We have just completed our first week (and a few days) of being goat owners. Has it really just been a week? Wow, it feels so much longer. It has been a week of laughter, fear, joy, and tears. And this is just the start of our adventure.
We chose to go with a dwarf variety of goat for so many reasons but the main one being that they are adorable!!! Our plan for the goat factor on the farm is to produce dairy so we chose Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats. They are known to be easy to handle and their milk is said to be sweeter than a large goat. Being new to goats and new to dairying, we thought it would be a good idea to start small.
The first few days were a struggle to get the kids to take a bottle. They had never had one and had no idea that the weird tall animals shoving gross plastic things in their mouths were actually offering warm, delicious nourishment. Our doeling caught on quickly and soon she was sucking down the ozs as if it was the last bottle on Earth. Our buckling on the other hand was leaving me terrified and in tears. He would not take that bottle. The Hubinator would have to crouch over him and brace him in his arms while I pried open his little mouth, shoved in the nipple, and clamped my hands around his face. It was horrible. He was barely taking an ounce. One lunch time feeding I just sat in the pen and sobbed because I could feel his little ribs and backbone but could not make him understand that I was giving him what he wanted. In desperation I skipped the next feeding hoping that he would be ravenous. It wasn’t as magical as I had hoped but between the two of us we did get a whole 4 ounces in him. The next morning I tentatively made up their bottles and went out to the pen. I fed our doeling first figuring I would have another struggle with the little man. All of the sudden, here he was, jumping on his sister’s back and trying to grab the nipple out of her mouth. I picked up his bottle and he latched right on and sucked down the whole thing as if he had been doing it all along!!! I then cried tears of joy. The moral of this story? Keep at it, they are stubborn little buggers but they will get it and when they do get it, you better hold onto that bottle for dear life!
Let me introduce our little guys!
This cutie pie is Jameson. He will be our one and only wether (more on that later) but as he is a twin we didn’t want to separate him from his sister so, he’s my little buddy. Since we took him out of the car on day one I have been picking him up, cuddling him, petting him, and generally trying to bond with him. This has made him easy to handle and a very sweet little guy.
This little milk gurgler is Pickles. She is a silly, kick up her heels kinda girl. She has been a strong drinker since day two (day one was a little off for both) and the Hubinator has taken her on as his baby girl. She hasn’t been cuddled as much because hubs is just not much of a cuddler but, I have been picking her up and playing with her feets and generally getting her used to being handled.
These two kids are the first of our herd and having them has already taught me so much. I feel a bit like a new mom and worry every night when I put them in their shelter. I worry every morning when I let them out. I worry if I am outside and don’t catch a glimpse of them after a few minutes. I am excited to see them becoming more agile, I feel pride and sorrow when I let them out in the morning and I swear they grew some over night. I am guessing some of this is how new moms feel, never having human kids of my own. I know it will get easier as we add more to the herd and have a little practice but right now it is a bit overwhelming.
Today marks another milestone in our goats lives. We are taking them to the vet to have their first round of vaccinations and hopefully learn how to give them vaccinations ourselves. Goat farmers are a self sufficient bunch, farmers in general are, and we can’t be running off to the vet every time someone needs a vaccination. Especially when we begin breeding our does. We are also having my little man wethered or castrated. We do not plan to use him as a buck for our herd and like I said, we did not want to separate him from his sister. So “off with his nuts”, not to be crass. I am fearful because I do not want him to be in pain but I know it is the best thing for him and everyone will be much happier this way. Speaking of, it is about that time. Fingers crossed that momma doesn’t cry and I will fill you all in on the gory details next time!