December 31, 2010

End of 2010

Wow. It is really hard to believe that 2010 has finally come to the end. It was sure a big year for the herd, or at least me in particular. Before this year I have never had more than 5 goats kid on my watch. Never have I bred more than 9 goats (which was how many we bred in 2009). Really this was amazing to have 18 goats born on our property, acquire 5 other goats sold. Once I thought my herd was huge when it was 12 goats, now it is 22!

In addition to gaining goats we watched goats leave too. Willow, who was born the first spring I was away at college and managed to stay through all the herd fluctuations left after kidding this year. Although it seems sad to see her go, reality says she fit so poorly in with the herd that she needed to leave.  We also sold more wethers for butcher than ever before including one that went as a company barbeque. To me this was really cool because it is great to see goats being used in such a public way. If people enjoy the barbeque there – maybe they will really start thinking of eating goat as a common meat. Finally we did lose 3 kids last spring do to a variety of things. I know it must seem strange how I have no problem selling older wethers for meat but it is sad to lose kids but I think that the wethers had a great life and then it was over but the kids often didn’t have a chance to live at all.

Besides the herd member changes we really did have a great show season. I personally finished 1 doe and she now holds the title of champion. We finished the buck we bought in January and he holds the Grand Champion title in his name. We knew he was amazing when we purchased him just by looking at what his offspring have done, but to have him hold that title is even better since now everyone else can also see how impressive he is. We have used him quite a bit this season, so hopefully we will have quite a few kids from him too. Besides our 2 finished champions one of Jenn’s Togg does is looking beautiful and got quite a few nods from judges. Unfortunately she was a first freshener so they couldn’t give her the champion title, but this next year we expect great things from her. Three of our kids won their jr champion titles as well and all three will freshen this spring. Arizona and Azalea are two of our favorite kids and I am really excited to see what type of udder they will have. Honestly with very few exceptions I am really excited about the whole 2010 kids crop. I think we are starting to really make progress with our breeding program and hope that the inclusion of AI will help speed the progress along.

We purchased our AI equipment in summer 2009 so 2010 was the first set of kids we have out of the AI breedings. Three does kids was better than we could have imagined! And such beautiful kids too! They were all Lamanchas so, since we had 2 lamancha bucks on the property this fall, we ventured into other breeds. Notoriously the saanens have been our “problem” breed. Before this year I have had to re-bred Saanens almost every year, thus when my doe settled by AI, I could not have been more excited. If this works – maybe there will be more AI Saanens to come. Next year I think we try to take on the Toggs. We haven’t succeeded with the AI-ing the Toggs, but maybe next year will be the year. Or maybe next year we actually purchase a Togg buck.

On a final note, we sent 4 children to the county fair as our 4Hers this year. As of fall registration we nearly tripled our 4H project. Hopefully we can send maybe even 10 children to the county fair this year. Nothing is more exciting than seeing those kids get all excited about their kids. Maybe in a year or two the children will have animals they own instead of lease but one step at a time.

Overall I think it has been a pretty good year for Cadence Dairy Goats. Thanks for reading and checking out the blog regularly. It is so exciting that in the one year since I started this blog I can actually see people checking out the page and reading it. It is you guys that encourage me to keep writing! Thanks!!

December 28, 2010

Lamancha Girls Relaxing

Sometimes you just come upon a picture you just have to capture. The does in this picture (L-R, Argentina, Alaska, Arizona) were just so cute snuggled up together. Alaska and Arizona are twins sisters and we often see them lying around together. But adding Argentina to the mix was just too adorable not to take a picture of. Bellies full, all at different gestational stages, just enjoying the winter sunshine.

December 22, 2010

Breeding Little Bit

She was only supposed to be the thing we fed out for a few months. She wasn’t supposed to stay!
Sigh, well I’m afraid we might have actually gotten attached to her (hides head) and were really curious about what her milk production will be like so we … deep breath… bred her. Little Bit or Acorn (although that name didn’t really stick) was bred Tuesday to an incredible handsome Nigerian Buck up in our good friend’s herd, Castle Rock Farm.
Because apparently if 20 other standard size goats kidding wasn’t enough we will be having a mini-milker next year.
On the plus side with Nubian on one side and Nigerian on the other the side should mean some incredible milk producing genes. Even though nothing out of her will be registered, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t choose the best young buck in the pasture whose dam scored 90 at Linear this year and who is milking the highest amount of the herd. If she has any daughters, those girls should also be some milk producing fiends.

Anyone need a mini milker?
But hey, everyone needs a few “special” goats right?

December 20, 2010

I love my Bucks

Okay I have to admit it
I see people all over the internet who talk about how annoying bucks are and how gross they are and how much they smell– but really how many human are annoying and gross and smell? I’ll bet we can all name a few. But none of that is why I love having bucks. It is because of how easy they make breeding season when the does don’t settle.
I don’t ever want to go through another breeding season without a buck. By this I don’t mean a male goat nearby who just happens to still be intact – but a good, well-bred buck that I don’t feel bad about crossing to any one of my does. As a 4Her I never had a buck around and it was so frustrating first trying to identify when the does were in heat and second if they had taken or if we had to re-bred them. Now, with a buck on the property it is VERY clear when they are in heat and even if I am not sure you can let the buck out and he can check. A few weeks ago the doe I AI’ed looked like she had mucus or fluid on her tail. I panic – maybe she didn’t take, maybe she was recycling. Well I let Arabica out, he looked at her and then ran over to the feeder to see if anything was in it. Wheeew., just me being paranoid.
This feeling was once again re-enforced when Keegan came back into heat (!#!#$!~!@#) again. Of course it was the middle of the week and of course it was already dark and raining. So what do you do? Well it is December and she really needs to get bred – good thing we have 2 amazing bucks already on the property. Yes they will be grade kids but hopefully she will be bred and we do not have to worry about her any more. Plus it will be another chance to see kids out of our buck. However… next year – we need a Togg buck for all these non-settling togg does.

