Wednesday, September 09, 2009

These goats are going to get us kicked out of the neighborhood. I just know it.

Yes, I know today's post represents a departure from my usual offering of political snark. But sometimes I like to talk about something other than Sarah Palin and the crazy right wing of the GOP. Like all these goats having sex in my front yard.

Those of you new to my blog may - or may not - be surprised to learn that I keep a herd of dairy goats. There are eleven, including five does that are currently still milked by hand twice a day. The milk is used for drinking and for making farmstead cheeses, ice cream, fudge and soap.

But in order for our does to give milk they must first have baby goats. And you don't have babies without sex. So each year we borrow a couple of male goats - or bucks - from a goat dairy over in the next county.

And this is the part where things go from pastoral to pornographic.

Over the winter I read a wonderful book called Goat Song by author Brad Kessler. I highly recommend this book, not just because Kessler's writing is so lyrically beautiful, but also because he does a wonderful job detailing life with goats, and how their cycles tie in with the natural ebb and flow of the seasons. Kessler also delves into the rich history of goats, which were the first domestic hoof stock kept by our nomadic ancestors.

But what Kessler doesn't tell you is something I strongly suspect, which is that every sexual perversion known to man was originally inspired by watching goat have sex. It's no wonder that the hedonistic satyr was fashioned after a goat. The animals simply have no modesty. Or shame. Or brakes. And that's made for some pretty interesting happenings here on our tiny farm.

It started this weekend, when we went to pick up the two bucks - a Nubian named Mojo and an Alpine named Legacy. We borrowed Legacy last year when he was just a yearling. He lost his innocence to our does. This year when we went back, I didn't even recognize him. He's the size of a small Shetland pony now.

"This is Bernard?" I asked Lisa, referring to Legacy by the nickname we'd given him last year. I could not comprehend that this wild-eyed beast, unbearably pungent with the smell of his own urine, was the same animal.

"Yep," she said. "And he's not even finished growing. And boy, is he ever ready to breed! He's so fixated on the does that he's hardly even eating."

As if to prove his owner's point, Legacy lowered his head, pissed all over his face and curled up his lip.

"Charming," I said.

"Your girls should think so," Lisa replied.

We led Legacy to the trailer as Mojo, nearly as big and just as smelly, followed. Despite his name, Mojo hadn't seen any action yet. Like Legacy, his first sexual experience would be with our older and somewhat worldly does. Legacy seemed to know just where he was headed. He practically jumped into the trailer.

At home we put the bucks in the pen separate from the does. The only other goat in the buck pen was Toby, the neutered male goat we'd acquired as a pet two years ago. Toby was our first goat. He was bottle-raised and grew up thinking he was a dog or maybe a person. Since he's also a male, I thought it would be OK to keep them together. After all, what could go wrong?

As it turns out, a lot.

As soon as we brought Legacy and Mojo in, the does lined up on the other side of the fence panting like a group of fourteen year-old girls at a Jonas Brother's concert. Two of them turned their backsides to the fence and frantically wagged their tails, as if trying to waft their girlie-scent in the bucks' direction. It was a tawdry display. And I know tawdry. Had they been wearing panties, the does would have tossed them over the fence.

It was all too much for the boys to take. Unable to get to the does, they went for the next best thing - their unsuspecting pasture mate. I immediately rushed in to save poor Toby, who was pinned against the gate by a 175-pound, pheromone-crazed Legacy. As soon as I pulled him away Mojo jumped him. It took all my strength to get Toby out of the pen and into the doe barn on the other side, where he huddled for two days until he got over the drama of his gate-rape.

Breeding season for goats starts in late August and runs through December. Does come in heat every three weeks. Their cycles last for three days, providing a short window to get them bred. Because we have both Alpines and Nubians and want to control who is bred and when, we watch for the signs before putting them in with the bucks.

The does bleat, wag their tails and hang by the fence. The bucks respond by stamping, sneezing, snorting, pissing on their own faces and putting their penises in their own mouths (seriously) should they be endowed with penises big enough to reach.

Today two of our does started showing signs of readiness. Star and Nellie - both slated to be bred to Legacy - stood by the fence making come-hither noises and wagging their tails.

I took Nellie over first. Or, should I say, she took me. I tied Mojo to the side of the shed so Nellie and Legacy could get some sex on, but as it turned out while Nellie was in heat it was just the early stages and not the "standing heat" so called because that is when a doe will stand to be mounted.

Meanwhile, Star was screaming as if she were in physical pain, so I brought her over too. Legacy rushed over, stamping and sneezing. Star turned and looked at him. I think she winked. She squatted and pissed. He stuck his face in the stream and curled his lip up. Legacy was in Pheromone Heaven. This was a doe clearly in standing heat.

Legacy began to clack his teeth and lick Star all over, up and down her back, under her tail. Every now and then he'd rush up and look at her face as if to say, "Yeah, you like that, don't you, baby?"

And since Star is a girl who just can't say no - despite giving birth to triplets earlier this year - she let Legacy have his way with her. Multiple times.

