Dairy Diaries: The First Pumpkin Toss

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Our farm has it’s own holiday.

Every year in October, for nine years now, my husband and I can be found at the local grocery store, picking out a handful of bright orange pumpkins. Not that unusual of course – these fabulous gourds can hardly be avoided this time of year. But our chosen pumpkins are not meant for decoration.

We’re going to go home, throw them against the ground, and feed them to our goats.

Well, that’s a little silly, I’m sure you think. Which of course isn’t a bad thing – it is rather silly. If we want to feed the goats some pumpkin, why not just cut them into chunks? Obviously smashing a pumpkin sounds fun (and it is fun) but we’re supposed to be mature adults – right?

The Pumpkin Toss is tradition – one with very humble beginnings.

It was quite early in our herd, and there were just a handful of does. Hope, the mother of our herd, and her wether companion Uno. Joining them were Cowbell, a brown doe whose belly hung further than I’ve ever seen, Rudy, a little brown and white doe named for barbeque, and Cowbell’s black and white daughter, who could scream “nooooo!” in a childlike voice. In the pen next door was Buckly, our handsome buck.

Like most in the beginning, I was very interested in doing things in a “natural” way. Time would teach me that this often isn’t the best way to walk with goats, but that’s a topic for another blog. Regardless, at the time, I had stumbled upon something I found quite interesting.

“We should get some pumpkins for the goats,” I told my husband next time we were at the grocery store. By this point, he’d become brainwashed – I mean, accepting – of this new goat venture, and he paused to consider my words.

“Why?”

“I read that the seeds are a natural dewormer, and the flesh is good for digestion,” I’d read it on several websites, so it was surely true.

He immediately looked concerned, “The goats have worms?”

I hurried to reassure him, “No, no, no. At least, I don’t think so. But they will like it.”

My husband brightened, “Well, if they like it, yeah let’s get two.”

So we did. Arriving home, we shoved the rest of the groceries haphazardly into fridge and cupboard and skipped outside, clutching the pumpkins. We presented them to the does with an air of parental affection, and received puzzled looks in return. Chagrined, we realized our mistake quickly enough. Of course – we needed to open the pumpkins, so they can get at the guts.

My husband and I looked at the pumpkins.

“Do you want to go get a knife?” I asked. My husband frowned at the idea of walking all the way there and back – unwanted exercise – and shook his head.

“Nah, let’s just throw them.”

Here is where a sensible wife would say, “Don’t be ridiculous. They’ll smash all over the ground. Go get a knife.”

Here is what I said, “That sounds hilarious. They’ll smash all over the ground. Do it!”

My husband picked up the first pumpkin, and the goats craned their necks to look up at him curiously. Now, my husband is quite a tall and strong fellow, but even I was impressed at how high he heaved that gourd. It flew clumsily into the air, spinning a bit, then fell down twice as fast, hitting the ground with a hollow thump. It cracked in half, spilling seeds into the grass, and suddenly the goats were much more interested.

Delighted as we were with the result, the second pumpkin quickly took a flight as well, splitting into several chunks as it met the ground. The goat herd was truly engaged then, and they dived into the bright flesh of their treats, tearing huge mouthfuls of stringy guts to gulp down. From time to time one paused to hit her neighbor rudely, horns clattering together. Before long they were chewing on the rinds and we deemed the entire affair a success.

I know now that the dewormer effects of pumpkin seeds is negligible at best, though the flesh has indeed been useful, though more easily obtained in canned form. But it sure doesn’t stop us from repeated this adventure every single year, some time in late October on a pretty sunny day.

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Dairy Diaries: Backseat Buck

13375_10200338751428870_600057575351994988_nI’ll never forget my first buck. Several months after bringing home Hope and Uno, our first two Nigerian Dwarves, I decided that Hope was indeed not pregnant from the buck in her previous home, and I would need to find a new buck to join our little duo.

Browsing craigslist rewarded me with an ad for a handsome little black and white buck. The blurb assured that he was a proven breeder, gentle to handle, and even better – he was just fifty dollars. The fact that he was my favorite color sold me, and I excitedly showed my husband, who merely looked resigned at the idea of putting even more goats in the backseat of our car.

