I’ve been reading up on goat kidding practices a lot lately. I’ve read pretty much everything I could get my hands on. And when it comes to hair goats, that’s not much.
I read that one farm that raises dairy goats likes to shave down their doe’s backside before she kids just to make cleaning her up easier. Of course, their shave job is surgical close, something I’m apparently not capable of at all.
Hair goats need to be sheared twice a year, spring and fall. I haven’t been able to get ahold of the Goat Shearer Lady at all. We’ve left messages off and on for the last couple weeks. Apparently, she doesn’t want my money. And I can’t find anyone else.
So, I decided to tackle the job myself. After all, how hard can it be?
First of all, I don’t own a goat stanchion, yet. So, I had to plop my rear down in the straw in the stall I tied the goat I chose to work on into.
Honey, Beatrice and Moon are not overly friendly. In fact, they’re very, very shy and resist human contact unless it involves a grain bucket. And then they keep an eye on your hands at all times. Need I talk about how hard it was to catch them? Or how poorly they lead? (ie, NOT AT ALL)
I started with Honey. She is the least skittish of the three of them. It was… a learning experience. I had her tied using the bucket strap I have in the stall. That means, she had about 6″ of play in the lead. Back, forth! Back, forth! It took quite a while to get her to stand still. But somewhere along the way, Honey decided that she loved me.
Next up was Beatrice. Now, I’m going to give you a bit of back story in how we got these goats.
We bought this tiny herd from a 91-year old man in late January. As most 91-year olds are, he was social, had good manners but his mind was starting to slip. He called the younger buck by the older buck’s (younger’s sire) name. He had a pair of red pheasants but lost the male. Funny, but there was a live animal trap with a long dead thing in it that was pheasant shaped. (Yeah, ICK!) The female, the mate of the dead one was going crazy in her pen, just frantically running back and forth. Back and forth, calling and calling for her mate. It seemed pretty clear that her mind was gone.
Moon, the littlest, had been attacked by dogs or coyotes and was missing all the skin off her hind end over the hips (hence our name for her). He hadn’t been treating the wound at all, there was no telling how old it was and he began to tear up at the thought of having to put her down. We, being the softies that we are, said we’d take her to see what we could do for her. At that, he perked right up and said, “Sheep dip! That should make it better!”.
Hey! I know! Let’s pour caustic chemicals on an open wound! However, with the old timers, sheep dip was the cure for everything back in his day.
Supposedly, the two older does were bred and due in February. (Um, no babies yet!)
Now, back to my story!
Beatrice’s hair type is different than Honey’s. In fact, there is 3 different types of fiber hair goats can have along with combinations of the 3. He said he sheared them late, so all but Beatrice had a long strip of hair down their backs. Beatrice’s hair was symmetrical. Normal looking. We assumed he got to her in time and sheared her before it got cold.
Well, I’m here to tell ya, NOPE! OMG! Beatrice looked very rotund, but she wasn’t. I assumed it might have been part pregnancy. Um, nope! She’s always been stand-offish. I thought it was her nature. Wrong again! It HAD to have been at least a year since she’d been sheared! I spent 2, count them, TWO hours shaving down her rear, less than a quarter of her body. I’m amazed this girl didn’t die of a blockage she was so matted up and had so much poo stuck to her rear! At the two hour mark, I had to recharge the clippers and I let her go. The first thing she did was scratch. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized she hadn’t scratched since we brought her home! She’s able to walk around more freely now that big wadded mats aren’t pulling on her rear! And ya know what? While not all lovey-dovey with me, Beatrice is being much, much more social!
During all this, I had to tie Honey up because she just fell in L-O-V-E with me. She had to taste my hair. She had to nibble at my jacket. She tried to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. She climbed in my lap. She made such a royal, sweet pest of herself that I had to tie her up elsewhere in the barn! Really! This was a goat that wanted NOTHING to do with me outside of food before I clipped her. And she wasn’t all matted up, nor did she resemble a miniature wooly mammoth!
Once the clippers were charged back up, I was back at it again. I spent another 2 1/2 hours shaving down Beatrice. (Ok, so I only have my little blue cordless Wahl horse clippers to use. But, they work. And have you seen how expensive sheep shears are?) I’m not convinced that Beatrice is pregnant. She’s actually on the thin side.
And as for Moon? Well, her healing is very, very slow going. I wasn’t about to leave her for a bumbling old man to look after. I slapped an e-collar on her yesterday since she has been scratching herself and re-opening the wound. It’s pretty creepy when she stares at you with her big, vacant blue eyes, goofy, special-ed kid smile and a coating of blood on her chin. Yeah… We’re not going to breed her. EVER. She’ll stay here as long as her “special” self lives.
I woke up this morning so sore I could barely move. I still have 3 goats to go too, a house to clean and my mom is coming to spend a couple days with us as of today.
So, that was my weekend. How was yours?