Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Baby Goats are All Grown Up!

Ronnie and Shaggy, the first day we got them! About 9 months old.

Shaggy, gassed out after chasing me!
Ronnie, looking very curious.
First there were two goats, Shaggy and Ronnie, and they were the best of friends! Shaggy was very friendly and personable, a cross between a Nigerian Dwarf and a pygmy,  while Ronnie, a full Nigerian Dwarf, was very skittish and nervous. When Shaggy and Ronnie came to our house they were about 9 months old. When December rolled around Ronnie came into heat, so we thought it would be fun to have some baby goats roaming around! Since Shaggy is a wether (a neutered male) we would need some help for this task! We "borrowed" a billy goat from Dan the Goat Man. This billy goat's name was Wee-Man and he was a handsome spotted goat. Eventually I began to call him the bully goat, because he was always picking on Shaggy. Wee-Man stayed at our house for a month, and we sent him back to Dan fat, healthy and well-satisfied. Now we just had to wait to see if anything ever happened between Wee-Man and Ronnie goat. When Willie had gone to pick up our goats there was this tiny little newborn pygmy goat that was SO excited to drink milk that she she would suckle, then yell, suckle, then yell. He got to pick her up, and she was so itty bitty!
Dani, 4 months old

At the beginning of the year, we had gotten some money back from taxes, and we decided to pay Dan the Goat Man a visit. There she was, that tiny little goat Willie saw before. She was actually Shaggy goat's little sister, she was born on our anniversary, and they had named her Frankie. She was still cute and little, and still yelling! She looked like a little sheep. We decided to bring her home, and we named her Dani. If only we knew what we were getting ourselves into! Ronnie had already established herself as the "queen" goat, and wouldn't let little Dani in the house. Poor little Dani would just sit out in the rain crying and crying. Eventually I had to step in. Whenever Ronnie goat would push Dani out into the rain, I would come out, push Dani goat back into the house, and push Ronnie goat out. Gave her a taste of her own medicine. She didn't care for the flavor. It only took a few times of pushing Ronnie out the door, and keeping her there, before she realized that I'm the queen goat, and I want Dani in the house.
Ronnie's belly is getting fat with babies!
Eventually, Ronnie started to get kind of fat around the mid-section, and our suspicions that she may be pregnant grew. We got more and more anxious to know how many babies she would have, and to meet the little fellows. I thought for sure that for as big as she had gotten, she MUST have at least three kids kicking around in there. She began to look as wide as she was tall! We would just have to wait.

Look at how tiny Dani was compared to her friends!

Little Dani goat got bigger, but she didn't get any quieter. We nearly went insane! Whenever we were outside, she was quiet, as soon as we left, chaos. Eventually we figured out that little Dani was lonely, she was the third wheel in our little goat family, and people were the best friends she had. Goats are kind of cliquish and Shaggy and Ronnie picked on her, since she was the new goat. Since she was too small to fight back, all she could do was run away and call for her friends. She was a sad little goat for awhile, but we loved her and spent as much time with her as we could.

Two tiny, spotty goats!

One day, Willie and I came home, and we got our little bucket of grain and a fat flake of hay, and went into the back yard to feed the goats and chickens. We had been working all day, and, therefore, had been away from the house for the majority of the day. Little Dani came running out to greet us, so did Shaggy goat, but there was one goat missing. We looked out to the goat house and saw Ronnie standing in the doorway, then we saw a little flash of white around her feet. She had given birth while we were at work! We had prepped and planned and worried about when she would give birth, we even had a baby goat receiving kit with towels, and bottles, and milk replacer, just in case Ronnie rejected the babies. So, here we were, Ronnie didn't even need us. She did a great job! There were two little tiny spotty goats in the house, that hadn't been there that morning. Now we just had to give them a once-over and find out if we had little billies or nannies.
Jezebel and Toki, so adorable!

