Goat Notes (Written 6/11/21)
So kidding season is over for this year. As usual per every year, this one was also full of ups and downs, weariness and worry, surprise and satisfaction, and more work than I know what to do with.
Just for fun, and because the last two posts have been pretty heavy reading, here is a more lighthearted breakdown of my goat notes for this spring.
The Great Eight
Never before have I had such a nice string of milkers. I have also never before had eight milkers to keep up with at one time. Twice a day, every day, all nine of us are out at the milking stand.
I really do like to milk. It's fun to get better acquainted with my girls as individuals. Their true strengths, quirks, and personalities definitely emerge when they're getting up on the milking stand April through December.
It's also highly rewarding to see my work pay off, as these goats, for whom I have planned and hoped and bent over backward for at least a year, begin to pay the farm back with their own work.
This year's milking string is exceptionally well-behaved. Most years there are at least one or two who aren't convinced that standing on a raised platform, while some human squeezes away at particularly sensitive parts of their anatomy, is really such a grand idea. It's not unusual for there to be at least a couple of does who need to be hobbled each year, to teach them not to fidget or kick.
But this year, no one fidgets. No one kicks. No one is difficult in any way. All eight of them get on the stand without help, and hold steady as I work. They know the order in which they take their turns, and they wait patiently until it's their time to shine.
This is especially gratifying when you realize that six out of the eight are first fresheners, meaning that this is their first year being milked. Even Sherry, my Blissberry doe who was pretty fidgety last year, has settled down to be a docile, reliable milker this season.
I've dropped a lot of these names already, but just so they're properly introduced, here, in order of milking, is my super nice string for 2021:
Ashlar, Novel, Sherry, Gypsum, Tequila, Sakke, Shandy, and Mogen.
And yes, they do know their names, and they do know that order.
Biggest producer: Novel. She routinely gives a good gallon and a quarter every day.
Biggest talker: Mogen. All Nubians are vocal, especially when they're in milk and anticipating the grain and attention that twice-a-day milkings afford. But Mogen is the best of my bunch for general noise. Not only can she scream like she's in a medieval torture chamber, but she can also be very conversational. She just likes the sound of her own voice.
Biggest surprise: Sakke. An unassuming, blue-roan yearling who I almost sold last summer, she has stunned me with her beautiful udder. Remember, these are pedigree dairy animals, and if you're talking points, the udder is worth about fifty percent of a milker's overall score. Sakke's udder is definitely show quality. In fact, it's the nicest I have yet had in my herd. Boy, am I glad I kept her!
Biggest heartbreak: Losing Sarci, one of Sakke's twin girls, to what I believe must have been a condition called "floppy kid syndrome." She only lived a few hours.
Biggest victory: Saving Java. She's getting big, fat and sassy.
Biggest brats: At first I was going to hand it to Cider, Ashlar's doeling and the first kid born this spring. Cider is physically large, and she's also pushy, assertive and smart. I think she's the only kid I've ever had who follows behind me as I walk through the corral, and then, without warning, springboards off of my back. But lately it's Fresca, one of Novel's triplets, who has my knickers in a knot. She just plain doesn't like me. She is standoffish and doesn't like to be handled. She forces her way through the gate every chance she gets, is tough to catch when she does get out, and still thinks she doesn't know how to lead, even though we've been working on it for a couple of weeks.
Sweetest kids: Tequila's two boys. For some reason, I've had trouble becoming attached to most of the babies this year. But those two little boys sweetened me right up. Because they were boys, I only kept them a couple of days before selling them to the guy who usually buys my buck kids. But they were hard to let go, and I missed them. It's funny how you instantly bond with some, and have to work for others.
Crazy stuff: Sakke and Shandy had their kids at exactly the same time. Not just the same day or the same hour, but within about three minutes of each other.
Funny stuff: Of course, this year the naming theme was coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Following that motif, two of Novel's triplets are called Fribble and Fresca. My mom, trying to remember those names, could recall only that they both began with the letter F, and said in exasperation, "You know, the F words!" I could not let that go. So from then on, Fribble and Fresca have been jointly referred to as "the F Words." Sometimes it really does fit.
Cudos to Cognac: He was the only standing stud I had here last fall, and he did rise to the challenge. He settled eleven out of eleven does brought to him for his services. For an eight-month-old buck just figuring out his place in the world, that's pretty commendable. I did
sell three of those eleven girls, and found out later that two of them had triplets. Way to go, buddy!
There you have it. Your goat recap for 2021. Never a dull moment. Stay tuned for further adventures. Because, you know there will be some.