What Do You See?

EomirWhat do you see when you look at this picture?  You probably see cuteness, adorable baby goat.  Some of you may even think that this is exactly what you need.  And shopping through the ads on craigslist you can find many cute and sweet goat kids- just the thing to make your little farm complete.

BUT, I will tell you what I see- a punk.  Punk with a capital P.U.N.K.!  He has not even had his first month’s birthday yet and already he is a punk.  Some of you don’t believe me- you think that nothing this cute and young could possible be classified as a punk.   Some of you, however, have dealt with goats and know perfectly well what I am talking about.

So, I will tell you how he came to be known as a punk.  Savannah- my 17 yr old daughter & his mama- left for San Angelo leaving me to care for the little guy.  So, on the first morning I get him out of his crate (he sleeps in a dog crate in Savannah’s room because it has been quite cold at night and he has no one to keep him warm) and give him his bottle.  As I am making the calves bottles, which only takes me about 5 minutes he pees and poops more than should be possible.  Now, this is somewhat to be expected so we move on.  I open the door and head out and he happily comes along.  He is following me like a good boy until we reach the half way mark to the barn.  Then he notices a rock, a blade of grass and the plastic that is draped over the livestock trailer converting it into a greenhouse.

So, I walk on calling his name.  He knows I am talking to him because he looks at me every time.  Each time he acts as though he will run and catch up, but all he does is run a few steps buck and leap in the air and turn around to see what fascinating thing he has missed.  At this point I am still thinking that he is innocent- just a happy goat kid exploring his new world.  I soon learned the truth.

Still carting the calf bottles each containing a half gallon of milk, I walk back from the barn door (why didn’t I just set the bottles down?) and walk back to him.  Just as I get within about 10 feet of him, he turns and runs off.  He runs back to the house and all around the back yard.  I am in shock.  He is knowingly avoiding me because he knows I want to take him to the boring barn.  So, still carrying the bottles I trudge back up the hill to the house.  Each time I get just close enough to grab him he darts away.

Now, I set the bottles down and get a dog leash.  Punk sees the bottles and thinking that he has just hit the mother load of milk comes close enough for me to grab.  Having been caught, he turns on the charm nuzzling my neck and talking sweetly to me.  I, however, am no spring chicken and having been around the goat block a time or two do not fall prey to his charms.  I slip the leash on him looping around one leg “shoulder” and his neck.  I do not put it around his neck because a goat will pull so hard against a leash that they will choke themselves down- of course they recover quickly- but still I hate it.

I gather the bottles up and give a little tug.  He prances along thinking it is a game until we reach the half way point again.  Then he fights like there is a huge beast lurking in the barn waiting to eat him whole!  I hold tight to the leash and practically drag him to the barn but he arrives unharmed and conscious.  I deposit him in his stall and feed the calves.  I apologized to the boys for their milking being lukewarm and they eye the little punk knowing how goats can be.

EaomirGoat kid and the trailerOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Sad Day On The Farm

Kandi our fist goat and her baby, Kit Kat.
Kandi our fist goat and her baby, Kit Kat.

It’s one of those things that you know will happen, but you hope, somehow, it never will.  Kandi, our goat, died yesterday.  Death is something you live with on a sustainable farm, a homestead on which you produce your own food.  But you do get attached to the breeding animals, the ones who will live out their life on your farm.  Kandi was one such goat.  She was my daughter, Savannah’s goat bought- as a bottle baby- when she was 9, she is now 17.  This loss hurts.

Kandi was no ordinary Boer goat- she was special.  Not because of her breeding or bloodlines, but because of her intelligence.  We have always said that if she were in Narnia she would have been a talking animal.  Kandi could pick a gate latch with her lips with such skill and speed that would have made Houdini proud.  She never forgot where a bag of grain had been stored or where a rose bush had been planted.  She knew her name and knew her place in the herd- queen.  She produced 5 great kids for us, the boys always made the sale at the county fair- which Savannah showed.

She was also special because she was the beginning of our goat herd, the beginning of our homestead and she made me remember what I had forgotten- the my heart is happy and at home on a farm.  As I sit at this computer writing this, tears are beginning to flow again.  This makes my heart hurt and greif rears its ugly head once more.  But, I want this written down.  It is important to us and Kandi deserves to be remembered, she is such an important part of our story.

After an ugly experience with goats as a kid, I vowed I would never own goats.  Well, you know how these things go.  My older two were intent on joining 4H and wanted to show goats at the county fair.  So, being the good mother that I am, I said OK thinking that a meat goat project only lasted from January to April.  I could handle that and the goats would then be gone.  Well, that was 9 years ago and the goats are still here and I am just as crazy about them as the kids.  Maybe more so, the older two are in college and a senior in high school, no longer show goats but I am still raising them.

The thing about buying goats for the first time is that I had NO CLUE as to what I was doing.  We had a drought the previous summer  and everyone that I had contacts with suddenly had no kids to sell because the goats did not breed as usual.  So, I started hunting in the papers- craigslist did not exist then.  Little did I know that I could have called the extension agent and he could have connected me with a breeder.  But, for once, I am glad for my ignorance.  I found a breeder in the paper and called her.  Yes, she did have show goats, two bottle babies.  Perfect- I thought.   We brought them home- paid a crazy amount of money for them.  Kandi and JoJo- JoJo died, but that is another story.

Kandi almost died as well.  You see, bloat is a sneaky thing and incredibly dangerous for a goat.  When Kandi was just a few days old, she began to bloat (like her brother, JoJo, but because of his death we knew what we were looking at) and I called the vet.  It was late at night and he said baby goats did not bloat, but I could bring her in to the office in the morning.  Well, I was pretty sure we would not make it till morning.  I looked up bloat in my goat books and it said to drench the goat with mineral oil.  I could not for the life of me figure out how pouring mineral oil on a goat to the point of drenching them could help what was going on on the inside.  So, I skipped that part and read on.  You needed to rub their bellies to help the expel the extra gas- you had to do it every two hours at least.

An all nighter?  I don’t do those well.  I looked at my two girls, just children then, and said that they would have to do it.  They were enthusiastic about it and made a bed on the couch for the two of them and the goat.  They did it!  They saved the goat.  I walked into the family room the next morning and the two of them were asleep on the couch with a little goat curled up between them.  Her little read head popped up, blinked at me and let out the sweetest little bleet.  I thought to myself, “Oh gosh, I am now one of ‘those’ people now.”  It is true, I am one of those people.

As it turns out, you can’t show does at the county fair.  So, now we had a meat goat living on our place with no where to go.  Great.  This began the building of pens and sheds and the buying of goat feed, minerals and wormer.  And it has never stopped.  I can’t begin to account to you how much we have learned on this journey, the joy we have experienced and the heartache.  We are so much stronger now as a family, as individuals, and physically.  We possess so many skills I would have never thought I could learn.  Along the way, I remembered that I loved farming and my kids became farm kids- and it all started with a little goat named Kandi.

Other goats have come and gone, but Kandi always remained.  Now, she is gone and a part of the story of our farm has gone with her.  Even Cheyenne was crying and I made the comment that I did not think Kandi was her favorite (Kandi was the ring leader of much chaos on our farm).  She said, “No, but she was family.”  That is how it is on a farm- the animals are family.  I hurt for Savannah, she loved that animal.  I wish I could make it all go away but I cannot.  We do have her last kid- Kit Kat.  She is sweet and cute, we will see what she grows into.

Thank you for the memories, Kandi.  You will always be remebered fondly in this family.

So typical, Kandi was a strinker.
So typical, Kandi was a strinker.
Kandi and her second baby, Whopper
Kandi and her second baby, Whopper