Thursday, March 5, 2009

Monique meets her sweet destiny

It was time to get our does bred for spring babies.

Since we had opted not to have our own buck, we needed to find one we could afford somewhere nearby. Affordable meant $50, not $500 or $5000. And somewhere nearby meant, we hoped, just a few miles away.

There was also the consideration of quality. We wanted a line of goats that produced copious amounts of milk, as well as had udders that stayed put and were not prone to mastitis.

And of course we wanted nice-looking goats. Just in case we wanted to get into showing, which all the goat people were talking about. Or 4-H.

The goat-people grapevine gave us some suggestions, and we made our choice for Monique, a nice Alpine buck with the qualities we were looking for, at a decent price. And only 15 miles away.

The trick was to recognize when the doe was in heat, which would last at best a couple of days and not recur for 3 weeks or so. We had been coached to watch for heats from August on, so we could use the calendar to keep track and increase our chances of catching one.

Once the goat showed signs of being in heat - being lovey, wagging her tail a lot, discharge - we were to load her into the station wagon and drive her for her date with the Big Boy. We were warned to be sure she was in heat, because if she really wasn't, we would have to repeat the process another day, or leave her to be boarded with the buck, a much more costly proposition.

Then when we arrived at the home of her date, the owner of whom would be expecting her by prior arrangement, we were to take her out of the station wagon and walk her toward the buck.

Meanwhile he would notice her and if she was in heat (and with some optimistic bucks, even this doesn't matter), he would greet her by flapping his tongue up and down while making romantic noises through his nose that would sound something like huhn huhn huhn huhn accompanied by slap slap slap slap. At the same time he would stamp a front leg on the ground impatiently and try to break out of his handler's hands.

Or he would be in a yard made of stout boards 10 feet high and he would be banging against the boards and flapping his tongue through the cracks.

And in either case he would be peeing straight forward onto his chest hair.

Clearly he would be wanting to make the best possible romantic impression on this new girl.

Then the doe would either sidle over toward the buck and turn her back toward him, or she would run back to the station wagon.

So the day came when Monique appeared to be in heat, and we attached a rope to her collar and led her to the car. With some serious prompting and lifting, she went in through the tailgate. We put some hay in with her, and I headed off for our appointment with Farmer John and the big fellow.

An hour later, we arrived. I held my breath. It was not just in hopes that she was in heat, but also because eau de boy goat is INTENSE.

She noticed right away. She was looking straight ahead trying to get a glimpse of him.

Things looked good. Her tail was wagging and she was screaming her own little love song.

I went to the tailgate and she hopped out and dragged me toward the buck, the handsome devil! He flapped and sang and peed impossible distances. She started to run. Farmer John led the handsome brute into the yard, my sweet lady Monique ran spraying milk everywhere, and then at the last minute...

We were on our way back home in about 15 seconds. Monique had smug look all the way.

One doe bred, four to go...


Eloise said...

OH MY! I can't stop laughing! What a vivid image!

LeAnn said...

If I had to be confined to bed at least I was entertained by the mating habits of goats!

Peg Lewis said...

Glad to help out. There are some things that our modern culture doesn't include, and I think we learned half of them the first half year. :)