Tag Archives: Nubian goats

Finding Goats in Woods

Winter is a dull time for botany. The plants are hunkered down or dormant. Finding my goats in woods makes a walk interesting.

The strange thing about goats foraging in the woods is how they vanish. I wanted to check on the new kids. I knew where the goats had gone up into the woods. I followed the trail.

And I found no goats.

The trail winds across the hill, crosses a couple of ravines and continues back across another hill. Four deer bounded off as I approached the first ravine. No goats.

The leaves were scuffed. There were hoof prints. I saw no goats in woods.

The trail disappeared. I could look down into the big ravine. The herd probably went down and crossed to the south pasture hill. I turned around to start back.

The bare, brown trees were silhouetted against the deep blue winter sky. Dry leaves scattered or crunched under foot. A few green plants hid under the leaves. A sedge with frost yellowed blade tips stuck up.

I remember walking this trail when wildflowers scattered themselves across the hill. This is where I took the shooting star picture on the “My Ozark Home” cover.

But no goats in woods rewarded my walk. I decided to take a side hike up to some big rocks and turned.

goats in woods

Someone is coming, say the goats. They are on alert, ready to run.

The herd stood there looking at me. On the way out I scoured the hills as I walked and saw no goats. Now they stood poised to bolt toward home.

I called and started up the hill. They went back to foraging. Acorns are still thick on the ground here.

Rose, Agate, Pamela and Spring came over for petting. Drucilla warned her kids to stay away from me. She was ignored.

The herd moved on. I trailed behind amused at how goat in woods appear and disappear.

Kids First Day Out

The Nubian doe kids are two weeks old. They run and play, jump up on the gym, the hay trough, the sleeping bench. They want to have a first day out in the big world.

Two weeks old is very young. The herd is going far up the hill pasture hill. The kids will get tired and go to sleep. I won’t be able to find them.

The day dawns cold and frosty, but bright and sunny. The grass is short, easy for kids to see the herd and their mother. The herd wants out even before milking is over.

I could wait until the kids go back in the barn and go to sleep. The frost will melt by that time. If I hide in the house, I won’t hear the goats calling, asking why they aren’t out yet.

goat kids first day out is for exploring

Nubian doe Drucilla doesn’t get much eating done as she tries to keep up with her kids.

Drucilla is a wonderful mother goat. She stayed in almost two weeks with her kids. Most stay in only a week before trying to sneak out the gate. She has a big Nubian voice. Those kids will hear her a quarter of a mile easily. Her kids have big voices too.

If not now, when? How old is old enough? Winter kids have advantages with the short grass and bare branches of bushes.

The goats are calling. They are standing in the barn lot looking at me and at the pasture gate. “It’s a beautiful day to be out,” they seem to say. “Please let us out.”

kids first day out in woods

The goat kids are having a wonderful time going up and down the hills. It’s much more interesting than being stuck in the barn all day.

I’ll snag the kids as they try to go out the gate. I go to the gate with the herd and open it. The herd pours through.

Drucilla has her kids beside her. If I snag them, she will turn around and stay in crying mournfully all day. They are bouncing, so excited at this first day out.

I watch as the three get to the bridge. The kids won’t cross. Drucilla goes back and talks to them. And the three are min the middle of the herd as it winds its way up the hill pasture.

I do want to go out for a walk later today. If I happen to wander up the hill pasture, that’s a good walk.

Mother Goat Care

Winter kids bring special concerns as these small goats need to keep warm. This can overshadow mother goat care.

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is a big, healthy mother goat in the prime of her life. She doesn’t look like she needs special care. She would sneer at the notion, if she understood.

Nubian doe High Reaches Silk's Drucilla

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is a big Nubian doe, about 140 pounds. Her coat gleams. her milk is good. She seems in good health. Still, raising kids is stressful so I keep an eye on her.

That doesn’t change a thing.

Long ago the standard advice was to deworm a doe just after she had her kids. The sequestered worms would flood her system due to the stress of kidding.

I followed this for years. Drucilla is glad I don’t now. Instead I have a waiting game. If she appears to have an overload problem, she will eat wormer, to her disgust. If her coat remains silky, her droppings normal, she gets to skip the awful stuff.

Nubian doe guarding kids

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is a wonderful mother goat. She is constantly on the alert for any threat to her kids. This includes a chicken walking by, a cat chasing mice, me putting on or taking off goat coats and, especially, me picking up a kid to pet it.

One bit of mother goat care I do follow is for milking. Yes, I let my does raise their kids. Years ago I had time for all the bottles and fussing. Now I don’t. Both my does and I are much happier.

That doesn’t mean Drucilla gets to skip milking. Being a Nubian, she would never miss a chance to eat unless she were ill. While she inhales her grain, I check her udder and milk her out every morning and every night.

Nubian doe kids out to play

These Nubian doe kids have their mother well trained. If they want to stay in the barn, so does she. If they want to go outside and play, so does she. If she calls, they ignore her. Sounds like kids, doesn’t it?

The first couple of days, I don’t milk unless the doe’s udder is congested or full. I do take some of the first colostrum and freeze it for emergency use. This precious first milk is produced before the kids arrive and not after. It is important for the kids. I let them have as much as they want.

By the third day, the colostrum is diluted with milk. The kids are still too young to empty a large udder like Drucilla has. I milk the extra out. My barn cats Cloudy, Tyke and Orange Cat are delighted with the bounty.

mother goat and doe kids

This is where Drucilla would enjoy standing to bask in the sun for a time. The kids find this a good place to run and play, for now.

Other mother goat care depends on the doe. Often their hooves need trimming as they were too big to do before the kids arrived. Their kids may need help learning where their meals come from.

My does are kept in a special pen for a few days. this pen is set up with places for the kids to sleep and keep warm. The doe can have extra hay. And the rest of my does are safe from overly protective mother goats.