I had read that bucks in rut would quite smelly, but I neglected to mention such a thing to my dear husband. The seller told me that the buck was in rut and ready to breed, and as we pulled into the parking lot of Petco forty minutes from home, we had no clue what we had signed up for. Truthfully, what I had signed us up for.

The seller cheerfully accepted my wrinkled fifty dollar bill and pulled “Buckly” out of her truck by one horn. He looked placidly up at me, his face crusted with yellow stains, and snorted. As my husband came around the car, he stopped dead in horror at the sight of the filthy creature he was expected to lift into the back of our Chevy Malibu.

Thank goodness we had leather seats.

The buck was unceremoniously shoved through the rear passenger side door, hooves flying as he scrambled in confusion. My husband recoiled in disgust as Buckly turned around and tried to get back out. Instead the goat had the door slammed in his face, and my husband backed away, rubbing his hands on his shorts, obviously rethinking his life choices. I hurriedly thanked the seller, and we left.

To the husband’s credit, he did not start complaining until we were once more seated within the car. Both of us looked back at Buckly, who was now standing on the backseat peering curiously out the window. His horns impressively curled around his head, he had a thick long beard, and I was personally very pleased with our purchase.

My husband? Not so much.

“He reeks! I’ve never smelled anything so bad. Is he sick?”

No, no, I assured him. Bucks in rut urinate on themselves and exude a strong musk. It’s normal!

“You knew he would smell so bad?”

Well…

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I’ll never forget the exasperated look I received, and we drove home in relative silence. Buckly occasionally turned to snuffle at the sides of our heads, which made my eyes water in the most unpleasant way. My husband cracked all the windows, and finally arriving home was an immense relief.

I cheerfully popped Buckly into a small pen where he could see his new friends, Hope and Uno, but not reach them just yet. I left them to get introduced, and returned the next morning to find Hope in heat, Buckly eager to escape his pen, and Uno disgusted with the entire situation.

Five months later we had the first kids born here at K-N-S Farm.

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Dairy Diaries: Sunday Reset

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Throughout the week, from Monday to Saturday, I am a very busy person.

I am fully responsible for nearly two hundred animals, who need to be fed, watered, and inspected every day at the very least. Twice a day the dairy herd is milked, and you’ll always find me in the parlor in the mornings, and several evenings as well. Hay has to be thrown into feeders – massive amounts of fodder for insatiable ruminants. The dairy and other spaces need to be cleaned, buckets scrubbed, fly traps exchanged. This time of the year, does are found mooning around the buck pen, and need to be caught and sent to a honeymoon suite with a fine looking – and foul smelling – buck.

There are ponies that need to be checked on, ensuring that all of them have four feet and a head still. A pack of guardian dogs and collies swarm my legs in greeting at every chance, and their health is just as important. Poultry scatter at my approach, eager for their hen scratch. Even the tiny wild birds, peeping in the trees, are waiting for their share.

Even when I’m not with the animals, the work does not end. Breeding and kidding take meticulous planning and forethought. Purchasing and selling rest on my shoulders as well, as well as the extensive social media presence we have built around the dairy. Beyond the dairy are of course my own personal projects, and heaven knows that I have a penchant for starting entirely too many in my eagerness to do everything, be everything, have everything.

Not least of all are the hours I spend answering emails, messages, texts. I have always been available to those who are looking for help, if I am capable, and that will not change.

But Sundays are different.

Sunday I turn off the phone and I turn on the camera. Sunday, when the gate is opened to release the dairy herd, I am among them. On Sunday, I am little more than a rather peculiar looking goat, and as the herd goes out to browse, so do I.

I wish everyone could experience a Sunday morning the way I do. I listen to the sounds of the goat herd moving among the brush, the birds and wildlife speaking softly to one another, and the only reminder that civilization is waiting for me is the distant drone of the highway. The goats move at a steady pace – they do not stop for long before they are pushing forward, each of them searching out just the right things to eat. They strip branches and vine, grunting and puffing and sometimes shoving one another, and occasionally stop for a scratch from that one odd looking goat with hands.

For one morning, I let go of the rest of the world. The frantic freight train of my life pulls into a station for a day of rest. Tomorrow it will be barreling down the tracks at an unstoppable rate once more, but for today, it is still. For a short time, the phone hangs dead at my hip, making no demands for my attention, giving no reminders of all the things yet unfinished. Deadlines and worries are like water that beads up and runs down a mallard’s feathers, and I can breath. For one morning, I am just me.