Turns out, we had both! The little oreo goat was a girl, and we named her Jezebel. Her brother, with the brown socks, we named Toki. They were bouncy, soft, adorable, and adventurous. Ronnie was a great mom, which means she was always worrying about those little fellows. Dani goat wasn't allowed to play with the babies right away, but at least Ronnie was too busy to bully her incessantly. As the babies got bigger, it was becoming clear that we would have to make a decision about baby Toki's "manhood." At 7 weeks old he was already paying a lot of attention to the lady goats. We talked to Dan the Goat Man, so see if he wanted a little stud goat. Dan thought long and hard, and decided against keeping Toki as a stud. So, the decision was made to wether him.
Dani, biting baby Wolfie's ear.
Dani was my helper goat. She rode along with baby Toki to keep him company while we drove over to Dan's house. While the unpleasant business of banding Toki was taking place, Dani goat went to meet the baby pygmies. Since she was bigger than them, she made it her duty to headbutt all of them, except baby Wolfie. Wolfie had her ear bitten, as this photographic evidence suggests. We went back home, and Toki walked funny for a couple of days.

Ronnie, on "vacation" at Dan's house.

Once the kids were about 4 months old, we decided it was about time that they were weaned. So, mama goat Ronnie went on vacation! I loaded her up, and took her over to Dan's house. While she was there, not only did the babies get weaned, but Ronnie also came back a bit more humble, and a bit thinner. Having to fight the dairy goats and the gigantic boer goats for food over the course of a month had taught her a lesson on not being a jerk, and had served as fat camp for her to lose the baby weight. While Ronnie was gone, Dani tried her hand (or hoof?) as queen goat. The results were disastrous. Dani thought that rather than sleeping in the house at night, it would be more fun to stay up all night, or sleep under the stars. She was very proud. Headbutts and ear biting abounded.

Shaggy, waiting for his friend Ronnie.

Meanwhile, Shaggy was missing his friend. He had gotten an injured eye, and a facial abscess. He had to have two kinds of ointment in his eye twice a day, have his abscess flushed twice a day, and get penicillin shots twice a day. He was so sad, and he cried and cried when we had to give him his medicine or clean his abscess. When Ronnie came home he was so excited! All he wanted to do was put his head on her, and fight. (That's what goats do, they fight when they are happy, when they are angry, over food, treats, and spots to lay down and nap.)

Jezebel, right around her first birthday.

Look at how big Toki got, and how small Dani stayed.

A couple of months ago, the baby goats had a birthday. Now, they are yearling goats. Jezebel is still a pretty small goat. Her coat has changed a bit as she has gotten older, showing some gray spots intermixed with the black spots. Toki is a mammoth of a goat! He is already as big as his mother. They are the two fattest goats I've ever seen! Toki's brown socks and spots have faded to tan, but he still retains his handsome markings. Dani is almost two, and is still rambunctious as ever! She hasn't gotten very big. She is nearly the smallest of the goats now. Ronnie still lets her have some boss duties, but doesn't let her forget that Ronnie is the queen goat.
Handsome (and round) Toki goat.
Shaggy and Ronnie will turn three this winter, and even though Ronnie is a round ball of fat goat, Shaggy is a skinny little fellow. He is the friendliest, most personable and well-behaved of the goats, but, unfortunately he is also the one with the most health problems. In addition to his injured eye, two facial abscesses, an infection, hoof rot and a broken horn, Shaggy was exposed to CAE. CAE is a retrovirus found in goats which causes chronic, progressive arthritis and weight loss. He will have it for as long as he lives. Despite being a thin, little, slow-walking goat, he is still very happy. He hangs out with his friends, takes lots of naps, cuddles with his people friends, and tries to get involved in games of "chase the goat." As long as he is still happy, we will keep Shaggy around. If his CAE progresses to the point where he is in a lot of pain, or is an unhappy fellow, we will do what we need to do. Meanwhile, we've got a bunch of silly, happy, loud, sometimes destructive, characters that live in our back yard, and are our "in the yard" friends. We love them, even if they don't let us sleep in any later than 9:30.
The End