As soon as the kids are playing, the special pen comes down. There are places for the kids to sleep in peace. And mother goat care becomes general goat care.

What do you do when your new does have kids the same day? Harriet finds out in Capri Capers.

Enjoying Winter Goat Kids

Winter in the Ozarks has its ups and downs this year. A week will have highs in the 30’s, lows near 20. The next week will have 50’s for highs and 40 for a low. That makes winter goat kids an iffy affair.

I prefer March kids. Traditionally March is more settled and warmer. The last couple have been cold, but not winter cold.

Nubian bucks aren’t concerned with when kids are born, only producing them. Nubian does are the same. In the Ozarks Nubian does can cycle all year.

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla seems to be like her mother Silk and prefers winter kids. And so I have winter goat kids born December 1.

black doe of winter goat kids

The ears have it on Nubian kids. This is the bigger twin doe, independent, inquisitive, loud and demanding.

It was obvious Drucilla was due soon. There was a date on the calendar for early December. Cold moved in and lingered.

Kids are wet when they are born. Below freezing temperatures can freeze them quickly. Trying to tell which day kids will be born has signs that are often wrong.

Suddenly winter got shoved out by fall for several days. I urged Drucilla to hurry up while the weather was kid friendly.

Drucilla ignored me.

The weather was supposed to change Friday night. I laid out towels to dry kids, wrap them and carry them to the house for time by the wood stove. Winter goat kids dry, fluffy and with goat coats on can take a lot of cold.

brown doe kid of winter goat kids

This slightly smaller brown Nubian doe kid got pushed off the milk and needed a bottle boost. She’s doing fine now.

I knew Drucilla would have her kids Saturday morning.

The expected cold front got delayed. Saturday dawned bright and warm. The kids were dry and up when I got to the barn. They had the entire warm day to get thoroughly dry and fluffed up.

Saturday night brought the edges of the cold front. Sunday let it settle in. Monday the twin doe kids had their goat coats on and looked like winter goat kids.

Harriet panics when her goats kid in Capri Capers. One kid is Capri.

Livestock Decisions

My Nubian dairy goats are livestock. They are business. They are also a hobby. They are also pets. That creates problems.

Raising livestock is like any other farming or ranching business. It is supposed to make a profit.

Raising livestock as a hobby can remove the profit requirement. Pets aren’t supposed to make a profit.

spotted Nubian buck is livestock

One thing this Nubian buckling has is spots. He was born March 15 and is disbudded. His mother is High Reaches Agate. His sire is High Reaches Augustus.

Hay and grain are part of raising livestock. Goats love to eat. They are messy eaters. As food just appears in front of them, they can drop some on the floor. More will appear later.

Purchasing hay and grain is expensive. That dropped feed and hay is money ground into the mud.

polled Nubian buck is livestock

Polled goats are becoming popular again. This black Nubian buck, born March 16, is polled. His mother, High Reaches Lydia, is polled.

Goats do get sick. They get parasites such as intestinal worms. Medicines and wormers are expensive.

Livestock requires equipment. I get by with a minimum, but still have hoof trimmers, disbudding iron and other items. Luckily these can last for years with a little care.

frosted spotted Nubian doe is livestock

This frosted gray spotted Nubian doe thinks cameras are suspicious. Whe was born March 15 and is disbudded. Her mother is High Reaches Agate.

Before retiring, these expenses weren’t a big problem. Now the goats must pay their way, at least much of it.

My goats bring in money from milk and selling kids. I’m not a commercial dairy and don’t officially sell milk. Still, other people in the area are like me: intolerant of cow’s milk.

Selling kids is where much of my hay money comes from. My kids are now close to three months old now. They are for sale.

two Nubian does are livestock

High Reaches Rose has a Nubian doe with interesting color patterns. She is black with spots. Her face is half white and half black and has red highlights. she was born March 12 and is disbudded. My older bottle baby is ignoring the camera. She is black with spots. She was born March 9 and is disbudded. Her mother is High Reaches Matilda. There is a fourth doe, a month younger and a frosted black.

In past years I’ve kept a kid or two or three. This made it easier to say good-bye to the others.

Getting older changes things. Raising livestock is work. Each year the work seems harder and takes longer. The solution is to have fewer goats.

My goats are pets. I know each and every one and have since they were born. The obvious solution is to not keep any kids. The adults get old and die. The herd gets smaller.

And saying good-bye to the kids gets harder, especially the bottle babies.

Dora’s Story deals with some of these issues following Dora, an Alpine/Nubian dairy goat, through several owners.

My New Polled Kid

Late kids, especially single kids, are at a disadvantage. They lack the large play group earlier kids have. The kid equipment such as disbudding iron and tattooer are cleaned and put away. This is a polled kid so some of the equipment can stay locked away.

When I first started raising Nubians, polled goats were not difficult to find. Horns are a nuisance at best and a disaster waiting to happen at worst. Disbudding, banding and dehorning are not enjoyable at all. Polled was the way to go.

There wasn’t much of a meat goat market back then. So the uptick in hermaphrodites was a problem. It seemed tied to polled. Polled fell out of favor.

polled kid standing still

Standing quietly beside another doe kid, my new polled kid looks so tame. In truth, I was lucky to get this picture as she is rarely still for more than a few seconds.

I still have polled does in my herd. High Reaches Butter’s Juliette is one of them. This polled kid is her daughter. I have kept another daughter, Lydia, also polled.

One problem goat owners have with a polled kid is knowing whether or not it is polled. The polled trait is dominant so three out of four kids from a polled parent will statistically be polled. Reality can be very different.

I look at the hair on the head. Horn buds have a swirl over the top of them. Polled horn bosses have a ridge over them.

Horn buds are pointed. Horn bosses are rounded.

Skin is supposed to be fixed over horn buds and moves over polled horn bosses. I have trouble with this as a kid’s skin is so loose.

