Who knew that acquiring new animals could be so emotionally taxing? We purchased two three month old Nubian doelings last month, with the expectation of acquiring 2-4 more goats soon after. Car troubles and life delayed us a bit, but now we’re back on track.
Saturday afternoon, Dustin and Justyne Noble of Noble Springs Dairy delivered four Alpine dairy goats to our homestead. Included in the group were one 4 year old doe in milk, one yearling, and two baby bucks. I’ve wanted the ability to acquire baby goats (they’re sold really cheap), but the cost of bottle feeding is prohibitive for us. Some people bottle feed baby goats with powdered milk to save money, but since our goal is to remain natural and sustainable and as organic as possible, our babies would have to be fed pure raw goat milk.
Even though Noble Springs probably doesn’t sell milking does very often, they empathized with our dilemma and helped us solve the problem. They sold us a 4 year old doe in milk so we could feed the babies without incurring dead-end costs. The doe needs a companion, however, so we also bought a yearling to keep her company. Problems solved!
Trouble in Paradise
The trouble is, the milking doe wouldn’t let me or the baby bucks touch her. The babies went without milk the first night. I called Justyne and we agreed that maybe mama goat needed to be hungrier to approach me when I’m holding a treat, so we decided to try again in the morning.
Unfortunately, morning didn’t prove to be any better. Our mama goat would surely get comfortable with me eventually, but that could take days, and the baby goats simply didn’t have that kind of time. BIG PROBLEM.
Thank God for the Nobles!
Out of the kindness of their hearts (and an admirable business ethic), Justyne and Dustin offered to trade milking goats with me. Justyne drove out to our homestead again the next morning with another doe who had just given birth two days before. Problem solved!
Want to meet the crew?
This female yearling was acquired alongside the mama (doe in milk) for the sake of companionship. She’s a bit bossy and likes to show the young ‘uns who’s in charge, but she’s very friendly toward me and my children. My only concern now about the goat culture involves how she handles the baby bucks. If she’s too pushy, we’ll separate the bucks for a few weeks, only bringing them into the paddock for feedings, until they’ve grown a bit larger. That’s a lot more work, though, so I’m not especially eager to jump on that idea.
The Mama Doe That Almost Was…
Our first mama doe was named Video. Not sure how that name came about. We were to be her third caretakers, so perhaps the persistent changes have added to her hesitancy. I wish we could have kept her, as I find her color striking and a pleasant change of pace from the others. Variety is the spice of life, or something.
Video had been milked by machine for some time, so she wasn’t allowing the bucklings to approach her on their own. She sidestepped them or nudged them out of the way, thus requiring a human assistant to hold her still.
It just wasn’t meant to be. She wouldn’t let me near her and the bucklings were starving, so she had to go. If money were no object, I’d have kept her also and just wooed her over time with treats. I’m sure she would’ve come around eventually. But the baby bucks need milk ideally 3 times a day, so we can’t wait on Video to get comfortable with me.
The Pinch Hitter
This tender hearted mama gave birth to three babies just a few days ago. She has those after-birth hormones going strong, and she has already begun bonding to me more than all the others. She allowed me to touch and stroke her for quite some time. In fact, she wanted to stay beside me the entire time I was inside the pen.
She has a sweet disposition, and will make an excellent addition to our growing homestead. She doesn’t produce as much milk yet as the four year old Video (pictured above), but what she lacks so far in milk she makes up for in agreeability.
This morning (her Day 2 with us), I found mama goat standing in front of the babies’ pet carrier, wanting to touch and care for them. Heart melt! We expected the adjustment period to take a week or more. But she’s already warmed up to them. This morning she allowed them to nurse and she cleaned their little behinds while they fed.
You are TOTALLY on Heather’s superstar list, mama goat!
Those Adorable Baby Bucks
These little guys are the future of our homestead dairy. We plan to breed them to our Nubian doelings to create a well behaved, healthy dairy family in 2015/16.
Now that we have SIX goats (is this REALLY happening?!?!?), our existing A-frame shelter is inadequate to keep them all out of the wind and rain.
- Build a larger, and preferably lighter, goat shelter
- Modify a small wagon into a mobile goat feeder
- Modify a milking stand into a mobile milking stand