December 28, 2012

Breeding Time!

Today I brought Roxy to stay five days with Rah, a Saanen buck, belonging to one of my friends, Cassie.
Rah is three years old - Roxy is four - and has several offspring in Cassie’s herd. I would have originally preferred to breed Roxy to a LaMancha buck, but it was just too hard to find one a short driving distance from where I live.
Cassie has several bucks: 2 Saanans, 1 Alpine, and 4 Nubians. It was hard to decide which to breed Roxy to, they were all very wonderful bucks, but in the end Rah, one of the Saanens, won out. Rah is very friendly, loves attention, has a great pedigree, a wonderful conformation, is registered with ADGA and has champion daughters (4H county fair: Grand Champions, Reserve Champions, 1st places...) Did I mention that he is quiet, good-natured, and comes from high-producing lines?

A Saanen would have been my second choice anyway; they have many benefits. Their white coloring helps them keep cool in the summer but at the same time they are also well suited to cold climates - they originated in the Swiss Alps. They are also the largest of the dairy breeds, which should balance Roxy’s smallness. Saanens also have very calm, quiet, lade-back temperaments which helps them deal with changes better. They also have very high production – and Cassie’s are certainly no exception. Crossbreeds are also said to be sturdier and more disease-resistant then purebreds, which is yet another benefit of breeding Roxy to a Saanen.

Quoting Rancho Snowfall Dairy Goats (
“We are often asked what is the best breed of dairy goat, and the answer has always been a Saanen LaMancha cross for us. These animals are truly hard workers in the milk parlor with an exceptional balance of vigor, high production, and good components. Throughout the Rancho-Snowfall history, you will find that experimentals have played an active role in milk line.”

Bucks have microscopic scent glands in the skin located right behind their horns. During breeding season, these scent glands produce a strong odor that most people find offensive. It's meant to attract the does, but if I were one I sure wouldn't be attracted. Rah is very friendly, though, and was kindly rubbing his face, neck and mouth all over me. He was trying to be nice, but believe me when I say that I was very fragrant by the time we left. Outside of the breeding season, bucks are perfectly normal - for a goat, that is.

We seemed to have had perfect timing, as Roxy is just going into heat but hasn't reached a standing heat yet. We just put Roxy and Rah together, and as soon as she's ready she'll let him do the job. When that happens, Cassie will give me a call so that I will know Roxy's due date.
Merry Christmas!

August 19, 2012


There are a lot of firsts during your first year with goats! This is my first showmanship contest, where the contestants are judged on the way they show their goats. Showmanship is a lot of fun; and this time I was only slightly nervous beforehand. Aphie behaved perfectly and the Judge was really nice. The date of this show was August 8th, and I placed 6th in intermediate showmanship!

August 16, 2012

Goat show

Tuesday, August 7th was my first Goat Show!
It was a Goat Show, which means that the judge determines  how the goat conforms to her breed standard, how straight her top-line is, etc.

Before I went in, I was really nervous that Aphie wouldn't behave, that the judge would ask me some goat body parts and I wouldn't remember them... and that my shirt would come untucked!

 Everything was fine and I probably had no reason to be nervous; Aphie even got second place in her class!

Second Place Sr. Alpine Kid

July 17, 2012

The goats are grazing

There are many reasons why we take our goats out to graze every day. They get all-important exercise, they help clear our weeds, we save on the cost of buying hay, and most important of all it increases their milk production.
On fine afternoons we open the gate and call, "Goats! Roxy, Dicey, Aphie, Babies!" And they all come running after us down the hill.  All except Roxy; she always heads straight for the pine trees and wreaks havoc. So we keep her on a leash until we get to the pasture.
Pine trees aren't on the menu today, girl!

We only keep the goats out for an hour or so because we have to be with them while they are grazing and we don't have time to be out more than an hour. They are eating the whole time that we have them out.

In spite of the common opinion that goats will eat anything - they like to feel everything with their tongues - goats are quite picky about what they eat and carefully pick out certain plants. Wild Rose, Bindweed, and Wild Sage are favorites among our goats, so we try to bring our goats to parts of the pasture especially abundant in these particular plants. Of course, our pine trees are preferred over all else and we have to be careful not to let the goats get at them - my dad went to a lot of trouble to plant those trees.

June 13, 2012

A Big Hail Storm

The thunder rumbled. I was on my way home in Carina's car with Aphrodite on June 6, 2012 coming home from goat work-out. A goat work-out is where practice showing goats. I would have to milk Roxy as soon as I got home; I usually milk her at 6:30 PM, and now it was already 7:30. It couldn't rain now, it just couldn't. I looked up at the sky. Sure enough, there were dark, black, clouds overhead. As though they were making fun of my surety that it couldn't rain, three raindrops splattered through the open window onto my face. I anxiously looked into the back of the car where Aphrodite was. Goats hate to get wet so I would have to carrying her under my jacket all the way to the goat shed, and I wasn't looking forward to it. It started raining harder. Carina's mom closed the car windows. By now, the rain was coming down in torrents.

We drove up to my house and I hopped out of the car. I tried to look casual as I tucked Aphie under my coat and bolted to the shed. When I got there I was out of breath. I put Aphrodite down and looked outside. If anything, the rain was getting worse. My milk pail was inside so I made a bolt for the house again. Just as I got inside, hailstones started rattling down. I grabbed the pail and Aphie's bottle and, holding my pail lid over my head as a helmet I ran back to the goat shed.

