Goat Birthing Madness: The Elite Eight

We're in the midst of our own version of March Madness. Goat Birthing Madness. A week ago we posted about Sandia, our first goat born on the farm. Over the intervening time we had four more does kid and now we're awash with eight little baby goats. We have one more expecting mother, Mayday, who is due on April 8th, and then our kidding season is over for the year. It's been a joy and a true privilege.

First up, the photos, because that's what everyone really wants to see! At the end I posted a few takeaways.

The Elite Eight, in reverse birthing order:

1Oak and Santos Party House, born to Tenjune (the bad NY nightclub line)

Milk lips. Ready for a napCalima and Chinook, born to Zephyr (names of winds)

Calima, born to our Alpine buckChinook, born to our Nubian buck

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First Goat Birth on the Farm! (Video bonus, too)

 Sandia, Little Seed's first official goat baby :)

On Tuesday we had our first goat birth on the farm! She was born to one of our Nubian first fresheners, Tijeras. (A first freshener is a goat that has not previously kidded). We weren't expecting her arrival until today so you can imagine our surprise when we found a perfectly dry and fuzzy baby goat in the pasture next to Tijeras when we went to check on the herd in the afternoon! Izzy our LGD was right there with her, protecting the baby and mama and giving the little baby a few licks here and there. 

We named her Sandia, which is the name of the mountain range behind James' childhood home in New Mexico. Tijeras is also a name that finds its roots in New Mexico. To make life easier on the naming of animals front, we have certain lines for certain goats and Tijeras is the "Grande Dame" of the New Mexican line. We also have a Tennessean line (beginning with our goat Blackstrap), a Vermont line (where Eileen grew up), and, last but not least, a Bad NYC Nightclub line (beginning with our goat TenJune).

Here's little Sandia at only 2 days old hopping around like a jumping bean:


She weighed in at 7 pounds and looks just like her dad, our Nubian buck, Gozer. Since she's our only goat kid at the moment and we don't want her to be cold and lonely by herself, she gets to stay in the house at night until another goat kid is born! (ok, she'd probably be fine by herself, we just enjoy having a little goat running around).

Out runnin' around, wreaking havoc, as baby goats do best

The Heat Is On - Our First Breeding Season Begins

Gozer, putting the moves on TijerasA few months ago, Scrapple and I had a little kitchen table meeting to strategize our first breeding season. We decided that we would aim to kid at the beginning of April. By that time the grass is growing and the sun is warm but the insects aren't yet out in full force. Goats have a 5 month gestation period so this meant we would breed at the end of October/beginning of November. 

While it was pretty easy to write "Breed Goats" into a calendar reminder, it didn't take long for the reality of how clueless we were about the actual logistics to set in. 

We knew that we wanted to choose who bred with who, and who was not going to be bred (Willow) so this ruled out just "running" the bucks with the does for a month (which is a great way to do things if your herd is set up for it). We would need to wait for the signs of heat or estrus in the doe. Then we would need to put the doe with one of the bucks in an area away from the herd. We would need to make sure that he actually did the deed, several times, and then wait to see if the doe came into heat again later in the season. If not, the breeding will have been successful. 

With no experience breeding any animals (not even pet hamsters!) we were a little boggled. We hit the books, expecting some clarity only to emerge thoroughly perplexed. Experienced goat owners talk of identifying a goat in heat by her waving tail and "winking" vagina. What!?!

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