Poor Mojo, tethered to the corner of the goat barn could only watch since none of "his" ladies have yet to come into heat. After a few moments our pet pig, Piggie, walked over and Mojo leaned down as if to say, "'re single. I'm single. We're both here alone. So, what do you say..?"

Fortunately, Piggie is smarter than Toby and knew enough to get out of the way before she got jumped or pissed on. Nobody messes with Piggie, so we don't have to worry about coming out one morning to find a litter of mutant pig-goats or what other sort of abomination would come from such an unlikely coupling.

What we will have will be baby goats due sometime in February. First time moms will have singles; our older does will have twins or triplets. The babies are taken away at birth and bottle raised on their mother's milk.

Once the goats are old enough, we find other families looking to start their own dairy goat herds. Bucks, unless exceptionally nice, are neutered and sold as pets. Sometimes we keep one or two little ones back. We still a young doe and a buck born to Star earlier this year. You can see the birth in this video, which also documents the kids' first days of life.

With the growing interest in organic food and the grocery prices being what they are, dairy goats are more popular than you might think. They're certainly more entertaining, if you don't mind the work or having your yard turned into the 24 Hour Barnyard Sex Channel for a couple of months. I see it as our little gift to the community. It gives our neighbors something else to talk about. Provided, of course, they don't kick us out for indecency.


Andrea said...

And who better to document such goings-on than you :D

More importantly: they provide you with fudge?!

Christopher said...

Thank you for clearing up why satyrs are half goat. I always thought it was because, well, I once saw a goat with what looked like a couple of shot-puts stuffed into a hot water get the picture. But obviously size really does matter--or at least it has an influence.

Also, I should know better than to read this blog at work, not so much because of the behavior of your goats but because now I'm craving goat cheese. I've never had any that was homemade but I bet it's mighty fine.

Morgan said...

Christopher, your description could easily fit either of our two boys. The disproportionately sized gonads are clearly a "goat thing." These are animals just built for sex.

Despite Legacy's ardor, he's a really nice goat, though. He's huge and probably could have drug me around the pen twice after I pulled him off of Toby. I'm really glad Lisa has shown him this year at the goat shows; he listens somewhat when he's being handled.

Morgan said...

I have to cook the fudge, Andrea. But yeah. Goat's milk fudge is awesome.

Christopher said...

Morgan, now you've got me wondering. As "the first domestic hoof stock kept by our nomadic ancestors", could goats have been selectively bred for, er, fertility? I'm extrapolating wildly here, but I can't help thinking that, since goats had multiple uses it would make sense that people would want to make sure they had a steady supply.

The goats may also have had a predisposition, but breeding could certainly enhance it.

Morgan said...

I don't know, Christopher, but if that was the trend then it's one that continues. The prize-winning bucks are the big ones that are -as we say - packing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Morgan, reading your delightfully sexy tale of the goats was the bright spot in my super sh** day. I had to run and errand, and I found my usual route blocked by construction. The cars following the detour were clearly first time drivers who could not go over 5 miles an hour. At one store, the stupid clerk hit a wrong button, had to empty all of my parcels, ring everything up again. Every light turned red when I got to that intersection. When I read my email, I discovered that four relatives have invited themselves for a holiday weekend, at our expense. (They are my husband's family, he loves them, and he can't say "No!") Oh, and I have a stuffy nose and a sore throat.

So, your wonderful description of goat life really hit the spot! I live in a large metropolitan area where even the farm stands are getting pushed further and further away. The only encounter that I ever had with goats was to visit an experimental goat farm in the South of Scotland, near the border with England. They were trying to raise cashmere goats with hopes of making those wonderful cashmere sweaters, scarves and stuff locally. The truth of the matter is that the cashmere in Scotland comes from China.

I have gone on too long, Thanks!

Morgan said...

Anon, that indeed sounds like a horrible day. And if my sexy goat post cheered you up then I've done a good deed!

I have a friend who is a hand spinner. She has llamas, sheep and a cashmere goat that is the most beautiful animal I've ever seen. I'd love to have one but can't justify keeping something that serves no other purpose than to sit around looking pretty. That's my cats' job.

Anonymous said...

What a delightful story, Morgan. Thank you for the diversion and smiles.

Anonymous said...

The cashmere goats didn't work out that well for the Scots, either. Seems they need really cold weather to develop those special underfibers that become cashmere.

Then, they were trying to get EU funding, because other livestock enterprises could get EU funding. Seems the only places (at that time) that qualified for goat funding were Southern Italy and Greece. The thinking was that "those people" eat goat; most Europeans wouldn't touch that meat. (Sorry it it touches a nerve. The person who said it meant to convey a real dislike for people from South Mediterranean areas-- which we would just call prejudice.) The EU also saw the enterprise in terms of meat, not milk, not cheese, or other products.

The goats were cute; when we saw them, one field was for the guys, and the other field was for moms and kids. It was amazing to see how mom and kid looked so much like each other-- all of those cute little matched sets.

The best part of the visit was watching the Border Collies round up the goats. They usually use that breed for sheep herding, and the three dogs obeyed a one word command, rounded up all of the goats in an instant. We also got the treat of seeing a charming slice of rural Scotland where the road gives out and it is just tracks in the dirt.