December 15, 2010

Just a December update

I really love writing about my herd and when the inspiration hits telling everyone else about the herd as well. The irony of course is that last week (when I had finals and papers to write) I was totally inspired to write blog entries. I controlled myself and worked on my finals. Now that finals are over and I actually have a little time to write – now I can’t think of anything to say.
I think part of the problem is the weather. When the weather is warm and sunny the goats are happy and they lay out in the sun and they look of round and full of kids and life is good. When the weather is cold and rainy – well let’s just say they are not as happy. Granted they are much drier then they have been some years and they are all warm and fluffed up, but happy? No goat is happy if there is rain around. Thankfully we have a little extra space this year so we were able to move the 2 goats in the really muddy pen out and let the pen dry a bit. They look grateful for this at least.
The rest of the goings-on are really just continuing the saga of breeding season. At least count everyone has been “bred”. The Saanens have all come back with positive pregnancy tests – and no jr kids in the mix! All the older Lamanchas were confirmed pregnant. Argentina we think is pregnant but didn’t take on the first breeding, Artemis – well I am not holding my breath for her. Four of the seven doe due with grade kids have come back pregnant. Of course they are all due within 3 days of each other. The other three are all due on the same day 2.5 months later so it looks like we will have sr and jr kids – and not intermediate grade kids (shrug). The homebred Toggs have been confirmed pregnant with no problems. Yodel, who did not look pregnant until like a week and a half before she kidded last year, look huge! This scares me just a little. The two purchased Toggs have been bred – now cross your fingers, toes, eyes, everything that they settle. I definitely don’t want to rebreed them one more time.
Yep, that’s it for now. Hopefully I will be a bit more insprired this weekend or think of some good stories to tell. Until then it is really a sit back and enjoy the rain and the warmth inside the house.

December 04, 2010

Straw - with a bit of goat philosophy

Today we bought straw to fill up all the beds as the rains begin to arrive. If you have goats then you must know how they react when you put straw down in their pen, if you don’t then let me elaborate.
You’ve heard the phrase “the grass is greener on the other side” goats abide by this law. If it is new or you are holding it then it must be good – better in fact than anything they have in front of them.  This means that all that new and exciting straw you just put down MUST taste better than anything they could possibly have in their hay feeders. So what if you just laid it down on the mud, so what if it has water damage and if their normal hay looked like that they would turn up their noses at it. It’s new, it’s exciting! It must be good!
The other thing I love about putting out straw is that it takes so little work. You put some out and the goats immediately jump on top, paw at it, and really spread it everywhere. You don’t have to do it – they do it all for you. And they look so much cleaner and warmer afterwards. There is nothing like seeing them curled up in the straw all warm while the rain pours down outside. All curled up for a warm winters nap…

November 27, 2010


I think it is always important to keep in mind things we are grateful for, but it’s especially important at thanksgiving. So as a special holiday treat I thought I would make a list of things to be thankful for here:
- A beautiful home with a pasture – this time last year the girls were all standing out in mud
- Not one but TWO bucks out in the pasture. Every day I’m grateful to have these and I can’t wait for kids next year
- The capabilities and space to breed 20 goats
- 8 doe kids born last year
- Two does settled by AI last year who provided us with doe kids, and one doe settled this year
- Enough feed to feed the goats
- 4Hers who are excited about goats
- Most of breeding season done
- Clean water, clean goats, shelters to keep everyone dry.

I’m sure there are more but I am just too tired to think of it now.

November 17, 2010

Some good news and some not as good news

Next round of pregnancy tests came back today - an even split between the does open and does pregnant. I try to look at the on the bright side every time a doe comes back open. Maybe it is good because we can use a better buck, maybe it is good because we can have kids in a different age bracket. Reality is that I hate does coming back open. So instead of looking on the bright side of the open does – I am choosing to look at the conception rates we have And boy am I excited about those!!!!!

First one of our Alpine-Lamancha crosses are on its way. On the down side, we had hoped 2 of them were due at the beginning of February. Instead of more senior kids (yay!) we will have more junior kids (sigh). The best way I can look at it is that 1 more Brazil daughter is 1 more than we would have had before.

Speaking of Brazil kids, the next positive test we got was Alaska. Of all our Lamancha kids this year – she is definitely one of the prettiest, and she is bred to Brazil. In fact she is the only 2010 kids bred to Brazil. These are kids to really be excited about so I really am glad that she settled with immediate kids. Unfortunately, Ysis’ daughter Artemis – also bred Lamancha for my (starlet lace) first Lamancha kids – came back open. This wasn’t too surprising since we thought we might have seen a heat 3 weeks later and rebred her as such. Still it would have been nice if that second heat was a false heat instead of a real one. Once again, I have to remind myself that Artemis is on the smaller side and really she could use some more growing time. Plus the buck that we bred her to (Arabica) is on site – we can always rebred her again until she settles. Even if she didn’t settled she really would do fine as a dry yearling – selfishly I really want Lamancha kids but I also understand that with goats patience is part of the lifestyle.

I have left the best news for last– the doe I MOST wanted to bred settled!!!! We bred Zinfandel AI – no wait that isn’t exactly right – I bred Zinfandel AI. My first successfully settled doe by AI!!!! I can’t believe it! Sure things could all still go wrong but you know how excited I am!!! (Perhaps you can tell by the exclamation points). Now I feel like I can try this again next year. My ideal cross is with Azalea and some really pretty genetics I have in the tank. Maybe next year it will happen!!

The only other interesting thing to talk about is our Togg girls. I posted last week that they both came back open. We brought both of them into heat this weekend and looked at AI’ing both of them. When we tried to pass an AI gun on Lanney it worked no problem. Maybe she just wasn’t have good heats because she showed the best heat we have seen on her all year. We chose to use some of our nicer (more expensive) semen on her because she was so strongly in heat. Hopefully we will end up with some really nice kids from this cross. Maybe next year we will even have a new Togg herd sire… wouldn’t that be nice!!

November 13, 2010

Not all Senior kids

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want it. We got the results back from Lanney and Keegan’s pregnancy tests. Sadly neither were pregnant yet. I’m glad that we got to use Jessie on the 2 Liberty Ranch toggs and single grade, but I really wish we could have bred these two girls to him too. Such a pretty cross that would have been. Now it is time to make the decision if April kids are more important, full togg kids, or just making sure she gets bred… sometimes these things are harder than they look.

First it is 1 round of AI since no one has a buck around then maybe it will be Lamancha-burgs

The rest of our early October girls got their tests sent off as well. Hopefully we will know by next week who is really bred and who we still need to get bred. Can you imagine if they are all bred? Mostly older kids! Ah what a dream.

