The Downside of Priarie Life

In my blog I love to share about my experiences on the Nebraska Prairie.  My stories tell the positive side of living on the prairie, but this time my story is not quite as positive and up beat.  Though, I love life out here  there are days that I hate it, not many but some.   Yesterday,  was one of those days, that you learn from and try not to ever replicate. 


I  have never bred my goats so late in the winter, but last year I did to give my yearlings some time to grow.    Actually,  I have never bred my yearlings,  I always waited until they were at least a year and a half to two years old.   My yearling started to kid in June and the last two just kidded 7 days ago.    The first mother was as wild as a goat can get and she was very hard to handle.   But, with her crazy  attitude aside she was turning out to be a good mom to her twins.    The second yearling to kid, had a single baby in the field.  Not a problem in and of itself, but she was more interested in eating the green grass then she was caring for her baby.  

The first mother did not have much milk and the second mother refused to feed her baby at all,  unless I penned her in a corner.     So, logic would tell you to supplement the twins and bottle feed the single baby.   So bottles in hand I would feed the twins both morning and night.   The single baby I fed every for hours and I became her mom. 

The twins would follow there mother out into the field everyday and the single  baby would stay at the barn and wait for her next bottle.    knew full well that the single baby would eventually follow the herd out into the field to learn how to graze and be a goat.   All the books you read and all the information I have found on the internet tell you their best option is to remain with the herd.  They need to learn goat behavior,  become a member of the herd,  and be around goats of their own age.   Makes sense right?   Well it did until yesterday.          

Yesterday,  I fed Tansy (the single baby) her bottle at noon and all was well.   Sometime after that she must have decided to join the twins in the field.    When it was time for her four 0 o'clock bottle she was not in her pen.  The kids as in children, searched the field high and low and every nook and cranny of the barn.   I was in town at the time and got the call that they could not find Tansy.  I said, "I bet she joined the herd."  "No, we checked she is not there," the kids said.    Dave and I, got home as soon as we could and we searched and search the field and every inch of the barn.   You see,  Tansy was a loud goat, she cried often looking for her next bottle.   I knew that if she was any where within a mile we could here her cry. 

We ran all the goats back to the barn and I did a head count to see if anyone else was missing.   The twins, where are the twins?  No twins to be found.   So not only were we looking for Tansy we were looking for the twins as well. 

We never found the babies, no matter how long and hard we searched.  Heart broken and in tears, I came to the conclusion that they would not be coming back. 

I called the neighbors across the road and asked if they had seen anything unusual, they had not.   The neighbors husband use to work for the Division of Wildlife and this is the conclusion that he came to.  Coyotes!   He said that, Tansy probably cried quite a bit while out in the field and called attention to not only herself but the twins.   Horrible, I know, this was not what I wanted to hear.  He continued on to tell me that the grass in the pasture around the goat field is so long  this year, that it was a perfect area for them to stalk prey.  

My goats are only allowed at in the field before nine am. and are locked back in the barn area at eight pm.  because of the possibility of predators.   Coyotes, are nocturnal and you usually do not see them during the daytime, hence the hours my goats are allowed in the field.    I have never in the eleven years that we have lived here had any problems with this plan.

What I have learned from this experience:
  • do not allow a bottle baby  in the field with the rest of the herd
  • plan kidding season earlier in the spring.  
    • allowing the kids time to grown before they are turned out
  •  mow the grass around the field fencing to cut down on camouflage for predators
I am sure there was much more that I learned but these are the main points I wanted to mention.  I hope that my loss might be someone else s  knowledge. 

 I wanted my readers not only to hear the rosy side of life on the prairie but the real life.   When you live on a farm/ranch, (franch) and have livestock, with LIVE being the first part of the word, you have life and death.    Here on our farm every life counts and when you loose one it matters. 

My goats are locked up near the barn today, and I fed them a bale of hay.  They looked at me like you have got to be kidding.   I said, this is for my peace of mind and your safety.   I will let them out again soon, but until I feel comfortable letting them out they will have to be dry lotted.

When raising animals you have to take the ups with the downs.   The downs are the losses and the ups are the births that take place.  We live for the ups and deal with the downs. 

Nebraska Prairie Girl


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