Iím a 4-H fretter-er from way back. Now that means one who frets. Iím not a fritter-er, one who frits around and squanders their time. I fret to do something important. Not only do I fret to raise good goats, but I fret to raise good 4-H wethers. I get busy fretting even before the day the does are put in the buck pen to be bred, and continue fretting until the day the 4-H kid finally leaves the farm to go to itís new home, and then to continue the road to the county fair.
You say, oh, you mean you are a worrier. No way, Hosea. A worrier is a passive word. They sit and stew in their own juices, doing nothing about what worries them. Now, a fretter is an action word. We fretter-ers are in action. Something bugs us, trying to make us worry, why, we jump right up and do something about it. It may be wrong, but we do something.
Just like years ago how I learned how to grain goats. That winter I didnít like the way the goats were looking on the evidently no good hay we had bought. I grabbed up a grain bucket, threw down some rubber hog feeders and away I went to put grain in those hog feeders. Those goats needed supplementing!
After I got mobbed repeatedly walking out into the herd with a grain bucket, and had the herd run through the rubber hog feeders causing the feeders to flip over, dumping precious grain on the ground to be trampled in the dirt along with me, I fretted and learned. We set up a feed area with, now hereís the secret, a gate. Yes, a gate to open and shut. I shut the gate, put the grain out in split 7 inch pvc pipes that are bolted onto big chunks of wood (from us cutting firewood) to keep them from flipping and also they were up off the ground so snails couldnít crawl in (host for deer worm that harms goats, something else I fretted about), and no more getting trampled, no more snail problem, and no more spilled grain.
Anyway, back to fretting about 4-H wethers. The first fret is what buck to put in with what doe. What buck and does would compliment each other and put out the best kids. Thatís one fret. I make lists after lists before I finally make the final decision.
Timing is another big fret. Many times 4-H parents and children tell me what date they want their kids born on. Some want the first week of Jan., some the first week of Feb. some the middle of Jan. and some the middle of Feb. and some even the first week of March, and all for the August fairs on these. Now, Iím in sales and I try to please my customers, but sometimes the goats just donít go along with what we want. The parents and children use to give me specific time on what day when they wanted their kids born. Such as, one minute after midnight for a really early Jan. 1st kid. Well, folks, it ainít possible to be exactly that accurate. The goats and I can only do so much. You know the saying, Man proposes, God disposes? Well, thatís the way it works with breeding goats. I can put them in at certain times so that if bred that week or more than likely some time that month, then five months later they kid. Thatís the best I can do, because I donít really know what exact day they are going to come in heat and also what problems this can cause.
For example, I had a young buck get infatuated with two does that were in heat and he was faithful to only those two, ignoring all the rest of his adoring fans begging for his attention. Those two definitely got bred and all the rest went out of heat and their next heat cycle would put them kidding too late for 4-H wethers. Bummer. I fretted and learned what to do about that. Move those fascinating two does out of there and give the rest a chance. Obvious to most, but certainly a new experience for me, at the time.
Does can come in heat and decide they want the buck in the other field, not the one they are with. They run like crazy, even when seriously deep in heat, to not get bred by what they consider an obviously offensive buck to them. Move them so they canít see the buck in the other field, then the feller they are with doesnít look so bad. Or, just give up and put them in with their favorite buck. Fretting works.
After the does are bred, you fret about their nutrition and health. If you donít keep healthy does during their pregnancy, you are in a world of hurt when you start kidding. Dead kids, dead does, does with no milk, weak kids, and the list goes on, so fret away and make sure the does are receiving the proper nutrition and health care.
Then kidding, fretting really pays off here. Usually us 4-H breeders are kidding in the dead of winter. Horrible time if you live up north. So, you have to fret and plan. You have to have good protection for the doe to kid in, heat lamps to warm the babies up at first, and the biggie, Be There When They Kid. Do you think the doe can set up a heat lamp? Do you think she can lick fast enough at zero degrees to get her baby dry enough that it doesnít freeze to death or have frost bite to itís ears? Even thirty degrees in a barn can cause a wet kid to feel so cold that he wonít get up and nurse and without that warm colostrum to get him going, heís done for.
Some people say, but I work for a living, I canít be out there during the night checking on bred goats. Fretting on this, I say, then why did you breed them for winter kidding if you arenít going to care for them? Another thought, why not take vacation time during kidding time? Some say thatís a good idea, some say, What! Why I have to go to Disney World. Vacation is my time. I have to go somewhere. Good, go to the barn. Once again, you bred them for winter kidding, you are responsible.
I had one person tell me she was going to sell her stupid doe, send her on down the road. That the doe had let her babies freeze to death when she kidded them in the middle of winter. So, she must be a poor mother and she was getting rid of her. Sorry, lady, but you were the one to breed her for this time, it wasnít her decision. How was she going to set up a warm building to kid in and also hook up a heat lamp? Itís a real shame the goat couldnít send the owner on down the road for being a poor goat breeder. Fretting about mistakes made and what to do about them can really pay off, and a realization that you are the one making the decisions for the poor olí goat on many important matters really does help.
Kidding is like a strenuous marathon. If the people who run marathons think that race is tough, they should try kidding. If you kid very many does, you find yourself without sleep for a couple of days sometimes. So, fret and plan, dress warm, have comfortable tall buckets to sit on and doze on, keep protein bars and caffeine pop down at the barn.
If you are one of those who have fretted and saved to build a little room for yourself down at the barn to rest in and stay close to the kidding does and if it has some of the comforts of home, well now, thatís real fretting. Every inch of our barn is taken up with mothers and kids and pregnant does, so we donít have the spare room, we just have to sit on our buckets and sleep with the goats at times, but who knows? Maybe Iíll get a real fret going and figure out a wonderful room of our own.
After kidding you have to fret and schedule and work to make sure you get the 4-H kidsí disbudded, wormed and shots all on time to be able for the 4-H children to pick up. Then you have to organize and fret to have the right kid there when the children start arriving for their projects. This year Lee informed me that I had two extra kids in the pen for pick-up that day.
We sorted through the twenty some kids and found two of the cutest little girls who werenít suppose to be there. We quickly got them out in case the children thought I was giving out door prizes. Sometimes you have to double fret on pick-up day to make sure all your lists are correct and no little girl slips in with the wethers to see what is going on.
Ahhhh, fretting. Being a professional fretteríer is a lot of work, but itís worth it for the goat farmer.