November 04, 2010

Planning breeding season

It’s really hard to believe that it is November 4th and we are nearly done with breeding season. Don’t mistake my meaning – these are animals we are talking about and certainly they can come back into heat if they want to, BUT of the 16 animals who live full time at our house (who we were planning to breed) all 16 of them have been bred at least once!! This means that possible we could not even have to take a Thanksgiving trip to get a goat bred. I don’t even remember the last time I have not had to breed a goat over that weekend.

So I guess it would be fun to talk a little bit about how we choose which bucks to use for our girls. Of course it varies from year to year because our circumstances change so much from year to year but there are similarities each year.

Believe it or not, choosing what buck to use starts long before fall. Really I think it starts late spring or summer. This is when everyone starts coming out to shows and starts mingling again. Not to say that we don’t talk to people over winter – but usually kidding season keeps everyone so busy that visiting is out of the question. So you suddenly start talking about what bucks people have or what they are planning on purchasing. You might get the opportunity to see one of the bucks at a buck show, but more likely you are able to see his mother, sister, and possible even daughters. The other thing that happens over the summer is you are able to get an idea about your doe. Listening to what different judges like or dislike about your goats is such a critically important part of the show. If you hear the same thing over and over again then you know what you need to go looking for in a buck – or possible in his female relatives (daughter, mother, etc.)

Then, faster than you know it, summer wraps up and fall is upon us. Now you have to decide when you want to breed her. Of course some of that is dependent on when your doe comes into heat but if you start seeing heats in August you need to know when you want kids. Maybe you want January or February kids – these will most likely be the largest at the show, but they will also be born in (most likely) the coldest time of the year. Maybe you want March kids – usually not the smallest kids at the show but born when it is a little warmer (usually the largest class of kids). Or maybe you want to wait for later kids. Born when there is less rain and school left but could be the smallest kids at the show. You will want to take extra care of your May kids if you live in a place where it is 80°F during the day and then drops down to 45°F at night. This can bring a whole other set of challenges. Regardless of when you want kids – start marking and recording heats early so that you are prepared when your doe is ready to be bred.

Wow, all that and we haven’t even picked out bucks yet. Here at our farm we then have to decide if we want to try AI or live service on the doe. Sometime that is an easy choice. If it is a kid (breeding to be a yearling milker) we don’t even try AI. If it is a doe who had a really rough kidding last spring we also opt for live service to give her a better change to conceive. Finally we consider what bucks are around to use when weighting our options. For our Lamanchas last year we had plenty of AI straws but not a lot of close by bucks to use – so we AI’ed our two older does and drove to a live buck for the kid. On the other hand this year we have not 1 but 2 bucks on the property to use – you better believe that we used them this year! In the same manner last year we leased a Saanen buck and used him on 3 does – but this year we tried AI on the yearling milker instead.

Finally we decide which buck to use. Let’s take for example the two Saanen kids we were breeding. Since they are both kids we didn’t want to AI them and since we didn’t want to cross them that meant finding a buck to use. So first I look at their strengths and weaknesses. Alba for example is very strong in general appearance but I would love to see her with more dairy character. Then I thought about my choices of bucks. One buck that I have wanted to get a daughter out of for a long time lives over on the coast. We have two does in the herd who are 2x bred on him (he is on both sides of the pedigree) and they are very dairy individuals – almost to a fault. Also he is an older buck – meaning that although I love some of the young animals around me I may not get a chance to breed to him again. Finally I make sure I go to the website and use their planning to check the inbreeding coefficient. Although I know my pedigrees well – there could always be something unexpected. Generally I try to keep the inbreeding under 10% unless there is an intentional reason for having it higher. Also you want to make sure that the animals who are contributing the most are strong animals. Of course all my careful planning and preparation can go all wrong when the animals decided not to cooperate. With my other Saanen doe Azalea I had planned to breed her to a beautiful older buck who I thought would really improve on her type. Sadly when we got there he refused to service her. Then you have to decide if it is more important to have that cross or to have kids at that time. Since I had armed myself with information on the other bucks on the property I was fully prepared to select a different animal and knew what type they came from and what they would throw – but if I hadn’t already known it might have been a lot more difficult. So that is my final piece of advice – go to any breeders house knowing what your other option are if your animals refuse to cooperate.

October 29, 2010

First Preg tests!

Hurray! The Pregnancy tests results are back for all of our does bred in September and they will all confirmed pregnant! Now I can let out the breath I have been holding. Wheeewwwww.
Granted we may end up with all bucks or something horrible could happen, but at least I don't have to sit around worrying if I am missing silent heats on all of these does because 9 out of 19 done ain't bad.

October 27, 2010

Deja vu?

First let me apologize for the lack of quality pictures. The danger of storing all you photos on SD card is that when you want them they are not around. This top picture was taken back in Fall 2008. That was the time when 3/5 (that is, 3 of our 5 goats) of the herd was in Salinas. It was actually quite fun because they got lots of attention we would run around with them all over the school's farm. The Togg is Yodel, the blackish Lamancha is Yucatan, and the Sancha is Ysis. This bottom picture was taken on Sunday after we had penned everyone up Saturday for the first big rainstorm of the year. 3 of the kids got out and were in the pasture by themselves (enjoying the feeder until we let everyone else out). It caught my eye because it reminded me of something... then it hit me:
The Togg in the picture is Annie - Yodel's daughter
The blackish Lamancha is Argentina - Yucatan's daughter
The Sancha is Artemis - Ysis' daughter

Doesn't it amaze everyone else this little moments in life? Reminds you how much things change and how much they stay the same

October 16, 2010

Do you like her?

Now that life is calm enough and all we can do is sit around worrying if a doe settled or not we really have time to evaluate the herd. All summer we have heard what the judges had to say about them, we saw them stand at the top of the line and we saw them stand at the bottom of the line (less than previously maybe, but the occurrences were still there). We have a good idea of that their worst faults are (especially the milkers) and what we love about them and yet we still play the "what do you think of her?" game.
The nice part is that all the does who have made it to the fall are nice enough in their own right, but knowing how many does were are breeding means we have the start thinking about who will go in the spring. It is sad at some level, but at the same time I know that none of the goats are not eligible for sale if something comes along.
So how is it done? Well take a doe for example - currently my most often subject is Thistle. What do we like about her? Well I love how deep she is and how strong she is on her feet and legs. What do I dislike? Well lets start with how I wish her mammary system was better, but what I really don't like is how much trouble she had last year after kidding. We have a show herd - this means that if a doe ends up with such a horrible freshening that she can't show - she will have a hard time fitting into the herd. But then I really like her daughter. Azalea is one of the nicest does kids we had this year... If you like the kids a doe gives you is that enough reason to keep her and at what point does she have enough daughters to pass on her good traits. It really leaves you to sit about and ponder what is a good doe?