Juliette’s daughter is now a month old. She has no horns. I was right. She is a polled kid. She is also a livewire.

polled kid playing

The edge of the creek is a great place to jump up and down according to this goat kid. She loves to jump up onto things. And she is good at jumping, getting up a stack of four bales of hay! Luckily she knows how to get down again.

The milking room is a great playground. This kid leaps on the milk stands under the does. She leaps onto the hay at the end of the section. She pesters the cats.

To everyone’s relief, the kid has discovered oats. She now spends at least part of the time eating. Unfortunately she still insists on eating out of her own dish and everyone else’s dishes, preferably with hooves in the dish, as well.

Being a live wire and a late kid has another advantage. She has been racing out with the herd from nine days old. She has never been left behind or needed finding.

At three months old, this polled kid must be sold. I hope she goes home with someone who values her lively ways and personality.

Goat kids can be lots of fun or give lots of grief. Capri does some of both in Capri Capers.

Finding Protective Mother Goat

November is an iffy time for kids to be born. Newborn kids get cold easily. Having a protective mother goat helps.

High Reaches Butter’s Juliette is such a goat. She is very proud of her new baby born November 1. She was not impressed when I put a goat coat on the kid because she was cold.

Luckily the next day warmed up. The goat coat came off. The kid fluffed up and is fine, even on cold nights now.

During the summer, goat kids must stay at the barn until they are almost a month old. The grass is so tall, they can’t see their mother. Even a protective mother goat has trouble keeping track of her kids.

Nubian protective mother goat and kid

Even in the barn lot standing next to the barn, High Reaches Butter’s Juliette is standing guard over her kid. The doe kid is not worried. She is lively and curious.

Fall is different. A fall in dry weather is even more different. The grass is barely six inches tall. A kid is twelve inches tall and gaining daily.

Like most goats, Juliette hates to stay locked in the barn lot when the herd goes out. She is a herd animal. She stands and calls all day. Since she is a Nubian, these calls are loud.

There is incentive to let Juliette go out for the day. There is incentive to keep her in to feed her kid.

Newborn kids aren’t very active. Over the summer they may lay around sleeping most of the time for a couple of weeks. Winter kids seem to get active much faster. Juliette’s kid was racing around at a week old.

Still, a week is very young to go out tramping around the pastures. I hate to go out searching for lost kids.

Protective mother goat talks to kid

Juliette talks to her kid a lot. At a week old, the kid still listens most of the time.

Late one afternoon, when the kid was nine days old, I let Juliette take her out for a couple of hours.

The kid came in with the herd. The kid had a wonderful time. The kid was standing at the pasture gate with the herd the next day.

Another difference with the fall schedule is morning hay. This means the goats are happily munching through milking time and a little beyond. They don’t go out until noon.

A kid has only three to four hours to keep up. A protective mother goat can keep up with her kid that long.

I opened the gate. The herd walked through. After all, they weren’t hungry.

An hour later Juliette was still by the gate. The kid hadn’t gone over the bridge with the herd, so they were standing by the gate.

I picked the kid up and took her across the bridge with Juliette following. I set the kid down. The herd was close by.

That evening the herd came in. Juliette and her kid were not with them. I went looking.

Juliette was at the top of a hill with her kid. Protective mother goat that she is, she could see the entire pasture from this vantage point. She refused to come down.

I had to go up. Me, in my mucking out the barn shoes with slick soles, had to scale a hill covered with loose gravel (This is the Ozarks norm.) on a forty degree angle. This required using hands and feet along with trying not to think about the trip down.

Juliette stood there and watched me. She yawned. She wandered over to the side of the hill and started going down calling her kid to follow.

protective mother goat in pasture with kid

The kid may think a nap is due. Juliette stays beside her, not grazing more than a mouthful now and then. Danger may threaten. She must be on the alert.

I followed lurching from tree to tree to keep from falling. At least Juliette had trained her kid well to follow her so I wasn’t trying to carry the kid as well as stay on my feet.

Thankfully Juliette and her kid stayed with the herd the next day.

Nubian goat kids can get into lots of trouble. Capri is in top form in Capri Capers. check out this wild melodrama filled with villains chasing Capri’s owner.

Another Goat Winter Looming

What is a goat winter? It’s another winter of milking in the dark; doing chores in the cold, snow and ice; putting out hay; and all the other things that come up with livestock.

Nubian doe High Reaches Julliette

High Reaches Juliette stands looking toward the barn. She knows it’s milking time. She knows she should go into the barn. It’s more fun to make me go out and get her.

Why should I keep bothering with dairy goats? It’s not like I make any money at it. Far from it. They pay their way, if I don’t count labor.

Fall seems to bring up lots of uncertainty. Fall is the portal to winter. The days are getting shorter, colder. Everything is dying back, scaling back. Everything but the work load. That increases.

The garden must be cleared. The final harvest must be put up. The goat barn needs a final cleaning out with the loads going onto the garden. Goats need to be bred for those cute spring kids.

Nubian buck Goat Town USA Gaius hates goat winter

Goat Town USA Gaius looks out under the icicles lining his roof eave after a winter storm.

Did I say cute? Is there really a ray of light in this fall gloom? Is there a glimmer of a reason to put up with another goat winter?

For at least five months I must get up before dawn, struggle into long johns, heavy clothes and jackets. That’s before tromping out to the barn to roust the goats out of a warm spot to come in to be milked and fed. Each of those evenings I get to bundle up again and again roust the goats out of a warm spot.

So the annual assessment begins again.

Nubian doe High Reaches Violet

High Reaches Violet isn’t worried about winter coming. She will miss the grass, but likes the hay.

On the downside of a goat winter is doing chores in the dark and cold, watching the bedding layer mount up knowing spring mucking is coming and taking in less and less milk as the girls dry off to get fat with kids. I want to go places like attend a symposium, visit friends, maybe a book signing. Chores take longer, days are shorter leaving even less time between morning and evening chores, that window of time I can go anywhere.

spotted Nubian doelings will see their first goat winter

These three spotted Nubian doelings find storm downed sycamore trees great places to play.

