The ‘SCENT’ of love is in the air!

It’s goat breeding season!

Katie (and I) have been raising a small herd of Oberhasli dairy goats for over seven years. [WOW! Has it really been that long?] When I say small, I mean very small… the most ‘milkers’ we’ve ever ‘freshened’ (had in milk) have been three does (all at once)! That’s a lot of goat milk considering a standard-size goat produces about one-gallon of milk per day! Since I’m an empty-nester, one doe is more than adequate to fill my household needs for fresh milk!

But, we have never, ever owned a BUCK! We’ve raised a couple of wethers (castrated bucks), but, never kept a buck. Someday, perhaps Dennis will ‘allow’ me to own a buck ~ OR ~ Katie will advance in her college studies to provide assistance/instruct me regarding the intricacies of AI (which is becoming quite common for ‘ordinary’ goat folks to perform… once you have mastered the necessary skill and equipment, that is).

In the meantime, I have been fortunate blessed to have nearby goat friends who have ‘provided’ buck service for my girl(s) over these past seven years! I am eternally grateful!! I can’t imagine NOT having my own goat milk! It’s my goat therapy!

To successfully breed a goat without a buck in residence, ((or having a pet wether who still ‘acts’ like a buck as an ‘indicator’))…can be difficult. This is no ordinary task. First, one must be able to ‘detect’ a doe’s estrous cycle: tail wagging, mounting, bleating, milky discharge, etc. Then again, some does (particularly first-fresheners) are very secretive about their ‘time-of-month’.

The process thus far: make verbal pre-arrangement(s) with buck owner, carefully record observation(s), grab-n-snatch doe (praying and hoping that you’ve caught her at the right time realizing that ovulation lasts about 12 to 36 hours from onset of standing heat), and race over to buck/friend’s house where he’s anxiously awaiting you/your doe’s arrival!

Then…. your doe decides to play hard-to-get!!! Is NOT the least bit interested in any pre-planned romantic rendezvous. So, you collect a smelly buck rag (sometimes unnecessary because the buck who’s doing his thingy to court your young lady has also rubbed-all-over you too) and return home. Another several hours have passed, you pre-arrange a sunset soiree, re-load your doe and off you go – AGAIN! Tail wagging, milky discharge, face rubbing on the buck rag! YES!! Timing is better!!

Rather be safe than sorry, we plan ONE MORE meeting for early morning!! Three times the charm, right??? Perhaps a pregnancy test in a few weeks would be prudent. In the meantime, I’ll need to decide whether to breed another doe… just in case!?

Yes, I thank God for friends that are willing to share!! I would NOT be doing/loving my goats without YOU! I thank you from the bottom of my goat-loving heart!



A little R&R?

‘Rest’ and ‘Relaxation’ are two words that, for the most part, do not exist in my vocabulary. Well, not in the traditional sense of the word(s). I find relaxation toiling the soil and tending to my goats and sheepies. Milking (a goat) and spinning wool is something that I love to do and is very therapeutic for me! Fiber’n is also very relaxing as my mind often drifts… usually with thoughts of the yet another project. 

But, the cooler temps and shorter days brings a few more MUST-do’s on the growing to-do list of chores around the ‘farm’ – preferably before the snow flies:

  • There’s harvesting the last of the garden produce (here in Michigan anyway) – canning, freezing and drying – to get you through ’til next Spring  and a new growing season. 
  • I still have to garble my stock-piled dried lavender that’s been accumulating in the drying barn for creating sachets, moth chasers and heavenly fragrant farm-made herbal sundries. 
  • Not to mention, preparing the garden beds for winter slumber – mulching and composting, amending and turning the soil, raking leaves, planting a few more bulbs perhaps?
  • Harvesting wild rose hips, evergreens, pine cones, etc to use to decorate the shop for the XMas holidays. BTW, for any locavores, my Holiday Open House is Nov. 13 & 14.

The flip side of gardening chores is all about the animals:

  • Drying-off my two milking goats; I take the winter off from milking (brrrr)and give ‘the girls’ a well-deserved rest. This will be our 4th ‘freshening’. Our dairy goats are seasonal breeders (similar to deer), coming into heat from Sept – Dec/Jan, approx every 21 days with ‘heat’ lasting for about 18 hours or so. Our Alpine doe, Schaherezade, was showing ‘signs’ of heat…so hold-on, drop everything and load her up to take her to our friend’s buck about 30 minutes down the road! Schaz was very ‘receptive’ and had a lovely little rendezvous with her buck-y boyfriend yesterday – boom bam slam! If she ‘settles’, our kidding season begins next April (there’s a 5-month gestation period for goats). Time will tell…
  • We hope to breed two more yearling does – Sweet Annie and Coriander. It will be their first freshening. So, we’ll keep a close eye on ‘the girls’ and watch for signs of their heat cycle too. 
  • Worming my sheep and dairy goats (the goats are done) is also on the to-do list. I usually like to wait for a ‘killing’ frost before I begin Fall worming – and hoof trimming while I’m attending to everyone and have a captivated audience.
  • Soon we’ll be changing out water buckets as necessary; I purchased an electric/heated water bucket for the goats last year that I’ll give a try this winter. I just absolutely dread busting out all the ice from way too many critters’ water dishes and hauling water buckets to re-fill each of them. While reduced water consumption in winter, it’s critical that all the barnyard menagerie has access to fresh water!

Did I mention Dennis finished building our ‘new’ recycled hay feeder for the sheep? It’s a bit bigger and better(?) than the first prototype. I don’t much care for the shingles – it adds weight & it’s heavy to lift (for me) to fill with hay – especially when my sheepies are all over my back-side trying to get the first yummy nibble of hay!

This is the ‘new’ sheep hay feeder. We reduced the spacing between the vertical slats to minimize potential stuck ‘lil lamb heads. (The initial feeder prototype is pic above.)

Finally, here’s a pic of our completed sheep shed and wind break that we constructed from salvaged/recycled wood.

Happy Day! Today is spinning day! Yeah!