Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Will

With any luck and much relief, breeding season has ended here at Capsand Creamery.  For months, I look forward to its beginning as the days shorten and weather becomes crisp.  I record every girls' heat cycle and contemplate their pairing with the most suitable suitor.  However, once the girls start screaming and bucks begin their fierce charade, a quiet and quick finale is all I can hope for.

Breedings are concentrated into a small window for simplicities sake of breeding, kidding, disbudding, tattooing, vaccinating everyone as a group and then sending kids in pairs to new happy homes.  This all must occur before the major chores of gardening season begin in May, otherwise I am overloaded.

The seriousness with which the goats take their annual frolic is not to be understated.  It is rather common to see everyone harmonious one morning only to walk in the next day presented with a bloody face.  "Rocky" broke a very large scur trying to hold his own against the old man of the group, Bandito.  Blood Stop powder on his head every morning as they eat a hearty ration has been my routine.  Since then, my best, most favored and efficient man has been timid and ritually bullied.  While the girls are penned so close to the boys, I must weigh each day which group or both should be allowed to enjoy the outside.  If a doe is in heat, the boys will blubber, fuss and fight all day, which I am sure the neighbors must appreciate.  So on days when no one is in heat, we resume our normal gentility, everyone is happy and enjoys the waning sunlight of autumn.

The fastest way to make heat cycles disappear and calm the masses is to breed every doe within a short period of time.  There are two things that make this most difficult: an unsettled doe and an ongoing breeding service to others.  The stud service helps offset the cost of keeping bucks for me while providing other small homesteads with an easy cheap option to high quality dairy offspring.  Long after we are finished breeding in October, customers appear as late as January with their does in heat, which means an extended rut for my boys.

I tolerate this breeding service for financial reasons.  A particular unsettled doe is, however, most irritating.  For two years, I have attempted and failed at one specific pairing.  I own a doe, who will come into screaming heat and then demand her favorite man.  Despite her hormonal predicament she will not stand to breed anyone else.  I have failed on two rounds of heat to breed her to my choice buck.  While she flags and cries at her boyfriend, she scrambles into a corner with a tucked tail when I introduce the buck of my choosing.  I've read about free will in goat's breeding, but was still shocked (and in awe, of course) by her behavior.  Who am I to tell her how things will go down?  I firmly believe there is great intelligence behind the silly goat grin.  I am still listening and she had her pick, again.     


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall To-Do List in Pictures

1. Dry burdock peelings for winter tea.

                          2. Process acorns for flour.

3. Keep shelling acorns.

               4. Bottle hard cider for sanity.

5. Pressure can more bony pickerel and pike for winter fish sticks.

                          6. Plant garlic bed.

7. Process meat chickens.

                            8. Breed goats.

9. Finish trim on the new barn.

10. Replant sunchokes and try sprouting asparagus from seed.

 11. Encourage a Kindergartener.

12. Relax with a dew filled spider web.