Sweet Alsiki went on a date today. This was not a spur-of-the-moment thing, but a highly orchestrated affair, like the betrothal of a Renaissance princess. Alsiki is not the most beautiful of my goats, but she is the one people fall in love with. She\’ll come and stand next to you, so quietly and unobtrusively that next thing you know you\’ve got your arms around her and she\’s lying on your lap. She is subtly colored, cream and white, and she wears “goat jewelry,” a pair of little bell-like wattles that hang from her neck.
The date began with a hormone shot. At almost twenty months old, the biological clock is in full swing for Alsiki. But she had never given overt signs of heat—no tail wagging, no restlessness, no crying out in the night for her phantom lover, no pinkness or swelling or discharge in the relevant parts. To get things rolling, we gave her an injection that would bring her into heat within three to seven days.
Alsiki got her shot on Friday, and this morning we had an appointment with a buck at the farm where she was born, a couple of hours\’ drive from where we live (good breeders of Nigerian Dwarf goats are few and far between. Here is a great one: www.willowmoonfarm.com).
I thought that it might help if Alsiki looked her best. I put her on the milking stand and she let me pick up each of foot and cut the overgrown parts of the hoof with nary a kick or a struggle. (By contrast, Virginia Slim, and especially Blossom, left me sweating and panting for breath as well as covered in hoof parings.)
I thought I should also give Alsiki a good brushing. But there\’s no such thing as brushing a single goat. When they see me with the brush, my goats get as close to me as they can and stand quietly for as long as I am willing to brush. This has an amazing hypnotic effect, not just on them, but on me. By the time I\’m done, I feel as if I\’ve just undergone a powerful meditative experience.
We hoisted the made-over Alsiki into the dog crate in the back of the truck, and took off for the frozen north. She was not giving any signs of heat. It might take days for the shot to take effect, but the breeder had kindly offered to keep her until she did go into heat, so we weren\’t worried about making the trip in vain.
It was a cold, gray day, the woods and fields covered with snow, the bare trees outlined in black, like you see in paintings by Brueghel. At the farm, we decanted Alsiki into a stall and the breeder led in the boyfriend—a beautiful young buck, about Alsiki\’s age, black and white with a swishy mane along his back that gave him the look of a Colobus monkey. (You\’ll be glad to know that Nigerian Dwarf bucks, whether because of their small size, or because it\’s a gift of the fairies, give off nowhere near the stink of “regular” bucks during rutting season.)
The boyfriend tiptoed in, shaking his mane, tactfully keeping his distance, lifting his upper lip and darting his tongue to determine how things stood.
As I said, until that moment, there had been no signs that Alsiki was even remotely in the mood. “Strange,” I said, observing the low-key scene, “she\’s not trying to get away from him.” (I\’d seen does who were just not quite in the mood climb up walls to get away from a buck.)
And as I finished the sentence, the boyfriend mounted and the deed was done. Just like that. Not only had Alsiki been in heat, she\’d been in “standing” heat, which is as hot as a goat can get. But, discreet as ever, she hadn\’t wanted to make a fuss.
The boyfriend retreated, Alsiki continued to stand, in case there was more to come. The boyfriend nickered and hung about near the relevant parts. He capered and curled his lip, stuck out his tongue. Alsiki stood politely, waiting for him to recover. We knew he would, so, leaving them to their privacy, we all went out to lunch.