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    The Milkmaid Update

    June 21, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    Well, I promised I’d explain our progress and offer another video or two, so here we go. The buck kids will be four weeks old tomorrow. They are growing so fast, and things are seeming more “normal” every day.

    But first…

    The Rabbit

    This is Thumper.


    Daughter A. bought Thumper a few weeks ago. Anyone who asked her what she wanted for her birthday back in February was told “money to buy a rabbit” and what she meant was to buy a cage and other supplies because rabbits over at the local charter school are only five bucks.

    That is, unless the first one dies. Then you have to pay another five bucks, which makes the rabbit seem like a ten dollar rabbit. {Ask me how I know.}

    Thumper is a good little baby bunny. He tamed up quickly. He escaped from his cage once, but he let us catch him, so we forgave him his trespass.

    Every single day, Thumper pretends to die in the heat so that he can come inside. I think he likes having the girls cry over him. I have always had a no-animals-in-the-house-regardless-of-circumstances rule, but since we’ve lost a number of pets this year, I got all soft and now there is a rabbit in my dining room more often than not.


    I’ve modified the milking routine to something that works better for the whole family. I initially was milking at 7pm, but found that left me no time for reading aloud in the evenings and, after a week or two of that, I was ready to throw in the towel. So now I milk around 5pm {and around 5:45am}, even though that means dinner is sometimes thrown off. It works better and, strangely enough, Reece gives more milk at that time.

    This means that I lock the babies away from Reece around 2pm. They basically lay down right outside the cage so that they can always see her and cry at her when they think about nursing.

    And then they practice their fighting skills.


    The biggest change we had this week was that we finally sold our wether, Wesley. This was tough. I lowered the price ten dollars just to get him in a home where he would be a pet and not dinner. It’s not that I’m against eating goats, but we named him, and he’s such a good companion animal that it’d be a shame to waste him. In my mind, we eat the goats that are defective or difficult, not every-doe’s-best-friend.
    Wesley was bought by a nice Christian family with plans to put him in a Wild West show. In addition to this, he will keep company with a harem of four does, all white with blue eyes like him. He looked like one of the family, which was the appeal, I suppose. It was easier to let him go when we knew he’d be happy, well fed, and loved.
    As a bonus, this family is interested in the baby bucks when it is time to part with them. It’d be a lot of fun to go see a show where our own animals are featured!

    Baby Bucks

    See Rusty’s Tiny Horns?
    People have asked me what the baby bucks do all day. Honestly, it’s been hot, which means all the goats spend a lot of time lying down, breathing as slowly as possible. Sometimes they all look dead, but they perk up if they hear the grain rations being poured.
    I included this photo at left because you can see the little horn buds beginning to show. Both baby bucks are this way now, but it is harder to see on the white one.

    Baby goats are born without horns. Some folks choose to dehorn them, which has to be done very soon because the horns begin growing in almost immediately.

    We started out with horned goats. Once we learned how to handle them, we were comfortable with horns and decided to just let them be. One of my books said it is dangerous to breed two polled {dehorned} goats together because of possible birth defects, but the breeder we purchased Reece from was moving to all polled goats {maybe he meant all polled does and I misunderstood?}, and I assume he knows what he is doing because he’s been doing it a long time. Honestly, a bit of this was just a practical decision. We didn’t own anything for dehorning and decided not to invest the time and money in figuring it all out. Besides, most bucks in this city seem to have horns.

    Reece and Dusty
    The white buck has finally been named: Dusty. That makes twin names: Dusty and Rusty. We are still planning to use Rusty for breeding, but we’ll see how things shape up. Dusty is the bigger one by a tiny bit. He was born second and his mother didn’t take much interest in him at first, which was a big influence on our decision to prefer Rusty. Rusty was cleaned up quick, but Dusty was covered in afterbirth for almost 48 hours before she bothered to take care of him. He seems to be strong enough, but he’s a little bit clumsy when compared with Rusty. His left back leg was a little twisted at first, but it seems to have straightened out for the most part. I read that dolomite lime helps with that, so he receives an extra ration, just in case.
    Dusty’s also not as brave, choosing to spend lots of time right by his mama. Rusty is very brave and often challenges our biggest goat, Charlotte, to head-butting matches. He doesn’t seem to be aware that she could kill him if she really wanted to. But brave or no, both babies put up with lots of holding and petting.
    All goats like to play King of the Mountain, but babies are particularly amusing:

    When they are done, they run to their mama to nurse. I love the way they wag their little tails like puppies.

    Sorry if the videos are a little wobbly. Wesley kept nibbling on my pants! I know some of you are showing these to your children, so I thought I’d give a full report.


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  • Reply Sara June 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Love the video and the update! Thanks!

  • Reply sara June 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Y’know, I’m not a vegetarian, but those goats are SOOOOOO cute I just couldn’t eat them. I’m afraid that if/when I start getting closer to the sources of my food, eliminating the middle man more and more, I may go hungry. :/

    My kids and I really enjoyed the videos. Thank you.

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