Tag Archives: breeding season

Making Fall Decisions

The idea of fall being as busy as summer seems strange. After all, the growing season is ending. The year is winding down. Yet fall decisions are many.

A possibility of frost sent me out in my garden. Tomatoes, peppers and squash are all frost sensitive. They are cold sensitive as well.

fall decisions about tomatoes

Green tomatoes are popular with some people, not me. Sometimes the green tomatoes will ripen in the pantry. Cold temperatures stop them in the garden. Will these? Should I pick them? How many bowls, trays, sacks of green tomatoes do I want in the pantry?

Tomato plants in the spring sit refusing to grow until temperatures warm up. Tomatoes hanging on the vine stay green as long as temperatures are cold. The same is true of peppers.

Bags of tomatoes, green to red and bags of peppers green to various colors moved into the pantry. Unless we want to eat tomatoes and peppers morning, noon and night for a month, we can’t eat all of these.

butternut squash fall decisions

Frost is coming. The mottling tells me this butternut squash isn’t ripe yet. Should I pick it anyway and hope it ripens in the pantry? Should I leave it and hope the vines survive another week?

One solution is tomato sauce. I like one made with minced garlic, chopped onion and peppers cooked down in tomatoes. It’s packaged in two cup amounts and frozen.

This is a delaying tactic. The piles of tomatoes and peppers changed form, but are still waiting to be eaten. How much spaghetti and pizza do we want to eat every week?

Another solution is to sell or give the extra away. This is easier during the summer when the vines and plants are busy producing more. Now the vines and plants are gone. When the extra is gone, there will not be more until next summer.

evening primrose flowers

A touch of color is welcome. Evening primrose is a bit frost hardy so a few flowers may still be there when the tomatoes are gone.

How much should I keep? I’m never sure. Making fall decisions about this is guess work.

Another set of decisions surrounds the goats. It’s breeding season. Once a doe is bred, she will milk one to two months, then go dry until having kids in the spring.

Summer has made me complacent with plenty of milk, mozzarella, ricotta and feta. When most of my milkers are dry, this will stop.

The temptation is to delay breeding my does. But delaying breeding doesn’t change anything.

Fall decisions loom. Which does will I milk through the winter? Which does are to be bred to which buck? And I do like March to April kids, so breed the does in October to November. The milk desert begins about December.

goat fall decisions about breeding

Nubian yearling doe High Reaches Pamela is old enough to be bred. Maybe Goat Town USA Gaius wants a girlfriend.

One other set of fall decisions sits in my computer room. I have boxes of books. Now is a good time of year to have book signings.

November is Novel Writing Month. I’m not ready. I have two weeks. At least I know I will try to finish the first book of “The Carduan Chronicles” neglected this year as I finished “My Ozark Home” and “Mistaken Promises.”

Fall is definitely not a time to slow down.

Fall Overtakes Summer

As fall overtakes summer, many changes sneak into the goats and garden. The noisy changes come from the goats.

Nubians are known for their loud voices. Prime breeding season is in the fall. Roughly every three weeks a doe announces she is in season and displays for the buck.

Nubian buck in rut as fall overtakes summer

Nubian buck High Reaches silk’s Augustus spends hours standing on top of the gym calling to and looking for the does. He has gotten fat over the summer which is good as he now often neglects his grain, grazing and hay.

Bucks produce musk behind where they would have horns. I prefer disbudded or polled bucks for several reasons, safety being high on the list.

My Nubian bucks weigh around two hundred pounds each. Double my weight. They are good natured and I can handle them without too much trouble. Horns would make them dangerous.

Many years ago my father had a black Nubian buck with horns. On Nubians horns go up six inches or so and then turn outward. This buck developed a horn spread three feet across with each horn spiraling a time and a half.

Nubian buck

Nubian buck Goat Town USA Gaius sneaks up on the gym to look out at the pastures when Augustus isn’t watching. He has gotten old and is now second buck.

One day my mother and I were out to trim his feet. He wasn’t very aggressive towards us, had grown up as something of a pet. He felt playful, turned his head, picked my mother – all 160 pounds of her – up on the tip of a horn and set her against the top strands of the barbed wire fence.

As fall overtakes summer and the bucks begin to reek and call for the does, I am glad they don’t have horns.

In the garden many of the summer crops are dying back. The yard long beans still bloom, but are dropping their leaves. The tomato vines are browning at the base. The squash is succumbing to the squash bugs.

broccoli takes off as fall overtakes summer

Transplants are an easy way to get cabbage and broccoli going for the fall. I prefer fall planting as the cool weather keeps the flavor good. Hot weather makes them bitter. The mulch isn’t needed now to hold moisture and can even make it too wet. The mulch does keep weeds down and the soil from freezing until winter gets serious.

