This a picture of Pudge
I've stewed and pondered, emotions getting in the way but the fact is they have to go. I haven't the pasture to put them out on to live out their days. I haven't the money to spend feeding them. They have to go to make room for goats that will produce. The decision has been made and I have to stick to it. Pudge and Leta will sometime this spring no longer be gracing my pens. Leta is dry but I thought of starting to milk Pudge twice a day to pick up her milk production so that I could milk her another year. Then every morning I go out and try to get her to go into the milking shed and we have a tug-a-war of wills and I think do I really want to do this for another year? The answer is NO! She use to be such a nice doe but in the last few months has undergone a personality change. Doing anything with this tank built doe is a muscle building, lung enhancing operation.
The decision began brewing several months back when I started taking the girls over to be bred. Let me rephrase that. I started in November chasing behind the girls hollering, "Wait for me." For you see my two Saanens knock me over or near unto it when I open the gate to let them in to the milking shed. But they don't stop there and take off for the nearest highly perfumed buck. They aren't picky. If he smells terrible and will whisper sweet nothings in their ear for two seconds, then they're willing and ready. You never met two bigger hussies than my Saanens, Pudge and Leta. Some people question if their goats are in heat. And I have to wonder a bit about my Nubian, Chicory, watching her carefully. Not Pudge and Leta. They get this wild look in their eyes and beller. Not bleat, not ma, but a loud panicked sound that can't help but get your attention. If that isn't enough of a clue then the wagging tail at a hundred miles an hour is sure to get your attention for it screams, "Take me. Take me."
I'm lucky if I can divert them into the milking shed to empty their udders before they've plowed me to the side forgetting all their manners and head to Michelle's across the way. It's the nearest location of a buck. I just have to say NO and they're off running again. This time headed for the pens in the opposite direction to the past known buck hang out. All the while I'm chasing behind them snatching for their collars while they frantically search the pens and smell the air. They don't care who the buck is as long as he's peed all over his front legs and is willing, he's their man. Oh I've had does that were real picky about who the father of their kids were but not these girls.
As I was saying this process has been going on for months. They'd come into estrus and off we'd go. Twenty-one days later they'd come into heat and off we'd go again. At first I was taking the does in one at a time and holding their collars while the buck mounted. This way I could control my doe with one hand and the other move the does in the pen with the buck away. Any time there is an introduction of a new doe in the pen it is a call for a butting heads party. It also makes sure that my doe doesn't move out from under the buck as I have a leg in her chest to steady her.
If I didn't know better I would have thought the buck was shooting blanks. Pudge has never gone to see a buck more than once and it is always a shall we say," Slam, bam, thank you mam" event. Here she wasn't settling and I couldn't think what was the matter.
Leta wasn't fairing any better. She has taken twice on a couple occasions before conceiving but cycle after cycle went by and even though I tried a new buck three weeks later they would cycle again. I even tried leaving them over night or for the day several different times but still they didn't take. Once I noticed that Leta was flushed and slightly swollen around her a.... shall we say opening. Nope, my girls were undoubtedly in heat.
Then in January Pudge bred, then a week later came into heat again. I figured she'd aborted so I took her over again to the new buck. Two weeks later with Leta she came into heat again. It is extremely rare that Kirk and I have a cross word with each other but when this past week the girls came into estrus again, he accused me of doing something wrong. He asked if I was taking them too late or too early or not leaving them long enough, not taking them enough times during their estrus. Oh, I got grilled and I got mad. "I know my job! Haven't I managed to get them and all the other does we've had this past twenty-five years pregnant? It has never taken more than two visits to a buck before. It isn't me, it's them."
I then began to wonder about their age so I looked it up. Leta's papers said she was 8 not too old but the year we brought her home she had milk fever. She was really sick and I babied her back to a healthy strong doe producing quite a few more kids and lots of milk. The only effects she has is a bit of creaking in her knees. Plus we have to watch her carefully for weight loss after she kids. Pudge, I delivered and raised. Each of the ten years we've had her she has bred once and only once. I know my job! Can you tell I'm still a bit ticked?
It's just hard to imagine Pudge being that old. Look here, she's not skinny and bony like most old does I see at her age. This is her a a few weeks ago. Pudgy as ever and so you can imagine why people still think this ten year old doe is ready to kid when she's empty. Now I wish I'd taken pictures of her when she was about to kid. People can't believe how she can frolic and play but she'd always been well - pudgy.
Leta on the other hand use to be a more difficult keeper but as she has aged she has retained her weight better. I know how that is. Lately she has begun to look quite a bit like Pudge. In fact she has two large basketball shapes, one on each side like she is very pregnant. How can that be since estrogen is the hormone of estrus and progesterone is the hormone of pregnancy? Surely she can't be pregnant and still cycling time after time. That calls for some really weird hormone imbalance. My does get little grain and it is mixed with sun flower seeds and beet pulp so it's less than what most people feed so they are just plump on hay. When they aren't milking, they don't get anything but excellent hay. That of course is the case with this very plump Leta.
I informed Kirk that I'd ordered another doe. When Karen culls her show herd this spring she said she'd call and tell me what she had. She knows my criteria, calm, quiet, heavy milker, good conformation. I already know the blood lines are excellent. So a new girl is coming and we have to make way. Yet the way the girls look, I don't think I'll get rid of them until the end of April when the new girl will arrive, just in case they are miraculously pregnant. But with them acting the way they have this year I can't be fooled in to thinking they aren't becoming infertile. Their age is against them. Next year will be even worse.
I've had three months to get use to the but Kirk is having a hard time with my announcement. The last time the girls came in to heat, I informed Kirk he could take them when he insisted that we try one more time. I fully expect them to be wagging their tails again in another 2 1/2 weeks. When I informed Kirk that goats can't last forever especially as heavy a milkers as ours are. He seemed resigned to the fact. I laughingly told he that I thought they were going through menopause goat style. He smiled and I'm sure he was thinking my wife and now the goats too but he said, "Aw, yes, goat-a-pause" as if that is actually a word.
As sad as it is to turn the page and start with Chicory who arrived last spring and a new goat, I guess one can't hold on to the past forever. We do have Chicory's kids to look forward to. She was bred to a lovely Nubian buck. I hope she took. He was kind of small and her next cycle date I was off celebrating my mom's birthday so this next week I have to keep a close eye on her.
If you've ever heard of a goat cycling for three months and already bred please let me know. I'm rather confused by Pudge and Leta's actions versus their looks.