HOMEGROWN Life: Geeking Out on Goats
I wasn’t going to raise goats seriously. I mean, I was going to be serious about their care and keeping them healthy, but I wasn’t planning on being a goat farmer. I wasn’t that interested in joining any goat organization or even registering my goats. For me, it was a minor hobby, I suppose. Of course, that was back when I just had the pygmy goats, which aren’t even close to being breed standard.
Even when Lynda gave us Sedona, I wasn’t yet all that keen on filling out the paperwork to have her kids registered. We were just going to keep the kids and leave it at that.
Something changed, though, when it was time to breed Sedona again and Bailey was old enough to breed. The plan is to breed Sedona and then, if a doeling results from that breeding, it will go back to Lynda. It’s a way for Lynda to get new blood into her herd and, hopefully, to help improve it.
So I started stalking the Castle Rock Farm website, looking at photos of udders, pedigrees, linear appraisal scores, and DHIA (Dairy Herd Improvement Association) totals. Before I knew it, I was filling out an application to not only join the American Dairy Goat Association but also to file a herd name. I finally got around to filing the transfer of Sedona and the service memo for her last breeding. Next on the list is to finally register Bailey. If you don’t know about Castle Rock Farm, you really need to go check them out. We even did an interview with them. They have some fantastic dairy lines, and it’s where CRF Sedona came from and also Bailey’s sire, CRF Gobi.
We also want to breed Bella and Daisy. While they are scrub goats, we love their milk and want to improve on their overall dairy production and confirmation. We will keep their daughters and sell the mothers. Why sell them? Because they need to live with other goats that have horns. Since they’re our only goats with horns, they are dangerous to the others and stress them out too much. Bella is constantly chasing everyone, trying to gore them, and I’m tired of trying to keep everyone separate or trying to keep tennis balls duct taped to her horns.
So, we’re looking at breeding goats—four, total—and I started obsessing over which buck I should choose. CRF Castle Rock Guy Noir is an amazing buck out of Cloverdale YJ Blue Raven. His daughters win shows left and right. He regularly wins Best Get of Sire. His daughters are really known to put it in the bucket. Sedona’s half sister, GCH CRF Roxanne, was sired by Guy and has one of the most incredible udders I’ve ever seen. As a third freshener, she was giving nearly 4 pounds of milk a day. Unfortunately, though, Guy isn’t available for outside breeding. CRF Castle Rock Harvest Moon is up on the list of favorites, as well. One of his daughters, Helen of Troy, has the most incredible udder. As a first freshener, this little goat was giving 3.6 pounds of milk per day. And then there’s Harvey, a handsome red and white buck with blue eyes. With his sire being Bailey’s grandsire, however, it may be a bit too close in relation.
Instead, I decided to go with this handsome little blue-eyed guy. This is CRF Clark’s Nutcracker, the best of both worlds! He is out of Cloverdale YJ Blue Raven (Guy’s dam) by Harvest Moon. There is a far enough relationship with Bailey’s grandsire for my comfort level. He’s still pretty young, which benefits us because he hasn’t developed the full aroma of older bucks. He’s also incredibly sweet, unlike the past bucks we’ve had here. It was hard to get a decent shot of him because he, like the rest of our herd, followed me around like a puppy dog.
He’s been here for a week now and is fitting in really well. He and Whisky, our wether, are buddies, and all of the girls seem enamored with him, even though they haven’t gone into heat yet. The one milker we have on loan has gone into heat, so we’ve been keeping them separated. Don’t want any oopsies. All of the girls have been copper bolused and given their BO-SE shots, so I’m hoping for strong heats followed by kids in five months.
I suspect there will be goat shows in my future.
My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with my husband, I run Dog Island Farm, in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard, I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF RACHEL/DOG ISLAND FARM