I am going to really enjoy telling this week's Goat of the Week story. All of the goats in my herd are special, however there are certain goats that stand out more to me personally than some of the others. Each person that comes here will leave having made at least one goat friend. Maisie is one who stands out for me the most because if I was to describe which goat in my herd would be considered my "best goat friend" - it would be Maisie hands down. (No offense to my human bestie - you know I love you too xoxo) Maisie and I have been through a lot together and she has an extraordinary story, that I am so pleased to share with you all.
Maisie was born on a cold morning on January 11, 2012. She was born at a very special place called Haute Goat. At the time, owners Debbie and Shain were on a farm in Campbellford, ON. (This wonderous place is now located in Port Hope, ON.. I highly recommend checking them out and booking an incredible experience. https://hautegoat.com/)
Maisie and her older twin brother (who they called "Boo") were an unexpected surprise for Debbie and Shain. Fortunately for Maisie and her brother, their early arrival didn't impede their ability to thrive and grow, and as Debbie takes such wonderful care of her animals, they were always safe and warm. Fortunately for me, I was already in contact with Debbie as I had purchased another doe - Maisie's older paternal sister Carmela just a few months prior. There was a specific personality type that I was seeking for my breeding program, and from all of the herds I visited with, the goats at Haute Goat were particularly calm, with easy going temperaments. The three foundation does for temperament in the Sky River Meadows herd, ALL came from Tripping Billies lines. They are; Tripping Billies Carmela, Tripping Billies Loo (Maisie), and Tripping Billies Delilah. They are all truly beautiful souls, that we have Debbie and Shain at Haute Goat to be grateful for. Each and every generation down the line has remained true to the solid, calm temperament that these girls brought to my breeding program. Oh, and better yet - MILK!!! All three of these girls are now retired from breeding, showing and milking, but each one of them gave me over 2L of milk daily which is pretty incredible coming from a little goat!
I first saw a picture of Maisie when she was only a few weeks old. I can't speak for love at first sight amongst humans, but I can say that for me it truly was love at first sight of wee Maisie. MISCHIEF - right from the moment we got her home, and she really never stopped. Her intelligence was apparent right from day one as well. She was so tiny when she arrived that I was too frightened to put her with the herd, so of course I moved her right into the house ;) Maisie quickly made friends with our dogs, and then quickly took over the household. The dogs learned quickly to be wary of Maisie as she could pack a hard, quick wallop with a head butt. Even my Dad's poor dog Daisy learned the hard way when she was just a pup and Maisie just a kid. They were virtually the same size, but Maisie won. To date, Maisie is one of three goats in my herd that I say will take on any sized dog. She is fearless.
Maisie has earned a lot of distinction in my herd over the years. The most notable for me is that she was the first goat that I housetrained. It took three days. That was it. Shocking no? I've learned more since then and now know you can actually housetrain a goat inside of twelve hours, or 3 repetitions if they are smart enough. Maisie would scratch at the front door with her hoof to go out, if she needed to ask to go out. She never had an accident in the house once she knew what was expected of her. I was blown away with the ease in which it took to train her. Fast forward that ability to not go potty indoors to today, and voila! You have a goat that can now do house calls. For me it was a breakthrough that may have fast-forwarded my dream of opening a therapeutic animal farm for my animal assisted therapy practice. If anything, realizing that I could train a goat to go with me anywhere was the fuel I needed to fire my dreams. I immediately changed the focus of my studies to get me closer to my dream, and began taking Maisie everywhere with me, including even to University (that's a story for another time). She may even be in a grad photo taken of me 3 years later, but again, a story for another time. :) To this day, Maisie still enjoys going for a ride, and is always up for an adventure.
Maisie, like most goats, will try to scare you with how quickly they can become ill. Maisie has kind of made a career out of trying to die on me. She tests my abilities every single winter, with random bouts of pneumonia. She has also undergone a few surgeries the last few years to deal with some health issues. She grew a tumour on her side that we had removed and analyzed - fortunately came back benign. She also underwent dental surgery to remove her teeth due as they were loosening and causing all kinds of problems for her. She is better able to gain weight now, and actually manages to eat just fine. We intervene where necessary to give her the extra her body needs. Her one downfall to no teeth is that she can't scratch herself without her teeth. She has learned to expect full body rubs from everyone she meets. She also LOVES to be groomed and is willing to stand for as long as someone is willing to brush. Her lack of teeth make her pretty comical, as there is nothing to keep her tongue in her mouth. It is often hanging out, especially as she runs :)
Maisie has some incredible strengths and she shows amazing resilience. She has encountered pretty much any number of frightening things, and she just takes everything in stride. Honestly, I get more stressed out than she does when we are asked to do something. I think Maisie thinks she is a comedian. She will do things sometimes just to get a reaction from people. She also loves to dress up and has worn some impressive costumes over the years. Maisie has also always been my best teacher for training someone on how to milk a goat. Over the years, Maisie has likely taught hundreds if not a thousand people to milk - most of the children. A highlight of Maisie's career was the time she was featured on a YouTube channel called The River and Wilder Show! Check out the video below
As incredible as Maisie is in all things she takes on, I think her biggest gift is in her ability to connect directly to people's hearts. Those beautiful ice blue eyes of hers stare directly into your soul. Maisie has an uncanny ability to know exactly who needs to see her when we go into a residential home, hospital or hospice setting. She is always respectful and quiet, allowing those she visits with to be comforted by her presence and soft coat. Watching Maisie work touches my heart in ways nothing else ever has. It is a gift to be able to share her love with others as well. I am hoping this ability and gift that Maisie has passes on through her genetics. I currently also have Maisie's grand daughter B'Elanna, and great-grand daughter Yara in training to help us in our important mobile work.
