Ever since I can remember, we’ve had goats on the farm. My late father was an adventurous man when it came to trying new things on the farm. We had Angora goats, though we never got any mohair from them. We had what I now know were Alpine goats, though I am not clear how my father had hoped they would survive in the arid heat of Kenya. We never milked them, so their kids had a whale of a time with Mummy’s milk. Then we had the wild local goats that have a crazed look all the time and are, in my opinion, completely untamable. They are permanently skittish and they will climb trees to get to the juicy delicate leaves at the tips of the twigs.
Those crazed goats are the ones I finally inherited, when I decided to get serious about the farm. I am guessing the farm hands had “taken care” of the more precious Alpine and Angora breeds.
Due to poor goat husbandry, the stock was of poor quality. If you rear goats, it’s for their meat. In this part of the world, we eat a lot of goat meat. It has its benefits too. Much less cholesterol than beef, and a great taste, if a little gamey! The stock I inherited was made up of tiny goats that would never fetch me the market prices I needed to make this a viable venture. After much hemming and hawing, I woke up one day and sold them. Every last one of them except 2 does and 2 kids. After all, I was going to do this seriously!
We then bought a buck from the market. Unfortunately for us, my cousin’s husbands’ family also gave my mother a buck as a gift. This was a short rotund animal with very short legs and an even crazier look than your average goat! The day he arrived, he broke out of the pen we had kept him in, to go chase the females. Goats mate always! Anytime, anywhere. This guy would spend all night making the incessant annoying noise he-goats make when they are ready to mate. He was impossible. At some point, we had to lock the kids in a separate pen as he tried mating with those too!
One night, when I was at the farm, he kept me awake all night with his constant noise. My farm manager was fed up and I had had enough! That very day, I bought a burdizzo and castrated him! He spent the day looking all miserable and lost. By the following day he had forgotten his missing manhood and was off to graze. He is still rotund!
So, the other day, this posse of six (two does, two kids, one buck and one semi-buck) that I am trying to grow to a hundred, went off to graze. As usual, the farm hands brought them home at lunch time for a drink of water and some afternoon siesta. Promptly at three in the afternoon, the goats were back to the field to feed a little more, before someone picked them at six in the evening. It turns out, when someone did go to pick them at six, they were nowhere to be found.
At nine in the night, I got a call from my farm manager, and the first thing he did was chuckle. He does that when he is about to give me nasty news. Guess what I asked him? What has died? Well, nothing had died but the goats were missing. They were nowhere to be found! I told him to call off the search and head to bed.
At 5.30am, I got a call from my farm manager. The goats had come home and were at the lower farm gate bleating and requesting for the gate to be promptly opened. Since we all now speak goat, here’s how the previous evening must have gone down in my estimation. The semi-buck found a nice thicket with juicy twigs and led the rest in there. In his quest to fill his ever-enlarging tummy, he must have told the others that they could feed till late in this thicket, and if nightfall came, the thicket looked safe enough for them to spend the night. One of the does must have chimed in with words like, it would be great to spend the night under the open sky for once. Besides, it’s so pretty out here. I suspect by 5 am the following morning, the idea was no longer brilliant, hence the early morning return home.
This posse of six is targeted to get to a hundred soon. Goats kid twice a year and most have twins or triplets. My math may be off by a bit but then again, I’m a farmer – an eternal optimist! Imagine the mayhem that will ensue when one hundred goats begin to reason like my semi-buck?