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HOOKED ON GOATS

by
Phil & Judy Digby, Wichita Falls, TX
www.jaeboergoats.com

Like so many people we got into the goat business rather blindly. We have several farms and primarily raise cattle (still do) but that is changing because "WE ARE HOOKED ON GOATS."

I read an article that said that goats normally have two kids (maybe three or four) and can kid three times in two years and that the kids were ready to go to market in three or four months. It said you could run seven to ten goats on the same acreage you could run one cow and that goats would eat anything. In my very primitive way of thinking and distorted logic, I thought to myself, "I can buy ten goats for what one good cow would cost and in two years I will sell sixty goats." Well, as the old saying goes, "Iím no rocket scientist" but I learned how to count by the sixth grade and I figured that was better than raising cattle any day.

To make things even better, we are in the used oilfield equipment repair business and business was not the best in the world at that time but fate smiled on me (there is still a great debate in our family as to which way fate smiled). I found a man that had one hundred goats that was willing to trade for some equipment. (HOW GOOD CAN IT GET) I must admit when the swap took place and the trade was finalized that I did feel kind of bad about taking advantage of him like that, but I soothed my conscious with the fact that he was over twenty-one and if he might be missing a little upstairs, it was not my fault. WE WERE ON OUR WAY----LOOK OUT GOAT PEOPLE----HERE WE COME!!!!

It was brought to my attention, that it is not enough to have goats, you needed BOER GOATS. Furthermore it was brought to my attention that you did not need just any kind of BOER GOAT, you needed special colored BOER GOATS (goats that were not traditional in color with white bodies and red heads as they came from South Africa but goats that through breeding had acquired the genes that caused them to become solid red or black in color or to become paints).

Now, I am married so I know enough about sex and reproduction to know that you have to have a good buck to make those babies happen and being a person that always wants to do the right thing, I immediately set out to buy a buck. Now Judy, my better half (she reminds me of it constantly), says I am insecure and because of that I always want the biggest and the best. I located a red buck, gave the man the money and took him home to make babies. The only thing wrong with this picture is I paid as much for that buck as I would have paid for a good bull. Well, you know what they say, "You have to spend money to make money." My wife has another version of this, "A fool and their money are soon parted." As it turned out, he was not the biggest and he sure was not the best, but he was solid red and at that time he looked good to me.

I turned that buck in with those one hundred nannies and he was in paradise and I was counting the days till those babies hit the ground and then in three months we would go to market and then "PAYDAY". My mind raced ahead as I thought of that day and the congratulations and accolades that would start rolling in from family and friends on how smart I was (maybe even border line genius). In hind sight I may have gotten a little carried away. I have thought about it a lot but as hard as I try, I just can not recall those congratulations and accolades ever happening.

I turned those hundred nannies and one buck in on about ten acres of the finest weeds you ever saw, but not before I spent about fifteen hundred dollars putting up the finest seven wire electric fence ever designed by man. A turtle tried to crawl under it and got electrocuted (also killed one or two goats in it). The bad thing was before the goats could eat the weeds, the weeds would grow into the fence and short the fence out. Well, needless to say, turtles could not get in but the goats kept getting out.

Back to the drawing board. Originally, I had rejected the idea of putting up field fence because it was too expensive. Barbed wire would not keep the goats in, the electric fence was a dismal failure, so I bit the bullet and spent more money to put up the good fence that I had previously rejected ("Well we learn from our experiences"). My wife says, "Honey, (always in a tender loving voice but with a smirk from ear to ear), I think we have had about all the learning experiences that we can afford for a while."

Finally the good fence was in place and the buck punched the time clock and went to work. About the only good thing you could say about that sorry red goat was that "He was a breeding fool"---seemed to enjoy his work. I told my wife, "Stand back baby so you donít get hurt when the money starts rolling in".

I did not know when I bought the red buck (we were to find out later to our dismay) that he had a low IQ. Now any buck with any sense of responsibility would not try to breed all the does on the same day and with all the talk about planned parenthood, you would think he would have planned the kids to come any day of the year except the coldest day of the year with ice and snow all over the ground and the wind howling at forty miles an hour. Well I mean to tell you that was just how irresponsible that goat was. Babies were dropping like flies. We could not keep up with who the babies belonged to and the motherís could not keep up with who they belonged to. Some of the babies went unclaimed by anyone. Some of the babies were so loveable that two or three mothers claimed them and my wife had a few choice words for my mother for bringing me into the world and getting us in to a mess like this.

You probably will not believe this but another lesson was on the way. Those goats who people said would eat anything, ate everything. In three months, my lush pasture of waist high weeds had been turned into a desert. Those goats could go through a fifty dollar round bale of hay about as fast as you could unload them. I could never figure who was screaming the loudest, my wife or the goats. She would say, "They are starving to death". I would say, "They can not be starving, I just watched them eat a hundred dollars worth of hay".

While on the subject of feeding, let me relate to you a funny story about one feeding experience that struck terror into the heart of my beloved wife. It happened the first time I ever put a sack of feed on my shoulder and ignorantly marched into the mist of a hundred and one hungry goats (I still have my doubts that they were that hungry. I think they were just mean and vicious animals). The debate over whether the goats were actually hungry are just plain mean and vicious will probably never be resolved but one thing is for sure, "the goats attacked me". One minute I was leisurely strolling along carrying a sack of feed, the next minute I was on the ground looking up at the bellies of a herd of goats who seemed to care less that they were about to trample me to death in their attempt to get at that fifty pound sack of goodies on my back.

I finally managed to drag myself out of this scene of total chaos and the fury that had been created by one hundred and one goats attacking one little sack of feed. Afterwards, this kind sweet gentle man (I refer to myself), lay on the ground with moans and groans slipping from his fevered lips (the moans and groans were more for the benefit of my wife than any actual pain or damage done to by body).

My lovely wife rushed to my side and spent several minutes making sure that I was not in imminent danger of dying. Her arms reached out to caress me and she smothered my bruised and tattered body with kisses (almost made me want to do it again). Words of love, that I had not heard in a long time, gushed from her pretty little mouth and she repeated over and over how much she loved me and how she did not know what she would do if anything happened to me. Then another funny thing took place. Now the thing that I am talking about is perhaps not as funny as it is odd, but I am sure many husbands have found themselves in similar circumstance.

Just when I thought we were experiencing one of those really tender moments of love between a man and his wife, my sweet thing's true nature of sarcasm reared its ugly head. Now my darling, who is my best friend and faithful companion, is near perfect in every way except for one minor flaw in her psychological make up. That slight flaw demands that she must always be right (I think she got this trait from her daddy).

Suddenly and unexpectedly and without any warning of any kind, my loving bride of many years uttered a statement through what I had once considered sweet lips (I now have some doubt about their wholesomeness) designed to let me know in no uncertain terms that she was right and I was wrong. In the mist of all those caresses and kisses as she nibbled tenderly on my ear, she whispered, "I thought you said the goats weren't hungry".

Well, to make a long story short, the goats caught every kind of disease known in the goat world and some they still have not figured out yet. We buried a bunch of goats, carried a few to market and needless to say "WE ARE HOOKED ON GOATS."


 

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