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The mating process for goats was a surprise

  • The buck D’Artagnan visits Liberty Farm in Antrim every summer. COURTESY PHOTO


Monday, April 25, 2016

Goat kids are precious and, on average, 2 pounds at birth. They usually have twins, but triplets are not at all uncommon. Early on, I decided to expand our herd. Being a novice shepherd, I started reading about how to make that happen. Seems you need a buck.

Nigerian Dwarfs come into heat about every 25 days. We do not keep a buck on our farm, so we need to take our does to a buck. You need to have a plan in place.

The plan:

Choose a breeder. Choose a buck that can contribute herd-enhancing characteristics. Have transportation in place. Look for signs that your doe is in heat, such as: Doe is more vocal than usual; doe is overly affectionate; doe is flagging her tail. Be sure doe is in standing heat, i.e. willing to be courted by the buck. Keep a Buck Rag handy.

A Buck Rag? That one stopped me, too. Seems bucks make themselves attractive and alluring to does by creating a scent no doe can resist – urinating on themselves, earning honestly the smelly old goat moniker.

Off to a breeder I went with the requisite cotton towel and a plastic bag. I watched her rub that towel all over her cooperative buck, saturating it with his special “fragrance.” I cannot ever remember a time when I more deftly entombed something in plastic.

When I noticed what I thought were signs of heat, I was to open the Buck Rag Bag and present it to the doe. If she eagerly rubbed herself on it, made some come-hither throaty sounds and followed that bag wherever I moved it, we needed to travel to the buck.

If you are lucky enough to have a friend like Cheryl, you will understand the value of the kind of friendship that has spanned six decades. Growing up, we spent our summers in Gilmanton. She currently breeds miniature horses, goats, rabbits, chickens and ducks.

I called Cheryl and asked her if she had any sperm she could spare. Not a question you could ask of just anyone. She laughed her signature laugh and said come on up to my farm. I have a handsome buck for you to meet.

The drive to Gilmanton Iron Works was uneventful. We – my does, Maxine, Blondie, Luna and I – made many folks smile as they passed us on the roadways. It is not common, even in New Hampshire, to see goats out for a ride. Cheryl was on her front steps waiting for us when we arrived. We unloaded the does and went to introduce them to D’Artagnan.

D’Artagnan wholeheartedly welcomed Maxine, Blondie and Luna into his spacious box stall; he could not believe his good fortune of having three lovely does visit. Cheryl and I stayed close at hand for a while to be sure they would all get on OK. When we were convinced they needed some alone time, I offered to help Cheryl with some of her barn chores.

We checked in on Maxine, Blondie, Luna and D’Artagnan periodically. After witnessing what seemed to be promising couplings, we left them to rest and went in to have some tea.

It is so nice to be able to spend time with someone who has known you since birth. No need to explain this or that, just start up right where you left off in the last visit. We spent many summers horseback riding, performing silly plays for our parents, stacking wood, swimming, haying, singing, and laughing. The laughter and knowing that you always have someone with whom you can connect is priceless. All too soon it was time to load up my does and travel home.

D’Artagnan has come to our farm for several summers now. It is always fun to see him meet his kids. He and the does spend a couple of months together, ensuring more kids will be born at Liberty Farm each spring.

 

Sheila and Bill Nichols live at Liberty Farm in Antrim.For more information, see www.brimstonewoods.com.