Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meet Maude

Meet Maude. She is a Nubian Cross Goat. She and her buddy Alice were our first foray into the world of dairy goats. Yet again, something we talked about for years but had no definitive plans for starting into. Yet the opportunity came along to adopt them. So we suddenly have two goats. Now, a brief digression; Alice, Maude's companion, is about the most patient goat on the planet. Especially for a couple of beginners like us. Sweet too. We were lucky, since she was in need of being milked daily when we got her. Maude, however, was in need of being as they say "freshened", or bred so she would produce milk again. Welcome to the world of mammals; you don't get milk without kids. We figured we would keep an eye out for a boyfriend for Miss Maude, which is another story to tell. Anyhow. Maude came to us as a more aloof goat. According to her last owners, she was running loose with a herd (not exactly feral, but certainly not tame or super friendly). She would hang out nearby and maybe sniff your hand, but that was as far as her friendliness went, as opposed to Alice who would happily be a house goat if she could.

Now after being around our crazy family for a few days, Maude decided that hubby gave really good neck rubs (did I mention he is a professional massage therapist? Probably not). So she was much friendlier. Oh, and she has horns. Now, another brief digression here on goats and horns. Goats, both male and female are born with them except for some that are genetically born without, these are called polled. Now Alice was disbudded (this is the term used when a goats horns are removed) as a baby. Most goats, especially those as family pets or as part of a dairy herd have their horns removed. Reasons vary but we felt, as Maudes' previous owners did, that if goats were born with horns, they should keep them and removing the horns at birth was cruel. Well, the ability to grow them at least. Anyways, Alice does not have horns. Maude does.

Eventually (a few weeks later) another pair of goats came our way. Connie, a young female who was never bred and Splint Eastwood, a wether (castrated male). When we introduced them, Alice made it clear in her goatish way that she was the queen bee of this herd by head butting the others until they agreed. Maude backed her up as the brawn beside Alice's brain. All went well for a few days, until Miss Maude realized that if she was going to do all the dirty work of cracking skulls with her horns (what hornless goat in their right mind would argue?), she may as well get the glory of being queen too! Now Alice being the sweet girl she is, seems willing to be some sort of co-monarch with her pal. But in Maude's mind, Maude is queen. Unfortunately for the other goats, she is a really rude and bitchy queen who rules with an iron hoof as it were. Which was not too terrible until we found a young buck and two more little does for our new herd. Problem was, these new animals are still young at 8 months old and small compared to their eventual adult size.

To finally get to the point of this post, people will do all sorts of crazy things to protect their animals. We decided it was in everyone's best interest to find a way to dull Maudes' use of her horns. Why? We really don't want her hurting or killing the little ones as she tries to tell them in her heavy-handed fashion that she is boss. We really didn't want to rehome or sell Maude, as she would most likely become someone's dinner and Alice would lose her lifelong companion. Plus, Maude is generally a really pleasant goat except when she gets a burr up her behind and wants to remind everyone of her status.

Now, most vets won't de-horn an adult animal as it takes specialized knowledge (the horn is living and has its own blood supply after all). Online resources basically say if you are getting a goat, make sure it doesn't have horns (not an option for us at this point). So we had to get creative about her use of those dreaded horns. After some internet research, hubby felt it would be best to cut the tips off where there is no blood supply and epoxy some balls to the remaining horns (still at about 7" long) to help dull the heavy blows she deals. What follows is what we did to help the rest of the herd.... I hope you enjoy he show, and for now the decorations that our much more festive goat is wearing are completely removable (i.e. no epoxy). And while I used to feel that disbudding was cruel, I now realize that in certain situations it can be more cruel to let the horns remain. Especially if it might mean the safety of the rest of your herd...

 Using a coping saw to trim the horn tips.

 Horns trimmed down.

Rounding the edges with a rasp.

Meet Maude, our newly particolor goat.

In the Thick of Things

I admit it. I have a hard time with beginnings. Especially with creative ones, unless they come to me as fully dressed ideas ready to stand on their own. So here I am trying to come up with a grand beginning, a catch that will keep my audience not only interested, but coming back for more. If I were writing for myself (which on some ways I am, obviously), I would appeal to my own curiosity about what was to happen next.

Life in our family is never dull. Which is a blessing for me since I get bored easily unless something interesting is going on. With two young children around, the chances of something interesting occurring increases logarithmically. I suppose that is one of the reasons I decided to try writing this blog, as a way to document the riotous goings-on of our family, and the paths we are following. There is no telling how this story will end, but it sure will be an interesting journey!

Speaking of family, I should introduce us at some point. For the sake of our privacy, I will change our names. We are rather protective of our privacy around here, but I believe it is also important to get acquainted. My creative and strong hubby you can call Greg, and my children will be known as Claire and Jacob. They are 4.5 and 2 years old, respectively. As for me, you can call me Heidi.
It is a pleasure to meet you.

Our journey so far: This last year has been a fairly momentous one. For years we have been your average city dwellers, owning our suburban home, taking things day by day. Tying to make a positive difference in our community and teaching our lids to respect life. We always planned on finding a bit of property in the mountains, building our own home, and raising our children to respect the earth, have a light footprint, and give back to the community. Life often gives you opportunities, and it is up to you to take them even if the possibilities scare the crap out of you! So here we are. Trying to find our place to plant our roots, but at least partly out of suburbia. Want to buy a nice home? We have one for you...
Our path has taken an unexpected yet thoughtfully considered jog this fall to staying at my in-laws home while we try to pack up and sell our own. With our cats, dogs, and kids in tow we are here for the moment. If all goes well, we will find that property soon. Yet as I said before, life around here is always interesting and I am still not sure how we will make that next transition. But that is the topic for another time.
Mysterious enough? Too mysterious? I never claimed to be the best at storytelling, but I hope you are still interested.