The goats take me to interesting places, and I follow. I know their paths as well as anyone really can, and yet they often show me a new one. Even when we trod the familiar tracks, there is a freshness that only the untamed depths of the forest can bring. A heron startles from the creek and flies overhead. A snake whips through the grass, on the hunt for his own morning meal. A whitetail deer peers at us in suspicion before vanishing into the shadows.

We are safe, for the guardian dogs are at every corner, watching, listening, protecting. It’s thrilling, not frightening, to see them lunge through the underbrush at a perceived threat, and both the goats and I trust them. The herd queens watch over their herd as well, and the alarmed snort of a startled goat will bring the dogs at a run.

We make a large circle, moving from creekside path to pasture track, and then we are home again. The goats fold their legs and thump to the ground in little groups, eyes closing as they bring up cud, or nap. The silence is broken now by the highway with its semi trucks roaring past, and the phone vibrates, reminding me that I can’t stay out forever.

But that’s okay. I return home. I plug back into life as I plug in the camera, downloading the videos and pictures that I have captured, in some small effort to share this day with those who cannot join me. I feel refreshed. I feel alive. The world has reset, and I’m ready to meet the new week once more.

 

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2017 K-N-S Farm Calendars are now available for purchase on the website!

 

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Now Hiring

3prghj0I have great news for local La Mancha dairy goats seeking employment: Honey Doe Farm & Creamery is hiring!

Let me start off by telling you, my dear applicants, what would be expected of you as an employee here at the dairy.

We do expect our girls to kid once a year – generally in January, along with all of your peers at the same time. You’ll be expected to settle easily when paired with a buck as well, but you’ll find we recruit some very nice fellows, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

After kidding, we do expect you to show up to work, both morning and evening. We have a very nice milking parlor, so you won’t find the experience unpleasant. Please do not make us chase you about – tardy employees don’t often stay employed! You’ll need to learn our milking routine quickly and follow it consistently, but we assure you it is very easy to understand. We do require that you give us all of your milk during these milkings, but the process is quite short and you’ll be on your way again. We do, of course, provide both breakfast and dinner, to be enjoyed during milking.

We really appreciate employees with cheerful demeanor and friendly attitudes, who enjoy a good scratch on the head. An employee who brightens the day often finds other shortcomings are overlooked! You’ll have quite a lot of co-workers, so social butterflies will be right at home here.

Now that you’ve heard what will be expected of you – and such a short list it is! – I must also discuss what we do not want here at the dairy. All applicants must be healthy, and proof will of course be required. There are many illness we will not tolerate, and new hires will be expected to complete new testing and a quarantine period. This is for the good of everyone, and we promise the time will just fly by!

Let’s turn to far more pleasant thoughts – the perks of working here! Not only will your provided meals during milking be of the highest quality, but there is free choice hay available at all times of the day throughout the entire year. What’s more, during most of the season, you will be allowed to roam and freely browse a large area between milkings. Never fear – well trained security guards accompanies the herd during these outings, so you can enjoy turn out comfort.

We also offer two months paid time off between the end of the milking season and the birthing of new kids. When your time comes, you will have an experienced midwife, day and night, who will assist you if needed. What’s more – we allow our does to keep and raise their doelings that are chosen to remain on the farm. If you’re looking to build a family, this is the place to go! If kid raising is not for you, however, you can leave your offspring in the hands of our on site staff.

That’s correct, applications – you will have on site staff available to you, 24/7, 365 days a year, for all of your needs.

We reward does who put in the hard work to produce both quality kids and offspring with both fully supported retirement, as well as disability leave for goats who have unfortunate accidents or illness that prevent their future production.

We do need to inform you that upon becoming an employee here at Honey Doe Farm & Creamery, you will appear in advertising and our Youtube channel, including both photographs and video, not excluding sex tapes.

If you think you’re the right goat for the job, we look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Dairy Diaries: Five Times the Excitement

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I think by now, everyone knows that my favorite part of goat keeping are the newborn kids, and I have made labor and delivery a specialty of mine. But it hasn’t been an easy road – just when I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on things, along comes a doe to teach me something new, or to give me an experience I won’t forget.

