Phantom pregnancy. I thought that was something that happened only on daytime TV. But no. It happens to goats. Now this doesn’t surprise me. EVERY year so far Pixie’s been, hmm, difficult. She’s not the type to flaunt her sexuality. This means we never really know when she’s in heat. Pixie withholds the telltale signs behind a cool, Victorian exterior. So we fret and discuss endlessly. Was that tail flick a sign? Was that mucus a sign? In agreement we drive her to a friend’s and lead her into the buck stall telling her it’s an old-fashioned cotillion and her dance card is full.
This year we thought Pixie got the dance right. She looked to be in “standing heat” because she stood there and took it from a buck with great genetics. We assumed we’d have at least triplets. Phantom pregnancy. Zero babies, no milk. To cap the climax, our friend with the bucks nearby quit the business and dispersed the herd before we could utter a small cry—no! We need your bucks!
When shopping for a young buck, you don’t worry about their SAT scores. You want strut and style (I want style). You want a man to swagger and make the ladies take note. Who cares if he hasn’t read the classics? No long courtships, no waltzes. You want straight up sex (between the goats).
My husband found an ad on craigslist, spoke to a man on the phone and after a few minutes we realized this guy who knew all the same goat people we did was Brad Kessler, famous author of GOAT SONG (I think anyone who writes a book like his should be famous). We were pretty sure we wanted to raise Nubians and Brad’s description of life with them sealed the deal years ago.
His photographer wife Dona Ann McAdams took the photo for the book cover which was the reason I decided to read Brad’s book in the first place, because despite loving animals I usually hate reading about them. Dona’s black and white photo of a dignified doe drew me in.
As soon as I saw Dona and Brad’s herd I knew we found the right genetics (I mean looks). They led us into their whitewashed and cheerful barn full of well-taken-care-of (doted on) goats. When Dona called a name a Nubian with bright eyes responded. Here was relationship and love. Sigh.
Have you ever had one of those days when you think the highlight is going to be picking up a used washer on craigslist and then you end up having tea in a beautiful garden sampling the best goat cheese you’ve ever had? Long ago I’d made fresh chevre on a farm I worked at and remembered how smooth and almost sweet it was. No one in my family believed me. My husband figured we were doing something wrong with the acidity (or something) while I was secretly thinking that maybe I didn’t love goat cheese as much as I thought I did.
Turns out I still love goat cheese (done right). The stuff at the store is nothing like fresh chevre. Hope abounds now for next year!
And then there’s our bundle of joy. Brad and Dona had one little buck left when my husband spoke to them. I stood in the background listening in. Take him! Nubians I’ve been seeing recently have pointy-nosed thin faces. Not Brad and Dona’s goats. They have chunk. Their eyes are soulful and their noses Roman. And they’re BIG. My husband was impressed, too.
Brad and Dona named the young man Butch (but that’s my mother’s nickname for my brother) so we re-named him after Tim (Texas Forever) Riggins, the womanizing, drunken and adorable fullback of the fictional Dillon Panthers on the only TV show all seven of us as a family became sort of obsessed with for a while, Friday Night Lights.
Name it and claim it, young buck. There’s a whole bunch of women waiting for you to step up.
Thanks, Brad and Dona for a delightful afternoon!
For Tim Riggins fans:
For Goat Fans:
Every year we look forward to our cow manure harvest just after the spring thaw with its muck moves north. Our good neighbor lets us take as much as we like. This year my husband brought only two shovels for three people (himself, son and me). He said I was no use to him with the cows about since I’d spend more time looking at them. And so it’s true.
HERE’S WHAT I SAW: