Tag Archives: raising dairy goats

Finding Dora Crossbred Dairy Goat

I like the challenge of National Novel Writing Month every November. However, it means I need to have an idea for a novel every year. One year it left me finding Dora.

One question seems to pop up a lot for authors. Where do your ideas come from? In self defense we come up with some way to answer.

The truth is that they just are there. The nudge can be a book, a news item, a picture, some person we know who has something happen or something that happens or has happened in our own lives. The question is “What if?” to find a new way to look at this nudge.

preliminary sketch for Dora's Story
The drawings for Dora’s Story were done by Martha Cunningham. This is one of her preliminary sketches.

Finding Dora was like that. I was driving out to see a friend thinking about nothing in particular. I had just reread “Black Beauty” and wondered if something similar would work about a goat.

I’ve known lots of goat owners and heard or read about many more. There are owners of other kinds of livestock whose behavior and attitudes are applicable to goats as well.

I found myself thinking about possible owners and incidents. The list was a long one. which ones would I use?

Emily from the goat novel Dora's Story
In Part 2 of Dora’s Story Emily gets and names Dora to participate in a 4-H livestock project. She and Dora become fast friends. When her mother sells Dora, Emily is devastated and tries to find her.

It’s rare I sit down and outline an idea for a novel. Usually I have a bullet list of possible incidents. Finding Dora took an outline.

I decided on a cross bred dairy goat with a young girl as her first real owner. The girl was Emily. She names her goat Dora.

The big problem was the time line. The story took place over a number of years. Each of Dora’s owners had to fit into and fill this time frame. The goat shows had to fit in too along with all the classes, people and goats involved.

I still have those pages of notes. And it is several pages. Finding Dora was challenging and taught me a lot about writing.

Use coupon code FT39Y on Smashwords for your free ebook copy of Dora’s Story.

Endless Goat Year

Fall has arrived in the Ozarks along with cold nights and a smelly buck. Augustus is more interested in the does than his breakfast. Another part of the endless goat year.

People like to have a place to start the year. It’s an excuse to leave mistakes behind and try again.

For dairy goats the year never ends, only cycles through the seasons. Fall is breeding season.

My herd is smaller now, only fourteen does. Three are aged and retired. Four will continue to be milked over the winter. Two will have kids in November. That leaves five does to be bred in October.

Nubian doe High Reaches Drucilla is part of the endless goat year
Nubian doe Drucilla seems to like having her kids in the fall. She is due about November, but is already hanging heavy. She is a big doe and usually has big, healthy kids.

Fall breeding season might be a good time to begin the dairy goat year. But there is no real break. Milking continues every day. Goat care continues. Barn cleaning is necessary before winter. The endless goat year marches on.

The last few years a couple of does have had their kids in late fall to early winter. In the Ozarks Nubians breed all year.

The first time I expected frozen kids and lots of trouble. The kids were fine and livened up dull winter months. And the milk was welcome in the early spring when the other milkers began to falter.

Before these kids, all my kids were born in March and April. Perhaps that made spring feel like the beginning of a new year.

Nubian goat kids are part of the endless goat year
Spring Nubian goat kids go out with the herd when only a few weeks old. The grass is still short making it harder for them to get left behind. This one has found a good place to rest among the roots of a fallen tree.

But it wasn’t. Milking, chores, barn cleaning, hoof trimming continued the same way as before the kids. The endless goat year rolled on through into summer.

Since I am the only one caring for my goats, I am always here for milking. This gets frustrating as I can go no where unless the trip fits between morning and evening chores. The days blur one into another making an endless goat year for me.

As my herd dwindles, that year may sometime in the future come to an end. After forty-six years of routine, that is a bit liberating and frightening.

Kidding season can be daunting for a new goat owner as Harriet found out in “Capri Capers.”

Setting Goals For New Year Plans

New Year’s Day is traditionally a time to make resolutions of things you want to do in the upcoming year. Resolutions are so rigid, easy to break and abandon. I prefer setting goals, some with deadlines, most without.

Nubian kids out to play
Nubian goat kids grow up so fast. At about a month old, these are already going out to pasture. None have gotten lost. They love to play.

The goats, chickens and garden loom large in my plans. This year will add Buff Orpington pullets and standard Cochin pullets to the flock. All the goat kids will be sold.

chicken breeds include Buff Orpingtons
Buff Orpingtons are a favorite breed of chicken for lots of people. They are big, lay big brown eggs and are usually friendly.

Selling goat kids is really hard for me as my goats are family. Bottle babies are even worse. In a way I am glad five of the kids are bucks as they must leave at three months old or the barn becomes a madhouse. Especially since more kids are due then.

Seed catalogs are sabotaging my garden goals of a smaller, more manageable garden of crops we like to eat. On the plus side is the large amount of mulch going out to bury any dreams of weeds to blanket the entire garden. My favorite feed store is generous with cardboard for under the mulch to thwart the more stubborn weeds.

setting goals versus seed catalogs
The garden is finite. My time is finite. The seed catalogs make everything look so appealing. This calls for monumental will power.

Setting goals of a smaller garden will probably fail. It might even get a bit bigger with more containers. And the pumpkins and winter squash seem to do better out in the pastures and on the compost pile than in the garden.

I seem to be a semi hoarder. Perhaps I’m too lazy to keep cleaning out things I no longer use or am too good at deluding myself I will get back to some hobby from the past. The end results are piles of things I no longer use like piano music and a piano and a cedar chest full of material. And a thousand books waiting to be read.

Then there is the shell collection. I last seriously collected in 1972 and have moved the boxes several times dreaming of moving back to the ocean, but I won’t. Missouri is home and it is not on the ocean. Setting goals means these things are searching for a new home.

setting goals for "The City Water Project"
“The City Water Project” is approaching completion. It is a science book for upper middle grades, but can be adapted younger and older. There are 10 investigations, 8 activities, 28 pencil puzzles and 8 stories about water and how you get water in your house. Release is scheduled for March, 2020.

What I love to do is write. For 2020 I plan to release “The City Water Project” in March, “The Carduan Chronicles” in October and “Waiting For Fairies” in October. The last is a children’s picture book. Setting goals for writing does include trying to let people know about my books.

Walking is something else I love to do in the search for new plants. I’ve gone over my botany project pictures. There is a list of pictures needed to complete pages for plants I’ve found. No list is done for plants I’ve not found yet as that would be too daunting. But the search continues already looking at winter trees. So far Southern Red Oak is new.

Setting goals is easy. Set backs are common. Still, the flexible schedule helps make some of them happen and that’s encouraging.