My spring kidding season is over, I think. This year’s score is: bucks 5, does 0. It is definitely a buck year.
This is also a year of mostly single births. I don’t really mind as I hate selling the kids. This is more complicated now since the local internet classified site closed down.
Another reason I don’t mind a buck year is that I no longer keep any new herd members. Kidding season used to be a time to look over the kids and decide on one or two to keep. Now I know all of them are for sale.
Why would I stop adding to my herd? There are several reasons. Top of the list is my age and that my girls have no place to go if I am no longer able to care for them.
My High Reaches herd has been with me for over 45 years now. All of my herd members were born here. They are like family.
A second reason is the amount of work my herd entails. Younger people don’t get it. The work, even if the amount stays the same, gets harder each passing year over the age of sixty.
A third reason is being tired. Dairy stock requires care at least twice a day every day all year round. I no longer have anyone to spell me for even a single milking and haven’t for a number of years now.
Younger people don’t get this part either. As a person gets older, they need less food. This isn’t because children grow up and move out. It’s because our bodies slow down. I no longer need a refrigerator full of milk and cheese.
For those goat owners with growing herds a buck year is a problem. The main market for those bucks is the meat market.
For me such a year is par for the course.
Read more about raising goats in Dora’s Story and get a free ebook now.
Weather is a battle between fall and winter. Days are growing steadily shorter. Then the November kids arrive to brighten up the season.
My first fall goat kids were accidents. The buck escaped in June. Nubians come in season all year.
I had always arranged for March and April kids as spring was moving in and the weather was warm enough to avoid popsicle kids. My does seem to prefer kidding about dawn. Newborn wet kids don’t do well in temperatures in the twenties or lower.
The weather has changed. Falls are a mixture of warm and cold times. Some of my does seem to prefer having their kids in the fall.
And I have a couple of wethers who love to open the buck’s door. They have a knack for knowing when I neglect to latch the spring hook holding the bar in place.
Something I’ve noticed as more November kids arrive over the years is that the kids seem bigger and livelier than the spring kids. Perhaps this is because the does have been eating well all through their pregnancies.
Winter fare is mostly hay. The grass is like standing hay in the field. The acorns and persimmons are gone or too dirty to tempt my finicky eaters.
My does bred for March and April live on such fare. In addition they use some of what they eat to keep warm. The result seems to be smaller kids.
Once the November kids arrive the herd seems happier too. As the herd numbers dwindle, they like having those extra herd members.
Winter weather does keep the herd inside more often. However the kids have several places to go where the adult does have difficulty going. And the barn has more room with fewer goats occupying it.
This year two does were bred for November. The first November kids to arrive were a buck and doe pair. I’m waiting on the others.
Harriet has a wild time when her goats kid in “Capri Capers”.
Goat kids grow up so fast. There is a group of seven, yet already there are two kid play groups.
The three older kids – older is relative as they are only three days older – are going outside. Matilda’s single buck leaps up on the bench and spends lots of time outside exploring. Juliette’s twins try to follow her out to the small pasture but stop at the gate and run back to the barn.
The other four sleep more. These
were smaller kids being a set of triplet bucks and a doe from a yearling.
Kid play groups matter. When kids
are small, their mother answers their calls, comes running back when they are
lost and showers them with attention. As kids get older, their mothers start to
ignore them and get on with the serious business of eating. The play groups
then keep the kids together, answer each other’s calls and occupy their time
with various games.
The kids in a group are normally about the same age and stage. A smaller, more backward kid will often end up in a play group of younger kids.
By the time these kids are a month
old, the seven will spend most of their time playing together. Another two
weeks will split them up again into two kid play groups as the three older kids
get more serious about eating.
The groups will still merge for fun and games. King of the mountain, race down the log, tag through the herd and other activities are popular until kids get to be yearlings. Even then they indulge themselves at times.
The does watch the antics with such long suffering attitudes. They have forgotten when they were parts of kid play groups. As adults they are far too dignified to engage in such antics. Unless no one is watching.
Meet Star, The Little Goat, in “For Love of Goats” and read more about kids growing up.