Our animals reproduce the way they've been reproducing since the beginning of time. Hippygirl's timing was really perfect, because our first goats had just been bred for spring. And yes, they had sex. So, what exactly is our role in all of this? As I explained to her, I'm the matchmaker. Yes, we do want to breed our goats for productivity and longevity and proper conformation, so they're not just all running around out there breeding like wild goats. We keep the bucks (males) and does (females) in separate pastures for a couple reasons.
|Lost Valley Mardi Gras *S, one of our bucks|
As for my matchmaking job, I just keep an eye on the does, and when one starts acting like she's in heat, I set up a date with a handsome buck for her. That's when the fun begins. If you've been reading my blog for a year or two, then you've read a few funny stories about the situations I've endured. The two dates that I set up this past week were fairly uneventful. Carmen and Athena were in heat, so I led them over to the buck area, and as soon as Mardi saw the pretty girls, he whipped his head around towards his back end and peed on his beard. (Yes, that's where the word "goatee" comes from, because their beard grows from their chin.) Remember those movies in the 70s where a guy would see a cute girl across the room and turn his head for a quick squirt of breath freshener? Yep, that's it exactly.
No, you say, that's not it! Breath freshener smells good, and pee is . . . well, disgusting! Now, you're thinking like a human. When was the last time your dog rolled in something that you think smelled good? Hmm? That's what I thought.
If anyone ever tells you that animals will just breed with any old animal of the same species, tell them to come talk to me. My goats are very particular, and I'm not the only one who has goats with opinions. Goats are not floozies. We'll never forget how Dancy was so in love with Bucky. The first year that Dancy was here, we decided to breed her to John Adams, who was in a pen next to Bucky. We had noticed that Dancy had been standing next to Bucky's pen, flirting like crazy, but we thought nothing of it. We put her in the pen with John Adams, and she proceeded to beat the snot out of the poor boy every time he tried to get close to her. I got a headache just watching her butt heads with him. He did finally sneak up on her when she was over next to the fence flirting with Bucky. We felt terrible, because it was obvious that Dancy really wanted Bucky. So, we promised her that next year, she would get a date with Bucky.
Next year rolled around, and we noticed that Dancy was in heat. As we walked past the other bucks, Dancy just strolled along with me holding her collar. But as soon as she saw Bucky, she bolted towards him, yanking her collar out of my hand as I tried to start running and keep up with her! It was like a scene from one of those old movies where two long-lost lovers are reunited. As soon as I opened the gate, she ran in there and stood perfectly still, waiting for Bucky, who of course, still felt obligated to do his little mating ritual -- blubbering sweet nothings and peeing on his beard. Yes, they really do blubber sweet nothings, like "Bluh, bluh, bluh, bluh!"
We've had a number of does like this over the years, and I know other goat people who've had opinionated does. When Margaret was buying a bred doe six years ago, she told the breeder what buck she wanted the doe bred to, and they called one day to say that she was in heat, but she was convinced that the chosen buck was the most disgusting creature on the planet and would not let him near her. So, we had to choose a second buck.
No, this is not as easy as artificially inseminating animals. And semen costs a lot less than a buck -- $20-30 a straw versus $500-1,000 for a good buck, which you also have to feed. I went to a conference session on artificial insemination in goats and sheep once, and I talked about doing it for a few years, but obviously I haven't done it. I suppose Hippygirl summed it up well for me when she said something about it just doesn't seem right.