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Monday, August 3, 2009

It's matin' season 'round these here parts

This here goat is Thunder.  He's new to Goodness Grows Farm.  He's got one job to do and that's to make dirty backs.

Seems he's been doin' his job. 

You might think I'm being facetious, but I'm not.   Beginning in July, we separated the does and some went with Ranger and some went with Thunder to begin the mating season.  This summer has been ideal for the goats as the temperatures have been so mild.  In hotter summers, the billy goats really have no desire (literally) to service the ladies in their care.  They get hot, tired and listless and the last thing on their minds is servicing a herd.  That is why last year instead of having 25 babies born in January, we had 25 babies born in April - it was just too darn hot for our billy.  Thunder here is taking to his job with GUSTO.  Ranger hasn't been persuaded to perform so much, but he's a late bloomer, so we'll depend on him to catch any of the ladies that may have missed their time with Thunder.  

A few Sunday's ago, Thunder and his does happened to escape their pasture and were grazing in the yard.  I started taking pictures of them from the deck because part of Thunder's herd are does that still have kids.  We don't wean our kids from the does at a certain date.  We believe that these babies need and deserve their mama's milk for as long as possible.  It has been our experience that having that milk helps grow stronger and healthier goats.  So, we send Mama & baby together to the "billy pens."  Then we watch for dirty backs.  

This poor doe was just not going to escape from Thunder's attention.  She was one of the few without a dirty back that day.  She kept running from him and he just kept a followin' her.  Round and round they went.

Up on top of Erik's trailer where most of the babies chose to doze as the sun set behind the trees.  I'm betting the wood on the trailer was nice and warm and made them feel real sleepy because they didn't stir an inch.  Which is funny because that doe and billy kept tearing up one side and down the other of that trailer.  It had to have been quite disruptive to the little kids on there.  But bellies full of milk and a sunny day kept them quiet.
Down off the trailer and through the grass . . .

Nothing thrills a farmer more than to see a herd sire performing his mating ritual and Erik couldn't have been happier over these photos.  And Thunder was performing with gusto.  A male goat, like most males, has a set of "moves" he uses to persuade the ladies to choose him.  The most obnoxious is peeing on himself - his beard to be precise.  I won't go into lengthy detail about how that happens, but it does.  And it causes a billy goat to stink to high heaven.  
I took most of these photos using my zoom lens.  For those of you familiar w/ our place, I was literally just steps from our back deck and I could smell Thunder even though he was at our garden.  I'd guess that's a good 100 feet or so.  And he smelled STRONG!  The rest of the mating rituals performed by the billy goat have to do with making these faces, sticking out his tongue and making a spitting/snorting noise as he chases down his lady.  
He was so excited to chase his ladies and prove his manhood!  This poor lady wasn't as excited about his romantic gestures.  But she could have just been leading him on.  The does aren't as easy to read until, well, the actual moment.  Not so different from the human race, I guess.  
All in all, if we go by dirty backs, we're going to have quite a successful kidding season this year. 

Thanks, Thunder.  We appreciate your help.