Fostering Community


| 2/3/2011 2:54:53 PM


Tags: ranching, sheep, goats, parenting, community, lambs, cows, cattle, calves, calving, farming, Bryan Welch,

Goat Kids JumpingWe’re calling it “promiscuous parenting.” Last July, our “boy flock” of boy sheep (rams) and boy goats (bucks) pushed open a decrepit gate and staged an impromptu frat party with the girl sheep and girl goats. We didn’t discover the incursion until the party had been going strong for several hours. The result was predictable. We aim to have all of our baby sheep and goats in April. This year, a bunch of them came in January.

That’s not unusually promiscuous — billy goats will be billy goats, after all.

Our mother goats, on the other hand, are usually possessive and proud of their babies — their particular babies. If any other kid attempts to nurse, they normally push it away, but not this bunch. The second birth in January was a pair of aggressive and gregarious twins who chose to have two moms, then three. Right now, we have five babies and three moms, none of which seem to recognize any particular genetic relationship.

Initially, we were concerned that the older and stronger kids would deprive the new arrivals of their meals. Then we saw the new kids move down the smorgasbord to an unrelated but cooperative mom. Every baby belongs to every mom, and it appears to be working out well. The kids aren’t just healthy for midwinter babies — they are among the strongest bunch of days-old babies we’ve ever had. Sometimes it takes a village, I guess.

Mother goats are sometimes called “nannies.” This year that seems particularly appropriate.

In the pasture next to the promiscuous parents, this winter we have a tiny heifer calf I’m particularly proud of. The little heifer, Fiona, had some bad luck early in her life and developed an infection that, by the time I discovered it, had already blinded her left eye. She was small, and was born in fall, which is when our best pasture is farthest from the house, near a creek and a stand of woods where our resident family of coyotes has a den. Because the cows needed the grass, I elected to leave them on this faraway pasture even though I thought chances were slim for the little blind girl so close to the predators and so far from our protective dogs.

test outside blogger_1
2/11/2011 5:12:27 PM

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test outside blogger_1
2/11/2011 5:10:59 PM

another great read!!





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