Friday, January 7, 2011

That's Not A Designer Handbag, It's My Goat!

If there is one thing that this last year has taught me, is that opportunities come in unexpected places. Had someone told me where I would be at in my life today, I would have laughed myself silly. However, as much as I have realized that I can be a control freak over certain aspects of my life, I have come to recognize that there are times I simply need to let go and see where this path takes us.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, my dearest husband has been thinking about trying to get a young cow or some pigs for a little while now. We have looked into several breeds (mainly heritage breeds, as this fits into our life and philosophy the best) and have tried to find locally based breeders if possible.  While we are still somewhat flexible on the cattle breed, he has his heart set on getting some Large Black Hogs. Yep, that is actually the name of the breed (so descriptive the English are!! Just kidding; I think the pigs are pretty handsome and their name obviously fits them), and they are pretty rare. so rare, in fact, that I believe one little piglet will probably run at least $300. Just for one, never mind several to try to start our own little colony with.

So with dreams of expensive ham in mind, he had me put an ad out asking people for their unwanted livestock for our family to raise. It wasn't specific, but he was hoping for a cow, or a pig or something of that ilk. Never did it even occur to us we would get the exact animal we really didn't want. Little goats. I don't mean baby goats, but miniature milk goats, Dwarf Nigerian Goats to be specific. Why on earth would anyone want a tiny milking goat??

Apparently, quite a few people are into keeping them. They apparently make good pets (goats in the house, are our serious?? I mean, they are literally eating and pooping machines!). Quite a few people actually prefer them because of their small size. After all, a herd is cheaper to feed and they might be easier for a novice to deal with, especially if big animals seem too scary. And people seem quite proud of the little buggers.

When we got our first goats, we looked at all the books, and decided that of all the breeds, the last ones we wanted were the miniature ones. Why? I guess for us it came down to personal preference; the larger breeds give more milk, and if we were going to have a herd of milk goats, we might as well have full-sized ones!

So here we are suddenly, with several more goats. Our little herd has suddenly doubled in numbers, though not in size. Some of these fellows (we now have 4 new bucks!) are truly tiny, and can not only walk under Splint, our largest wether, but under Panas our almost yearling Nubian as well. I never thought I would see the day. Aside from getting some rather small goats, they seem to have come to us with some issues as well. All have horns (yes, dammit, HORNS AGAIN!) that are delaminating which is a good indication of being effectively malnourished. And they are all bloated (a potentially life threatening condition for goats). So now we not only have to help them get better, but figure out what their optimal feed really is and hope that they can rebound from it. Plus, they all have horns (of course! Go figure. Better get the coping saw out again), and the hoofs on a few of them are so bad i'll bet they haven't felt the earth in a LONG while.

Thing us, after spending a little time with them, I can sorta see the appeal of these little Nigerian goats. They can be kinda cute. They look like miniature mountain goats. Maybe we can let the children breed them and use the proceeds to get a few Large Black Hogs. Just thinking of the possibilities here.