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, "Look...you'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.