Friday, May 24, 2013

No more floppy ears!

 So I told my husband yesterday to smack me around the next time I think about getting a goat with floppy ears. This ultimatum was said after listening to my Boer doe yodel her way through chore time because I wasn't fast enough in reuniting her with her kid and her dinner bowl. I have not been amused with my Boer doe's attitude lately. When I first got her she was great. She never said a peep! For two months, I didn't hear so much as a loud fart out of her. She moved into my existing herd with no issues. She was pleasant and calm and soooo quiet. That all changed when she gave birth. As soon as those kids popped out she started yelling. I bottle fed two of her kids and left her one to keep. I thought that would shut her up. But noooooo! She cries even when her kid is with her. Oh, and the kicker -- her kids are screamers too! Both of the remaining kids have very established lungs on them. My other Alpine kids like to "baa" now and then, but these two Boer kids can shatter glass.

Don't let them fool you!
I thought Boers would be different because they are meat goats. I thought Boers would be different because everyone says they are great. I thought they would be different because they are traditional "pasture" goats who aren't as spoiled and pampered as dairy Nubians. I thought they would be different because they aren't super closely related to Nubians. I have known for years that Nubians are screamers. They are NOTORIOUS for being loud and obnoxious. That is one of the main reasons why I sold all of my Nubians last year. I was tired of hearing "WHAAAAAAAA!" at 6am and 4pm and 12pm. All. The. Time...

So cute, so innocent, so LOUD!
Of course, this all may be a cosmic dose of karma (and we all know how much karma loves me!) because I was chuckling this spring over my friend's dilemma with her Nubian doe. She called me in a panic shortly after the doe gave birth because she couldn't get the doe to shut up. My friend said the doe used to be so quiet and loving but now she screams all the time. She was certain that she had mentally abused her doe beyond repair by her removing the kid for bottle feeding. The doe's mournful howling was keeping her up at night (literally -- because the goat barn is right near her bedroom window) and she was sure that the goat was never going to be the same due to the mental anguish from being separated from her kid. She felt guilty about taking the kid away and was starting to feel guilty about breeding the goat in the first place. I explained to her over and over that the goat was not suffering from post-partum depression or PTSD from the separation. The goat was merely a Nubian and that's how they handle a major life change.

Nubians have for some reason developed a very distinct coping mechanism for dealing with stress and major changes. That mechanism is to scream their heads off until they are hoarse. After a couple of months of hoarse scream-whispers (let's call them "screamspers"), they do eventually accept the change or at least forget what they were yelling about in the first place. You see, not only are Nubians loud, but they are also stubborn and clueless. It would be one thing if they were just loud and stubborn -- a stubborn animal is usually only stubborn for so long before they give in. It would be another thing if they were just loud and clueless -- a clueless animal forgets what they were doing and stops doing it fairly quickly. But Nubians are a trifecta of crazy -- loud, stubborn, clueless. This means that once they start screaming, they won't stop. Even when they forget why they started yelling, they continue to carry on because they don't want to give in to whatever reason they started carrying on about in the first place.

As I was explaining to my friend about the joys of Nubians, I kept thinking "Thank God. I don't have any of those noisy boogers anymore". Well, that was before my Boer gave birth (Hi karma, I have missed you so!). Since then I have unfortunately discovered that my Boer goats are also loud, stubborn, and clueless. I do have to say that they don't seem to be as clueless as the Nubians. My Boer doe at least remembers where the barn is every time (My Nubian doe always acted like she was seeing the barn for the first time. Every. Single. Day.). But she is clueless enough to not realize that I always feed her on exactly the same schedule every day. My other goats will cry and make noise for a few minutes at the beginning of chore time but they usually shut up once they see me well under way in my normal chore routine. Not the Boer. She continues to scream and holler and yell the whole time. The only time she does shut up is when she is stuffing her face with food. Even then she can still manage to talk with her mouth full.

Maybe the floppy-eared goats are so loud because all that dangly ear tissue covers up their ear drums and they have to shout to hear themselves. I wonder if Lamanchas are super quiet because they have no ear tissue to muffle their noise. I will have to try hanging out with some Lamanchas sometime and see if they are any quieter than their floppy-eared cousins. Perhaps no ears is the way to go?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

And Now For Some Good News....

 And now time for some good news: All the remaining baby goats are doing well! Lucy's two Alpine/Oberhasli babies are getting big and now eating grain and hay, along with thrice daily bottles of milk and milk replacer. Ruby's girl, Curry, is a gigantic monster-sized beast! She stays with Ruby at night and then goes with the other kids during the day. She is enormous at 25 lbs and only 4 weeks old. She towers over all the other kids. Her brother, Samy, is finally showing some growth. He was very sick for a while with bad diarrhea. After throwing the kitchen sink at him, it started to clear up and hasn't been back since. He actually looks like a real goat now and not a weird runt. There may be hope for him yet! The best news is that this is the first year in forever that my kids have hit the 4 week old mark without diarrhea from coccidiosis. This year I put them all on a preventative regimen of Corid starting at 21 days old. I have seen no signs of coccidiosis at all this year. Whoohoo!

 You can see the difference in the two Boer kids. Curry is in the back and Samy is in the front. Curry weighs twice as much as Samy!

 Here is Ruby and Curry. It's not an optical illusion, Curry really is that big!

 Prince Charming and Cinderella (her name might change to Princess Fiona, depending on what my 2 year old decides). Prince does have four legs - this is just a weird picture. 

 A close up of Cinderella/Princess Fiona.

 Figaro was shorn last week. He never likes his face done so he's still a little shaggy around the eyes.

Lucy and Daisy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Don't Choose Favorites

The number one rule on my farm should be “DON’T CHOOSE FAVORITES”. As much as I would like to rate my chickens and goats and other animals, I have to be very, very careful in letting any thoughts of supremacy into my head. There’s apparently a little red devil running around my farm that can telepathically pick up on these thoughts. As soon as I look lovingly at a particular goat kid or imagine a plan for the future involving this animal or that animal, the devil sneaks over and takes them away from me. Usually my punishment for choosing favorites is obvious – the favorite of the day suddenly dies. Sometimes the punishment is slower acting – the favorite has a change in attitude or just doesn’t grow out the way I planned. The results are always the same. The favorite ceases to be my favorite anymore. 

This has happened so many times, I can hardly count. The last two years have been particularly difficult. Last year I lost my “favorite” doe kid to a mixture of coccidiosis and enterotoxemia. One day she was fine, the next she was dead. Then I had my Nubian/Alpine doeling not grow out the way I had planned so she ceased to be my favorite anymore. After that the doeling I had saved from last year for breeding this year stopped growing and became somewhat stunted. She wasn’t turning out like I wanted so she had to move down the line. This year I have already lost my favorite Boer doe to bloat and my Boer buckling, who I desperately want to use for mating, is very sick and runty. Now my Sultan hen (a favorite because she has both a top knot and feathered feet) has a bum knee.
Nothing bad ever happens to the not-favorites. If I have a goat or chicken that I particularly don’t like, it takes an effort to get rid of them. The cows I never liked lived and thrived like crazy. Those stupid pigs we raised once were as hardy as a can be. I have even TRIED to get rid of some of the not favorites and failed! They stick around forever and never get sick, never have an accident, and always turn out fine. 

Maybe it’s some big cosmic plan for me to learn humbleness or maybe it is God smiting me for being proud of my animals. Or maybe it’s payback for being an opinionated blogger who goes on and on about her farm and farming ethics for page after page after page. Karma, smite, payback – call it what you will. All I can tell you for sure is that I am getting very tired of not being able to pick a favorite and stick with it.