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Goat Ladies

Our dairy goats were, in an indirect way, about to bring another horse into our menagerie.

To keep a dairy goat in milk, she has to get pregnant every year. Sometimes she has one kid. More often it's two, three, even four or five in her litter. Half of these are males. These dismal statistics are what kept us local goat ladies from inquiring too deeply into the activities of Christine McCoy. Yes, the woman from whom Dorothy Stender, with my husband John's help, had finally obtained Kiri, the champagne gold filly.

 

OK, big deal. Half the offspring of dairy cattle are males. They, and also most of the females of any dairy breed wind up on dinner plates. Because goats have so many young ones, their milk comes at the cost of creating many more offspring that need to end up somewhere. Preferably, some of us believe, in good homes.

We goat lady types are different from most dairy cattle farmers. For starters, we must be half-crazy. Goats are as hard to pen and order around as cats. They have prehensile tongues with which they untie knots and work open gate latches. When they escape their pens, they munch down rose bushes to the roots and kill trees by stripping off their bark. They sneak into your home and tap dance on your kitchen table and poop on your bed.

 

 Valerie with Pinto Bean and Chestnut. Their mother delivered them right into Val's lap. These boys got jobs as pack goats with an outfitter in the Gila Wilderness.

When a dairy goat goes into labor, she hollers at the top of her lungs until you quit doing whatever you were doing and cuddle her. She quiets down and delivers her babies right into your lap. They come into this world with big appealing eyes. Within hours they are frolicking and begging to be petted.

Goat ladies want to find good homes for these kids. We remove their horns and castrate the bucks. This makes them smell OK and behave in a civilized manner.

How many homes have pet goats? Cute pygmy goats sometimes show up in suburbia. We used a pygmy to train our Border Collies while living in Albuquerque, planning for our future country home. Baby Doe was house broken and perfectly behaved as long as you were looking her in the eye. Look away and she'd jump on top of the kitchen table and dance.

Our Border Collies, Joe Kid and Choplicker, loved it when she'd misbehave. I'd run to the back door and open it. They'd rush to the table and snap at her heels until she'd leap off in a great arc and hit the carpet running - away from the door.

Herding a pygmy goat must be 100 times harder than working sheep. Joe Kid would head off Baby Doe while Choplicker would thrust his shoulders under the goat's hindquarters. He'd lift her hind legs off the ground so that she was running only on her front legs. Then he'd steer her like a wheelbarrow right though the door. Hah! Foiled again.

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© 2004 Carolyn M. Bertin. All rights reserved.