My introduction to goats came by way of a neighbor we moved next to when I was eleven. This neighbor had been raising dairy goats for 35+ years. And not just raising any dairy goats, but championship quality Nubians who won routinely at shows. When I showed up, she had about 40 full-time milkers, excluding maybe a dozen or so retired ladies, and bucks. This number only grew with my help.
It took about three seconds for goats to become my love and joy. Think horse crazy girls, only with goats. I spent every moment I could in the barn, to the point where my family would asked in exasperation if I was ever coming home. I wanted to learn everything; I wanted to participate in everything.
I spent five years learning this way. I learned everything from care and management, to how to best show them in the ring, to what excellent conformation really looked like. I won at 4H. I fell in love with newborn kids. I loved and lost some of my best friends. In a lot of respects, I discovered what humanity was.
It’s been 12 years since my family and I moved next to the neighbor with all of the goats. I have only one of the original ladies I raised from that time. Cocoa is ten years old, stubborn as a mule, and spoiled rotten.
Cocoa was returned to me with only one of her daughters, who I named Phoenix. She’s the spoiled rotten, heart-of-gold Princess of the group. If you stand there when she’s obviously asking for something, and refuse to give to to her, she rolls her head around (goat version of rolling your eyes) and races manically around the barn. She has a habit of face-planting in your lap when she wants attention. Or rolling around on you.
As a graduation present to myself, I bought Sari, an opinionated, butthead of a lady who doesn’t take no for an answer. She loves food, and then affection. In massive quantities. In that order. She also routinely falls asleep in my lap if I lay outside reading or writing.
My first gentleman came to me in 2015. Rhett is a lug of a buck who practically vibrates with the need to get and give attention… but has no idea how to express it, so usually just ends up invading personal boundaries and accidentally biting people when he just wants to get your attention. We’re working on that.
As a moving in present when I moved in with my fiancée, he bought me Blackberry and Sauvignan Blanc. Blackberry is the neediest goat you’ll ever meet, who practically goes comatose when you give her attention. She will probably follow you to the ends of the earth, though she’s incredibly loud and wants to yell all the time, so it wouldn’t be a quiet journey.
Sauvie is the sweetest boy you’ll ever meet, very shy, and very curious about everything. He’s only recently begun to actually stand up for himself, which usually results in epic battles between him and Rhett, and trying to get out the door when I’m feeding the boys.
Sassinach (Sassy) and Duchess are half-sisters and cousins, born of sisters bred to the same buck (Rhett). They are mutts; meaning, their father is a purebred Nubian, but their mothers are boer/Toggenburg/Nubian mixes. Both of them are much too intelligent for their own good, and get into absolutely everything. When I’m mad I call them the Devil Twins.
On Friday the 15th of January 2015, these adorable beautiful babies were born. They hold a special significance for me. All of the babies I’ve cared for up until now were born under another’s name, or I bought them when they were older.
These beautiful tiny ones are truly mine.
It’s hard to explain why that means so much to me. They don’t feel any more “mine” than my adults, and it’s not like I haven’t seen hundreds of other babies born; there were even some babies born last year on the property I’m currently living on (Sassy and Duchess). Perhaps it is because legally now, as well as physically, nothing can be done to these babies without my express permission.
This is the first piece of advice I will impart upon you all. When raising goats, and becoming attached to their beautiful faces and personalities (which you undoubtedly will), make absolute sure that they are legally yours. I doubt many of you will have that problem, but still: be smarter than me. Put it all down in writing.