Domestic tranquility

Love shack

But get to the important stuff! I hear you shout.

What about the new little buck? How is he settling in? Do the girls like him?

What is his NAME?

He’s been here nearly three weeks and he feels like part of the family.  He’s sweet but shy. I don’t think he had a lot of direct human contact before, which is often normal for bucks; they hang out with other males and are only handled when their special skills are required. But he’s coming around.

Every time I visit him, I make sure to have a little treat (carrot ends, apple peels, an animal cracker) and now he comes right over to sniff my hand and gently take the treat. Yesterday, when I lowered my head to his and offered to sniff noses, not only did he not run away, he sniffed, then licked, then nibbled my nose.

Shy doesn’t enter the story when it comes to him and the girls. They’re separated by a fence and he’s mostly got his head through it, trying to get a good whiff of them. They’re  curious about him and come visiting—we put a hay feeder on the fence so they can share a meal together—and, when it’s their heat cycle, they show intense interest.

This interest takes the form of loitering near his pen all day, sniffing noses with him, and rapidly wagging (flagging) their tails. When we see a doe asking for a solo audience with his majesty, we let her in with him and then they start their dance. Much sniffing, circling.

He talks a lot, sticks out his tongue, makes a pathetic bleating that sounds remarkably like one of those old toys that looks like a can and you tip it over and out comes a noise that sounds nothing like a cow. Apparently it’s the sound of a lovesick goat. She keeps still for him, then circles around. Sometimes there’s running and chasing. Sometimes they just get down to business, which is a bit tricky because he’s quite small and they are mostly quite not.

Poor guy could use some stilts.

Still, where there’s a will there’s a way.

When we let Willow in with him, I tried to coax her out of the pen after about an hour and she said, “Why? I’ve got everything I need right here.” So I left her overnight. That’s the two of them at the top of the post the next morning, as content as any settled couple. He’s inside reading the newspaper. She’s gone out for a snack on the porch.

The same thing happened with Westwind. They spent the day together, then the night. She was lounging on the porch when I came to ask her if she wanted out. She said, “I’m just fine right here, thank you.”

Wellesley, Doris, and Darcy weren’t quite so placid, but they’ve each had some time with him. Doris has since gone to her new home in upstate, New York. Our hooves are crossed that she’ll have some kids for her new owner in the spring.

We won’t know for sure sure if any of the rest of the girls are pregnant until the spring, but it’ll be a good sign if none of them come into heat again next month. Maybe you could cross your hooves along with us, for caramel-colored kids in the spring?

And his name? Nope. We’ve thought of 50, and nothing’s stuck yet. So we call him “GG” (Golden Guernsey) and “Bucky” and “Little Guy” and he answers to anything because he’s a darling, and he’s fond of the attention, and as long as we keep delivering him food and pretty ladies, he’s a happy goat.

Porch sitting

On his porch

House move 2.0

New view

This move was a whole lot simpler than the last one, particularly as most of it happened while I was out of town.

And we didn’t have to empty the contents into a shipping container.

And we didn’t have to live in a rental house with no oven for six months.

And we didn’t have to take out a loan.

But, in its way, it’s nearly as exciting and nearly as significant feeling because it means we’re stepping up to the next level of micro farming. A buck on the property means more complications (separate housing, fencing, etc.), but it greatly simplifies breeding. And a Golden Guernsey buck on site means we can move up the Guernsey breeding ladder much more quickly.

And, besides, he’s really cute.

So, a week ago, we scouted around the property and decided the best place to put the buck pen was within the main goat pen. This has a few advantages: we can use the existing fence for two sides of the pen, and the buck can be near the girls even when he needs to be separated from this. Goats need company.

Somewhere around here


Buck shed

Over the weekend, Chip came by and leveled off the little hill he’d built in the goat pen a couple years ago, and then put down a layer of crushed stone for good drainage. And then lifted the little house, carried it across the yard, and planted it with its front porch facing the barn.

(And here’s where I remember back to a photo I took of a very little H, sitting on the front porch of that same house just after we built it for her, and I get that little lump in my throat and the dizziness from the whizzing years, and I have to pull myself back from that nostalgiac brink and remind myself about baby goats.)

This morning, Gordon the fence guy came with his crew and, in the matter of an hour-and-a-half, pounded in the new posts and put the fence in.

Westwind watched from her tower room.

Let down your beard!

Fence inspector

Walking the line

This afternoon, I painted the house’s floor with a whey-based polyurethane to help protect it from, um, fluids. When that dries, we’ll put down some thick stall mats for more protection, then a layer of bedding, and the house will be ready for its new occupant.

Tomorrow morning, we drive south to pick up GG (still unnamed) and bring him home, to our home, and his.

Oh, and the spot where that little house used to live? We have plans for that, too, come spring.


Hidden treasures

Little house

Milk can

Old bricks

Old foundation

Hidden 2

Out of the blue, a month or so ago, a friend forwarded me an email, “Isn’t this the type of goat you have?”

Her husband had been browsing craigslist and found for sale a purebred Guernsey buck. You might know that this is a very rare breed. There aren’t that many in this country (a handful, really), and our goats are part of the breeding program to establish an American version of the breed. Their rarity makes them very interesting to us, and it also presents breeding problems. In the past, we’ve trailered our girls on a four-hour (each way) excursion for breeding.

We hadn’t really considered getting a buck of our own because doing so entails all sorts of extra complications, like separate housing and fencing to keep the girls and boy apart until you want them to be together.

But, you know, a purebred Guernsey is a real find, especially one just a couple hours away from us.

So the wheels began to turn, creakily at first—there were some problems to solve—and then more rapidly and smoothly.

First, we have a small barn, perfectly sized for the herd we have now, but we’d need more space for kids in the spring. The obvious solution to that problem is also the difficult one: selling some goats. We’ve been through this once before, but we didn’t know if we’d find someone who wanted to buy goats this late in the year, when everyone is readying their own farms for winter.

But we got lucky and found good homes within a week for two does.

Next, we needed a place to house the buck separately, at least until the breeding was done and we relatively sure of conception dates. We’d need a shelter, and a sturdy fence.

So we called our favorite fence guy, and, whattaya know, he has a little room in his schedule in the next couple of weeks.

We called our friend Chip (you remember Chip, right? he of the fun earth-moving equipment?), and he had room in his schedule to visit us this morning. We showed him H’s old playhouse, sitting at the side of the yard, overgrown and forlorn, waiting for a new purpose (personally, my idea was to use it to house ducks, but you can’t have everything…).

It seemed sturdy enough after years of neglect. Yeah, he could move it down into the goat yard. Would Monday work for us?

We started talking about the wood-fired bread oven we want to build next spring. He started talking about his stone wall building experience. We went wandering together into the woods to the side of our house, an area we’ve barely explored in 21 years because it’s filled with all sorts of junk that the long ago owners threw there (typical of most old properties, decades before curbside trash collection and recycling centers existed). Old toilets? Check. Car parts? Check.

But Chip has an eye for hidden treasure, and within minutes we were uncovering antique bricks and perfectly shaped field stones for oven building.

Who knows what will happen with that project—spring feels ages away and, if we’re lucky, will be taken up with kidding and milking and cheesemaking—but this morning it felt like a lot of little things that were very mysterious and complicated were becoming a little clearer and a little easier.

How often does that happen?

So, in a little over a week, this lovely young man is going to come live with us. But we still have one major decison to make: what to name him.