Midori, a large heavy doe, decided to ensure my very first kidding season here at Honey Doe Farm and Creamery started out interesting. I was personally still reeling from the devastating loss of my pets and possessions in a house fire, and the stress of moving into a home and culture very different than my own, and so greatly looking forward to the more complicated yet far more simple birth of the kids.

It was Lance who texted me that the first doe was in labor, and I hurried outside to attend, nervous and eager to prove myself half-way proficient at this extensive (and I had no idea how extensive it would become) job I had taken on.

Midori was a first freshener, but already quite a large mature doe, and I felt assured there would be no issues. I checked the position of the kid with two fingers, and told Francine, who had joined us, that it was doing just fine.

And indeed, it wasn’t long before a pretty little spotted buckling joined us. He also set off an alarm bell – he was tiny. I said nothing, thinking perhaps he was just small, as sometimes happened, and helped clean him off before setting him in front of Midori to lick and nuzzle.

 

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The next kid was too long coming, and I checked carefully, and what I found made me break out into a cold sweat. I had never felt what I felt inside that poor doe’s uterus, and as I glanced up at my two waiting employers, I could feel anxiety closing in like a thunderstorm.

I turned my attention back to the doe, and that was enough to turn the storm aside – there was never more a place where I have felt more in my element than with a doe in labor. I went and washed my hands and arms carefully, then with the aid of a lubricant, I began to sort out the terrible tangled mess I had encountered just beyond the birthing canal.

Unfortunately, as this story is straight from reality, this part does not have a happy ending. The second born kid I extracted was a tiny doeling that took two desperate breaths, but no more. We tried to revive her, using every technique each of us had learned, but she passed away and was set carefully on the hay. The third and fourth were dead as I pulled them free, the cords and bodies tangled together in a snare that took me many long careful minutes to sort out.

I couldn’t believe there could possibly be more, but as I swept her uterus one more time, my fingers encountered a tiny hard bundle. As I gently guided it free, we found it was a long dead mummified kid, the first I had seen in person.

We were greatly disheartened by the four dead kids in front of us, but one was still alive, and Midori needed to be cared for after such a stressful ordeal. We moved her and her tiny boy closer to the house where I could monitor them, and we got them settled in nice and warm.

 

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Thankfully, there is still a bright shining light to this story. Little “Han Solo” as I called him, though he was tiny and delicate, thrived under Midori’s care. We babied him and I carefully chose a home for him where he would become a breeding buck.

 

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It ended up being the right choice, as you can see for yourself what a magnificent animal he has become. Our little Han Solo has grown into a pure piece of artwork, and we’ll never forget the interesting and sad event of his birth.

Adult picture courtesy of Whirlaway Farms.

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Badmouthing Breeders

67546There is little that I enjoy more than helping a newcomer to the goat world – helping them choose their new kids, discussing their first steps into our caprine world, and sending them off to start a new journey. Anyone who has purchased from me knows my famous line, “My goats come with life-time tech support.”  I have always wanted to have happy customers over making a profit.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to any community, and I cannot express how terribly glum it makes me feel when I hear that one of my customers has partaken in it.

What I’m talking about is indulging in the negative discussion of other breeders and their animals with others – “Badmouthing them” as most of us would put it.

One year I set up a couple with some beautiful bottle doelings, and included a wether for no charge. We spoke at length when they picked up their animals, and they seemed happy, and I was happy. When I did not hear anything from them afterward (which is not unusual), I assumed they were content and trouble-free. Instead, they took it upon themselves to visit another breeder, and made it a point to speak incredibly poorly of me, the farm, and the animals.

I was taken aback, and felt quite terrible when I heard that this had taken place. Unfortunately, this is not the first time – nor will it be the last – and it’s not an uncommon situation in our world. I cannot say why such ugly words were spoken, but I realize too, there are often many reasons for such things, and it goes both ways. It’s not just customers who might choose to twist the truth and belittle others.

It was early on in my own goat buying endeavours that I experienced the other side of the coin – a breeder began to put down a neighboring breeder, extolling her and her animal’s faults in a diatribe that left me rather uncomfortable and wrong footed. Unsure of how to react, I remember laughing it off and changing the subject back to this breeder’s own animals – which were what I was there to see, after all, and leaving with a sour taste in my mouth. Needless to say, I did not purchase any stock.

