Category Archives: goats

Introducing…

Foxy Brown.

foxybrown

and

ginger

Ginger.

Not original or poetic, but you know, they are goats. I’m keeping Foxy, and Ginger will be for sale in a few months. They come from champion Nigerian Dwarf milking stock.

A few people have inquired about the boy, Eeyore.

futurewether

I hope to borrow my friend’s tool, the Emasculator, and make Eeyore a wether, fatten him on grain and milk for a few months and then have him star in an animal processing class I’m putting together with the talented primitive skills teacher Tamara Wilder. (The date is set: September 13, if you’d like to sign up for the class. We’ll be killing two rabbits and one goat, processing all their parts, and starting the process for fur-on hide tanning. We may have a guest appearance of a local chef for a how-to cook lean meat demonstration. The class will cost $100 and is limited to 10 people. Send me an email if you want to sign up: novellacarpenter at gmail)

As for  his hermaphroditic sis/bro, Hedwig, here in this photo you can see the extra part (what I’m calling the angry millimeter) on her vagina.

hedwigsangrymilimeter

Hedwig  is really sweet and fun, like a puppy. She/he doesn’t try to hump everyone like Eeyore (I know, already!) and she’s very people-focused. But on a practical note, intersex goats are not useful: they can’t be mated, they don’t make milk, they can’t stud, but they may smell strongly, like male goats. So, it’s a quandry. If I give her away to someone then I lose money on stud fees and feed, and perhaps that person gets a goat with problems. So, if anyone has a suggestion, let me know what you think.

Despite these issues, I’m having tons of fun with the little ones. I take naps out in the goat area and have them scamper across my body. Orla sometimes sleeps on top of me, and Bebe keeps a safe distance except when she wants a quick neck scratch. In the mornings, I milk Bebe and am in the middle of training Orla to behave on the stanchion. Things are lovely and I’m looking forward to a great, goat-filled summer. Let me know if you’d like to come by for a visit.

Goat Babies

It’s been a whirlwind week what with the new Biofuel Oasis opening up shop and both goats giving birth within a few days of each other.

novellabfoLast Tuesday Bebe came running out of the goat area looking crazy. Extra crazy. And then she started making the deep bleating noises that mean only one thing. I, exhausted from a marathon BFO construction weekend, ran around the house looking for all kinds of thing that I had now lost: iodine, washcloths, towels, beet pulp, molasses. Knowing Bebe, a pro with 4 births under her belt already, would be popping soon. She lay down and got back up for about an hour then started the real pushing. She yelled her head off, and I was reminded that birth is not fun and should not be a priority for me.

Finally, we saw a head poking out. A stuck-ish head and one hoof. Because normal position is two hooves and a nose. I couldn’t help myself, I broke the bag of fluid so I could talk to the head. It was a beautiful black and white La Mancha eared-head. “Ahhh,” it nickered. I cleaned off my hands and gently pushed the hoof back, and fished around for the second one. I couldn’t reach it. So, after another minute, and some intense bleating and pushing on Bebe’s part, and some gentle tugging on mine, Bebe finally got the thing out. These kids were huge compared to the straight Nigerian Dwarf kids.

hedwig1

Then out came the second one without issue. Bebe is the greatest mom ever, and she cleaned them off, made low mumbling noises and eagerly licked them while they nursed. Her udder is *enormous*. I breathed a sigh of relief–birth is very dramatic and scary, not unlike a death.

So, Bebe’s are: Eyore, a black and white speckled sweet boy. and Hedwig, a earless black and white girl who also has a weird extra thing on her vagina. These sexes are not ideal. I felt kind of sad the rest of the day. Yes, the birth went well, Bebe was healthy, and as cute as they are, these are not keeper goats if you’re in it for the milk.

eyroe1

That was Tuesday.

