Monday, February 27, 2006

A beautiful day ... and a dreaded chore

What a beautiful, busy day! I had an amazing amount of energy, which I have to credit to the beautiful weather. I didn't want to waste any time in the house. It is so unusual to have temperatures in the 50s in February. The forecast is calling for more great temps for the week.

Today, we had to do my most dreaded chore on the farm -- disbud kids. Many people find it hard to believe that I wanted goats because I love goat cheese. I really knew nothing about the animals, and I mean nothing. I had no idea that dairy goats are normally born with horns, and then the hornbuds are burned so that horns don't grow. I don't recall exactly when I discovered this dreadful news, but I do remember being very unhappy about it. In fact, for many months, I insisted that at some point in the future I wouldn't disbud my kids. I accepted the fact that almost everyone wants their goats disbudded, and I understood that it was much worse to remove horns that had grown, rather than burn the horbuds shortly after birth, but I assumed that at some point, I would be comfortable enough with my goats -- and know that I would keep them forever -- that I would not disbud them.

Then someone gave me two pygoras, which are pygmy/angora crosses. They had horns, and for weeks, they terrorized my goats. I kept saying that they would have to learn to live with each other and that they would work out their pecking order. But I learned a lot watching my goats trying to stand up for themselves with those mean little goats. Not only are the horns dangerously pointed, but the horns are also harder than a goat's head. A goat without horns is at a distinct disadvantage when butting heads with a horned goat. After about three months, I looked out the window one day to see one of the horned goats hook his horns under a pregnant doe and lift her off the ground. I screamed, "That's it!" and instructed my children to pull the horned goats out of the pasture and lock them up by themselves. In the meantime, I got on the computer and emailed the person who had given me the horned goats, explaining that I just couldn't keep them any longer.

It was not a fun lesson to learn, but it could have been worse. I met a woman on-line who said that she saw a mama goat "gut" a baby goat that was not hers and tried to nurse from her. Oh my! So, I no longer think about having goats with horns. Yes, it's painful, I'm sure, but I'm also sure that it's better than having goats kill each other with their horns.

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