So why do people do this?

In my opinion, there is a huge range of reasons. For some, they had a bad experience and feel completely justified to rant about what happened. There can be no doubt, if one was truly wronged in a transaction, we feel compelled to tell others, to spare them the possibility of a similar experience, and I take little offense to that. The problem with these situations is that the truth becomes contorted, rewritten, and one-sided. One of the largest fiascos I have been involved in over the past few years started with a simple – but terrible – mistake, and ended with legal threats because it became blown out of proportion and damaging.

Others seem to think that by speaking badly of another breeder, they may be showing their current breeder of interest how much they “know” – how much they appreciate this breeder as opposed to the other. Some may feel that this will create a sort of comradery, or let the breeder know that they are surely better than any of the others. This type I understand on a human level, but I abhor. To smear another’s name to make yours shinier shows a deep flaw in character, though not an uncommon one.

Some too, simply seem obtuse to the fact that taking the time to critique and tear down another’s animals to a fellow breeder is incredibly bad etiquette.

So what can we do, as breeders, when we learn that our customers are disparaging us or our animals to others? What can we do when a customer begins to slander one of our fellows as they stand on our farm?

For the most part – nothing can, or should, be done. If a customer begins to slander another farm – whether I know them or not – I will make it a point to shift the conversation away, perhaps back to my own stock and how they may fit what the customer is looking for. Though it gives me a rather unpleasant feeling to hear, I understand too that it is often not malicious and the buyer often believes what they say is the entire truth, and I often have not nearly enough information to make a judgement call, nor do I feel as if I have the right.

More hurtful is when we as breeders discover our customers are slinging mud behind our backs, but it is never in our best interest to confront the culprit and to cause a scene. If the customer feels they are in the right, they will merely redouble their efforts, and in the end, the trouble that comes from it is never worth the satisfaction that comes from calling out someone. If the situation becomes public – especially on the Internet – often the best course of action is to ignore it (if possible), or to make one carefully thought out and written statement that explains the facts of the situation, with nothing else, and leaving it be. In the end, most things blow over and are forgotten about in short order.

I will say, on a personal note, that I refuse sales to anyone who has had the time to bad mouth me or mine. I breed for myself, first and foremost, and I will never allow myself to be in a situation where I feel I must sell my animals, so I have the luxury of such.

Plus – if they have so much negative to say about you or your animals, why would they even want to buy more?

 

I apologize for the lack of April’s Goat of the Month.

 

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Goat of the Month: March 2016

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March’s Goat of the Month is the one and only Commando!

Commando is K-N-S Farm’s wether (neutered male) and he plays an important role here at the dairy. While they don’t exhibit the offensive behavior and odor of an intact male, wethers are still more than capable of detecting a doe in estrus and letting you know. I’ve also observed protective behavior in our herd’s wethers towards the does and kids as well, and they often play the referee in herd disputes.

 
205520_1326009647781_6771181_nCommando’s dam was Nubian/Saanen/Nigerian Dwarf cross named Bunny – a wonderful milker and sweet girl. His sire was Blizzard, and Commando is his first son. Commando was also the first kid that I produced and retained for myself.

He was so interesting as a newborn that I just had to see how he developed – and it was fascinating!

Born nearly black, there was just the subtle hint of mottling under the fur, with a few spots. However it didn’t take long for that coloration to start to show through.

He is most heavily moonspotted kid that Blizzard produced – he passed on his spots quite often, but never to this extent again.

 

 
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By the time he was a yearling, his coloration and pattern had completely changed, and it continues to evolve as he grows.

But Commando isn’t just all color! His personality is very reminiscent of his father’s. Gentle, with a subtle sense of humor, Commando is one of my good pals.

He’s always happy for a scratch on the head or a kiss on the nose.

 

 

 

 

Though he may not produce offspring or product, Commando plays an important part here at the farm, and our herd would be very empty without him.

 
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Dairy Diaries: The Day I Almost Died

 

A few folks have heard me tell this story before, and in my usual fashion I often make light about it, but I would be a liar indeed if I said it wasn’t one of the most frightening experiences in my life – this from someone who has worked with predators ranging from and certainly not limited to wolves and sixteen foot pythons, alligators and big cats. A hefty resume, though no doubt a lot of people would not approve of the situations I was in, especially in today’s world – and I did not always escape unscathed. Regardless, I survived all those encounters, but for all that, it was the domesticated cow that nearly put an end to me.

