Day 82: Welcome Home Lilly and Hazelnut
Yesterday, we welcomed into our menagerie of farm critters two goats. Say hello to Lilly and Hazelnut.
I had been on the lookout for a few goats for several months, specifically because we wanted the ability to produce our own milk. We don't have the room for a full sized dairy cow, so goats seemed a perfect fit.
I researched breeds and goat care for months. I originally thought I wanted a Nubian, but that was probably because they were the only breed I could accurately identify. I'm proud to say my goat knowledge is now much expanded.
After learning that Nubians are fairly large and high energy, we focused on the more low-key La Mancha breed. These goats have almost no ears and are said to have sweet personalities. They sounded like a better fit for us. My daughter is tiny for a ten-year-old. I didn't want her to be bowled over by an overzelous Nubian.
Sanaans and Alpines I quickly decided against. These are Swiss breeds, and don't deal well with heat. Anyone who has lived through a Central Valley summer knows why I'd feel badly watching them swelter in my yard.
Then, I discovered the smaller breeds -- Nigerian Dwarfs and Pygmies. These are tiny counterparts to the larger dairy breeds. Weighing just about 30 pounds and standing shorter than your knee, these goats need less space and cost less to feed. They were originally bred in Africa, so heat doesn't bother them too much.
The hunt was on for several weeks. By happenstance, we found a woman selling off her large herd in the next town over.
I all but bought Hazelnut sight unseen, strictly because she was a Nigerian Dwarf of breeding age and said to be super people oriented. When we went out to see the herd, Jonathan fell in love with her too.
Kaylin was the most excited about the prospect of purchasing goats, and I had promised her the pick of the herd. During that first trip out to the goat farm, she carefully selected a Nubian-Pygmy cross.
Bad weather prevented us from bringing our goats home for two weeks. Yesterday, with the sun (somewhat) shining, we made the second trip out to the farm. It was then the owner, a wonderfully patient and thoughtful woman, suggested Kaylin may be happier with a friendlier goat.
She led Kaylin out into the middle of the pasture, squatted down with her, and pointed out all of her best "friendly" goats. Kaylin picked out Lilly, a cobby Pygmy. It was a good choice.
The goats adjusted to their new digs nicely. They are extremely socialble too. So much so that they bleat continuously when we're not in their pen. No matter where I was on the property today, I could always tell when one of the children were in the goat pen, and when they were not.
All in all, we couldn't be happier with our new additions. Next step for the "ladies," breeding!