On the upside of a goat winter is decent milk and cheese. There is that next crop of kids to anticipate. The garden would not do as well without the annual influx of manure.

Another goat winter is coming up. We will all survive. Spring is 170 days away.

Spotted Nubian Bottle Baby Agate

My book Capri Capers about Harriet and her bottle baby goats Capri and Agate came out long before this year of the spotted kids. So many people like spotted goats, I imagined Harriet would too. So two of her goats had spots and that meant spotted kids.

Yet Capri is not spotted. She is patterned after High Reaches Topaz, a deep red doe, and High Reaches Juliette, my house brat of a kid. I have always liked red Nubians.

Capri Capers cover

Capri needed a friend. So Agate entered the picture. Mossy agate stones can be black with white spots giving her a name.

Raising goats is full of complications. One that came up this year was Spring. She had her kids early one morning with no problems.

I found Spring with a kid when I came out to milk. I moved the pair into the pen I’d set up the night before. Then I milked.

bottle baby Agate as a kid

As a baby kid, some of Agate’s spots were white, but most were brown. Most of Agate’s spots are small and all turned white. Even though Agate’s mother rejected her, she formed a close relationship with her sister.

After milking, I went out into the barn and found a second kid in the far corner of the barn. This kid had to belong to Spring even though she was at the other end of the barn from where I found Spring.

Agate was already showing her independence.

I picked this kid up and took her into the kid pen. I set her down by Spring and tried to get her nursing.

Goats can count a little. Mother goats bond with their kids and know how many there are. Spring had decided she had one kid, not two.

Agate became a bottle baby, my bottle baby.

bottle baby Agate checks on me

Usually the herd wanders out the gate and stands around for a time. Not during acorn season. The herd took off for the far end of the pasture then up into the woods, running away from me as though I were chasing them instead of trying to catch up. Once in the woods, the herd looked at me innocently, pretending not to laugh at having dragged me out a quarter of a mile in order to take a few pictures. Agate now stays with the herd but is glad when I am around. she keeps looking back to see if I am still there and calls for me to return, when I do leave.

Bottle kids bond with people. This is nice when bottle time arrives as the kids come over right away. They will answer you out in the pasture.

Bottle kids can be a problem to get out to pasture. They want to follow you, not the herd. Getting them out requires subterfuge.

I wander out with the herd until the bottle baby is busy playing with the other kids. Then I slip silently back to the barn.

Agate would be right behind me.

bottle baby Agate in the woods

Acorns are falling. The adult does are eagerly eating all they can find. Younger goats like Agate browse on leaves.

My Agate does go out with the herd now. She looks back and calls to me, often waiting until the herd is past her before catching up, still calling for me to come and join her.

When the herd comes in, Agate is beside me. She insists on being petted, pushing other goats away from me.

And Agate is still a bottle baby. She is more than old enough to wean. But she wants that time of bonding so I give her a partial bottle. As my milkers dry up for the winter and getting ready to have spring kids, I will have to wean Agate. But that is another couple of months from now.

Special Nubian High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie

High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie is a special goat. She is also a very lucky goat.

Pixie is a nice looking Nubian doe. Lots of Nubian does are nice looking.

High Reaches Jewel's Pixie

High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie looks like a normal Nubian doe out grazing. Her disability shows when she tries to walk as her back legs swing and sway. this picture was taken earlier this year.

Pixie is friendly. Lots of Nubians are friendly.

Pixie gives a lot of great tasting milk. Lots of Nubians do this too.

What makes High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie special?

Dairy goats need attention twice a day for milking. Every morning is much the same in many respects. The grain is readied. The goats are let in by pairs in my routine as I have two milking stands.

The goats jump up, get locked into the stanchion. I milk them while they eat. I unlock the stanchion and let them out so the next pair can come in.

High Reaches Jewel's Pixie

Born in 2011, Pixie was a good looking, healthy Nubian doe. She was about eight months old in this picture.

Pixie came in as usual one morning. Nothing seemed odd about her. Nothing was odd as I let her out with the rest of the herd to eat in the pasture for the day. I noticed nothing when the herd came in that evening.

Evening milking was normal. Does came in, got up, got down and went out.

Pixie came in and jumped up on the milk stand. She fell off, flat on the floor.

Shakily, Pixie stood up. Her legs were apart as though to brace her. She shook. She staggered when she walked.

That was several years ago. Pixie never recovered her balance. Her back legs are not steady. She has fits when she falls over in spasms.

Pixie still goes out to pasture with the herd. Many mornings she leads the herd out. In the evening she leads the herd in. She climbs the hills.

Perhaps in a larger herd or a commercial dairy, Pixie would be a cull. She is lucky my herd is small and I can accommodate her. She can’t get on the milk stand so I trim her hooves and milk her as she stands on the floor.

I will never know what happened to Pixie that day. Whatever it was, it left her with permanent brain damage.

Why would I keep such a goat as High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie?

Nubian doe kids

These twin Nubian does are outside for the first time at three days old and delighted to escape the boring barn. Both have liver spots which will probably turn white in a few months. High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie is a proud mother and keeps a close eye on her daughters.

Perhaps this set of lovely twin does is a good enough answer.

Nubian doelings can be ornery and get into everything. See how they fit into the book Capri Capers.

Nubian Buck Rivalry

Nubian buck kids start out such gangly affairs. They have long legs and ears. They grow fast but stay thin.

Augustus seemed so small compared to Gaius who is four years older. The two are great friends and rivals but Gaius was in charge.

Nubian buck rivalry challenge

It’s playtime. Augustus is issuing a challenge. Gaius accepts. Playtime between Nubian bucks during breeding season may be play but has serious undercurrents.

Inch by inch Augustus gained in height. As he approaches his second birthday, he is as tall as Gaius. Their rivalry is more evenly matched now.

