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Friday, March 30, 2007

What a Day

Stood around talking to my neighbor Shelly for a long time this morning when I walked down the road to get more goat's milk for Phoenix. I'd decided that maybe I really did want to disbud (remove the horns of) the two little boy goats after all; Jenny's quite scared of the momma goat even though her horns are not very long; she and Katie enjoy these little guys so much that I'd hate to have them scared of Phoenix and Gryphon as their horns start to grow. Jenny's been hanging out with them for hours every afternoon since last weekend, when the Two Stooges (aka Daddy and I) built a little (75'x75') fenced-in area in the front yard for momma goat and her boys.

Shelly said that she and Cheryl (who also has goats and runs 4H here in town) were going to disbud some new baby goats today and that they'd come by and check to see if Phoenix and Gryphon's horns were still small enough to burn off.

Now, Phoenix is so small that he really just had little tiny bumps and the disbudding was no big deal. They clipped his hair around the horns and then used a hot horn-burning-off thing (no idea what it's called; it looked kind of like a tubular wood burning tool). Gryphon, who is HUGE, was a different matter--his horns had started to grow--they were maybe a third of an inch long. So, after the burning, they had to trim the burned part off with a knife, then cauterize it again. Blood squirted all over and he yelled bloody murder, opening his mouth wide and sticking his little tongue out while making an altogether amazing amount of noise.

The whole process was very difficult (probably more difficult for Gryphon than for me, but he's forgotten about it by now and I'm still obsessing over it, as you can see--). In general I'm against doing things to animals to remove them from what I would consider their 'natural' state, so this was a tough call. But over the last few days I've done lots of 'goat research' and found that they can hurt each other with their horns, or get them stuck in a fence, which with our 100 degree summer months could be a matter of life or death very quickly. Not to mention that they could hurt one of my human kids...

Of course, both babies are out running around on the rocks as I write this. They're fine; it'll take me a little bit more time. Sometimes even doing what you think is right is difficult.


tammy vitale said...

my stomach hurts just from reading this. I can't even hang around when they clip my dog's toenails...

Housewife said...

Oh dear, it's a bris for goats.

Elizabeth said...

I don't know if I feel more sorry for the goats or you... NO, YOU! Arrgghhh. You were very brave and did a difficult thing. Well done. Deep breaths! E

Elizabeth said...

By the way ... I hope I didn't upset you when I said that I wanted to do a banner with my artwork first?
It is very exciting learning new things, and I like what you and your daughter have achieved with the blogger templates.
Best wishes, Lizzi

Rosie said...

I don't remember if you were reading around the time I was doing my disbuddings.

Yes, it's hard, but they go right back to nursing and forget about it very quickly. There are lots of one-eyed goatkeepers out there. I once knew a guy who had been gored in the groin by a goat rendering him infertile. The goat in my profile shot had to petted out because he was horned and too friendly.

You don't want horns, particularly if you have kids of the human variety. They are dangerous. You did the right thing, hard as it was.

Your Angora can be wethered using an emasculatome. But at his age, it won't do much for the stink though it may calm him down a bit. Horns can be removed but it's a bloody business involving a wire saw. Fiber people seem to like the horns as they are good handles to use during shearing. You are wise to consider getting rid of him. Start over with a wethered disbudded bottle baby. Wethers don't stink.

One other thing...don't know if you know this...discourage your children from playing "the head butting" game with the boys or handling the tops of their heads too much. This teaches baby goats that it's okay to head butt humans in later life. You will never be able to pet out a head butting goat.

Joelle said...

Surfed into your blog by way of google; I'm impressed! Love the color and the banner! Not to mention your goat post. :) I'll be back soon to read more! (wish I had time now)