Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Goats

Meet our two goats, Penelope and Bellatrix.

Penelope (Penny) is full Nigerian Dwarf and Bellatrix (Bella) is a mix. She is 1/2 Nigerian Dwarf, 1/4 Nubian, and 1/4 Lamancha (from which she gets her lack of ears).

Side story on how Bella got her name. We tried a ton of different names for her but couldn't settle on one so she remained unnamed. My son and I are currently reading through the Harry Potter series. Those of you who have read it or seen the movies might recognize the name. Bella came to be known as she-who-has-not-been-named. Since we couldn't bring ourselves to name her Voldemort we decided on the next best one, Bellatrix.

The original plan was to get two Nigerian Dwarf does. Well, actually, the original plan was to get one doe, but it seems that goats do not like to be only children. I have been wanting a goat for awhile. Why? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it goes along with my personality trait that likes to say shocking things just to get a reaction from people. Goats are different and unique. And strange. Especially in the fact that we live in a neighborhood. We are the only farm on the block.

For my husband it was much more like boiling a frog in a pot. I had voiced my desire to get a goat but never thought it would happen. And, he was PERFECTLY FINE THANK YOU VERY MUCH that it would never happen. Until, one day at work, someone mentioned the fact that there were goats about to give birth and the kids would be needing homes. He made the mistake of showing a little interest and getting me the contact info. Those goats didn't work out for us, but they certainly broke the ice.

So, off to Craigslist I went. I found this super-cute 2 year old Nigerian Dwarf doe (Penny) for sale, and after purchasing her I left her at the farm to be bred. Penny hung around there for a couple of weeks, but no action was happening between her and the buck. I was going to leave her longer. Unfortunately the timing of bringing the two goats home didn't quite coincide.

With my inability to stay well and clear of all things goat on Craigslist, I found a bred 1 year old that caught my eye. So I drug my sister-in-law with me to take a look (thanks, Kim!). Bella is due to kid any day (more specifically, she was due yesterday). On a side note, it just might kill me. All this waiting and checking and waiting and checking and waiting.

Here is a pick of the very pregnant Bella taken on her due date (yesterday. Hear that Bella? Yesterday. Get with it girl!).

Bella came home Friday and by Sunday we decided that we NEEDED to have another goat with her. She was only quiet when someone was with her. For our sanity, and the need to have happy neighbors, we went to pick up a non-bred Penny.

The plan is to milk them. We will start a few weeks after Bella gives birth and hopefully she will milk for a solid 9 months. This is her first freshening (fancy goat term for giving birth), so we don't know how great a milker she will be yet. Nigerian Dwarf is a dwarf breed (duh), but Nubian and Lamancha are both full size goat breed that give more milk than a dwarf (because they are bigger. Rocket science isn't it). We are hoping to get 1/2 - 3/4 gallon of milk a day from Bella. Penny should give around  1/4 - 1/2 gallon a day. We will probably breed her for a baby early next year so that our milk supply is constant.

Bella has been bred to a Nigerian Dwarf buck. So the baby(s) will be 3/4 Nigerian Dwarf, 1/8 each Nubian and Lamancha. I admit, I'm hoping for ears on the kids. ;-) Here is a pic of the buck.

He's kinda cute, as far as bucks go.

Since we are doing this on a normal neighborhood lot we have had to get somewhat creative for housing. We picked the side yard directly out my kitchen window for the goat run. Here it is before any work. You can see my trash can compost bin. This is also the area where the bunny hutch is and the first of my raised garden beds and my potato bed (?) bin (?). Whatever. The thing I'm growing my potatoes in this year.

Here it is the day we brought Bella home. I found a huge dog house (again, thanks to Craigslist) that I painted up to match all the rest of our buildings. It works great for the two goats.

My wonderful husband has recently taught me how to use all our power tools, so between us we put in quite a usable gate.

Here is the front of the dog-house-turned-goat-house. I opened up the opening for the door (power tools - whoo hoo!) and added an extra hay area above for some rainy day munching.

There you have it. Our goat adventure begins. 

Soon to come, baby goat pictures (if she ever gets on the stick and delivers!)

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