Of course, I cannot make it through a complete year without driving to another state to pick up some type of livestock.
This time we traveled to Roland, Arkansas to bring home our newest breeding buck, Alexandrite. Over at Sunkissed Organics we also house Ober-Excited Oberhaslis which is our small breed preservation project that has turned out to be my favorite animals in the world.
We started out a few years back driving down to Lafayette to purchase our first breeding pair of American Oberhaslis. The breed intrigued me not only because of their beautiful color and structure, but more for their kind-hearted personalities that I had been hearing about.
Oberhaslis are considered a rare breed that is on the American Livestock Breed Conservacy’s watch list to try to save their breed from going extinct. At one point it was said there were less than 500 breeding pairs in the country.
From that day on it seemed like we were addicted, or at least I was. We learned more and more through real life experience than any book could have taught me.
Those first two, Ober the Top Joe and The Em’s Candyland Princess (they were registered and named prior to us), were considered American Oberhasli which were at some point intertwined with another breed of goats called Alpines.
Princess kidded two beautiful little doelings that first year that my daughters named Crystal and Selma. Those two made it to the La Porte County Fair later that summer as part of the 4-H program. Even my daughters loved hanging out with the goats. From there, I realized that if we were to keep the doelings we would need another buck to breed them to. I found another American buck named Sebastian, part of the Ober-Ridge breeding program, and picked him up near Toledo, Ohio.
At some point I came across a gentleman that lived in Kansas that owned the world known (at least in the dairy goat world) Meadowsong. He was downsizing his herd of Purebred Oberhasli and had a few for sale. So, I went and rented a utility trailer and that handy boyfriend of mine built me a traveling stall to drive to Kansas and back to retrieve our newest additions.
Gretel, Cassondra and little Alex all made their way to Indiana with us and came home to merge with our herd. There was such a huge difference between the purebreds and Americans that I would have never imagined. The Americans stand taller, produce more milk and have a different personality which you could pretty much describe as bossy. The purebreds are sweet, and more or less just follow whatever plan you have in store for them.
Since it is supposed to be a business and not just a goat retirement home, I did decide to sell all of our American Oberhaslis — which was easy to find buyers for, given how rare they are. However, it was difficult seeing everyone go to new homes — even though I thoroughly online stalked them all to be sure they were going nice places.
After that I made another trip to see my now friend Jim in Kansas and picked up three does and three bucks to bring home. The three does — Gunnel, Harper and Loralei — and one of the bucks — Galahad — were all staying with us and we were just transporting the other two bucks for farmers in Ohio and Michigan that came to pick them up from our farm.
I had to make a rule so that I wouldn’t end up overpopulated that all the new kids would sell each year. With Oberhaslis having typically two kids, you can quickly be outnumbered in no time. We have had goats move to Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma — even the Upper Peninsula. There may be a few states that I have forgotten.
Over the summer I had a woman that purchased one of my does the year prior and was looking for a buck for breeding. I had a young three-month-old for sale that she came to check out. At the same time, I was contemplating selling Galahad due to him being too closely related for me to breed him to any of the doelings if I had any that didn’t sell. Of course, Galahad, being the sweetheart that all of my bucks seem to be, won over this woman’s heart as well as the young buckling which she named Lancelot.
At that point I realized I needed another buck to keep mine company. This is how I ended up driving to Arkansas last weekend and picking up our new addition that will begin a new bloodline to our breeding program for Spring 2019.
And while I don’t plan on doing anymore traveling to purchase goats, I can’t entirely rule it out. If you have a chance next spring, wander on over in April or May and come and see all of our baby goats that are due to be born around then. You may end up wanting to take one home as well.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.