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Rocket Landed A Job!


Way back in February, our little Starfire gave birth on just about the last possible due date she could've had. We were so off the usual kidding schedule that we'd even forgotten to turn the barn cameras on again that night -- and lo and behold, two wet babes and an exhausted but duly fastidious mama awaited us when we went down to the barn for morning chores. This is one of those times when I was hit with a surprise that made me kick myself hard -- omg what if something had gone wrong! -- until I remembered to remind myself (yup) that the vast majority of domesticated goats still benefit from their wild ancestors' hard-earned hardiness. Even accidental inbreeding and selective line-breeding (the former a fairly frequent occurrence in goats, the latter an animal husbandry practice going by the wayside in breeds as common as Nigies) have far fewer unhappy outcomes than they're rumored to have. And so there I stood, a buckling, a doeling and their mama wobbling before me, quiet and right as rain, such that I almost felt like I was intruding. And those kids were immediately among the calmest, sweetest I've gotten to meet in those first hours of life, lying in our laps just appreciating the breath of warmth that came along with us big weird bipeds. Maybe I have cold wet February to thank for that immediate bonding, but experience tells me it's much more the personalities of their parents shining through. Genetics are a powerful drug, I like to say.

The buckling was bigger and stronger than his sister, and had obviously been born first. He probably got the birthing ball rolling really, as poor Starfire had seemed quite ready to be done with pregnancy in the preceding days and that meant her kids were ready for the real world. The doeling was smaller, daintier and seemed happy to be "protected" from all the evils of the world (read: other small goats) by the only boy in this small goat town. Of course, mama and her newborn kids were quickly isolated into the kidding stall so they could have a few extra-safe days to themselves; but still, that sweet little brother was not going to step aside when his sister was resting behind him. Mama Starfire, however, knew everyone was fine with the humans present and had mentally moved on to thoughts of the snacks that humans sometimes bring, and a good snack she got: alfalfa, oats, molasses, more fresh hay, water with apple cider vinegar just the way she likes it. Does who've just kidded benefit immensely from such a treat (provided it's not too big) since they're simultaneously recovering from giving birth to multiple kids while kicking the milk production into an inconceivablly high gear.

Last summer, a few months prior to these two kids being born, I'd gifted my nephew Rowan a yet-to-be-born Moon Ruby goat. The deal was that he'd get the male kid of his choice, a wether who'd be sure to find a great home as a companion/pet goat.. Rowan had just graduated high school back in Minnesota, although honestly it didn't feel much like graduation time to me since the "kid" (HI ROWIE!) is so bright and interested in the world around him that he'd long since completed most of the requisite secondary school classes and had been engaged for some time in myriad stellar post-secondary options in his hometown of Minneapolis. So yeah, Rowan's weird aunt 2,000 miles away gave him ... a goat. Specifically, a nonexistent goat that might not love downtown Minneapolis as much as Rowan does, might not like to ride bikes really extra super fast like Rowan does, might not love to drink as much great coffee as Rowan does, and so on. I'd even handed him an ugly homemade "certificate" thing during the happy+sad drive to the airport after his first big solo trip out west to visit us. OMG it was so ugly. How awkward!

So let's go back further in time -- say, about seventy thousand years ago, when I was a kid. I've mentioned my grandfather here and there, but here's a quick obit link in case you're one of the few I've not yet bored with story after story of animals you didn't know made it onto the ark or whatever. Well my Papa, you see, set up a very uncommon type of scholarship fund for his grandkids when he entered retirement, gifting each of us a mama llama, the sale of whose babies helped pay [some of his many] grandkids' college tuition. I still have pretty little Pandora's pictures; I still remember how excited I was every time I heard she'd had a new baby; I am still deeply thankful for this extremely meaningful gift. Now, there were a few flaws in the system (not the least of which was the fact that llamas suddenly became very common in the US), but that's all beside the point. The point is that I actually didn't even realize that I was once again doing almost exactly what my animal-loving grandpa had done decades, seemingly thousands of years before me: I'd given a gift to help with college, in the best way I knew how.

So Rowan had already named his goat Rocket, telling me he hoped Rocket would be fast or something, I dunno. (Hello, bikes + coffee + age.) When Starfire had a boy AND a girl in February, months after the other does' kids and come and gone, I was thrilled! Rowan's gift finally had legs!

And those legs, typical of Star's offspring, were GORGEOUS. I'd intended to give Rowan a companion wether to sell, but I couldn't neuter this pretty boy! Every single one of his brothers has gone on to become a great herdsire for another farm because of their great conformation, character and looks. So I did what all great managers do and dragged my feet, to the point where Rocket had to move in with his dad so he didn't suddenly have half-brother sons or become the proud young father of a younger half-sister. It eventually dawned on me that it might be fun/interesting for Rowan to be able to follow his own little goat's "career", i.e., his progress as a breeding buck. You know, like looking up Rocket's progeny in dairy registries for years, even decades to come? Super fun stuff, right?! If you're reading this, you probably agree, but I'm guessing most people wouldn't.

Eventually I started looking for the right homes for Star's kids. Rocket's sister, Luna, was purchased by a great family who'd recently moved out to a farm nearby. Luna's new owners fell in love with Rocket and wanted to take him home, too, and I quickly said yes because it's always great to see siblings go to the same home if the circumstances are right ... but their farm planning meant that they couldn't take both unless Rocket was neutered. I asked them for some extra time to see if other prospective buyers on our list weren't looking for a new herdsire, and they very kindly obliged.

Enter Dan and Ellen from Myrtle Creek, Oregon! They were starting their own new herd and immediately fell for Rocket, wanting him for their herdsire. They were awesome, and totally excited about keeping in touch as Rocket embarks on his professional pursuits. We exchanged many emails and figured out the best timing for everything to move forward; I finished up all the usual pre-departure stuff like booster shots, dewormer, tattooing, a nutrient "drench", etc.; and then we met up in the parking lot of a big-box store, swiftly transferred Rocket from one car to another while enduring the usual "How cute!" and "What weirdos!" stares from passers-by, and said goodbye. It's been several weeks now, and both Rocket and Luna are both doing great and have adjusted well to their new homes.

And that's the story of how Rocket landed a job, and Luna did too. I look forward to sharing updates as they come in.

And congratulations, Rowan -- I'm wicked proud of you and so proud to know you, kid.

#goats #kidding #sales

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