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.
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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”.
The older I get, the more involved in writing I get, the more I like having things staying nice and orderly. Another good reason for doing this is so I remember to get everything done on time. Surprise kids don’t fit in the plan.
Very little about my goats stays on plan. In the Ozarks Nubians breed any month of the year and have kids any month of the year. My goat plan calls for breeding in October and November and kids in March and April.
Every year I do my best to stay on my goat plan. Every year
my goats do their best to disrupt my plan.
That brings me to the surprise kids just born. Matilda and Juliette decided to kid either early or late depending on whether I count these kids as part of this year’s kids or next season’s kids.
November is not a good time of year for kids to be born.
November is winter in the Ozarks. It can bring and has brought freezing temperatures,
snow and ice.
This November is like a yoyo temperature wise. It gets cold
for several days. It gets warmer for several days. Warmer is relative. Cold is
highs in the thirties and forties. Warmer is highs in the fifties and sixties.
Matilda is a big goat. She had seemed bigger than usual and slower than usual. I didn’t pay much attention.
Rain had moved in and stayed. It had rained all day. It
stopped in the evening in time for me to go out to milk without carrying an
umbrella. I appreciate this as trying to balance milk, flashlight and umbrella
calls for more hands than I have.
The goats were eager to come in and eat. There are eighteen now how come through every morning and night. Seventeen showed up.
Matilda wasn’t milking. My goats are a bit on the fat side.
She doesn’t have to come in and eat. Still, I check on any goat that doesn’t
come in so I know why.
I found Matilda having her surprise kids. Except she stopped
with one black spotted buck kid. I set up a pen in the barn, put Matilda and
her kid in it and went in to finish writing my NaNo piece.
In the morning I went out to check on Matilda and do morning
chores including milking. Juliette was delivering her surprise kids. She
decided to have a black buck and a brown doe. They are set up in a cubby hole
in the hay. She is delighted.
I’m glad too. Both does had kids when temperatures were in the warmer cycle. The cold cycle starts up again in December.
To make things more interesting, Rose had triplet bucks and Valerie a single doe. The warmer cycle is their best friend for another couple of days.
“For Love of Goats” is for those who love goats and playing with tongue twisters and the sounds of words. Look at the sample pages. The book is available December 7.