We all have rotten days. Next time I drive that route, the construction will be over, the lights will turn green for me, a different clerk will ring up my purchase, and my cold will be gone. Unfortunately, I am stuck with those relatives.

Morgan said...

I don't know what kind of fibers my friend gets off her cashmere goat. We live in the southeastern US so I'm thinking not much.

It's funny you should mention the Border Collies. We have two - Meg and Chase. They are really good with the goats. Our herd boss, Zoe, is less than tolerant and will charge them, but the dogs are fast enough to dodge out of the way.

I've not had goat's meat - they call it chevron - but one of the other vendors at the farmer's market raises Boer goats and sells the meat. It's a good seller; everyone I've talked to says it tastes a lot like really good venison. I keep meaning to buy some and try it. I could never slaughter one of my own goats. Our herd is small enough that we're too attached to them. And our children assist with birthing and raising the kids, so when we sell them we make sure they go to good homes where they'll be either used for dairying or as pets.

Earlier this year I sold a kid to a woman in Raleigh who wanted a friend for her pet goat. She told me she kept her pet goat in the house. Thinking her pet was still a baby, I told her, "Well, when he gets big you'll put him out quick enough." That's when she told me he was eight months old. She has apparently "goat-proofed" her house, although I'm not sure how one goes about doing something like that. It seems pretty impossible to me. But she claims she's done just that and came to pick up "Bob" and renamed him "Hank." Now he and his goat friend are living happily indoors and according to their new owner both get bubble baths ever day.

I think of that woman whenever I want to feel a little more normal.

Duncan said...

Hi Morgan, we had dairy goats at one time, many years ago. And yes, we did eat one of the young bucks.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to report to you that I have eaten goat meat. And, I say this with proper sensitivity that yours are not for eating. I live in a large metropolitan area, so goat meat is available in neighborhoods with a large Middle Eastern population.

The goat that we ate was called cabrito, so you know that we someplace in Latin America or South America. When it is raised, like beef, for food, well cared for and well fed, it is tasty, with a stronger taste than beef. It was BarBQ'd over coals; I don't know if it is prepared other ways as well.

But, in terms of unusual meat, I will mention antelope. Antelope! Where do you buy antelope?? Well, we were in New York City, and the NY Times Sunday Magazine featured a recipe for antelope. I made a joke to a friend, "What's the point of putting a recipe like that in the paper if no one can buy antelope?" She set me straight. She had her choice of markets that sold US farm raised antelope. It helped her with her diet. The meat is low in fat, low in cholesterol, and lower calorie count compared with other meat.

No, I haven't eaten antelope meat. She said it was like venison. Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans, and people with sensitivities about animals.

Christopher said...

Anon, in spite of being an accidental semi-vegetarian, I'm intrigued by the idea of eating antelope. But then I love watching Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel and thinking, "Yeah, I'd probably try that" with almost everything that Andrew Zimmern holds up. But then I've always subscribed to his motto, "If it looks good, eat it".

I was once in a Vietnamese restaurant and ordered the jellyfish salad. They refused to serve it to me. I tried to explain that I was familiar with Vietnamese cuisine and was prepared for the rubber-band texture of jellyfish. But I know they'd had experience with people ordering bizarre things and then refusing to eat or pay for them.

Morgan said...

I'm not opposed to eating goat meat. And if we were in dire straits I could see raising our own for meat. It's just that as things stand right now I couldn't see doing it.

laughingwolf said...

'horny old goat' is a true saying ;) lol

thimscool said...

Hilarious! I want some goat milk fudge.

AKjah said...

Thank you Morgan. That was a fun read. I had my experience with goats in the late 70's. At an old farm house waaaaay out in the hills of New Hampshire. The house came with two pet goats. I can say with good authority that goats can get into more trouble than a herd of teenagers. You must have that special patience i know i dont have.Right now i have enough putting up with goofy cats let alone goofy goats.
I have eaten alot of different meat, but goat is not one of them! And i dont know why?? I do make a tasty porcupine marinara though.

Talee said...

I had to laugh at this...

I am hoping someday to have about 5 acres and a herd of something, now im thinking maybe chickens...goat porno might scare my teenagers off LOL!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I love reading your blog! You make me laugh, make me think, and make my day sparkle a bit more than it did before I logged on.

As is the way of the world, I, a city girl, married a country boy. We now live in the city but at one time when he was teaching in a small rural community, we lived in a trailer next to a cow pasture.

This time of year always brings up one of his favorite memories. I ran into the living room to tell him the farm next door got some exotic new cattle: long hairy ones. I didn't know that cows grew long hair for winter. Gees.

I also waved at them whenever they came near or we drove past them I still swear they nodded their heads in response. Needless to say, that's another little ditty that gets replayed for company these days.

Now, however, I think I have a story about goats to pull out that might even startle him. Though I am not counting on it, at least it will give me some country creds with the other city folk. I mean, any girl who talk about goat sex has some grit, right?

I hope you won't mind me stealing bits and pieces of info to weave into a little did-you-know-this story? -- A from KS