We had our first set of winter kids hit the ground earlier today! Naturally, since we have a bit of winter weather moving in right now!
We noticed last night that one of our nannies was off by herself, and knew that she was due any day. We had to move the herd last nigh,t, and I felt bad moving her when I knew labor was imminent. BUT, we have quite a few mommas that are about to drop some kids in the coming weeks, and I wanted them off of their current paddock, and on a new, clean paddock before that happened. Earlier today, our middle daughter informed us that that nanny had indeed kidded! Twins!! A boy and a girl!
I am ridiculously excited over having twins! A few years ago, in order to grow our herd and add some genetic diversity over what we had, we purchased a new buck and 5 new nannies. That purchase ended up devastating our herd for about 2 years. We still have the buck--he is amazing. But those 5 nannies brought a hellacious parasite load with them that was not realized until 3 months after purchase, when the temps dropped from 100+ jn July, to below 90 in October. From that October, all the way up until December 2022, we have felt the effects of that purchase. All 5 of those nannies have died due to parasites. Half of the herd we already had died due to parasites. We lost every kid born on the farm between October 2019 and December 2021, either due to parasites or due to weather--which was still unacceptable, and is likely a result of weakened immune systems due to the prior parasite issue. We never had a parasite issue before that purchase, and we haven't had one since. So I know what we're doing is working. But we did a lot of culling--by letting nature basically take it's course. This is not an easy way to go about culling a herd, by the way. It's not just sitting back and doing nothing. It's constant watching and evaluating, and determining if loss is due to my own negligence, or if loss is a result of "survival of the fittest". I mean, even in cases of loss being due to my own negligence, the determination I have to make is, is intervention necessary, if so--in what way, and what are the ramifications of my intervention? Does my intervention help strengthen or weaken the herd? Spanish goats are naturally hardy, adaptable, great mothers, and parasite-resistant. In order for us to help build the breed, we need to make sure our end goals are in line with conservation efforts. If we weaken our herd, then we weaken the breed. There is a lot of heartache that comes from this decision.
This decision affects our attitude on everything, from how to deal with sick and injured goats to disposing of dead goats, to selecting goats to sell or keep. While I haven't divided or separated animals quite the way I want to, per se, the animals basically take care of themselves. I run them as close to natural as I can, while working to protect and rebuild the land here--for their benefit as well as my own, and for future generations. Every step we take is a step that will benefit future generations--we may never even get to see the fruits of our labor, and that is ok.
Prior to the above parasite issues, we ALWAYS had twins. Every goat twinned every time. So when those parasite issues hit, it was just an all-around HUGE loss, on every level imaginable.
All goat births since December 2022 have been successful. But, they have all been single births--UNTIL this past summer!! We finally had 1 set of twins. And now, the first birth of this kid crop is TWINS! I'm hoping that we have finally, FINALLY fully recovered, and have gotten all the damaged/weak genes out of our herd. The goats we have left are very, VERY much survivors--I can say that with 1,000% confidence. They have ALL made it through extreme circumstances--whether it is extreme weather, parasites, rotation changes, or some combination of these things, these goats have adapted, they have continued to birth on their own, they have been great mothers, they are parasite-resistant, disease-free, and these goats are hardy as heck. I am looking forward to really being able to move forward with our herd, and being able to implement some of the ideas I've had for the last several years--ideas that were sidelined, but never forgotten!