In the new year Maisie will turn 8. Her time with me has been so special and we have learned so much together. I can't wait to see where the next bunch of years take us. I just know for absolutely certain - without Maisie, there would be no Sky River goat magic! She is my muse <3 Through her, all of this has become possible. To my Miss Maisie Moo XOXO
This edition of Goat of the Week is a sad one for me to write. There is no other goat more prominently in my mind these days, so he is the only choice for this week's edition. I am honoured to be able to share his story with you all.
Looking back, I don't remember the original circumstances that brought Jose to me. I remember that there were a group of bucklings imported from the USA, and that for whatever reason the people were unable to keep them. I was lucky to be one of the first to pick amongst these bucklings. There was something special about him, I could tell even just from the pictures. We were even able to pick his name. As he came from New Mexico, we wanted something that suited. Although we settled on Jose right away, the rest of his name took some time. He was almost Jose Jalapeno (if Geordon got his way he would have been!) but in the end we settled on No-Way Jose.
Jose was a couple months old by the time he finally was able to come home to us. Right away he won us over with his sweet nature and silly antics. Jose was incredibly playful and was always looking for someone to chase him. He even loved jumping on the trampoline in his younger days.
Jose always had a very un-buck like personality. He was sweet and cuddly, and enjoyed being brushed. Not many will appreciate the smell that breeding male goats have. It is not an odour that is easily removed, and is not the kind of smell you want to wear as cologne. Intact male goats have some amazing abilities, one of which is the ability to shower in their own urine. This smell drives the lady goats crazy! Jose was no exception. Although he was cleaner than my other boys, he still smelled just as bad as the rest. Jose was always a complete gentleman with his ladies. The trouble was, that sometimes the breedings that I hoped would happen with Jose, sometimes didn't, Jose was a lover and not a fighter. He would much rather cuddle and play than get into serious fights. For this reason, my golden boy was a little tricky to breed at times. Some of my females are a little rougher and tougher than Jose would prefer. There were a few times over the course of his life that I was unable to breed Jose to the mate of my choosing - because he was AFRAID of them! A perfect example of this was when I tried to breed Jose to my finished champion doe ASH Donna. Donna head butted Jose and no matter what I did to try to intervene, he was having nothing to do with her. He decided the best place to be was to hide behind me. He may have even screamed a few times when she tried to hit him again lol. She also proved that she had no interest in his "make love, not war" philosophy, and was happy to wait for a rougher, tougher kind of buck.
Over the years, although there were a few breedings we weren't able to accomplish with Jose, we did accomplish many wonderful breedings with other does. There are a few of his sons, and many daughters out there carrying on his lines. We are saddened that we do not have a son of Jose to carry on his genetics here. We do however have a few of his daughters in our herd. His daughter Honeynut has proven to be a wonderful mother and has given birth to quads 2 years in a row. Jose has a few younger daughters in our herd that haven't been bred yet; Hermione, Nymphadora and Arya will all carry on after him.
Back when I was still showing goats, a couple of Jose's daughters did quite well in the showring as Junior does. Sky River Meadows Asia won Jr. Reserve Champion AOP at the 2013 Brooklin Spring Fair. Sky River Meadows Neveah won Jr. Reserve Champion Nigerian Dwarf Goat at the 2013 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Jose's son Sky River Meadows Hades also won a Grand Champion Nigerian Dwarf at the 2014 Eastern Ontario Buck Show in Delta, ON. Jose lost to his son Hades in that ring, placing second behind him. That was the same year that Jose completed his Championship legs, earning him the status of Permanent Champion. He won 3 out of 4 rings at the 2014 Eastern National Buck Show in Delta, ON. I had hoped to get more of his offspring into the show ring, but I have not had the time to show my goats for a few years now. Maybe one day we will again!
The last few years of Jose's life were spent enjoying the good life with his "bros", waiting for the special time of year when all of our boys have work to do. Jose's temperament was so sweet that he was quite fearful of many things. I will always miss his voice as he was a very vocal boy. His way of hollering out whenever anything scared him always made me smile. Jose was a beautiful boy, with the most amazing coat. What he did not possess in brains and braun, he more than made up for with his good looks, perfect conformation and sweet disposition. It was an absolute shock and tragedy that took him from us so soon. Jose will forever be missed. March 24, 2012 - November 14, 2019 RIP Jose.