What do you want your herd to look like? What do you like about each doe and what would you like to change? Fall is the perfect time to really sit around and evaluate the does. It makes the spring - when you are overwhelmed with kids to choose from - easier when you already have your list of who is staying or who has to shape-up or head out.

October 12, 2010

Ready for Convention?

Personally I think that some goat keepers have it easy. No, it isn't that they have better goats or they feed differently, it is because they work at a job or live in an area where having Dairy goats is considered normal and no one looks at them strange when they say they have to go home to milk. Or better yet, when they plan their spring so that they can successfully kid out the herd.
Now, for the rest of us there is little more exciting that National Convention. Maybe National Show, but since only one of these two are coming up - I can only get excited about one of them.

Convention is one of the times when you can totally geek out with all the other goat people. I have friends across the country and this is the one time you get to see them. Talk about breedings that worked for you, exciting purchases you made and bucks you hope to use. Maybe you are more like the real me where you sit back and watch the people. People you only know by name or by names of herds you respect and admire but you get to see real people (I doubt I'll ever be brave enough to talk to them but still)

Then of course there is the training conference. Even as I sit here I am reciting the DQ's in my head. The weekend is definitely going to be fun!

October 08, 2010

Senior kids anyone?

Are you holding your breath too? The twelve does we bred should have come back into heat this week is they were going to... and the envelope please.
The doe (Zinfandel) that we AI'ed came back into heat. Keegan - our Togg yearling milker - showed signs of heat but not certain. Artemis came back into heat (we were not sure if she was bred but Arabica got out while she had stuff on her tail) Lanney was still showing signs of heat.
BUT... That means that of the does we bred Kaluha, Ziggy, Ysis, Xymphony, Fritter, Arizona, Thistle, Katie, Zaire, and Yodel most likely settled.
You have to say it really quietly and really fast so no one hears you. We will do a blood test is a week or so, but until then keep those fingers crossed and hold your breath! (dontcha just LOVE breeding season)
Oh and if you would like to finish catching up - Azalea and Alaska were also bred, but later so we don't know if they settled yet.

September 26, 2010

Who says Dairy goats are just for milking?

I hate driving. Lets be truly honest about this, I just hate driving some place and especially for only one reason. So when given the opportunity I always try to batch trips together. So when we made plans to take Azalea (Jan 2010 Saanen kid) over to the breeder in the mountains we thought we would leave her for a few hours and go hiking while she hung out with the buck and we bred her again in a few hours. Well... things have a funny way of working out. The buck we wanted to use refused to service her so we changed our plans (after a certain twinge of disappointment) and used a younger buck instead. Now at this point it just seemed silly to leave her there as she was coming out of heat and rebreeding her in a few hours wasn't going to accomplish much. Since we didn't really want to give up the hike we just took her with us!

She spent a lot of the time back behind us whining about the walk. Especially on the up-hill portion. Really Azalea! You have 2 extra legs to keep up with!

"There is NO WAY you are making me cross this creek!!!" of course once she realized she could drink the water and stop panting, there was a little less complaining. Even though she still wouldn't cross the creek.

Sorry, the picture was a little blurry, but I love the fact that I caught her nibbling as we walked along. I wish I could take the goats out more. They are so fun to have along on the hike. I think it helps them bond to us, since we are the portion of their herd present. Maybe we will take this trail again but with one or two more of them in tow.

September 16, 2010

Breeding season frenzy

So this week, assuming that the week starts Sunday and finishes Saturday, we bred 12 does. Yes you read that right. 12. . .

On first thought you are thinking "OMG what is wrong with these people" but let's take it from a rational point of view (and of course with a list - I really like lists in case you couldn't tell from earlier posts).
1. We still have at least 7 does to breed who need to be bred later anyway
2. If you kid a lot of does at once then if you need to foster kids (triplets and singles) it is much easier plus you use up a whole weekend and then are not sitting around every weekend wondering when they will kid.
3. At least 1 of those does was a first attempted at AI which means OF COURSE she won't take (contrary to both does last year who took on the first try) and chances are a few other one will come back into heat.
4. Sr kids do better then jr kids (proven by all 3 kids who got their jr leg this year were sr kids)
5. We only have the togg buck for a limited time and we would hate to wait on any of the togg does and then have them re-cycle once he is gone.
6. And most importantly we are a little bit crazy.

So... who's up for a party at my house in 5 months?

September 12, 2010


So picture this scenario - your landlord tells you you have too many weeds. You of course don't own a mower so what to you do? Obviously you get your goats to work for you! The whole pasture emptied! (see the small side yard on the left side of the house? That's where they all hiding) We even let the little girls out! Boy were they excited.
Everyone really munched and devoured the weeds. I will post an after picture at some point but it was completely barren by the time they finished. Talking about using your resources!

September 05, 2010

Kaylinn comes to the goat show!

Kaylinn showing Arizona! How cool is that!

August 23, 2010

Breeding Season is almost here (already!!)

I’m having a hard time believing it is already breeding season. With the addition of Acorn, 7 or so weeks ago, I feel like we can’t possibly be getting close to the time for breeding, we are still milking and feeding kids! And we still have a few more shows! Ah, well, seasons begin to change whether I like it or not. The girls and boys are all coming into season and the air near the buck pens are beginning to smell strongly…

The breeding list for 2011 kids has been updated with the current plan. Of course this is just a plan and could change as we get closer to actually breeding them.

We will be leasing a Togg buck this year and all the toggs (including our two newest acquisitions) will be bred for Togg kids. The Lamanchas will be split between Arabica and Brazil, with Brazil for the older does and Arabica for the younger does. Most of the Saanens we will take else ware to breed although we are going to try breeding Zinfandel AI for a few rounds. We are also really excited to use Brazil for several sets of grade kids. Besides Ysis – who would have grade kids regardless – we will be breeding Thistle for Saanchas (Saanen-Lamancha) which should look like adorable mini Ysises. Additionally, we are leasing 4 Alpines from Tori Kennedy and breeding them all Lamancha. Hopefully there will be some nice grade kids who come from this cross.