Friday, on the day of the grand opening of the BFO at 11am, Orla ran up to me at 9am with a quizzical expression and grunted. At least I could find everything I needed because the gear from Tuesday’s birth was still on the washing machine. I figured her labor might be short like Bebe’s. Around 1pm, with no signs of movement and lots of heavy breathing, I called Cotati Large Animal Veterinary. The nice lady vet talked me down when I confessed that Orla was having her first birth, she was slightly fat, and that I lived in downtown Oakland: “Has her water burst?” No. “Is she bleeding?” No. “Call me if her water breaks and there’s no progress.” It’s just so nice to talk to an expert (must remember to send a thank you card).

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By 1:30, Orla was pushing and yeeeellling. I crouched next to her, offered her molasses water, and tried to facilitate the pushing by making dramatic facial expressions. Then, out squirted a spindly yellow thing. Dead. I thought. Because how can something look so skeletal and yellow and be alive? But then she coughed and I wiped her off. Orla, meanwhile, had one of those distant stares. She didn’t know this was her baby. I thought. I pulled on her collar–check out your baby! But she would have none of that. Bill came out to see the baby–an adorable blonde with blue eyes–and so did Bebe who couldn’t refuse the sound of a mewling kid. “There’s another one in there,” he said.

“No, she’s just fat,” I said. And stupid, I thought. I worried that she was like a neglectful teen mom. Visions of me doing 3 am bottle feedings flashed in my mind. Then another baby slide out. Twins! I couldn’t believe it because usually first timers have only one kid. After that one was out, Orla’s motherly instincts kicked in and she started cleaning up her girls.Both girls. Both blue-eyed. It was 3pm, I headed to the new Oasis. A good day to be born.

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Happy Birthday Orla

Well, almost. Orla May was born March 17, 2008 at Ghosttown Farm. I still haven’t sent in her registeration with the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association, even though I have the paperwork filled out. Bad goat owner!

Here’s Orla at two hours old. So adorable. So perfect. So new.

babywhite

This was why it nearly broke my heart when I had to take her to the vet in order to get her horn buds fried off. She and her sister both made sad bleating noises when the vet held the iron up to their tiny hornlets. Thank goodness she doesn’t have horns now that’s she’s a sassy one year old who definitely looks for trouble and is the most stubborn goat ever (next after her mom Bebe, that is). None of the neighborhood kids have gotten their eye gouged out by a toss of her head, for example. Looking back on it, I’m proud that I had them disbudded even though it was a tough decision and it wasn’t so attractive….
hornorla

A year later, I find myself becoming more and more nervous because Orla is going to become a mother now. It does seem soon, doesn’t it? Only a year old and having babies? Goats are natural mothers, though, and this early pregnancy is normal. She doesn’t look worried.
orlaonstairs

I, on the other hand, am a nervous wreck. It’s two months before Orla and Bebe will give birth to their kids. Since the last 8 weeks are critical, there’s so much to do. Yet there is no book (yet) called: What to Expect When Your Goat is Expecting. To that end, I’ve been reading all these websites about goat pregnancy and kidding. But I hate the internet. There’s too much information! All those injections seem wrong and freak me out. I’m frantically looking up selenium deficiencies and contemplating a copper bolus injection. I just read that I need to start giving the goats more grain, probably twice a day, with more alfalfa hay to increase their calcium and phosphorous levels. I’ll have to decide whether I’m going to bottle-feed or go natural. I’m leaning toward bottle feeding them myself. But I need to get Bill used to the idea of three plus goatlings in our apartment.

Aside from the dizzying information glut and my nervous nightmares, goat babies might be just like human babies. Because the amazing thing is: the stress is all worth it when they join us here on this Earth. goatlegs

Merry f-ing Christmas

Yesterday I felt all Scrooge-like about xmas. but then after a shift at the Oasis, the biofuel station I run with some friends, suddenly my heart was filled with goodwill and joy. Our custies are so wonderful and happy! I came home and made some spicy tomato soup and baked lime bars for our loyal customers. Then I packed some olives to give as gifts. Then I squeezed on Bebe’s teats and tried to get a whisper of milk out of her.

