Wednesday, August 13, 2014


It's the middle of the afternoon, and it's been pouring hard all day; one of those rains where your clothes feel damp almost before you step outside. Thunderstorms are predicted until midnight, so I'm posting a quick note in case the power goes off.

There's a droplight in the barn, but apart from that little glowing corner, it's nearly dark - too dark for photographs. I've spent most of the past two days here, keeping an eye on the goats. The vet came out yesterday to wether the baby bucks, who will now grow up to be (one hopes, fingers crossed, touch wood!) useful and pleasant members of the gang o' goats.

"Wethering" is the process of turning a male goat from a buck (intact male) to a wether (castrated male). There are three ways that I know of to wether a goat; let me know if you'd like me to write about this in detail. I'm often surprised at what readers find interesting, but in this case, I thought I'd ask first!

But this is the view I usually have of Campion.

For the first time ever, I briefly considered keeping this year's boys to grow up as bucks, because each one showed characteristics I'd love to reinforce in my herd genetics. But it was a fleeting thought; I'm not set up to keep bucks here and really have no desire to do so. Having a selected buck visit for a month or six weeks is plenty, to my way of thinking. Goat breeders sometimes say, "The bucks don't smell as much when the does aren't in season," and I think you can spot the two critical words in that sentence, right?

Perhaps you remember Dara?

So the boys must be wethered if they are to live here, eating invasive plants in the warm seasons, growing cashmere in the cold seasons, and being generally pleasant and entertaining all year round.

Like the two-year-old brothers, Betula and Acer. Here they are, back in April:

So civilized!
"You must have the larger carrot penny, Bet."
"Oh no, I wouldn't dream of it, Acer!"

(I jest.)
So as of 10 AM yesterday, Dara and Campion are wethers. They are also rather subdued little goats after their surgery. I think a lot of it is the after-effects of anesthesia, but some of it is certainly discomfort. When they were still moving slowly this morning, I gave each a buffered aspirin and within two hours could see an improvement. It's a relief, to me as well as to them. Not that they were in any danger, but it's hard to see any creature feeling poorly, especially when there's no way to assure them that this unfamiliar unpleasantness will soon pass, and life will once again be a festival of hay and play and snoozing.