I was watching the beautiful goats on the livestream of the ADGA National Show, and thought a lot about my own goats. There was time when I would have been all caught up in the show preps, doing shows whenever possible. That’s been a couple years. I don’t know if my goats will ever be competitive again, which makes me sad.
Not because I think my goats are ugly. They are not. Sure, some are prettier than others, but they are all beautiful in my eyes. It’s because the “show goat,” has gone the way of the Border collie, the Australian Shepherd, the German Shepherd. There are show goats, and show dogs, but the ones that do well in the show ring aren’t practical pets. They take too much brushing, too much training, or just plain don’t know how to do their jobs anymore.
My girls know how to do their jobs. Their udders are productive, but far enough off the ground that they don’t step on them. They’re not so full that they can’t run when they are full of milk. When their babies are born they still no how to mother them, and their kids don’t get sick because someone didn’t milk their mothers first.
I may never get $10,000 per kid, or $1800, but I will get milk for a good long time. Milk that I can drink; that I can make cheese and yogurt from, and soap to sell. They don’t need a ton of alfalfa to make ample milk, and they can produce a good amount of milk with good brush and regular grain.
But I know where my goats came from. I know because for the most part, I bred them. My herd goes back generations with Hames & Axle, but just enough Gay-Mor, Rosasharn, Fall Creek, Leighstar, Split Creek and Jobi to build on the milk supply. Just enough to keep the genetics strong. I see so many people gathering genetics based upon how they do in the ring, and look at only one or two generations. I love to look back at the long lines in my herd and recognize how far my herd has come. I’m glad I took the time to see how the goats grow over time. How they become my friends, and how graceful they are as they age, and still so generous.
I see so many goats now with whopping big udders that keep them from walking straight with their back legs. When they stop for a pose, their feet have to be repeatedly placed in the proper place, when my goats sit their feet properly, because that’s how their skeleton was formed. The backs of my goats are strong, and a little uphill, not like a ski slope, but like a straight line climbing a gentle hill. Hames & Axle goats have changed over time, not by giant jumps, but by gentle lifting of one generation over the previous, toward the standard.
Not every goat can make these claims, nor every breeder. I proudly invite anyone to look at my herd and, with the exception of the purchased does, to find one that doesn’t conform to the others. There are no surprises anymore, except in the colors. We don’t have giant bucks or does that push the stick like we did 15 years ago. That’s what comes from breeding properly, and I’m glad that I’ve done that.
I hope there’s still a buyer for the kids that I have that share those same goals.