The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Is she or isn't she?

Goat in the brush

Back when we first paid for Abigail, the owner seemed confident that she'd be able to breed her and let us take home a pregnant goat. However, when the time came to pick up our new addition, the owner seemed a little less sure. Yes, she thought she'd bred Abigail a month previously, but she'd just gotten her buck back from his visit to a friend's farm and the buck had acted very interested in Abigail again. "So if she didn't get bred then, she got bred now."

That left me with a lot of question marks. If this was the same buck who had tried previously, are we sure he did the job this time around? Is Abigail actually pregnant? Enter the urine test.

Testing goat pee

Leigh posted that one technique people think is pretty accurate is to add a little less than half a teaspoon of goat urine to a cup of bleach. Based on the amount of fizz you see, you can determine whether or not your goat is pregnant. Extended fizz = knocked up. No fizz = she's not knocked up. Since Abigail nearly always pees right before I take her out of the coop in the morning and then again right after I bring her back in at night, it was pretty easy to stick a container underneath and run a test. Unfortunately, the results weren't what I was looking for --- no fizz. Even after I poured a whole lot of urine into that bleach, the only thing that happened is that the combined liquid turned a very dark brown/yellow color.

So now I'm back at the buck-rag method of testing Abigail's status. When we got Artemesia, that goat lady was kind enough to rub a rag (which I'd brought along just in case) all over her buck, then I sealed the aromatic fabric in a ziplock bag and forgot about it. This week, I finally started pulling out the buck rag every day for Abigail to sniff. The idea is that, if she's not pregnant, sometime within the next three weeks our goat will be cycling and will suddenly grow interested in eau de buck. Here's hoping she keeps telling me that eating oat leaves is far more interesting than going on the rag!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Just wanted to say that I am so enjoying reading about your goat adventures. And the pictures are so much fun to see.
Comment by Jean Thu Nov 6 08:25:58 2014

Hi Anna - if it turns out that Miss Abigail is not expecting, do you have a contingency plan to introduce her to a nice local boy goat? I suppose it would be good to have a bit more say in who the baby goat daddy is, right?

Typing this question makes me giggle. Have a great day!

Comment by Karen B Sat Nov 8 04:29:17 2014

Jean --- I'm always glad to hear that people are enjoying my goat obsession, not bored by it. :-)

Karen B --- I figure I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. But the eventual buck we find to mate our does (whether it occurs this year or next) will have to be small --- either a dwarf or a semi-dwarf like ours. I've read that it's bad to mate a small female to a large male because the kid can then be too big and make deliveries difficult. So we've got our work cut out for us!

Comment by anna Sun Nov 9 08:01:58 2014

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