Even though it does not possible seem like it could be late enough for breeding animals, it is exciting to plan for all the kids next year, and we should have a lot! With the total as it is now, possible up to 19 does kidding!!

August 05, 2010

Little girls growing up

I promise I will write about state fair at some point, but I had to post this picture this morning. I am working on a 365 project (where you take a picture every day for a year) and not surprisingly the goats show up in a lot of my pictures. Well this was too precious not to share. Katie on the left with Alaska in the middle and Arizona on the right. Wow they grow up fast don't they? Already the "little girls" are almost as tall as their mother. We keep asking in jest "so you think they will be big enough to breed this fall?" but seriously it always amazes me that slightly more than 6 months ago this girls were the size of Acorn (yes the Nubian-Nigerian has a name of sorts) and were cuddling on our laps. Now they are inching towards 100lbs and are almost one of the "big girls". In 6 months or so everything will start over and we will have a whole new crop of little girls in the pasture.
Just in case you are wondering, the kids are enjoying a brief vacation from the weaning pen. You can see on the other side of the feeder Ysis and Artemis eating side by side. It is sweet to see the kids cuddled up against their mothers. I didn't get a picture of it, but right behind me at the other feeder Thistle and Azalea were standing together eating and Fritter has not left her mother's sight since she has been allowed back in. I know that they will all act this way again once we finish weaning and drying off, at least until new babies arrive keeping this years mothers and next years new mothers busy.

July 15, 2010

New Champion and New Kid

What a Weekend!!! This last weekend was the Central Coast California show, better known as the Watsonville show. It is almost certainly my favorite show of the year. It was one of the first that I ever attended and remains one of the most laid-back relaxed shows. Additionally we always get to help out in the show ring. This is better than being ringside and watching because you can chat with people and make sure the show moves smoothly. The judges love it when you help and you have a reason to be in the ring.
So the highlight of the weekend really came when Ysis, my Lamancha-Saanen grade won grand champion in the recorded grade division. Not only that, but it was under Karen Senn and Chris Strickland, two judges who I greatly respect. This means she has acquired the highly sought after title of Champion!!! She will have CH before her name from now on. Ever since I started in Dairy goats so many years ago I never knew if I would ever make it to that level. To actually have a doe who has the title of Champion seemed so unobtainable. Even several days later it seems amazing to me and words barely do justice to my excitement. Her daughter also won her dry leg this weekend, which means she is also one step closer to being a finished champion. To make the weekend complete we even brought home a new kid. A small Nubian cross was born to one of the breeders this weekend. She is out of a doe who was supposed to be a dry yearling. The breeder did not even know she was bred until she when into labor that morning. The mother did not want her and did not have any milk to feed her with so a short negotiation later and she was coming home with us. There goes my “summer does not have any breeding or kidding in it” theory. She really is adorable. Currently she sleeps in the bath tube and gets taken outside to eat and pee. Of course she smells delightfully like a kid as well. Such a sweetheart! Already she has many home offers, we’ll just see where she ends up!
She really is quite a lovely little thing
Sleeping in the bath tube means she peers out at you if you make noise

June 27, 2010


As I go out to pick tomatoes from my garden and I see the pen of weanlings I know that it must be summer time! And with summer time come 3 things in my dairy goat world: 1. Lots of milking 2. No repro related work for a whole 2 months 3. County Fairs!!! So in honor of county fairs I am dedicating a whole post to Showmanship. As a showmanship exhibitor once and now a showmanship judge I have compiled a list of do's and do not's every exhibitor should know. The top 10 things to know or have done before you enter the showmanship ring (first 5 are essential for all, especially beginners and the second 5 are important for advanced and if you want to do really well) 1. That your animal is CLEAN and well trained - Remember - 40pt that your animal is well fitted, in good condition, well clipped, and very clean! If you don't make this, you probably don't make the top 1/2 2. Where the judge is at ALL times (goat, ground, judge on the move - make it your mantra!) Never be caught on the wrong side. Alert and courteous at all times. 3. How to set you animal up quickly and properly - don't overstretch or scrunch the animal and whenever you stop, even if it because a goat 2 in front of you had to pee, set your goat up! 4. Body Parts (breeds of goats) - Absolute necessity, I am almost guaranteed to ask. 5. Maneuvers through the ring - know how to move in an out of line and do it smoothly. (the next 5 things you should learn) 6. Scorecard!!!! - do you know the major point categories? This is my #1 way to divide close placings 7. How to handle the acquisition of a new animal and how to act when the judge approaches you. 8. Setting up right feet, setting up to best advantage ANY animal - if I hand you another animal can you set up a milker as well as a kid? 9. Evaluation of your animal and be able to evaluate another persons animal - the ever present "what do you like and what would you like to change" about your animals and of course any other animal you get handed. 10. Defects, DQ’s, and any other rules from the guidebook - if you know everything else backwards and forwards and you are ready to go for the big showmanship classes, start memorizing this! Ok, so what are the top 5 mistakes of showmanship? Here is what NOT to do: 1. DO NOT GREASE YOUR ANIMAL! 2. Do not forget to trim and clean the insides of the ears, the fore udder, the armpits, and between the hooves. 3. Do not stand on the wrong side of the animal because you were not paying attention, as the judge was moving. Don’t walk behind or over the goat to switch sides. (or behind the line, ever) 4. Do not bring an animal into the ring with a web collar or a collar that is too loose and can pull over the neck. Use only a small professional, unobtrusive leash on a Nigerian. 5. Do not try to trim your goats’ hooves on the day of the show – nothing worse than a lame goat.

