We’re using two large pastures this winter. The one we call the “barn pasture” is about 22 acres and it has over 60 goats in it (and one horse). The other one, which we call the “main pasture” is about 7.5 acres and it has only 5 goats in it. Why the difference?
The 5 inhabitants of the main pasture are goats we’ve retired from kidding. We moved them to the main pasture to prevent them from being bred. In a normal farm operation those animals would be culled from the herd and sold, rather than allowed to have a perfectly fine pasture all to themselves. But we’re just letting them live out their lives, because that’s what we do.
Juliette is a big, healthy goat. She appears to be great breeding stock. But she kidded four times and had trouble every time. Of her seven kids only one survived and we had to bottle feed him. The last time she kidded she ended up with a dangerously swollen milk bag. On top of all that, she was skittish and nervous when we came near her kids. So we retired her.
Kelly made great kids and two of her offspring are still in the herd. But she developed udder problems with her last kids and we had to bottle feed them both. We didn’t think she’d ever be able to nurse kids again, so she went to the front pasture.
Iris is the only goat in the retirees pasture who has never had a kid. We retired her with her mother Maggie. Maggie wasn’t able to nurse her so we bottle-fed Iris. She seemed underdeveloped and we thought it best not to breed her. She matured slowly but has turned out to be a beautiful goat. But given her history, we’re going to keep her in with the retired Mamas.
Poor Sara had a ruptured milk bag after her last delivery. It healed well (and we bottle-fed the kids), but her career as a mother was definitely over. She was once something of a bully, but with these grizzled veterans she’s at the bottom of the totem pole.
Finally there is Maggie. She rules this crowd. She’s the mother of our billy goat Johnny, so she’s the grande dame of our herd. She’s also an ungrateful grump. Cherie saved her life, nursing her back to health from what seemed an impossible situation. While most of our goats are affectionate and friendly, Maggie’s attitude toward humans wavers between indifference and contempt. We love the cranky old girl.