Tuesday, December 2, 2008

science baby

This is a post about goats, so abandon hope all ye who enter here who don't want to read about dairy character, udder conformation and the ins and outs (zing!) of artificial insemination.

We have decided not to breed Catwoman. She is so bowlegged that I would feel very uneasy putting the extra strain of pregnancy on her legs. Last spring when she was still long before her kidding date she was just hobbling around like an obese grandma, and she looked terribly uncomfortable. I think another pregnancy would be painful and possibly fatal, and my magic porridge pot of guilt and self-recrimination doesn't need any more ingredients. So, the question is, what to do with her? And this is where I may gross some of y'all out. I would rather eat her than sell her. But hear me out. I don't want to take the chance of someone buying her who will stick her out on a ditch somewhere by herself, or breed her until she dies in childbirth. And I'm not willing to keep her as a pet, because she eats a freaking ton of food and is darn expensive. And she's not so old that she would be inedible, so . . . I don't know. It's sick, but at least she would go to a good home in our tummies.

Traci is going to have a prolonged date with Cyclone, the Boer goat down the street, since I HATE milking her, but she does make wonderful, big babies that put on weight quickly. For us to eat. Because that's what meat is, is an animal that is dead now.

Our plan is to keep both Catwoman and Traci through the winter, while saving our pennies, then in the spring we will turn Catwoman into white packages and buy another doe to be friends with Traci--hopefully one as nice as Finola.

Conformation-wise, Catwoman has Traci beat handily. Catwoman is willowy and refined, with a lovely, well-attached udder, whereas Traci is shaped like a lazy trapezoid with a crappy udder. She's a Jeep. Catwoman takes after Finola, and is an improvement on her in many ways, except I wish she were black. I would love to find another doe like Finola.

The huge headache has been finding a Nubian buck, as you know, because why pay a ton of money for a superior animal if we're just going to be breeding Nubian/Boer crosses? But last night we realized that, duh, my grandpa raises beef cattle and has his own liquid nitrogen tank for the storage of straws of . . . bull juice, we'll call it (I don't even want to think about the weird searches I'd turn up in otherwise). So we can buy straws of fancy buck juice and keep them in the tank, and use them to breed our fancy doe. Fanciness all around! I've been squeamish about artificial insemination, because I am such a proponent of a diversified gene pool, and I don't like the idea of a bunch of animals running around with the same parents. But we really don't have a choice, since there's no Nubian stud service anywhere around. And it should drastically improve our herd, but you never know with Nubians.

I still have no power cord. I hate this computer.


tipsybaker said...

I have a question: Is goat meat good? Or are you just being efficient and frugal?
The last time I had goat was a few years ago in a Mexican restaurant and it was a preparation that had lots of bones in a stew. It was not appetizing but that was the fault of the dish, not the goat.
Also -- random -- there's a Barbara Kingsolver novel, I think it's Prodigal Summer, in which someone raises goats for meat. I loved that book. It was transparently political about food and agriculture, but I still loved it.

Layne said...

I am a sucker for anything she writes. I loved that book too. I had forgotten about raising the goats for meat--what I remember most was the part about when an alpha female is killed in a pack of apex predators (like coyotes), all the other females go into heat, so even more babies are born. Fascinating.

I think goat meat is delicious. It's like if beef and lamb had a tasty, tasty baby. There are many cuts that taste exactly like beef, but it's so much better for you, at least the way beef is currently raised. And it's milder than lamb, which some people find too gamey. I really love it--a braised shoulder roast can't be beat. I think we actually lose money on this whole venture, so it's not very frugal. I suppose it is efficient, though. And more humane, in my opinion.

All8 said...

Culling is hard but a necessary faucet of animal husbandry. Hard, but tasty. ;)

Sounds like she needs to go. Will you wait until after the spring rush and she fattens up on fresh green things? I don't know if I'd let her go through the winter. I'd be torn over the cost of feeding and such but wanting to keep her as a pet.

Layne said...

Well, we have to at least keep her through the winter, because otherwise Traci will be miserable and noisy.