 

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Isn’t he cute? When I met Charlie and Brownie, they were just tiny little bottle calves. They came to the dairy not long after I started working there more regularly (still commuting from our previous home), and I was delighted to assist in their feeding and watch them play. Both were very friendly and liked to be petted and would slobber all over your clothes. A true delight.  Both were castrated and dehorned.

After the fire, we moved to the dairy and settled ourselves into the routine right away. Charlie and Brownie had gotten much larger, but still remained with the goat herd, comfortably lying among the does in the barn. They did not exhibit any inappropriate behavior and I quite enjoyed having them around. Yes, they were destined for the freezer from the beginning, but I am not one of those people who cannot coddle and make much of an animal before its ultimate destiny arrives.

But I was about to be reminded that cattle are incredible dangerous animals, responsible for multiple deaths a year just in the United States.

I could have shared that fate, if it wasn’t for Ana.

 

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After the fire took our house and our pets, I could not bear being lonely when Steven (my husband) was at work. I was not accustomed to walking around a farm on my own, so it was a very brief time before Ana joined our lives. Her slightly smaller size meant she wasn’t suitable for the show ring in South Africa she was originally headed for, so her breeder was happy to place her with us, to help heal our hearts.

I had no clue she would turn out to be such a fabulous farm dog. Not only did she immediately prove herself a proficient ratter, she was comfortable with all the farm animals and had a high drive to learn to assist in any chore I asked.

We had only been together a few weeks, and this was one of the first weeks I had begun to allow her to accompany me with a bit more freedom (no leash, not constantly supervised) while I made my rounds, checking water and visiting with the stock.

 

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While in the barn, I was checking the hay feeders when Brownie, my favorite calf, came over. I rubbed his head like I always did, and completely distracted, made no notice of his more aggressive bunting and postering. Many people will say there is no sign of an attack before it comes, but I know that I made a very real mistake in not being more aware of his behavior. It’s extremely easy to become complacent, even around animals that weigh three times or more what you do.

As soon as my back was turned, Brownie took a step back and then hit me with his head directly in the back of my ribcage, knocking the breath out of me. Once he had me on the ground, he went almost to his knees to smash his head against me, throwing it back and forth as if to gore me with the horns he no longer had. The weight of him alone however was more than capable of finishing the job he had started.

It’s amazing how clear one’s mind can be during these situations. I knew that I was in trouble, and I knew that if I didn’t get up, I could get badly hurt here, or possibly killed. I remember thinking how ironic it would be, for all that had just happened, that now I would be killed in the barn by a filthy cow.

I went for his eyes, desperate to dig my fingers into them. Any chance to get him to back up long enough to get away. I could hear his breathing and the rustle of his hooves in the hay, but nothing else.

Then Ana was there, screaming her very distinct scream right in his face. Snarling like an Anatolian Shepherd, she went so far as to step on and over my body to bite him in the face. It was enough to make the steer shy away, and I took that chance to bolt for the gate.

I slammed it behind me, turning in time to stare straight into Brownie’s wide brown eyes on the other side. Ana darted beneath a different gate and rejoined me, tongue lolling out like we had just played an amusing game.

My husband by chance called me at that time, which I’m sure was a unpleasant experience – no one wants to hear how their spouse was nearly just murdered by a bovine, but I can surely bet the shaky story as it spilled out over the phone ensured his affection for our new family member would only double in size.

It just goes to show – you don’t need a great deal of size and strength to carry a bold heart.

 
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Goat of the Month: February 2016

sgfsdgFebruary’s Goat of the Month is the fabulous Honey Doe Farm Hatsumi. By the CCF5 William the Conqueror and out of Honey Doe Farm Nutmeg, this beautiful golden doe is one of the sturdy well bred foundation does of the K-N-S Farm and Honey Doe Farm lines.

Distinguished by the splash of white alongside her muzzle, Hatsumi is a favorite from her year and has proven herself an excellent mother and an even better milker.