biofuel-bwsmall

I went up to Lake County and picked up the goats last week. Of course it started snowing. Of course I had no heater and only one windshield wiper worked (the wrong one). Bebe and Orla looked like mountain goats. They sprouted some major fur while up north. I got a quick glance at another buck she got to be with–a dark hairy guy who was just adorable. Leah told me Orla’s probably not preggers because she’s a bit young and um, stubborn. I might try to breed her again in March. We packed the goats into a dog crate as the snow swirled down. I drove like a banshee to get home before it got too dark and cold. When I opened up the dog crate, Orla and Bebe were all cozy and warm inside. They smelled like bucks, which is to say, high goat.  They jumped out and ran toward the backyard where they live. It was a joyous homecoming–I really missed having them around.

farmshot

But I also miss their milk. Bebe isn’t producing much, which Leah said is normal post-breeding. I’ve been milking her twice a day to increase production. The milk tastes bitter and gross–a natural occurence post-breeding, somehow the buck hormones get into the milk. Eventually I’m hoping Bebe will give me her usual sweet, high-fat milk. I sure do miss my morning goat cappuccino.

bebesays2

Reunited

Alas, I’m not reunited with my family this Thanksgiving weekend. My mom is up in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m sure had a great supper at our dear friend Jean Moore’s house. My cousin, aunt, and uncles are vacationing in Australia. My sister is probably hunting pheasants and mushroom in France. Dad is in Wickenberg, AZ. Bill and I went to Max and Nina’s house, and brought a smoked turkey (it was pretty good–tasted like candy coated bacon, a little dry, though).

But, then who in my family is reunited this Thanksgiving? Why, Bebe and Orla with their goat family in Lake County!! Bill and I drove up north on Sunday, the goats in this very folksy home-made cage.

We got lots of honks and whistles driving through Berkeley before we got on the highway. The goats liked being in the back, kind of like dogs. Three hours later, we arrived to the farm where I bought a pregnant Bebe almost a year ago. Bebe let out one bleat of excitment, then played it cool as all the other goats from the farm circled the car and sniffed. Orla and her sister Georgina (now known as Goldy) touched noses. They didn’t seem *that* excited, to see each other. I don’t know what I was expecting. It made me have a deeper love of dogs, who are so willing to love on each other.

But there was love in the air. One reason we had taken the goats up north was for, um, stud service. Wee, getting my girls laid! Leah the goat lady gave me a tour of the available bucks. I selected a black and white spotted La Mancha for Bebe (mini-Manchas!) and a cute, twerpy Nigerian dwarf for Orla. Babies will be popping in mid-April, if all goes well.

Enjoy your reunions!

Goat estrus

Ok. Here’s the story. About 10 days ago, I was puttering around the house–feeding the rabbits, washing the dishes, putting grain in Bebe’s milk stand so I could milk her–when I heard Bebe yelling. I ran downstairs because this was an odd sound. I thought maybe the turkey had attacked her. At the gate, Bebe lunged. Bilbo seemed especially concerned. So I let them out, and Bebe raced up and down the stairs like a crazy goat. Then, I hate to report: Bilbo mounted her, made this unbelievably clownish face and stuck his tongue out like the devil. Sick. It didn’t last long. Meanwhile, Orla was making horrible bleating noises. This went on all day, and then for a few more days. My poor neighbors. Bilbo is just so in love.

Most dairy goats go into estrus at the end of summer through early winter, every 18-21 days. If they’re bred, they’ll carry for 5 months and give birth in the spring. With Dwarf Nigerians like Bebe, they actually can breed all year ’round. This most recent cycle must have been her first since having Orla. I’m hoping to breed her in December for a May arrival of babies. So it’ll be a little loud around here every three weeks, I guess.

A few days after all this noise, I was down in the chicken house trying to convince the new chickens to roost there when I heard some goat noises again. I looked up on the stairs and the goats were looking West. Our neighbor two doors down, a young Vietnamese mom, was yelling, “Baaahhh,” and laughing her ass off. The goats returned her call. Neither the goats nor the lady knew I could see them–so I waited in the henhouse until they were done talking. Have I mentioned how much I love my neighborhood?