Timing is everything…or nothing. We had just completed tearing the old kitchen, pantry, back porch and wash room off of our old farm house. Renovations had begun! Cooking was taking place on the Weber kettle grill, what dishes we were doing were washed in the bathroom sink and Linda Gail’s washer and drier were now located under a hemlock tree, connected electrically with a drop cord and to water by a garden hose, or in the Southern language, a hose pipe. Into this environment of flux came Nae Nae.
We were working on raising a small herd of goats to maintain a large hillside and deeply cut stream bank covered with the southern scourge, kudzu. We had tried to kill it with Round Up, something I was scared to do since our location was so near water. We had also attempted to burn it. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BURN KUDZU! Kudzu likes to be burned and comes back twice as fierce and will grow two feet per day in optimum growing conditions. Burning it gave it optimum growing conditions. We were told introducing goats would control kudzu so let me introduce the goats.
Claude and Claudette, named for former owner Claude Sherriff. Nugene and Nicolette, named for former owner Eugene Nichols. Newt, named for his loss of baby making apparatuses, as in “Newt-or.” Offspring Sha-Na-Na rounded out the herd who had all been named by Linda Gail. All, except Newt, were American Alpine milking goats and because of their genetics had the endearing habit of climbing to the highest point available. The top of your pick-up truck cab or tractor seat, and if young enough, to the top of your head. Not so endearing was their habit of butting…especially if you happened to bend over for some reason…and it really didn’t matter which end got butted. Getting butted between the eyes by a Billy with a three-foot horn spread will stun you just for a second.
Our youngest, Sha-Na-Na, was “with child” and picked this particular “not so good a time” to deliver. The delivery was both a blessing and a sorrow. Nae-Nae entered the world as a breech birth after much effort from both Sha-Na-Na and ourselves. Sha-Na-Na would not survive, the sorrow, and we would be left with a little bundle of joy we had no idea how to raise, Nae-Nae. A phone call to our vet educated us on what was called “colostrum,” which is best described as the mother’s “first milk,” the milk loaded with everything needed for a healthy baby goat or as I found out a healthy baby anything. Our call to the vet also exposed a problem, “WE AIN’T GOT NO COLOSTRUM!”
Our helpful vet put us on a Miss Labrea who told us for five dollars she would provide us a bottle of colostrum. Known by the locals as “the goat lady,” she raised show goats. Show goats? Who knew? When I first saw the “show goats” I thought they must be from another planet…which is saying a lot when you consider how alien normal goats generally look. Our goats were down right beautiful compared to hers with very large, upright ears to go with black fur and white spots or vice versa. Hers? No ears! Just little holes in the sides of their heads. They were all the same uniform color of…pale, very pale. From their necks hung long fleshy “waffles” making them look even more “out of this world.” Lamancha goats originally from Spain, then Oregon and now found on Gap Creek Road…in a “past its prime” single wide trailer.
Okay only the babies were in the single-wide…in a baby “cage” …in the kitchen…along with the fridge, stove and dining table. When I looked in the sink I realized the goat “cage” was the cleanest area of the kitchen. The expectant mothers had their own individual stalls in a run-down barn, the rest populated scattered paddocks and pastures. According to Miss Labrea, “Them baby goats never touch the ground! I catch ’em when they drop and into the kitchen they go!” NO! NOT TO BE EATEN. She would then milk the mothers and begin feeding the kids, causing them to imprint on her rather than their mothers. I have this vision of Miss Labrea leading her “babies” down to the water ala “Clementine and her little ducklings.”
Miss Labrea got her nickname honestly and it may not have been because of her chosen vocation, raising and selling show goats. You know how people who too closely identify with their animals begin to “kinda” look like them? Well, Miss Labrea kind of smelled like them too.
Armed with colostrum and baby goat formula we began the raising of a baby goat…in our bathroom…for six weeks. Did I mention it was our only bathroom? Did I mention we were doing our dishes in there too? I should also mention the flu bug I caught shortly after our new guest moved in…an intestinal kind of flu…a twenty-four-hour intestinal kind of flu…with a baby goat in our only bathroom…as renovations continued around us. It’s okay, we renovated the old bathroom along the way too.
Don Miller has also written three books which may be purchased or downloaded at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM