Observations

Goat in Heat

This is one the days I’m glad our farm sits way back from the main road. There are many benefits in general, including less concern that the neighbors will notice the weeds piling up in the flower beds and the muddy boots hastily discarded by the front door. Today, however, is more of a noise issue. A goat in heat, particularly the Nubian variety, sounds very much like a woman in distress. In fact a lonely buck in rut can sound like a woman being severely beaten.

 

I was certain my yearling doe had been bred during her first heat in July and had been anticipating babies by early December as her belly continued to expand. Last evening I heard the frantic distress call of a goat and sent my son to see who had gotten stuck somewhere, as that is the most often cause for alarm. He reported back that nothing seemed out of line. Leave it to an adolescent boy to have no clue when a female is looking for companionship.

 

When I went out within the hour to close the goats in for the night the signs were unmistakable. My yearling doe, Penny, wagging her tail, hovering as close as possible to the buck pen and crying out for attention even while stopping to calmly chew her cud in between bleats. While I began swapping goats between pens to make a cozy place for her to share with the buck the other girls, including her now retired mother, joined in her cries, as if sympathizing with her plight. As soon as she and the buck were together he let me know I had judged correctly, and I went to correct my calendar to show that I would now have babies sometime in March.

 

Many experienced goat farmers would tell you that it only takes a few moments to be sure a goat is bred, but I prefer to keep the doe with the buck for at least 24 hours of her heat to be certain she is bred. My buck is still in his first year and may not have the technique down, as I can now prove since this doe had been with him for almost the whole month of July and now I find that she might not have been bred then.

 

It is possible for goats, like dogs and some other mammals to have a pregnancy that is then “re-absorbed” rather than a visible miscarriage. That is a possibility, but it is equally likely that these first timers just hadn’t figured out how to get together before.

 

So why am I happy about the long distance from our road? Penny is now midway through her 24 hour heat and is complaining so bitterly that I can hear her even now while inside the house – 100 yards away with the door closed. My neighbors and other non-farming types couldn’t understand that she would sound the same if she was with the buck or not. Hormones do strange things to animals. It’s a good thing I’ve come to understand that, especially since I’ve got two adolescent humans sharing the house with me. More on that another time, unless they figure out that I’m posting stories they would rather I didn’t share publicly.



Turkeys

If I bemoan the noise of a goat in heat I must sing the priaises of my sweet little turkey-lings. They’re no longer poults, having grown out of the awkward part fluff part feather stage and are now entering their adolescence when they try to show off what little plumage they have even if they have very little to back up their gusto.

So I’ll call them turkey-lings until they are big enough to have a voice and temper to match their plumage. They call out to each other constently, checking in with the crowd in a fowl version of GPS locator. You can almost imagine them calling “Marco”, “Polo” like we used to in the pool as kids. Their peeps vary from a coo to a beginning gobble, all sound much more charming than the ducks we have raised for the previous five years who have not such a quack noise as a community grumble followed by bickering chatter when they happen upon a tasty morsel and fight over it.

I find the turkeys much more likely to becon the rest to the tasty morsel, they call out a “trrreee” and the whole flock turns and strolls towards the food source,  much like a dance partner might glide across the floor to ask for your hand. They are not aggressive, they are hoping that others will come and join intheir delight.

Oliver or John?

My husband has another woman. Her name is Allis. I’ve known about her right from the start, and am grateful for her. There were things he needed that I couldn’t do for him. Last summer he built her a house of her own and he spends time with her on weekends and evenings. It seems she always needs something repaired or he’s getting her a new accessory.

 

Farm wives already know what I’m talking about, and we all need to make space for the other women in the lives of our farming husbands. Allis has a three point hitch, a lot more power than me, and a ton well, maybe ½ ton) of character. My husband has two baseball hats bragging about her, he loves to introduce her to his friends.

 

Allis is a hard worker despite being over 60 years old, it’s nice that there are parts out there to keep her running despite her age. I made a cushion for her since old seats have a tendency to be uncomfortable. Just to be on the safe side my husband has another Allis. She has seen much more action in her days, but it doesn’t seem she’ll ever see action again. She doesn’t get a house of her own, she just stands by waiting to see if she has something he needs that she can provide.

 

There is nothing to compare with the vision of my husband taking Allis out for a ride, it’s not glamorous but it’s right out of the movies. Sure most guys would prefer to have a modern flashy one, but Allis is simply a classic.

I feel kind of sorry for the families that have an Oliver or a John – it just wouldn’t be the same.