June 07, 2010

Almost a marathon

The past two weekend have been a whirlwind of goat shows. First their was REDGA. Really this show is the place to be on Memorial Day weekend. All the big names in Northern CA come over and bring out their best goats. Such a beautiful show it actually moved the judge to tears and the amazingness of the animals. Needless to say I do not yet have the quality of animals that I expect to be standing in those champion line-up. So imagine my surprise when Ysis took GCH again! Not only does that give her a second milking leg (only 1 more until champion!) but she got to stand in a beautiful line-up again. Amusingly with the 4 goats in her class, she actually stood in every single place in one of the rings. Once again our 4Hers were able to come and help show the goats they are taking to the Fair this month. Even more fun, there was a 4Her who was from a different county who is really excited about Saanens (the breed I raise) so I was able to let her try taking one of my Saanens into showmanship and try it out. Overall one of the best REDGA weekends! The weekend finished with the acquisition of two new goat kids. Two does from Bill Davis' outstanding herd with bloodlines based in Nan Wojcik's Cisco herd. These two girls are so people friendly that perhaps "needy" might be a better term for them. They are really sweet and want as much love and attention we can give them. I really think they have even grown in the week that we have had them. This last weekend we continued the goat show marathon with a show up in Humboldt. On a map, Humboldt looks like it is just a ways up there. Wow, that is a long drive. And such an extremely different climate too. Here in the valley it was warm and sunny, up in Humboldt it was cloudy and overcast. I am a staunch believer in washing my goats before they go the show ring. Even I conceded that bathing them in that weather was crazy. The show itself was quite enjoyable and we were able to put one champion leg on Brazil. Azalea, who we took along in an attempt to fill out the Saanen jr show took RGCH twice behind a doe who went best in show in two different rings. The only down side of the show was the 6.5 hour drive home after leaving at 8pm at night. It was not, however as late as the night before when the show did not end until 10pm at night! Wow! that was a long show. The weekends ahead have a slowing of the goat shows, but the big shows like Watsonville and State fair still remain.

May 18, 2010

Start the Show Season!

Showing With Kidding season in the rear view mirror, we move into the next of the three dairy goat seasons – show season. Or, the reward for the years hard work. The first show of the season started with the Plymouth DGA show. This is such a fun show because it is only an hour away. Not only do we get to go up the day of, we get to come home at a reasonable time as well. Plus, for the last few years Jenn and I have been the ring stewards. This is probably my favorite job because you get the best seat in the house and people have to actually listen to you. This year the show was particularly fun because we brought some of our first year 4Hers with us. This was their first exposure to a goat show and I really think they enjoyed themselves. Not only did they get to show our goats, they helped lots of other breeders show their as well. Nothing like handling national show winning quality animals to get you excited about goats! To top it all off we were able to put a dry leg on my favorite of Jenn’s kids this year – Arizona. The way it works in the dairy goat shows, in case anyone doesn’t know, is that to become a permanent champion and have the “CH” designation on the goats papers you need to acquire 3 grand champion wins (we call them legs). All of the wins must be over 10 animals and at least 2 of the wins need to be when the goat is milking. The 3rd win can occur when the goat is still a kid or dry yearling. Most of the time this is the first win and it lets you know just how nice the kid is because she already has her first leg. There are a few other clauses and variations but really this is a huge step for Arizona. I can’t wait to see that happens in the next few years after she kids. The second show for our herd was a buck show where both Arabica and Brazil went. I was judging out in Idaho so I will have to let someone else write about this one. The next weekend (we have a crazy life) we went to our third show. The was a new show that we had not been to before. It was up in Red Bluff and it was holding the Togg specialty this year which was the deciding factor to go up instead of the show in Paso Robles where we have gone before. Not nearly as much fun as Plymouth but enjoyable in its own right. Zinfandel has held her own in both of the last 2 shows. As a yearling milker she is not really expected to beat the older does, but really she has something special and I really hope to see her bloom in the next few years. The star of this show was Ysis my grade Saanen/Lamancha 2 year old. Sat she came in 3rd and 2nd behind UC Davis’ beautiful does. We were not planning to stay for Sunday but we decided to go for it just for her at the last minute. In the first ring she took 1st in her class over a large class of 8 other does and then took RGCH to a 4yr old! I was really excited. In the second class she I employed all my showing magic and nearly cried when she was awarded GCH! My first unrestricted milking leg ever!!! I will write about the jr show later, because today it is all about her. The thrill of standing in the BIS line-up with a 9 yr old saanen who I admire greatly and Kastdemur’s Make7upYours who Arabica is 2x bred on was just a moment for the books. So exciting!!!! and what is more is we still have more shows to go this season. Here is to sleepless weekends and tired weeks for the thrill of it all!!

March 22, 2010

The Bonus of Bucks

Had someone tried to convince me that I would voluntarily care for, pet and become attached to a buck even as recently as early 2009, I would have cringed and possibly emitted a cynical chuckle followed by a scoff. I have never been markedly fond of bucks - they served for the purpose of propagation of offspring. A necessary nuisance if you will. During my years of having a 4-H herd, I mostly took does to bucks, although at different times did own a Togg buck for one breeding season, then a LaMancha buck I won at a show raffle several years later. Beyond that, my interaction has predominantly been at the commercial dairy where I was employed during college and in most recent years, at shows throughout the US that I have been privileged to judge. A series of bucks over the last 8 months have served to alter my opinion to the better.

Pineapple was the first buck who served to at least mellow my opinion of bucks. Pineapple arrived in the middle of an August heat wave and reacting to this stress, while exiting from the truck, landed himself in the middle of a shrub in my front yard, effectively re-landscaping it before running up and down the block not once, but twice (this during a time of goat keeping on the edge of a 300,000 population city). Over time, however, this free spirited buck began to tame and would appeal for attention over the top of the livestock panels. By the time he returned home, he was so tame that, when the truck couldn’t make it up a steep, moss covered Santa Cruz mountain road, he agreeably hiked the last 1/4 mile with us up to his home.

Then in late January the opportunity to purchase Elm*Glen Brazil presented. Talking with Karen Senn, she warned me that he was spoiled and more than a little attention seeking. In the time since Brazil’s arrival, he is more docile than some of the does. After trimming his hooves yesterday, he placed his head in the crook of my elbow and closed his eyes as I rubbed his chin and neck. I mean, really, as smelly as he is, who could really resist that charm?

Early this month, thanks to Trinity Smith of Goat-San LaManchas, we brought home Arabica, a beautiful little buckling full of spunk. A bottle baby in our herd of dam-raised kids, Arabica lived the first 10 nights in the bathtub of our spare room. He would vociferously protest the outrage of being “abandoned” by his human mothers, leading to the shutting of the bathroom door. Arabica is truly the buck who has won over my heart. No matter how much a slobbering, hormone driven buck he becomes, chances are I will still have a deep attachment to the creature who drapes himself over my knee foraging for the bottle he know I must be hiding somewhere!

