Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ah, Blessed Goat Hormones

Goats are funny little creatures. They are also - I have to admit - my favorite here on our little farmstead. I know so many folks who really despise goats, but honestly, I adore them. They are full of personality, love, and endless pranks to keep you on your toes.

Remember Liberty, the Crazy Goat? Perhaps the idea of me, running helter skelter over a small mountain chasing after a psychotic goat will jog your memory? Having to fetch her from the neighbor's house, half a mile down the road? Indeed, that was a rough time. Her being our first goat, I decided then and there I was NOT cut out to be a goat owner, that all goat owners were masochistic, and as it turns out, dairy isn't really all that important in a person's diet. At least, not ours.

Seriously. It was rough. She's never been a friendly goat. Even now - a year and a half later - she's not the friendliest. She'll let me pet her, but she isn't one to demand attention like the other two. She doesn't (ever) talk to me, she is skittish if you try to approach her. She's definitely not what I'd call "tame".

The strange thing, though, is that of our three milking does, she is my absolute favorite. Maybe because demanding isn't my favorite character trait? And she certainly has no intention of ever needing anything from me - ever.

It happened when she had her first kids, last year. She wasn't the greatest mom in the world, but we worked through that. But here's the surprising bit - it turns out that Crazy Goat is actually a natural milker. First time on the stanchion, and there she stood. Just stood! Silly goat won't let us touch her on a regular basis, but we can take all the milk from her udder that we please, and she won't complain in the slightest!

Fast forward to this year: she still doesn't really care to have me pet her. At all. Like, runs in circles around the stall to get away from me. Unless I have treats. Treats are really helpful. But yeah -she's still a wild little goat, and her use for humans is pretty minimal. Give her food, give her water, then go away.

But the moment those two, sweet little babies were out of her and nursing, she turns into this adorable, loving little goat. Twelve hours after birth, I put her on the stanchion. All she needs is to hear the milk room open and she is racing for it, on the stanchion, head locked in place and happily munching grain. And then - and I'm so not joking - she actually bent her knees out to give me better access to her udder! Seriously, Liberty the Crazy Goat was standing there, knees cocked out, so I could milk more comfortably.

This silly little goat is proof - it doesn't take a perfectly tame goat to make an incredible milker. She gave me a pint of colostrum*, and had plenty more, and didn't even so much as wiggle the whole time. And as soon as she was off the stanchion, she was content to have me go away and leave her be.

It was nice - relaxing and just milking a goat I know so well - especially after spending the last week attempting to milk a cow (which deserves it's own blog post, but I'm still waiting to see humor in it.) We both just settled in, did what we do, and were done.

So, ye with Wild Goats - don't sell yourself (or them) short. It just might be that they are exactly what you need them to be.

*Colostrum: the first milk, full of antibodies and absolutely imperative for kid goat survival. Turns out, some goats produce a lot extra. I steal what I think is reasonable and freeze it, in the event that I have another babe that might need it. I'm living in constant fear that one of our does is going to have triplets (she is wider than she is long) and having some extra colostrum on hand makes me feel a little better.

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