A Nubian buck grows in stages. The first two to three years a buck gains in height but stays thin and trim.

By three years old a Nubian buck starts putting on heft. The neck thickens. The body thickens. They start maturing.

rivalry preparation

Augustus backs up then rears up. Gaius takes his stance on his platform.

Gaius has put on his heft. He is around 200 pounds. I don’t know exactly as he objects to tape measures around his chest.

We go through this argument every winter. Gaius is cold. I put a blanket on him and the tie goes around his chest. He tears it off. He now wears sweatshirts but these are hard to find in 3X in the thrift stores.

Augustus is finishing his growing years. I expect him to gain another inch or two as his mother Silk was tall. He is around 150 pounds and still has that trim sleek look about him.

One thing is changing as Augustus gains his full height. The buck rivalry is getting fiercer but still playful.

rivalry becomes assault

The assault begins as Augustus comes down to meet Gaius’ head. This is a good reason to never be at the recieving end of a buck’s head. It is solid bone, rock hard, guaranteed to give a headache.

Fall weather has returned and so has play between the bucks. The ramp on the goat gym is a great place for fights.

Gaius has the advantage of weight. Augustus has the advantage of agility.

Gaius takes up his station at the base of the ramp. Augustus climbs the ramp.

Augustus rears up then drops onto the ramp knocking heads with Gaius. Gaius surges up shoving Augustus back up the ramp.

rivalry ends in shoving match

The result is a shoving match. Sometimes Augustus pushes Gaius off his platform. Other times Gaius shoves Augustus all the way up the ramp. This year the two bucks seem almost evenly matched.

Baby bucks will play this way even with their owners. It is cute but can not be tolerated. That head butt from an adult buck can snap a log chain or a leg.

Gaius is at the height of his power this year maybe into next. He still shoves Augustus around.

Then the balance will shift. But the rivalry may change too. Augustus will have his heft and may not be so eager to rear up on the ramp.

A Nubian buck is proud. Losing status might be tough on Gaius. I hope he ages gracefully and Augustus is as accommodating with Gaius as a big older buck was once with him.

Early Kidding Season

I was annoyed with Violet. She is usually one of my most reliable long term milkers and she went dry. She wasn’t kidding around.

Violet is an easy keeper. She is an old fashioned Nubian meaning she is broad and heavy. She was gaining weight.

Early fall is a great time for the goats out on the hills. Falling leaves, acorns and lots of seeding grasses keep my herd in good shape. Their coats gleam.

The does are cycling. The bucks are stinking. Augustus is finally staying in.

Nubian doe High Reaches Violet

High Reaches Violet is around eight years old now and has been an easy going, good milking doe. She isn’t very tall but has the old fashioned Nubian build.

My big escape artist has been a problem for months. I have repaired and rebuilt fence for months. Perhaps I should have sold him but I like him and he is out of one of my best does.

It’s strange how memory seems to erase problems once they seem to be solved. Violet has reminded me of this.

Since the goats are all putting on weight, I didn’t pay much attention to Violet except to cut back on her grain. She wasn’t getting much anyway as she was no longer milking.

I like breeding my does in the fall. That way all the kids are born in the spring. By fall all the kid related chores are done. The kids are mostly sold.

Fall into winter is a time for cleaning out the barn again. Hay starts appearing in the mangers. Out maneuvering bucks and does in season is the daily challenge.

Violet was definitely gaining weight. The distribution of that weight started looking suspicious. Her udder seemed bigger.

Routine can be blinding. Wrapping up the garden, roofing, winter preparations help keep the blinders on.

Suspicion became unbelief. Unbelief became maybe. Maybe became shaky certainty.

Violet was expecting kids. She wasn’t kidding around. She was serious.

Nubian doe and kids

The herd went out. I went into the barn to put out dishes of food for the bucks. There stood Violet. A couple of hours later two little doe kids were there too.

Augustus must have escaped the end of last April. Nubians do cycle all year in the Ozarks. But no one seemed in season so I noted it and forgot about it.

Violet must have been in season.

I have set up kidding pens in the empty hay section of my barn for several years. It is convenient, warmer and easier to maintain than in the barn proper. My barn is full of hay now.

Violet now has two darling doe kids. She is now a happy mother goat.

The question now is: Who else is not kidding around out there?

Good Mother Goat Matilda

One definition of a good mother goat, I suppose, is one who takes good care of her kids. Most does would qualify under that definition. Matilda is special.

I keep new kids like Matilda’s inside a special pen for up to a week. By this time the kids are up and playing, ready to be in the barn with the herd.

The second week kids and mothers stay in the barn lot putting up with Gaius and Augustus all day. The bucks mostly ignore the kids as they don’t like being the mountain in king of the mountain play.

When the grass is tall and seeding like now, I let the mothers out the third week but keep the kids in. Lydia and Matilda who have the youngest kids are not happy with this arrangement even though I try to take the kids out in the afternoon.

good mother goat Matilda

High Reaches Sprite’s Matilda Is a calm, unusually quiet Nubian goat and devoted mother goat.

Kids get tired, lay down and go to sleep. The herd moves on. The grass hides them. Finding them is arduous work.

Lydia and Matilda’s kids are tall and lively. They want out so badly. I relented.

Lydia is a first time mother. She is a good mother goat. Her little buck kid is her pride and joy.

Matilda is an older goat. She knows about kids and is very watchful over hers.

Lydia and Matilda were overjoyed. The kids were ecstatic. The three were with the herd that evening.

good mother goat Lydia

The grass stalks wave and rustle in the breeze keeping High Reaches Juliette’s Lydia on the alert protecting her little buck.

So the kids went out again in the morning. This time Matilda’s kids were missing that night. Sometime in the two hours since I had checked on them, they had disappeared.

Some kids will answer me when I call. These might. They would definitely answer Matilda. I put a lead rope on Matilda and we went out.