In the goat shed, the hailstones were rattling on the roof. The noise wasn't very loud. Not yet. It was only so loud that you had to shout to be heard. I held Aphrodite's bottle and she sucked it greedily. She didn't seem to notice the noise. Aphie finished her bottle and I closed the door to the goat shed. All the goats were inside and I didn't want the hail to come in. I opened the gate to the milking area and Roxy jumped onto the milk-stand. I sat down and started milking her. Ever so faintly I could hear the sound of the milk squirting into the pail in spite of the storm. "Well," I thought, "This is one sound the storm can't drown out entirely!" That's when the real hailstorm started. Golf ball sized hailstones bounced to the ground. The noise of hailstones on the roof went from very loud to deafening.

That's when I noticed the puddle. Yes, that's true; when I first came in the ground beneath the milk-stand was kind of muddy. But that isn't what I mean by puddle.  I mean puddle. The puddle beneath the milk-stand was 2 inches deep. "That's funny," I thought. "I didn't spill any water." Then I realized what had happened.

The floor of our goat shed is dirt and the goat shed is also on slightly sloping ground. the water from the rain must have run down the hill, hit the goat shed, and gone under the wall, gone through the goats bedding and under the milk-stand.

I quickly finished milking Roxy. Then I let her out of the milk-stand. I went over to the wall. Slowly but surely water was seeping under it. And all the bedding was wet. All that is, except one corner just big enough for the goats to sleep in. I stuffed as much straw as possible into the crack between the wall and floor. I would have to replace all the bedding in the morning.

Suddenly a terrible thought came over me. What about my baby chicks? What if somehow the power had gone out and their heat lamp in the chicken coop had gone off? The hail had calmed a little so I held an empty bucket over my head and ran to the chicken coop.

My heart stopped. The heat lamp was off! Then my heart started beating again. the heat lamp was unplugged from the extension cord. I could fix that. I plugged it back in. My heart stopped again. The heat lamp didn't go on!

I rushed to the house and shouted for my dad.  I told him that the heat lamp wouldn't go on. He took it very calmly, I couldn't believe that he wasn't panicking like me. He simply said, "Maybe the connection is under water." It takes two extension cords to reach the chicken coop from the house and it was the connection between the two extension cords that he was talking about. "Of course it's under water. Everything is. But what does that have to do with it?" was my stupid answer. Patiently my dad explained to me that when an electric cord gets submerged it shuts off. Otherwise things could get very dangerous.

After my dad turned off the electricity, I went and unplugged the cord from the house, followed the cord until I got to the connection, unplugged the cords from each other, carefully wiped them off, plugged them together again and set the connection on top of our green-turtle sandbox to keep them out of the water. By now I was soaked in spite of my rain jacket. After I plugged the cord into the house and my dad turned on the electricity, the chicks, who had been huddling in the corner, got up and looked around. When they started running around as normal I decided that they were safe and went back to the house.

I had forgotten to collect the eggs from our chickens, and I had left the milk behind. I would get those when the rain stopped, but tomorrow I would sure have a mess to clean in the goat shed!

May 31, 2012

Buying my first goat, Aphrodite

I decided to get goats in September 2011, and we started planning a goat shed in which to keep our future goats. I started watching Craigslist for goats for sale near the beginning of March 2012 and I spotted some nice looking doelings sometime around the third week of March.

The woman selling the goats that I saw on Craigslist bought her baby goats from a goat Dairy farm for $50 or so a head.  In her turn she sold them for $80 a piece to young 4-Hers. Does have to have babies to start milking but the babies drink a lot of milk so the dairy farmers like to get rid of the kids and sell the milk. Anyway, I went over to see if I wanted any. She had a 15 baby goats. Some had their horns beginning to grow, some were disbudded, and two were polled. After looking for an hour I finally decided that I liked one Saanen better than any other babies. She was a cute little thing who seemed to really like to be around humans, and she was 6 weeks old. I loved her from first sight!  I had decided to get a Saanen anyway because they are nicknamed "The Dairy Queens" because they produce so much milk.

Our goat shed was not done, so we asked the people selling the goats if they could hold the little goat for us for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I was running to the library almost every day to get one goat book or another to read.

After I decided to get the Saanen I had to face the problem of naming her. I thought up lots of names before I decided on naming her Aphrodite. I thought "Why don't I name her something German? Saanens originally came from the Swiss alps didn't they?". But I can't speak German. So I gave up that idea.   One day I was trying to come up with a name when I suddenly saw a book about the Greek myths. I really like the Greek names. I think they are really pretty. My favorites are Aphrodite, Persephone, and Andromeda. "Why don't I name her Aphrodite?" I thought. So I did.

We finally arranged to pick Aphrodite up on a Wednesday sometime in April.  We put a dog cage thing in the back of the car and started on our way. My heart was beating really fast. Could I really be finally getting a goat? I couldn't wait till we got there! What if something stopped us?

I was really relieved when we finally got there and I snapped a collar on her, and put her in the car. We got home without mishap, though I have to admit Aphrodite was in my lap, not the cage, when we arrived home.

Like I said, the goat shed wasn't done so Aphrodite got to live with the chickens. I kept her hay in a mini wheelbarrow and her water in a flat-back bucket from Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply.

She seemed to prefer the chicken feed to her hay, which really stressed me out. A book on goats that I had read said NEVER to feed chicken feed to goats or "They will get bloated and will have to be taken to the vet" which, of course, is nonsense as Aphrodite neither got bloated nor was taken to the vet. Maybe the author had poisonous chicken feed.

When the goat shed was done we moved Aphrodite in. My friend Carina also brought her goats over (see "Meet our Goats!") and Aphrodite (who had been starting to think she was a chicken) soon settled into her new home with her new friends.