Thursday, September 22, 2011

For the Morbidly Curious Only - A firsthand view of goat puberty

Brace yourselves, you've been warned!

We presently have 5 yearling goats on our little farm, a set of triplets and a set of twins. Buckley & Barley are our boys, and Hop, Oreo & Valentina (Teeny) are our girls.

The boys live apart from their mothers and sisters these days, because beginning about a month ago, the bucklings entered their first rut.

Buckley was the first to fall. He found creative ways to escape the pen he shared with his half-brother, and would immediately zoom straight up to visit the ladies (at this time, the doelings were still co-habitating with their Mamas). He couldn't figure out how to get into the pen, so he just paced and loafed around in turns, never stepping more than a few feet away from his paramours, all of whom but one, Chardonnay, are related to him by blood. Blood, schmud. Buck was not about to be dissuaded from courting them, one and all.

Then it was Barley's turn, my sweet, sweet baby boy Barley. I delivered him and warmed him while Chardonnay was still laboring to birth Hop, and our connection was sealed. I know I've said it before, but Barley is seriously more dog than goat, and I have an irrational love for the little bugger. He sits in my lap. He eats my clothes and licks my shins and boots (only my shins and boots - I dunno what's up with that) and gives me nuzzles and soft snorts. I could've hugged him all day. <3

But those days are gone (tears!) because now he is a stinky, horny mess, just like his brother. Oh Lord, the things my eyes have seen!

Warning! It's about to get REAL. If you have a touchy-tummy, I bid you look away now!

I'd been warned about how awful and stinky that buck goats get, but I took it in stride. I have bad sinuses - I can't smell anything! This will be cake, CAKE I TELL YOU.

The smell is the least of it.

The reason that the boys smell so horribly funky is twofold -

1 - They have scent glands near their horns that produce a "musk" that make the nanny goats weak in the knees. I personally don't get it, but male fragrances in general are not my thing. This musk is apparently their answer to Axe body spray, and I enjoy it just as much, which is to say, not at all.

2 - And this is the one that kills me. They pee on their own face. This is the part of the story of bucks that knocks most people out - initially. Yes, they're that limber, and yes, they apparently think that it makes them more attractive to the gals to have a dingy-yellow, toilet-scented face. I can't even pet my baby-boos now or I have to have a bio hazard-style decontamination shower to get the super funk off of me. :(

So there is the funk, explained. Now, the behavior. Hold onto your hats.

If you were impressed by the fact that the boys can manage to bend just so to wiz on their own faces, wait 'til you hear what else they can and do do in that same position. OFTEN.

Yup, I told you it was nasty. The uncastrated male goat is completely capable of self-fellation. AND BOY ARE THEY FANS OF IT. :(

How does this work exactly? Well, let me give you a quick upshot on goat anatomy. The buck's penis retracts like a dog's or a horses, so most of the time you are really only seeing the "sheath". When the buck is frisky, the business comes out. I'd estimate that the penises of my 8 months old (50ish pound) bucklings are about 6+ inches long, and roughly the girth of a pencil or a sharpie. Therefore, the boys can either "get down" while standing up, if they're limber enough, or lay down on their side and do the deed. It is a horrifying sight.

The other thing that I've been seeing a lot of is when the boys are just going about their business, and apparently a oil drum full of testosterone hits their bloodstream all at once. They get an erection, their muscles all tense, and they make the most bizarre teeny little groans and "O" faces. Oh God is it nasty. Wild eyes, quivering lips - YUCK.

These sweet babies have turned into the most base, guttural humping machines that I've ever seen. It is upsetting on many levels.

The doelings' behavior, thank God, is no where near as dramatic or x-rated. They mostly just bawl 24/7. I'd really rather that they had had a whole year and a half to grow before their first breeding, but as the boys have made more than one jailbreak during this rut, that ship may very well have already sailed. I don't think that Hop is pregnant though, because she is acting like she's in heat for the past two days, "vocalizing" (begging for nooky via MEEEEEHHHHHH! every 30 seconds) a lot and is a great deal more affectionate than normal. Hmmm...

I suspect that the big girls, Chardonnay, Frtizen and Blue could be knocked up too, because their behavior (the whining, etc.) has settled down, and I haven't seen any physical signs of heat since last month. Although we did want to breed them this fall, we were hoping to wait until at least October, so that the kids would come in March instead of February, like last year. I'd also like to have engineered who was bred to who, not mating mother to son, for instance, but that too could be out the window. Oy, oy, oy. The things I do for cheese!

I hope that I haven't caused you to fear or dislike goats, or to fear or dislike reading this blog, for that matter. I only wanted to share my "unique" perspective on the whole shebang, the good bad and uggggg-ly that this urban farmer business entails. There's only so much you can get from the books. ;)

P.S. - Spell check really didn't like "fellation" or "uncastrated". I daresay my spell check is one classy lady. ;)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cheesy Suggestions?

I have a few gallons of goats milk in the fridge just waiting to be put to good use, and I'm going to use it to make another cheese. So I thought I'd ask, what kind of cheese should I make?

A) Another Parmesan!
B) FetaFetaFetaFeta
C) Chevre (most of which I'll have to share, because Bill's out of town, and this is not my favorite cheese)
D) Cheddar
E) A metric ton of Mozzarella
F) Something else - you tell me!

And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally document a cheese making from beginning to end this time. Maybe.