Some mother goats I must drag away from the barn and herd. Matilda was eager to go. She wanted her kids.

An hour and two pastures plus a creek later, I let Matilda go in. The sun was setting. I went back out checking the creek banks, zigzagging across the pastures, calling.

Flashlights don’t work for kid hunting. Rain was due that night. Darkness was closing in.

An answer! There, at the edge of the woods on the hill beside the hill pasture, two pairs of white ears shone in the darkness.

good mother goat Matilda has two doe kids

Matilda’s two little does are standing yet not tall enough to see over the grass. This makes it easy for them to get lost. They are lucky to have Matilda for a mother.

I was some monster so the kids ran. My voice was familiar so they followed distantly as I went in for Matilda. Then the kids came in.

Of course none of us learned anything from this. The kids went out again the next day. Now all three were missing.

The search area was much smaller so I didn’t bother to get Matilda, just walked out the gate. Good mother goat she is, Matilda was right behind me. We were going searching for her kids.

We backtracked from where the goats were when I went out to open the gate to where they were when I was last out checking on the kids. Matilda called.

A squeak answered. One of the sleepy heads had answered. The three were tucked into the base of a black walnut tree.

The next morning the herd went out. The kids stayed in. I’m glad because this morning the herd went across the creek and down toward the big south pasture and ravine.

Crossing the Creek

Every day the goats go out to pasture they pass or go over a bridge instead of crossing the creek through the water. Kids think the bridge is great fun.

Our creek is clear with a gravel bed. Right now it has lots of dead leaves over the gravel. Fish, crayfish and numerous other creatures call the creek home.

If the goats cross the bridge, they go down into the south pasture. Most of the creek is fenced off from the pasture so the herd must come back up to the bridge to get to the barn lot.

Nubians browsing multiflora rose

Goats prefer browsing to grazing. They relish multiflora rose leaves.

If the goats don’t cross the bridge, they go up into the north pasture. They have free access to the creek all along the pasture.

This day the goats walked past the bridge. They left behind my bottle baby kid who was waiting for me to go out with her. We walked out to join the herd.

Lots of good browse grows in the creek bottom. At the moment buckbrush and multiflora rose are budding out. I don’t know why any of this nuisance rose continues to grow in the goat pasture.

Nubian goats crossing the creek

The herd decides the browsing is better on the other side of the creek so they walk across.

The goats graze along the creek then decide crossing the creek is a good thing to do. An inch of rain has deepened the creek. The water rushes over a small gravel bar. The goats don’t mind. They walk across.

kids crossing the creek by leaping

The goat kids are afraid of the water but want to follow their mothers and the herd so their idea of crossing the creek is to leap over the water.

Kids stand on the bank and cry. The bigger ones leap madly for the far bank. The smaller ones stand and watch the herd move away.

Today six kids are left behind. One is a little buck who is often lost and used to me leading him back to the barn. Another is my bottle baby along with her two siblings. The last two are a doe and buck set slightly older.

six goat kids refusing to cross the creek

The last goats are crossing the creek and still the six kids will not follow.

The only way across is the bridge back by the barn.

The group follows me, runs ahead of me, mills around me as we head back up the pasture toward the bridge. Kids are easily distracted so progress is slow.

Finally the kids and I get back to the bridge and across. Their mothers are still back at the other end which means climbing over a hill.

There are numerous paths across the hill. I meander from one to another heading north.

The kids have been here before so I am superfluous except as a prod to keep them moving in the right direction. They follow a path far below me.

goat kids crossing hill

The six Nubian goat kids had been across the hill before so they happily led the way stopping to explore and nibble along the way to rejoin the herd and their mothers.

At last we join forces once more and come out on the hill over the creek bottom. No goats are in sight along the creek.

I lead the kids closer to the creek bottom. The herd reappears but pays no attention to the now calling kids.

Once the kids are convinced their mother are really down below them, happy reunions ensue. I will be glad when crossing the creek is no longer a problem for the kids.

Watching Winter Kids

One of the best times raising goats is watching kids being born and growing up. They grow up so fast.

During the warm months the goat herd ranges far up on the hills. Small kids can not keep up and get left behind.

Nubian doe and kid

High Reaches Violet stands guard over her new little Nubian buck just a day old but already following his mother if slowly.

Over winter months the goats go out mostly for exercise. They find bits of grass to eat but rarely go very far. Small kids love to go out with their mothers.

Seeding grasses can get as tall as an adult goat so I often keep kids in the barn lot until they are a month old. They cry when the herd goes out. They find places to sleep much of the day.

twin doe kids sleeping in barn

Chocolate brown is the color of choice for High Reaches Trina’s Flame’s twin doelings. These two kids are snuggled up against a hay bale in the barn. The hay makes a good insulator for the kids and keeps the mothers occupied.

Depending on how many kids there are, I will carry or lead them out for the afternoon with their mothers. This way they learn to keep up through the grass taller than they are but the herd is near the barn lot so searching for lost ones is much easier.

twin buck Nubian kids watching

An activity of kids in pasture is lying down and observing all that goes on around them. High Reaches Bonnie’s twin bucks are doing that.

This winter I am letting kids as young as a week old go out with the herd. The two mothers are very attentive so they never let their little ones get left behind very long.

January thaw helps too. This warm weather for a week or so makes it fun for the goats to be out.

brown Nubian doeling sleeping

Much of pasture time for younger kids is spent snoozing in the grass. This is High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla’s brown doeling.

These kids don’t play much yet. They do chew on everything as they stock their rumens with bacteria. They spend much of their time lying down.

Black Nubian doeling on stump

Goats love to climb. These stumps were piled up here over twenty years ago but are still solid enough to be a kids’ playground. High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla’s black doeling thinks so.

It’s fun to go out to see the herd and kids except for a problem. Winter pastures are not as good as alfalfa hay in the barn.

