"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unwelcome Drama in the Goat Breeding Business

For the last two years, breeding my goats was very easy: I had my own buck. Storm Cloud was handsome and healthy, but alas, as with all bucks, his usefulness was only a couple of seasons long (The King Must Die (Goat Breeding and Divine Kingship)). This year I had to look for a buck.

I started out with high hopes - I advertised for a spotted purebred Nubian. Weeks and weeks went by, and no responses, except for one. I lowered my standards and simply looked for a Nubian. Same thing - no responses except for the same one. A problematic response. A response from a person I know, and would rather not work with.

D* is a local, small scale goat breeder. She is, in fact, the first goat breeder I met up here, and she was very helpful, giving me tips on general care such as hoof trimming and which worming medicines were most effective for local parasites. I was grateful. However, it didn't take me long to take a rather sharp dislike to her. I didn't like the way she spoke to her toddler child. I didn't like the way she vigorously badmouthed other local goat folks, people I didn't know. When I visited her home, to bring her a gift for her new baby, I was truly shocked by the conditions she was living in - not just squalid but actively dangerous for small children. And as time went on and I did meet other goat folks, I learned that everyone who has had dealings with her has had serious troubles.

I can't give too many specifics without identifying her, which I do not want to do, but various people told me of dealings with her that resulted in hard feelings, at best, and police involvement, at worst. I also heard that the Humane Society had removed some of her animals. You can see why I would prefer to have my does bred by somebody else's buck.

But I just wasn't finding one! A few people called me with bucks of other breeds on offer, but D*'s was the only Nubian available. Time went by, and I realized that if I wanted to breed my does to a Nubian buck this year, I would have to see D*.

There were immediate issues, but mostly minor annoyances. She insisted on current CAE and CL tests for all of my does (reasonable) but when asked for test results on her buck, she couldn't provide any. We talked about my boarding her buck for a few weeks to impregnate all the does at once (my preference), but I ended up transporting my does to her. She wanted to charge me a $3/day boarding fee for my does, plus a few bales of hay, but when we were talking about my boarding her buck there was no talk of her providing hay. In fact, she wanted to charge me a $10 transport fee, each way!

I ignored all this, because I really wanted my does bred, and the buck was actually quite handsome. Black and white spots, tall and big bodied, just what I was looking for. I brought over three of the four does (the fourth was waiting on test results - which cost me $48). All went well on the first go round, and I brought my does home after about a week. D* was paid the full stud fee for the three does, although of course we didn't know yet if they were actually pregnant.

Just a few days ago, I called D* to schedule bringing over my fourth doe, along with one of the original three, who was showing signs of heat, which would mean she wasn't pregnant. D* told me to bring them by anytime, but that the buck I had used before was no longer available and I would have to use her junior, unproven buck. Turns out, that first buck wasn't even hers, she was boarding him for someone else.

"Um, okay," I said. "That's not what I was expecting. How about a price break on the stud fee?"

"No," she said, "I'm already discounting the fee for multiple does. Take it or leave it. And bring some more hay."

I was pretty pissed off at this point. I felt that D* was trying to gouge me at every turn, and also that it was pretty duplicitous to collect stud fees on a buck that wasn't even yours... although of course I don't know what agreement she might have had with the buck's actual owner. However - it was now December, and goat breeding season is drawing to a close. I really wanted this particular doe bred, because she is a first freshener and already a little old for it. Also she is Storm Cloud's offspring, the only blood of his I have on the farm, and a spectacularly gorgeous animal. I don't want to wait another year and a half to see what she produces.

So I brought the goats. D* wasn't home, but she had told me where to leave them, and I did. I also brought a full bale of hay. The string on the hay broke as I was trying to unload it, and so I had to move it in several armloads, which I piled up on in the barn next to the rest of their hay. Then I went home.

A few hours later, I got an e-mail. It said "You have to either bring me more hay or pick up your goats tomorrow. This amount will not compensate me for my time and labor." Immediately following, there was a second e-mail: "disregard first message. Come get your goats now, we don't want them here."

Well. The woman clearly has issues. Anyone who so consistently creates chaos and strife in all their relationships is more to be pitied than hated. I say that now, after a few days cooling off time. In the heat of the moment, I was furious. I'm afraid I have to admit to firing back a long and ungracious e-mail, in which I told her some of the things I've heard about her in the past, and how I should have listened to those people and stayed far away. I am definitely not proud of sending that e-mail - I should have just shut up, collected my goats, and chalked it up to experience.

Also, as my sister told me, it wasn't very smart to send that e-mail while she still had physical possession of my goats. In any case, we got our goats back without difficulty. I told Homero I wanted him to come with me, just in case there were problems. There weren't: D* didn't come out of her trailer. The goats are back home, still unserviced, and I still have no leads on a Nubian buck.

But I have learned a lesson. I hate gossip with a passion, which is probably why I disregarded so many stories about D*. But when three or more people have similar stories to tell about an individual, maybe it isn't just gossip. Maybe it's worth a little caution. At least, in my case, there was no harm done and no police involvement! I'm counting my blessings.


DebH said...

Yikes!! What a wreck. I have that same neighbor/goat person in my area. I too was hoping for a miracle when I purchased two goats from her and I knew better but needed two full Nubians. They were gorgeous but very small...I thought I could fix that. Had a terrible time keeping them well and eventually I lost them both. I heard some stories later on people turning her in for her animal care neglect. I'm smarter now but I sure know how you feel when you just want your animals tended. Just glad you got your girls back and hope you can find a buck of your own! Keep looking..its not too late!!

Anonymous said...

That sucks! It sounds like your instincts were correct. You can use one of our Nigerian Dwarf bucks and make mini-Nubian kids if you would like. There are photos and information on our web page.

Aimee said...

Schooner - thanks for the offer! My sister is letting me use her angora buck. The babies will not be useful except as pets or meat, but at least I will get to see what kind of kidder/mother/milker Polly is.

Sustainable Eats said...

Oh Aimee I'm so sorry! I feel blessed that I have a wonderful breeder with great bucks -- Wendy of Soaring Heart in Snohomish. It's an hour to her one way and well worth it just for her support and knowledge. She does have a full blood I believe but maybe that's just too far for you to go. Sometimes it's better to drive for 2-3 hours once a year and just do it right. What a nightmare!!

Aimee said...

SE - thanks for the tip! I'll look her up on the web and keep her in mind for next year.