Goat Breeding: An Impromptu Drive to the Breeder

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Well, I had all these grand plans for today. Kyle was working in town in exchange for some new cross-country ski boots, so I was flying solo for the day. My plans included doing some laundry, painting my bee hive, working on the guest bedroom (sanding the mud on the drywall around our built-in shelves), working on a new knitting project, placing my bee order, and spending some time with the girls in the barn.

It started out as a lazy morning. Kyle and I had slept in to almost 7:30 after a night out in Stowe celebrating the marriage of our friends, Anna and Matt. Kyle had to leave around 8:15, and I sat down to my computer to work on a few blogs and read up about gardening. Before I knew it an hour had passed, and I hadn’t even been out to the barn yet! The girls always have plenty of hay and water so they are fine, but I like getting out there right off to get them a bit of grain on these chilly winter days.

I threw my coveralls on over my flannel pajama pants and slipped on my muck boots and jacket. Ollie followed me out to the barn, as usual, and as soon as I went through the door the chickens were right on me. They are a little more demanding of my time – ever since we started feeding them our kitchen scraps they’ve been absolutely ridiculous. Even when I drop a glove on the ground they fall on it like vultures on yesterdays meal.

Anywho. So I’m going about my business, checking the water level in their bucket, tossing grain around for the chickens, and grabbing eggs before they can freeze. As I’m about to leave to get some breakfast of my own I do a quick check of the goats. Chutney was bred a month ago and the jury is still out as to wether or not it was successful, so I’ve been keeping an eye on her to see if she goes back into heat. May on the other had, hadn’t been in heat ONCE since we got her back in August, and we were, frankly, a little concerned that she had some “problems.” But when I checked her over she actually had a little discharge which made me think that she could be in heat.

Now, not having any boy goats on site (neither buck nor wether), it has made it very difficult to really tell when the girls go in heat. They don’t have anyone to flirt with or moon over, so I have to go by the little things. May had a tiny bit of discharge and was holding her tail up in the air, wagging it ever so slightly on occasion. Bear in mind that it takes me an hour to get them to the breeder, so I didn’t want to be wrong and bring her all that way for nothing. But on the other hand, if she was in heat I’d have to wait another three weeks or so before she went into heat again. Suddenly that possibly-a-waste-of-time drive to the breeder sounded pretty good. So I called up Sharon at Willow Moon Farm in Plainfield, and she told me to bring her down right away.

I still had the tarp in my car from when we took the girls up to my Mom’s house a few weeks ago, so I just tossed in some hay and lured May and Chutney into the back. They’re getting really good at car rides, instead of pacing around the whole time they’ll actually lay down and munch on the hay, which is really nice.

It was a beautiful day for a drive, and the whole way to Plainfield I was giving May a little pep-talk. I really hoped that I was right and she was in heat. We arrived at the farm and Sharon brought out Sugar Moon Up Brioso – May’s date. She stood quite still as he checked her out (very promising as she had her tail glued to her butt last time we brought her down and wouldn’t turn her back on the poor guy). Next thing I knew the deed was done, and Sharon and I chatted as we waited for him to “recharge” for one more go before she put him back in the buck pen.

While I was there I got to see the new babies that have come around over the past couple weeks. I just couldn’t believe how little they were: literally smaller than our cats – Elvis totally could have taken one down if he really wanted to. Lucky for Kyle they were all spoken for so I couldn’t buy one. But, hopefully in another four months Chutney will kid and in five months May should be due as well. At that point we’ll be able to start milking the girls and making our own cheese and maybe even butter. The prospects are very exciting.

The whole way home, May was so tired. She kept falling asleep in the funniest positions. I wanted to stop the car to get a picture of her at one point but anytime I came to a full stop both the girls would stand up to see where we were. As soon as we got home, May stood outside the car looking for her boyfriend and crying over and over again. Chutney followed me straight to the barn, but I had to go back and persuade May to follow me. I’ll be keeping an eye on her for the next couple of weeks – just to be sure she doesn’t go back into heat. But lets keep our fingers crossed that we’ll have some babies on the farm this summer!