Monday, May 23, 2011

4-H Goats

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of adding the 4-H neighbor girl's goats to the herd. She wanted to get out of goats and move up to a horse (for barrel racing), so she decided to sell all her goats. She had the two mommies and four babies. I agreed to take the mommies. For me this was really special since her little Nigerian Dwarf was the first goat I ever successfully milked.

On moving day, she walked them over by their collars and they obediently followed her lead (teaching me that goats really can be well behaved given consistent training). They know their names, Star and Pepper, and they are easy to milk. Much easier than Ms. Cow who likes to be a brat and kick and jump when she runs out of grain or when she's tired of being up on the stand...or when children try to milk her and don't do it right.

Star is a Nigerian Dwarf, all black with inquisitive blue eyes. She's a rascal and likes to do sneaky things like take the bowl out of the stanchion when it's empty of grain and then toss it on the ground. She also talks to my husband and to other goats using a series of low grunts and growly mah-mah-mahs.

Pepper is an American Alpine. The first time I saw her I was a little scared of her because she's tall. But when we got her to the ranch I realized she's the same size as Cow and Tsica. She's also a lady, well mannered and loving.

Both goats like to be rubbed and scratched. They vie for attention from me whenever I sit and take a break to be with them. The most unusual thing for me is that both have been shaved. I call them my bald ladies. They had been taken to the fair for a 4-H show and one of the things they do is shave the goats so the judges can better see their shapes.

Now that Milk Jail is outside the goat pen, I take them in order (Cow, Pepper, Star) and all three are so good. All I have to do is open the gate and say Up-Up-Up. They run to the stanchion and hop in place.

The biggest difference is the increase in milk production. This morning, for example, I came home with a whole gallon. Pepper is the most rewarding to milk. Her teats are like two water balloons, and when she's out of milk they shrivel up and sag. It takes several seconds to milk out a full teat, but I can milk her with both hands! She doesn't pitch a fit if I do it wrong, just stands their patiently while I figure it all out. I just love these two.

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