As soon as the herd spots me, everyone thinks it is time to go in and eat hay. Instead of staying spread out to graze, the does start bunching up and drifting down toward the creek, the bridge and the barn.

Bonnie's black Nubian buck

Bonnie’s black buck is ready to play if another kid will join him on the stumps.

The goats are so disappointed when I walk the other way. But there at the edge of the creek bed is a group of old stumps perfect for kids. They are not disappointed.

Ending and Beginning

December is a month for ending and beginning. Celestially it ends a year with the winter solstice marking the shortest day of the year, the beginning of winter and slowly lengthening days.

For me this ending year is a time for last good-byes to those who greeted the year with me but are not here to see it out.

cat Pretty Girl

Pretty Girl was one of my mother’s cats who came to live with me when she became ill. At over 14 Pretty Girl became ill and is gone. Pretty Boy is still going at 15.

Many of my cats are old. Cat and Pretty Girl are gone now.

Cat

Tom cats travel through our valley. Cat was one of them. He liked the place and moved in staying for many years.

My goat herd has dropped to twenty-two Nubians. The last of the Swiss breed crosses, BB and Joy, are gone as is Miss Patience. One doeling, Lydia, stayed although her sister, Martha, is among those gone.

goat BB

BB ruled the goat herd for several years. She was a mix of British Alpine and Nubian. Age ended her rule this year.

As I grow older I know I must cut back. Still I miss those who are gone and wish other kids had stayed.

High Reaches Buket's Joy

One inescapable fact of owning livestock is illness. High Reaches Buket’s Joy became ill with some parasite we could not defeat.

Christmas is the last holiday of the year. For many children it is an end unto itself as they await their new treasures.

Nubian High Reaches Miss Patience

Nubian High Reaches Miss Patience called Patty had a long and productive life. She was a calm goat, a joy to work with.

Christmas is the beginning of the Christian year marking the birth of Christ. Only a week later a New Year begins.

Nubian Martha

Born blind and mostly deaf Martha was still all goat. She learned to climb and play on the goat gym. She was my companion around the barn. She had to taste everything and something was deadly poison. I miss her.

I will miss the old year and those who are gone. Yet, the New Year is a new adventure with treasures unknown waiting to be discovered.

Nubian High Reaches Juliette's Lydia

High Reaches Juliette’s Lydia is a handful of Nubian. She is friendly, mischievous and getting as big as her mother Juliette.

I wish you a Happy Holiday Season.

Buck Goat Power

Several years ago my Nubian buck Gaius had a friend named Louie. They grew up together. Although Louie was blind, he had horns so he was almost an even match for Gaius.

Bucks are very competitive especially during breeding season. They are big and aggressive.

two Nubian bucks

Gaius and Louie as yearling bucks. Gaius would get impatient with Louie when he got lost but always went to get him. They were the best of friends in spite of all the arguing.

Two bucks housed together are constantly determining who is dominant. They butt heads. They sideswipe each other.

A buck goat housed alone still wants to butt and sideswipe. My father had a single Nubian buck.

This buck never had a name other than Billy. He did have magnificent horns.

black Nubian buck

Billy, my father’s Nubian buck, was solid black with brown ears. His horns grew to be very impressive. he was a good natured goat.

Nubian horns grow up a few inches then turn out to the side. They are broad, two or three inches wide and an inch thick.

As the horns grow outward, they twist. Billy’s horns grew into a three foot spread with a turn and a half on each side. He practiced with these horns on trees and his house.

My father decided to give Billy something to play with. There was a big old oak in the yard with a stout branch about twelve feet up. He hung an old tire with a stout rope.

The tire was an immediate  success. Billy soon found he could push the tire to make it swing, back up, rear up and hit the tire as it swung toward him.

Needless to say, the rope snapped. My father moved to a chain. The chain snapped. He tried a heavy logging chain.

That chain lasted for years. Walking to the mailbox a quarter mile down the driveway, you could hear that chain snap as the tire hit the end.

Finally the branch snapped off. Billy missed his tire for the next year or two before he died.

After Louie died, Gaius was very lonely. He missed his sparring partner. Goats including bucks are herd animals and hate being alone.

Last year Silk had a beautiful little buckling. Augustus has grown up into a nice yearling.

Gaius is five and about two hundred pounds. Augustus is nearing his first birthday and about a hundred pounds. Augustus is the punching bag.

Winter weather can keep the bucks locked in their pen for days. Both are bored. Gaius gets aggressive.

quick release hook

A quick release hook is used for horses. Horses are big and powerful so the hook is supposed to be strong. It wasn’t strong enough to withstand my Nubian buck Gaius. The ring under the hook split.

So I got a chain and heavy quick release hook. Gaius had his half of the pen. Augustus had his half.

Gaius snapped the loop where the hook attached to the chain. I seem to have underestimated buck goat power. Spring can’t get here too soon.

Country Morning

Moving the clock back in the fall gives a false sense of leisure that first morning. This particular morning followed an overcast misty cool day with thick mist bordering on fog hiding a clear sky.

Crisp fall air lured me outside even as morning chores tried to anchor me inside. The air won with excuses of feeding the cats and opening the chickens’ door.

mist on an Ozark pasture

Even without a lot of rain the air was humid so night temperatures turned humidity into mist. The effect is eerie in early morning light giving a sense of quiet and serenity.

Bare trees loomed over the pasture black against white mist back lighted by the rising sun. The morning air felt quiet as I walked over to the barn listening to bird songs.

Often the birds make only alarm calls when I walk down the road a ways. This morning they were calling and letting snatches of songs loose as they flitted from tree to bush back to tree to keep ahead of me.

cardinal in bush

This cardinal seems to think he is up too early on this misty Ozark morning.

The chickens were waiting at their door for it to open. They pushed each other out the open door. The roosters added their crows to the morning sounds.

light on dewy spider web

Only an inch or two across these little spider webs seem to be everywhere. Light shining on the dewy strands makes the webs easy to spot.