This said, I suppose I should be grateful I recently discovered my ginger salt bath scrub does a near miraculous job of removing buck “cologne” so I can continue to enjoy petting the boys after the start of breeding season. With their unique personalities, the bucks truly are a bonus to the herd.

March 20, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Update

It has been almost a week since my last post so I thought it was time for a new one. Lets start with the general update - we are holding at 11 kids including the little buck we picked up last week. He also has a name finally: Goat-San Babys Morning Arabica. So (in case you are keeping score) we have: Azalea (and brother), Arizona, Alaska, Artemis (and brothers Atlas and Apollo), Apple Fritter (and brother), Argentina, and Arabica. We have also transitioned Arabica to spending his days outside in the goat pasture where he plays with all the other kids and learns to be a goat. He is helping up with milking too - by eating it all. I always feel happy when I am not wasting milk. The days are sunny, the nights are mild, spring is in the air. Working our way backwards - the bad part is my does are all trying to die on me. Thistle is back to fighting ketosis. She won't eat grain because - well if I knew then I could fix the problem. We had given her dextrose thinking she would fight it and her ketone levels had come way down - and now they are back up which is simply frusterating because you know part of the problem is she is too stubborn to eat grain. Then Ysis - my less moody Saancha cross - comes down with what we think is listeria and 1/2 of her face is paralyzed. Poor thing has food/cud falling out of her mouth. Still just as cheerful as ever she keeps putting food in to keep up. She seems to be getting better but only time will tell if she heals completely Finally the good - first the doe kids are growing so well. Not one has hit the ground that I am sorry for that breeding. Are there ones who are better than others? Sure. But really, this years kids have not made me sad at all. Now we are working on leading on a chain so the beautiful kids can show themselves off and not fling themselves to the ground at the first show. Secondly we pulled kids off does for the day to watch udders fill up. While I would love to say they were all perfect and large, they weren't. Especially a certain ketotic doe, but I guess that is to be expected. Katie (arizona and alaska's mom) certainly bagged up tremedously though - almost scares me how much milk those two must be consuming. Overall though pretty well attached udders all around. We will certainly repeat this experiment to see how the does look after a few rounds of bagging up. Well that is all I can think of for now.

March 10, 2010

Unexpected Surprises

I never cease to be amazed by the goats, but this time around it was people who surprised me.
So Jenn and I were just sitting around Monday night when an email comes through from Trinity Smith of Goat-San Lamanchas offering us a new buck kid who was just born and has amazing genetics. Sire's dam was the national champion two times and the sire's sire's dam and dam's dam is a doe I have always been highly impressed with. We just bought a buck, but really, can you turn down that offer?
So off we went the next afternoon up to Redwood Hill Dairy to pick him up. After an almost 3 hour drive through traffic we are proud to say we have another buck here in the herd. It was an unanimous decision between us which one we wanted and we have great expectations for him.
He rode home at the feet of the passenger seat and slept most of the way home. I think it must have been a rather bumpy ride from his point of view because he was rather nauseous as scouring a bit when we got home. He had 1/2 a bottle of clear liquids instead of any milk to help his stomach stay calm and then spent the night in the bath tube - a warm, dry and cleanable location for baby goats.
As you can see he was excited about breakfast this morning. Just admiring he height and width to the escutcheon we are so excited to see what he does for our small herd. The added bonus is he is a beautiful color with several shades of brown and white.
After breakfast as we were getting ready for school he found himself a warm cozy spot. 2 minutes before this picture he was standing in the living room. I turn around only to discover he has found a sun spot. Well he didn't stay there too long, his first adventure in his new home - off to Jenn's 6th/7th grade class for love and attention (and to make sure he gets lunch).

March 04, 2010

Why Goats are Supposed to Have Twins

This kidding season has been a significant improvement over last year, where three does kidded, each with a single kid (albeit all doe kids). In five kiddings, we've had 3 sets of twins, 1 set of triplets and one single kid.
The mind of a goat is an amazing thing. They can see a hole in a fence from 20 yards, enlarge the hole with a tenacity that should put mammals with opposable thumbs to shame and climb obstacles that would challenge some college athletes, but even goats have their limitations, one of which is the ability to count beyond TWO. Two digits on their hoof, anything beyond that exceeds their mental capabilities. Such was the case with Ysis, poor girls couldn't count the third triplet to save her life. After two ate, she was baffled by the appearance of a third kid seeking her udder and would walk off, convinced someone was coming back for seconds.
Yucatan's issues are a little different. Yucatan had a single kid. Yucatan is a dairy goat in the truest sense. Her body understands that milk production is the primary purpose of her existence. Now, Argentina was a good sized kid at birth and ate heartily since the day she was born, but not even that appetite can begin to keep up with mother's milk production. Yucatan is now feeding her own kid, plus supplementing milk for the triplets who waddle away from nursing.
The other problem with a single kid is similar to the problem humans have with "only children". They are spoiled and life revolves around them. Argentina, for her whole 10 pounds of body weight believes that SHE is princess of the pasture, proceeding, with gutsy indifference to the dramatic size difference, to push around the January born Saanen and LaMancha kids. And, should anyone challenge her authority, she bounces back to mother who will, of course, protect her little darling. Twin kids would never stoop to such levels. They have siblings of equal size, strength and maternal affection who would quickly stop such prima donna nonsense.
God gave goats two teats, two hoof digits to count with and the brains to cope with twins - no more, no less. Hopefully the remaining 4 does to kid take heed and deliver twins!

March 02, 2010

Kids Update

Tuesday of a school week is not generally my most creative time of week, so forgive my generic title. It feels like life hasn't stopped moving at warp speed since before kidding season began.
Kidding season itself is exciting, the waiting is nerve-wracking. Unless, of course, you don't realize the doe is going to kid. Yucatan, my two year old LaMancha is a prime example. Rebekah and I had been watching her closely since mid-February when she started bagging up. We had two possible breeding date, both by AI. Sure, she was getting close, but her udder wasn't tight, tail head ligaments still present and accounted for, appetite healthy - nothing to suggest imminent birth, right? I got home during a rainstorm and immediately realized that Yucatan, typically very social, wasn't with the remainder of the herd at the gate. A quick search of the paddock revealed Yucatan hidden away in one of the shed stalls with a good sized, almost pure black kid, standing behind her. Dry, clean, fed and fluffed up. As a side note, this makes AI doe kid #3 for the year - twin doe kids from Katie - Arizona and Alaska, and now Argentina from Yucatan.
One of the older AI doe kids, Alaska, broke her leg about a month ago. The first week of the fracture was something of a trial and error to find the best splinting method on an active, spunky kid. Then two weeks in the splint and last week I removed it. At first she was hesitant to place weight on it, but this week, she's bounding around with only a slight bowing in of the front leg and thickening of the canon bone due to the callus , which will hopefully resolve with time.