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share this sad news. Our dear, sweet boy Jose passed away Thursday morning. This was unexpected, and has come as a shock to my family. He passed due to unknown causes.
Jose arrived to me in 2012 as a young buckling imported from New Mexico. He very quickly won over all of my families hearts with his sweet temperament and silly antics. In 2015 Jose competed at the Buck Show in Delta, ON and won Grand Champion Nigerian Dwarf Buck in 3 out of 4 rings. His son beat him in the 3rd ring that year. Jose became the first Nigerian Dwarf Buck in Canada to become a finished Champion.
As most people that come to the farm do not interact with the breeding males, you may not know Jose, but through his children that live within our main herd you may know him well. Argus, Honeynut, Legolas, Nymphadora, Remis, Ron, Hermione, Jorah and Arya, all have parts of those great qualities he possessed.
Jose was a very vocal boy who always had something to say. It is his voice that I will miss the most in the barn. Rest in Peace Jose. I hope that wherever you are now, the clover is abundant, the sun is always shining and you can spend your days chasing the ladies though the meadows.
As a way for everyone to get to know the herd here at Sky River Meadows, my team have decided that a new weekly feature "Goat of the Week" would be a great way to introduce the individual herd members. Each Monday we will feature a different goat, sharing some of their story and pictures. I did not post this feature yesterday, out of respect to our Veterans on Remembrance Day. As this is the very first Goat of the Week post, I decided to feature our beautiful herd Queen Bonnie. I hope you all enjoy these weekly additions, and learning about our wonderful herd of goats.
Imperial K Bonnie was the very first Nigerian Dwarf doe that I added to my herd. I purchased Bonnie from a woman in southern Ontario who had owned Bonnie for several years. This woman is now a friend of mine and I know she is smiling reading this as she has a particular "love" for Bonnie ;) Bonnie was 5 years old when I brought her home. She was not friendly and really hard to catch. She was not even close to being considered tame at the time, and even though she has been with me for 9+ years she is still the exact same - unfriendly and hard to catch. She is the boss here and she knows it. I am grateful to her for keeping everyone in line though. As Bonnie has the distinction of being the only horned goat in my therapy herd, she is easy to spot. The remainder of my herd has been disbudded - meaning they don't have horns. We do this for safety reasons. Goats love to headbutt and fight with each other, and often they can injure themselves or people with their horns. So by not allowing them to grow horns, we can minimalize injuries when they fight each other, and ensure that no one loses an eye. Bonnie's horns have gotten to an impressive height at almost 15 years of age. I often find myself admiring them. If not for the safety of people and the herd I would love for all my goats to have horns. The rings on goats horns are similar to that on a tree, they grow with age. I have to admit I am fascinated by horns.
Bonnie is incredibly intelligent and stubborn. For the most part we humour Bonnie and just bend to her will and accept her rule around here. Once a month or so though, Bonnie has no choice but to get caught to have her hooves trimmed, get weighed and have an overall check up. We have to plan ahead in order to accomplish capturing her. I joke with my team that it is a three day process as I swear Bonnie can read my mind. Fortunately for Bonnie, she is still in great health so we don't have to bother her too often. She is the only goat in our herd that gets away with being this way. The one with the biggest horns wins! Although Bonnie has been retired as a Mom for several years now, I will always fondly remember her three pregnancies she had with me. How she would lovingly *whack* me with her horns in between her contractions if I wasn't rubbing her belly just the way she needed. Bonnie was an amazing mother to all of her kids. She only ever had two daughters - Black Jack's Ophelia, and Sky River Meadows Cassiopeia. Bonnie also had four sons. When we had to downsize our herd after Geordon's death, Ophelia was one that we sold. I still own Cassiopeia though and it is wonderful to watch how close mother and daughter remain all these years, and how many children they shared in raising. Bonnie has always been the type of doe that would try to steal other mother's babies. She was so adamant about collecting ALL of the babies each year she gave birth, that she would nurse any and all babies.
An interesting observation I have noticed over my years as a goat herder, is the familial ties that exist in the herd. When goats go about doing goat business each day, they tend to do it in family groups. This is especially apparent when they sleep, in one big family puddle of goats.
The average life expectancy for goats is 15-17 years for females and fixed males. Bonnie is almost 15 years old and so far going strong. I hope for all of our sakes at Sky River Meadows that Bonnie continues to thrive and rule over my herd for many years to come yet. I have a hilarious story about the summer of 2018 when Bonnie went on strike as Queen for almost 2 months... but I will save that story for another time and place. For now I will leave you with a few more images of Bonnie, living the good life, without a care in the world. She really does have the best life going for her here. She is surrounded by her family and is the center of her universe. Although she can be a Royal pain in the butt, I am so grateful for Bonnie and all that she has brought to my herd and breeding program. Her icy blue eyes continue to dominate her genetic line in my herd. Even after she passes over the rainbow bridge, when her time does comes, those beautiful eyes of hers will still be admired here by many. Until then LONG LIVE THE QUEEN! ~ Angee