With a strong attachment, good medial, and well placed teats, she is very easy to milk. Although a little meatier than I like, her capacity is excellent, and her orifices are plenty wide. Her biggest flaw, like many of our foundation does, is a pocket in the front of the udder.

 

sgfsdgfgfHatsumi has produced fabulous does including Honey Doe Farm Paprika and the upcoming Honey Doe Farm Pixel Art.

One that tends to kid out triplets at minimum, she has carried, delivered, and nursed quads very successfully as well. Paprika came from that set of kids, actually.
What’s more, Hatsumi is one of those does who can be bonded and trusted with an orphan kid, if care is taken. This year she is assisting in the feeding of several kids that don’t belong to her, including the one pictured!

 

 
hatsumiI cannot recall a single time where Hatsumi was ill, or had issues with foot or skin infection. These are the type of does I covet, as everyone should. Completely reliable on the milk stand, with a very calm gentle personality. I will admit she is not as people-oriented as I would prefer, but she gives up and allows herself to be caught without fuss, and never misses a milking time.

Strong and sturdy in body, Hatsumi really embodies the heavier cobby style of the Nigerian Dwarf, a great deal of substance with a deep chest and girth; plenty of room for heart, lungs, rumen, and all the other important bits.

 

Thanks to her very laid back personality and hardiness, there are few stories to tell about Hatsumi! Which in the end, is not a bad thing in the least. The quiet trouble-free does may not always get the front page of the farm news, but they are the backbone of the dairy.

 

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What’s the least you can do?

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If there’s one thing I hear far too often, it’s the phrase, “What’s the least I can do?” Perhaps not said in so many words, but it’s frequently there, lurking between the lines.

Folks will ask me about fencing, and when advice is given, often they return with questions about a less expensive – and less safe – type of fencing.

When shelter is discussed, I am asked about the bare minimum one can provide their new pets. I encourage people to look less at “cow and goat” hay and more at the top quality horse hay and forage. I gently remind locals that wooden milkstands and shelters may be cheaper, but will rot and be useless far more quickly than a pricier metal option.

And of course, the infamous buyers who want a colorful bred to the hilt doe in milk that will produce enough for their family, but unfortunately they only have so much to spend . . . can I help them?

In the majority of cases, these requests and questions do not come from a place of miserly cheapness, but a desire to be frugal, something one can totally understand in this day and age. One might feel that if they can cut costs in some areas, it will save money for the care of the animals, or possible vet needs.

However, it’s far more expensive to be frugal in the long run in certain cases, and goats happen to be one. Where you might save money purchasing the less expensive fencing option, you’ll spend it twice-fold repairing and replacing over the next couple of years. That pallet housing, though cute on Pinterest, will soon be rotting in humid climates, if the goats don’t manage to break it into pieces.

The $50 Craigslist goat, though cute and a great deal, will rarely be tested for disease and has an unknown background. I’ve had and have everything from the free rescue goat to the $600 royally bred goat, for I love them all, and I can confidentially say that it costs just as much to care for the cheap one as it does the expensive goat, and the better bred goat always comes out in the lead on production, while a cheaper goat may end up a sunk cost in the end.

There is nothing wrong with saving costs, and being frugal – that is for sure! But it’s also important to know where you can cut costs. The best things you can do is learn to handle the majority of basic vet care on your own – vaccinating, disbuddding, hoof trimming, drawing blood – you can learn to do these things.

Mix your own feeds and minerals, or join a co-op to buy in bulk if you can. Instead of paying a premium price for a spray to cure that pesky rain rot, hit the dollar store and buy some off brand mouthwash – it works fabulously against any fungal infection. You can even mix up your own mild teat dip with dish soap and bleach.

Don’t overpay for goat-sized boluses when you can pay less for the cattle brand and repackage into inexpensive gelatin capsules easily purchased on Amazon. It takes a little more time, but especially as your herd grows, the savings add up.

There are a hundred small ways to save money, but when it comes to the key points of owning goats, paying more in the beginning for fencing, shelter, equipment, and stock will pay off in the long run – and not just in monetary value. It will save you headaches, heartbreak, frustration, and irritation.

When it comes to goats, you should never ask, “What’s the least I can do?” but “What’s the most I can afford.”

Artwork by Mindy Van Tassel of Minxed Arts

 

 

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