As fall overtakes summer, the cold weather crops are coming up. Turnips, beets, peas, Chinese cabbage, rutabaga and lettuce have sprouted. Cabbage and broccoli transplants are in.

The rains have come dropping the temperatures. Here in the Ozarks fall overtakes summer, not slowly, but in a couple of weeks.

Impatient Bucks Frustrated

My does are cycling. Every three weeks the does stand one by one gazing longingly at the bucks and wagging their tail. Being Nubians this is normally accompanied by loud cries all day.

My impatient bucks hang out over their pen wall blathering at any doe standing close. They don’t care if the doe is looking at them or not, she’s a doe and they are so irresistible.

The does go out to pasture. They march off in one direction or another and disappear for the day.

impatient bucks running

As soon as their gate is opened, my impatient bucks race off hoping the pasture gate has been left open, then check for scents of a doe in heat. Maybe they will come in for breakfast.

Impatient bucks bolt out of their gate racing off to check out any scents left behind. Augustus begins his daily sorrowful laments.

Eventually the bucks get back to the barn to eat what’s left of breakfast. Chickens love oats. I’m not too concerned as the bucks never seem to finish breakfast lately.

All day impatient bucks patrol the fences. They stand on the gym gazing out at the pastures.

impatient bucks waiting

Much of the day impatient buck goats stand or pace looking out over the pastures looking for the does.

All day the does ignore the bucks and their calls. Only one in heat answers them setting off a frenzy in the barn lot.

ignoring impatient bucks

The does go out to pasture and spend the day eating. The calls of impatient bucks are ignored. Eating is much more important.

In between watching for and calling for the does, the impatient bucks jockey for supremacy. Augustus and Gaius are the same size now so competition is fierce. So far the only casualty is the barn wall now six inches out of place.

Gaius is getting older. He is determined to stay boss buck. For now and maybe next year the match will be weighted on his side.

Once Augustus takes over, maybe before, I will need to split their pen to separate the two all night. The barn wall isn’t a big problem as the barn is over a hundred years old, badly built and falling apart. The big problem is the damage the two bucks can do to each other.

impatient bucks checking

When the herd at last reappears, the impatient bucks are there at the fence to check them out.

Last year Augustus leapt the fences. He can still jump but the extra barbed wire seems to keep him at bay. He’s a lot bigger and heavier so he won’t make it over the wire cleanly anymore and he knows it.

That means I get to set my own breeding season this year. That means October. For now the impatient bucks will have to wait.

Do you enjoy reading about goats? Check out Dora’s Story.

My Escape Artist Augustus

Every breeding season I list my does deciding who is retired, who is milking through and who is being bred and to whom. The last few years these careful plans have been sabotaged by an escape artist.

This year I would be prepared. I repaired the electric fence even putting in a much better grounding rod.

Augustus escaped. One winter milker crossed off the list.

This young buck didn’t think much of the electric wire. It was a great way to scratch an itchy head.

One problem with woven wire is how easy it is to collapse it. Augustus was stepping on the woven wire and sliding out over the electric wire and under the barbed wire.

escape artist Augustus

When my junior Nubian herd sire Augustus escapes, he is on holiday and down’t want anything to cut it short. Goats run much faster and longer than I do. The rope is easier to grab. It isn’t safe unless I am watching as Augustus can catch it up and end up strangled.

Another strand of barbed wire went up. The woven wire and both strands of barbed were wired together.

Augustus was disgusted. His favorite escape holes were no more. He escaped anyway. Another winter milker crossed off the list.

Gaius was not happy. He is senior herd sire. This young upstart was out enjoying the company of his does.

Gaius’ revenge came in showing which corner of the barn lot was the new escape route. The barn lot is fenced with cattle panels topped with barbed wire.

The cattle panels and barbed wire were carefully wired together. All joins were checked and redone.

Augustus escaped. At least no doe was in season. He was just enjoying being out in the pastures with lots of friendly company. Gaius was mad at him and aggressive due to breeding season.

Nubian buck

Goat Town USA Gaius has left that gawky age behind and is filling out into a mature Nubian buck with a thick neck and black mane. He thinks he is in charge.

There was no evidence Augustus was going over the barbed wire. Gaius still stood in one corner calling forlornly right after the escape artist left.

Unlike woven wire, cattle panels are like ladders, stiff. Corners give lots of support for a climbing effort.

The corners are now covered with wire so no buck can stand up there.

Augustus is disgusted. He walks the fences calling. He checks his favorite escape routes.

