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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
4 H FRETTER-ER
A BUCK GROWS UP
ADAPTING
AGAIN, THE SKY IS FALLING
ALL YOU NEED IS ... CARDBOARD
AMANNAMEDJED
AND THEN IT GOT COLD
AND THEN IT WARMED UP TO ZERO
ANGRY GOAT FARMER
ANTIQUE GOAT FARMING
ANYTHING BUT THAT
ARE BUCKS EVER BABIES
AROMA THERAPY
ARTFUL DODGERS
ARTIC FRONT
AUTUMN BOQUET
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BAIT
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BE HAPPY
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BLIZZARD OF 92
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CAN'T TOUCH THIS
CANE I DO IT?
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CHOCOLATE PLUM
CHRISTMAS KIDDING
CHUCK
COLD IS OUR FRIEND NOT
COUGH DROP WORMER
COUNTING
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CUD CHEWING CONTENTMENT
DAYCATIONS
DEAR FAVORITE RELATIVE
DELOUSED
DOES ANYBODY REALLY KNOW ...
DOES ON KIDDING
DOWNSIZING
DRAMA QUEEN
DRENCHED!
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
DUCT TAPE.
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EMMITT
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FEEL LIKE A NUT
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FIRST YOU TAKE YOUR SOCK
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FULL OF BULL
G G
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HERE COMES KIDDING TIME - A CHRISTMAS TUNE
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IT TOOK TWO
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THANK GOODNESS FOR MUD
THE $37.50 BUCK
THE 2003 DARWIN AWARDS
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THEN THE KNEE DOCTOR SAID
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WARNING LABLES
WAS THAT 65 OR 66?
WAS THAT CHRISTMAS?
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WATER BUCKET TOAD
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WEANING WEANERS
WEE GOAT FARMERS
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WHAT A DAY
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WHAT'D YOU SAY?
WHATSTH THISTH
WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU VEGETABLES.
WHERE'S THE BRAKES
WHOOWEE
WIDE LOADS
WILD GOAT MILKING
WINTER LIST
WOE, DISPAIR...
WRONG.TURN!
YOU CALL HIM WHAT?
YOU COME HERE, NO, YOU COME HERE, NOÖ
ZAPPED!
autumnfarmsboers.com
Connie Reynolds
Autumn Farm
Ravenswood, WV

WEANING WEANERS
by
Connie S. Reynolds

Weaning. Thatís a word that makes even the strongest of goat breeders shake in their boots. Itís a word spoken with dread and only whispered when you are out in the goat herd. How such cute little kids can put such fear, such apprehension in adult humans, is beyond understanding to the non-goat breeder. So, let me put a little light on this dread of weaning.

Two weeks ago Lee and I decided it was time to wean 26 kids at one time. We had wussed out (another word for chickened out) and had sold several kids off their mothers and let the buyers take these kids home where they would have to wean them, not us. I know, a cowardly deed. Wished I could have done all of them that way, but several had to stay with us for replacement breeding stock. And, several buyers were chickens like us and said they would pick out their kids AFTER weaning. Wished I could have done that.

Anyway, we usually wean at two months of age. Some time back, by picking up a pencil and paper, sticking my tongue part way out of the corner of my mouth and holding it there; I was able to financially figure out that it was cheaper to take a kid off at that age. Feed it the grain and hay, then to try and pour a lot more feed into the larger doe so she could feed the kid.

By two months of age the kids are usually shoveling the grain down I give them twice a day, eating a great deal of free choice alfalfa hay, and draining mom dry, leaving some does looking like walking skeletons. To us, thatís a great time to wean. Especially since most of them had Boer blood in them and by two months of age they weighed 35 -- 55 lbs., depending on male or female. Instead of hearing cute little tap, tap, tap sounds running through the barn as the kids played, youíd hear thud, thud, thud sounds of thunder babies. You would swear you had miniature horses running through your barn.

