We are now officially could have babies within a week.
The first doe due is my sweetheart, Velvet Rose. Velvet is the daughter of Eva Rose. She was the first kid that I saw be born and her mother was one of my cuddle buddies. Eva and I used to just hang in their pasture for hours, giving Eva scratches, of course. I should clarify there were several in our group, Toni (Tratonia – our Watsonia’s mom), Charcoal, Lily (Tulip’s mom), Gardenia (Willow’s mom) and Chrysanthemum (Camellia’s mom), all vying for scratches and affection, some just wanting to hang out, others more insistent in their quest for love.
Those days at my mentor’s home were phenomenal. I was experiencing a life implosion, where the things I cared most about were being ripped from my hands with no regard for my opinions on the matter and everything I could do just seemed to make it worse, not better. The life I was leading was a swirling challenge, treading water in an emotional hurricane. What I did have during those days was a husband that loved and supported me unconditionally and a herd of another woman’s goats to soothe my soul.
I would sit with her herd for hours. I’ve said many times, my blood pressure would drop 10 points just walking in the pen. The tension I carried as a constant reminder of the daily struggles would start to ease. The goats, it seemed, wanted me there as much as I wanted to be there. Goat therapy is real and valuable.
My mentor had a herd of nearly 20 goats, depending on the day. Goats are herd animals, but are very individual creatures. I had about 6-8 that were my friends. Not to say the others weren’t friendly, but it was a smaller percentage that actually were friends.
Okay, now I really sound like the crazy goat lady, but friends, what are they? Friends are people (okay, beings) that listen to you when you need to talk, are there for you when you need support, don’t demand a single thing from you, except maybe something nominal like a peanut or two, but are there to love you, unconditionally. This is what my adopted herd was to me. During this difficult time of my life when my heart so vulnerable and shattered, many times the herd were the only ones I could burden with the pain, and helped me to begin the healing.
Unfortunately, the goats I loved also were my mentors best goats and friends. She had been breeding for more than 20 years to get this caliber and personality of ungulate. So I couldn’t take her momma’s, but being a wonderful mentor and a true friend, she did give me pick of their babies.
Eva Rose is one of the most beautiful goats I’d ever seen. She is a dark, almost mahogany color with light brown, cream and white spots all over. She’s also a big girl, always carrying a few extra pounds. My mentor had a tough time getting her bred, she didn’t get pregnant on the first try, as most goats do, or even the second or third. We began to worry that she was a free-martin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_martin) or a hermaphrodite, either unacceptable in a dairy herd as they will never be able to produce offspring and therefore never come into milk. If Eva was not able to conceive, she would ultimately be sold as a pet.
Eva was one of my herd friends, against her better judgment, my mentor allowed me to cajole her into keeping her and keep trying. She knew that the ‘smart’ thing to do was to sell her as a pet, rather than keep her on the feed bill (we call it ‘payroll’) while she wasn’t ‘working’ (producing milk).
Sometimes peer pressure isn’t bad. Finally it happened, after literally a year of trying, Eva began to swell more than her usual pleasantly plump. Five months after her last ‘date’, Velvet Rose was born. I was there, April 18, 2005. I staked my claim on the little girl before she was even dry. This was my goat.
Eva still lives with my mentor, although she’s getting old now (Eva, not my mentor), and Velvet is my girl here. Velvet is nearly 6 years old, she’s a healthy, strong girl, producing lovely, consistent milk and marvelous, healthy kids (Xenia and Xantippe are her first daughters from her first year in Washington, Frosty and Midge are her last year’s kids still here – and Monster, her boy from last year I still need to find a working home for, he’s so gorgeous!). Her other daughters have gone off to work in other homes. Her personality seems to carry through genetically in her kids. It’s very hard not to keep them all.
Velvet is also our ‘star’ goat here. We had a photo-shoot of goats here, done by a remarkable local talent, Velvet stole the show (Judge for yourself at: http://kevinhoran.com/fineart/Chattel/chattel.html). We had a travel and food writer come to visit our farm, sure enough the picture she published, was of Velvet (check out this incredible pic she captured: http://blog.seattlepi.com/whidbey/archives/219417.asp). The girl has become the face of our farm, so we thought it only fitting that our first signature named cheese is named after her – you all are going to love Velvet Rose!
*Those aren’t chin hairs – that’s wool from her resting her head on our favorite ewe Lizzie.