To his surprise the electric fence bit. The wires held firm. So far the escape artist is staying in.

Season Too Early

According to the goat books breeding season for goats is in the fall. June is not in the fall on my calendar.
My Nubian bucks Gaius and Augustus live together in the same stall. They go out to pasture together.
Peace reigns in the buck pen from late January to late July. The two boys huddle up in the cold. They eat with reasonable goat versions of manners.
Over the summer the boys graze together out in their small pasture. They come racing in for dinner in the evening.

Nubian buck Goat Town USA Gaius

Where are the girls? Nubian buck Gaius is up on the goat gym so he can see farther. He does still watch for dinner too.

July brings a faint odor to the buck pen. August arrives with a definite reek. The boys hang out at the fence at dinner time until convinced to go in.
June is much too early for this.
Nubian does do cycle all year here in the Ozarks. I found that out the hard way. Over the summer cycles are short and mostly silent.
My does are wagging their tails. Flies, horseflies, ticks and other pests are the usual culprits.
Augustus at a year and a half is convinced the tail wagging is for him. Gaius can’t let that young upstart get ahead of him.
June is too early for breeding season.
In the morning after milking the herd goes out the gate and out to pasture. I put out food for the boys in the barn and open their door.
The chickens are eating well. The boys are out at the gate calling for the girls. Well, Augustus is calling in his high whinnying voice.
All day Augustus calls from time to time hoping one of the does will answer him. None of them do. He is not discouraged.
Gaius and Augustus have started jousting. In spite of being a couple of inches shorter and fifty pounds lighter, Augustus holds his own.
June is too early for arguing bucks.

Nubian buck High Reaches Silk's Augustus

All those girls standing at the gate must be interested in Nubian buck Augustus. At least he thinks so. They just want into the barn to escape the horseflies.

The bucks do get most of their dinner after I convince them it is dinner time. The herd is still outside the gate so there are no distractions.
Dinner time has become a rowdy time. Gaius keeps trying to steal Augustus’ dish or chase him off around the pen.
June is too early for this.
Gaius hangs out one side of the buck pen. Augustus hangs out the other side. The herd streams past heading into the barn to avoid the horseflies.
During milking Augustus serenades me with blathering. The does ignore him. He is not discouraged.
I don’t let the boys breed my does until October. It will be a long noisy summer.

Buck Season

Even though my herd keeps getting smaller, more difficulties keep coming up. This year’s headache is a little black buck.

High Reaches Sprite’s Matilda had triplets last May 1. Two were bucks. A friend was interested in a little buck.

High Reaches Matilda's buck

High Reaches Sprite’s Matilda’s little black buck is showing his sire’s red now. He is very interested in the does. He is out with the herd most of the time. He is driving Gaius and Augustus crazy with jealousy. He is driving me insane.

I had just disbudded these two. My friend likes horns. So we waited for High Reaches Topaz Willa to kid June 2.

Now I had four little bucks. Two had horns. Fly season was in full swing.

I normally band little bucks as they become problems by three months of age. Fly season is a bad time to do this so I didn’t.

Matilda’s little red buck was purchased and left. My friend took her little buck. That left two.

Breeding season began early this year for some reason. Maybe it was having those little bucks running around but my girls were crying and wagging tails in July.

Buck season is pandemonium season without complications.

Goat Town USA Gaius

Goat Town USA Gaius likes having Augustus for company but doesn’t like having another buck around during breeding season. He is the herd sire. Period.

Goat Town USA Gaius and High Reaches Silk’s Augustus share a pen in an uneasy truce during breeding season. Augustus won’t be a year old until the end of November. Gaius is taller and much heavier. Both are girl crazy.

I have no place to put two little bucks. I tried putting up a pen. It wasn’t tall enough.

The chickens don’t appreciate little bucks climbing in and out of their house. The milk room works sort of at night.

High Reaches Silk's Augustus

High Reaches Silk’s Augustus is a yearling with a lot of growing to do. He is a very talkative buck.

Goat sale day rolls around once a month in town. July was too early for one but not the other. August the road washed out the day before the sale.

Years ago I would be very tempted to keep Matilda’s black buck. He will be a lovely buck, long legs, good back, long and lean.

Now I have 19 does. Several are supposed to be retired. Gaius and Augustus can manage quite well.

Someone asked about Matilda’s buck. The sale is this week. It’s a holiday weekend. I really can’t keep this little buck another month but.

The smallest one is banded. I will wait with Matilda’s buck for a week or so in case someone really does want him.

The girls are due to cycle again in fifteen days. Buck season. Chaos is more like it.