I know. I know. Some of you say since weaning is so hard on us, why not leave the kids on and let mom wean them slowly and completely. Dreamer. All of my does are marshmallows. They are too soft. They would never wean those kids. They would keep them on for years, especially if they are boys. How many of you have tried to sell a buck kid off so his little sister (who is going to be one of your replacement does) can have more milk and grow up super big and strong? What happened? The mom counts the little hineys diving under her to nurse, counts one instead of two, particularly noticing that the boy is not there, and says, NOPE. No way. No one is going to nurse if I donít have two kids and particularly if my boy isnít here. That is about the only time my does will wean anything.

So, and I repeat, Lee and I decided to wean 26 kids two weeks ago. We waited longer than usual because the weather was so cold. We didnít want to add any more stress on these kids (or us) then was needed. These kids were now 10-11 weeks old. The weather had warmed up to thirty degrees Fahrenheit and we were only having rain, sleet, and snow. It was a very fair day. An added plus, the wind was only gusting to 20 miles as hour.

Lee and I have a problem in that we still think we are husky young things. We donít have our operation set up in that it would be considered work efficient. Itís based on brawn (muscle) efficient. And, lately our brawn has been feeling less brawny.

We have a hill farm with barns and sheds set up on hills or at the base of hills. Not much flat land. We donít have neat little corrals and pens that we can run animals through to move from one place to another. One of these days we are going to do that, as soon as we donít think we are husky young things. I think this summer would be a good time to start getting those pens.

So, usually we go out in the herd, swoop up a kid in our arms and take off fast to his weaning pen. Which is usually at the bottom of a hill (if youíre lucky) or at the top of a hill (if youíre not so lucky). We like to put the kids out of sight of mom and keep good food in front of them, while we cut back the grain on moms to dry them up.

Now remember, these kids can weigh from 35-55 lbs. Usually I pretend I canít catch the heavier kids and leave them for Lee to carry. Though, sometimes itís hard to tell Lee I canít catch one of the big ones when the kid is following me around and stepping on my heels. So far he has believed me.

Even if you are carrying one of these kids downhill, itís still a far piece before you get to his weaning pen. I was hearing so much huffing and wheezing and rattling in my ears, I thought for sure a bear was roaring behind me. Much to my relief, it was just me breathing.

Each soon-to-be-weaned kid acts different when you carry him or her. Some lay quietly in your arms, some kick and buck in your arms the whole trip, and some think itís the grandest tour they have been on in ages and chew on your hair, your coat, your nose, your chin.

After I had dropped my kid in his weaning pen and huffed and puffed my way back up the hill to catch another, Lee told me my face was really really red. I told him it was just a glow from seeing him. He didnít believe me for a minute.

Okay, we have all the kids and moms separated now. The kids have been hollering since they left, but the moms have been busy eating hay and thinking that it was just the usual kid yelling thing going on. Suddenly, it hits them. There are no kids around! A beller sets up that an opera star would envy. Each and every mom starts yelling, then running to check under buildings, around trees, behind the hay feeder, under the hay feeder, all the time screaming at the top of her lungs.

This just causes the kids to really turn the volume up. Which in turn causes the moms to increase their decibels. Soon, you canít hear to see where you are going. The kidsí weaning pens are aimed towards the neighbors. Honest, we didnít plan it that way. Just because their dogs tend to bark all night and no one even tries to shut them up, that doesnít mean we would intentionally aim the kids that way. Thatís the way the buildings were pointed before we seriously got into raising goats. Amazing how things work out that way.

A day and a half later, things are usually much quieter. Just little pleasant squeaks can be heard every now and then. Most the kids and the moms have lost their voices and this is the best holler they can get out. With our kids and moms these squeaks usually occur between big mouthfuls of hay, so they are really muffled squeaks. Strange sounding, but much better than the all out bellers of adult goats and upset kids. Weaning has begun.

END

 

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