14 for 6 in ’11, and stay tuned for Kidding ’12. I’ve told Larry that if they all kid in one week in January, he can come out and help. He says OK.
This left a little time for some other aspects of life: more mowing, more gardening, my Mother’s 99th birthday party, and a few encounters with creatures at least as interesting, if not quite as “challenging” as goats.