February 22, 2010

Babies Everywhere

It is amazing to see spring come and to see the kids grow. We are up to 5 does and 4 bucks and I thought it was time to post another set of pictures.
All the the kids get along well and sleep together in warm baby piles. Sometimes we find them in family groups and sometimes (like this picture caught) we find them all mixed together. I guess if I was a little kid growing up in wintertime I would want to find as many warm bodies to sleep beside.
Without a doubt, one of their favorite things to do is to play on this piece of plywood. Not only do they jump all over it and push each other off, but when they jump and leap, their hooves make noise. I'm guessing that all of their mom's also appreciate the fact that there are lots of them. They can entertain each other instead of pestering mom.
This is what happens when there are not enough playmates awake. Mom becomes the thing to climb on and play on. Now you can understand why the does like it when their kids all go play with each other instead of standing on her. Poor Thistle just wants to take a nap. She really thinks she is too old for this kid nonsense.
All the kids are fascinated by the horse who lives nearby. Are you a really big goat? Are you a dog like Hannah? They just don't get it. To be fair the horse doesn't really understand the kids either.

January 25, 2010

Baby pictures

I thought I would add some pictures to complement Jenn's post below.
LaMancha AI Doe twins in the sunshine. Arizona on the left and Alaska on the Right
Saanen twins joining them in the sunshine as well. (Azalea on the Right)
Poor Thistle was pretty worn out after the tramatic kidding.
Katie keeping watch over her kids.
Little Saanen trying to join the group.

Floppy Heads and AI Kids

This weekend hallmarked the 2010 kidding season, and, as always, its never dull when there are babies arriving.
Friday night, following 6 days of pounding, drenching rain, Thistle, the eldest of the Saanen does, was obviously in labor. Since it was still very, very muddy with a cold wind blowing, Rebekah and I had to devise alternate kidding locations and since it was getting dark, opted for the front of the hay shed where we could run electricity. We bedded it down, brought over a hog panel (shorter than cattle panels, but tall enough to keep a very pregnant doe in), ran an extension cord from the house, then introduced Thistle to her new "bedroom". Labor immediately stopped. After watching her for a bit, we returned to the house, bringing dinner out to the shed.
After dinner, there was still no sign of imminent birth, and while the contractions were returning, she was still restless and just not settling down to business. A quick check revealed no dilation of her cervix to speak of. Sigh. We opted to head for bed and check on progress during the night. At one in the morning, it was finally time to help things along. With much protest from the goat, it was discovered that the head of the first kid was not only back along his ribs, but flipped upside down, as proven by finding teeth of the top of the jaw instead of the expected location on the bottom of the jaw. With some help, the first kid arrived, a little buck. Moments later, sister came out on his heels. Final kid count, 1 buck, 1 doe, later named Azalea.
The next morning, as we had expected, Katie, my LaMancha 3 year old, had begun nesting in the back shed, kicking all the other does out. By 10:30, she was in active labor and less than an hour later, the first kid appeared. A doe kid, I was particularly thrilled since this was the first set of kids from last autumns attempts at AI breeding - a new addition to our repertoire of management tools. Arizona, as she soon was named, was quickly cleaned and cared for by her mother, but to me it was obvious that there was a second kid yet to be born. Coaxing by removal of Arizona produced feet, but no nose. Another fishing expedition yielded that this time, the kid's head had folded down between her front legs back toward her navel. Soon, a second squirming doe kid (Alaska) landed at her mother's feet.
A long weekend with two instances of "floppy heads", not to be confused with floppy kids, and a pair of AI twin doe kids to round it out. Oh, and more rain!

January 21, 2010

Rain and Wounds

Yesterday was by far the worst storm we've seen in the Central Valley in at least a year. With more than an inch of rain in 6 hours, combined with gusts of wind +50 miles an hour, it was starting to resemble the Florida hurricanes, only with colder temperatures.
At Durham Ferry where I teach, the barns looked like an imagined scene from Noah's ark, and at 10 AM we sent all the students home due to power outage. Reaching home, not a soul came to the pasture gate to greet me as I pulled in, even though the rain had stopped falling. Not even a scoop of grain could entice the girls out of the shed into the sticky brown mud. As I dumped the grain into the bottom of the feeder (just a little snack for the girls) it became apparent that Thistle, Rebekah's Saanen 6 year old, who is due to kid this weekend was severely favoring one foot that was swollen, and upon examination, quite warm to the touch.
Now, it's not particularly easy to convince a 150lb. Saanen doe, heavy with kids, to go out through the mud at any time, but with a hurt foot, she was more than obstinate about making her way over to the gate where I could tie her to get a better look. I'm still not quite sure HOW she hurt herself, but it's obvious she either caught it, or pulled it up against a sharp object, tearing the hoof wall up near the coronary band. Talk about a freak accident. So needless to say, between torrential rain and goats getting into trouble, it was an interesting day...

January 11, 2010

First Fresheners

Sometimes I think my posts must remind people of a newbie because I get all excited about the small things. But then, in my mind it is the people who have put years and years of work into these animals who have the right to get so excited about them. After clipping the first 4 does who are due to freshen we can now sit back and observe their udder growth. On one doe this will be her third lactation, while it is not that her udder growth is less important, it is just that it is not as fun to speculate on as the younger does. It is the first fresheners who it is most exciting to watch. Will they have a nicer udder than their mother? Did their sire do any good for their udder? Will she have a pocket in the front? How tightly will that udder be held up there? All of these questions float around through my head as I stand and watch them eat their grain. Two of the first 4 to kid are animals who have left the herd and now returned. We didn't see them growing for many years, but now we get to see how their udders are looking and how they will come out? Sigh, just things to ponder as we sit around waiting for kids.