Across the creek dead stalks of summer plants were alive with dewy spider web bowls catching the early morning light. Mist hung over the hill pasture even as misty columns rose to meet the morning light. Sunlight scattered on the mist whitening it, giving it the appearance of thickening into a fog, hiding the trees above the pasture.

Back at the barn the goats were getting up looking out the barn door wondering when the sun would warm up the barn wall enough for basking to begin.

Nubian goats in barn doorway

Walking back I look in on my Nubian goats. Their opinion: It’s morning? Where’s the sun? We are’t ready for the day until the sun shines.

This is what a country morning should be, a time to savor being outside as the sun rises, relaxing in country sounds both wild and domestic.

Then a neighbor’s car crunched its way down the hill on a far road. Its motor shattered the quiet feel of the morning as it drove down the road toward town.

The spell was gone. Only morning chores clamored for attention.

Homestead Life

Kidding season has begun. My first kid, a little buckling, arrived last Friday. He’s a cute little kid.

Nubian buckling

High Reaches Precious Jewel had this cute little buckling.

At a Missouri Writers, Ink meeting I was speaking with someone who does a lot of blogging. She was saying how people seem to only tell the good things when they post on their blogs. After all, who wants to hear about the problems, the disappointments, the drudgery?

Watching Jewel’s new kid today I saw he was limping. When I checked he had a broken back leg.

It has healed so this kid’s leg was broken before he was born. It had healed itself and now it was strengthening as he learned to walk.

This is one of those things that happens when you raise livestock. It’s one of the things I wouldn’t normally mention except for what I heard at the writers’ meeting.

Homesteading sounds so wonderful on the web. Quiet days. Productive gardens. Healthy animals. That is the homesteading people like to write about, love to live.

That homesteading is often wishful thinking.

Weeds, deer, rabbits and disease invade the garden. Four wheelers, motorcycles and noisy trucks drive by on the road. Animals get sick and sometimes die no matter what you do.

That is the homesteading no one likes to write about. That is the homesteading reality that smacks newcomers in the face and can defeat them sending them back to the city and the reality they know.

Homesteading is a lot of work. It isn’t something you learn overnight. You learn something new almost everyday.

Homesteading is a way of living that can bring great disappointments and great joys. Most of the time it is spent putting one foot in front of the other checking off tasks on an endless list of things to be done.

Nubian doe and kid

Only a couple of days old, the buckling still enjoys being out in the sunshine. Jewel is on high alert. There must be something out there to threaten her baby boy.

Looking at that first new kid of the season learning to walk on his now healed broken leg I sighed. Harbinger of the season? Probably not. Just another event on the homestead.

The kid is doing fine. Jewel is a proud and attentive mother. The potatoes need planting.

Surprise Kid

Breeding season for the goats has been in full swing for a couple of months now. I like to breed most of my does in October for March kids.
Ozark weather changes frequently. Cold spells followed by a few warm days followed by more cold. Kids born in cold weather can do fine or they can need lots of extra care to get them up and going. March usually has more warm than cold days.
Gaius is getting older as do we all. Thoughts of having another buck are sneaking in now and then although Gaius is a great guy and I have no plans to part with him.
Gaius had Louie as a best friend. Louie died and Gaius is lonely. It would be nice to have a second buck so they aren’t lonely. But how do you get a friend for two hundred pounds of jealous buck?

Nubian daoe and kid

High Reaches Bubble’s Silk is watching for dangers threatening her new little buck. He is interested in milk.

Then there is the question of what kind of buck to get. I like polled bucks and have owned several over the years. Polled bucks are hard to find in the Ozarks.
My dream buck would be polled, good sized, throw lovely udders giving lots of milk. Nice looking wouldn’t hurt. Good personality is a must. My hundred and ten pounds is no match for an ill-mannered two hundred pound buck.
Some of my does are polled. My herd is not show quality but they are nice milkers. There is Silk.
Silk is a big rangy doe with nice ears, good udder, good milker, good personality. She is polled. She is nearing retirement age.

Nubian buckling

Nubian goats are known for their ears. At a few hours old, this little buck has a nice pair. Silk is checking to see he is all right. After all, the camera may bite.

Several years ago Silk did have a lovely polled buck. He looked really nice and went to live with someone else where he was very much appreciated. He was a looker too, lots of color – frosted gray, red, black, white spots.
I told Silk I wanted a nice polled little buck. She ignored me. And she didn’t come into season. Gaius was no one she wanted to know.
Silk is a rangy doe, never seems to get fat. Her hundred and forty pounds doesn’t look imposing at all.
I had been milking her but she went dry. This was a surprise. Her udder shrank.
A week or so ago I noticed her udder looked bigger. Then it got really big. She was going to kid in November!
That means Gaius had a great escape the end of July. Anyone with a few goats knows about great escapes. There were two about that time.
Once I came home to find a rain shower went by. The herd was let in without Gaius being locked away.
Another time the weather was rainy in the morning so I opened the pasture gate in case it cleared. When I got home, the goats had gone out. Gaius was let out with the gate still open.
Silk had a single kid. First, the kid is a buck. Second, he is cute, friendly and easy going. Third he is frosted gray with lots of little white spots and a few bigger ones. Is he polled? I’m not sure yet. His hair says yes. The little bumps on his skull say no. Maybe they are horn bosses like his mother has.

Nubian buckling

Silk considers the barn a good place to park a tired kid for a time. She hasn’t noticed me yet so I can finally take some pictures without interference.

This kid is also lucky. He was born in a warm spell between thirty degree days. He wants to jump and play. Today he is wearing a goat coat and exploring the milk room with his mother who is trashing the place.
Keeping the little guy is tempting. The challenge would be raising him to big enough to hold his own with Gaius who, like all bucks, gets aggressive during breeding season. Deciding on a name is easier. I’m thinking.