Preparing for Goat Kids and Saying Goodbye to Kai

March 24, 2012 · 18 comments














Miniandtrackhoe (Minnie) is officially due to kid this coming Saturday. I’ve had it written on the calendar for five months, but this date still sort of snuck up on me. Though goats are generally known to be easy birthers, I’m kind of nervous this time because of the kidding complications I’ve dealt with past years. Read more about my experiences with kidding here, here, and here.

I’m planning on being at home pretty much all of next week except for a few breaks when Henry’s here to monitor the situation. Hopefully, I won’t have to intervene during the actual kidding any more than the basic drying off, cleaning up, iodining the umbilical cords, and making sure everyone gets something to eat. This is will be Minnie’s first set of kids, so there’s a small risk that she will need a little extra coaching to get her in a mothering state of mind, but she’ll probably do fine.

Because I only have one set of kids per year, I’m definitely not a kidding expert. Every spring, I go back to my goat reference books and the Fiasco Farm website to read and reread about normal kidding procedure and possible complications. I’ve also been double checking the supplies in my birthing kit and checking off things on my pre-kidding to-do list. I’m hoping to get the barn cleaned out today or tomorrow, and I’ll start locking Minnie up in a stall at night.

When kidding time comes, I’ll keep y’all posted via Facebook/Instagram/Twitter as soon as I can use my phone without fouling it up with birthing goo.














Another way that I’m preparing for new kids is by saying goodbye to Kai Ryssdal the goat. I thought I would be more sad about this day, but friendly Kai Ryssdal has turned into super obnoxious Kai Ryssdal, and I’m pretty ready to have him gone. I can now safely say that not disbudding him last spring was a huge mistake. When I’m in our small barn with him, I’m constantly worried that he’s going to poke my eye out or just stab me in the leg with his horns (accidentally or intentionally). He wastes a ton of feed by getting hay tangled in his horns while he’s eating at the feed bunk and then unintentionally pulling it out on the ground. He also has a penchant for destroying the barn by bashing it with his head and trying to break in or out of the stalls. This morning, he hurdled the fence for the first time while I was working with Minnie in the stanchion. I proceded to curse at him a multiple times and then haul him back into the barn before he had a chance to get into the grain.

When I finally decided that he had to go, I debated whether I should sell him to a livestock buyer or butcher him for our own consumption. Though I have eaten goat meat before, I haven’t actually eaten one that I personally raised. In the end, it became clear that we’d probably appreciate the meat in the freezer more than the $60 or so that he’d bring in from a sale (where someone else would end up eating him).

Henry is planning on dispatching him today and hanging the carcass until Monday when we’ll pass it off to Brad Burnheimer of Burnheimer Meat Co.¬†Henry has a fair bit of experience with butchering, and I’ve helped out a little, but neither of us has time or motivation to devote a lot of energy to the art of butchery and sausage making. Brad, on the other hand, is a local professional butcher (and really nice guy) with a fledgling charcuterie business set up with the tools to do a really good job. His custom butchery skills will allow us to utilize all the meat and honor Kai’s life and death as well as possible.

I’m still trying to decide whether or not to blog further about what happens to Kai after today. I’d like to share more about Brad and his business, but as a former vegetarian and conscientious meat eater, I don’t delight in grisly, bloody flesh photos. I might write more about it if I have the time and feel like I can do it respectfully. We’ll see. Feel free to weigh in with a comment one way or the other.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura March 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I ate my pet Pig, when I was a kid. I still think about it occasionally. Not because it bothers me that I ate him, but because my sister enjoyed mine with the family, but she wouldn’t eat any of her pet pig’s meat. I did though!, seconds too.

I guess what I’m saying is it might be more emotional AFTER the fact.


Laura March 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm

ps. I say “pet” but they weren’t really “pets” in the traditional way. We have feed them as piglets, but as soon as that was done, they went out to the pen until the “time” was right.


cynthia March 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

i love your goats and goat stories! especially the ‘birthin’ the babies’ones. that said,not all of the animals get to stay forever at our house. general rule of thumb, as long as you can get along, you can stay. sometimes other arrangements must be made.


mel March 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I like to think of us here in my home as (mostly) conscientious meat eaters. I’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma plus other similar articles, and I know the awful lives of most commercial feed lot animals, so I try not to purchase that type of meat; instead, we eat a lot of venison and some locally, humanely raised meats from a few people we know whose farms we’ve visited. The past few years, we’ve butchered our own deer. Boy, what a lot of work. However, I am becoming a believer that every meat eater should not only meet the animals they eat while living, but should also participate in a butchering session. You can never forget where that food comes from when you’ve helped divide and process it. I have never taken an animal’s life by hunting or intentional butchering; I like to think that while I could do it if starving or feeding my family, I wouldn’t enjoy it like some hunters do. Helping process an animal has definitely helped me make more sense of cuts of meat; when you see the source and think about its use while the animal is living, the whole “tough vs. tender” concept makes much more sense. Plus, when you start learning about what animals eat and how it affects their health and the health value of the meat from that animal, you really become more concerned about the creatures’ lives AND how it affects your life. You try harder to stop supporting the madness with your money.

We ate deer and our own cattle when I was little, so I guess I’m used to it. I knew where the beef came from, knew that I’d petted that cow and could picture its face, but I didn’t really get it until I was older. I probably would still have eaten it even if I’d fully understood, but I would have felt more sad about it.

I hope you enjoy your goat. Don’t wait too long, though–he’s probably getting tougher as he gets older. Right?


Camille March 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I totally agree. I actually surprised myself when the time came this afternoon by tearing up. I don’t have regrets, but it’s hard, and that’s the way I think it should be.

Kai was actually only about a year old, so he wasn’t full-grown yet. He should be pretty tender still.


Kelly Sitton March 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Okay…this just about hits home for me jumping on my personal soap box, lol, but I’ll keep it short.
Raising your own meat (or anyfood) is wonderful, but for the animal part doesn’t come with out a few tough times. For me some of my feeilings/philosophy comes from my religous beliefs, but that aside…. when you care for an animal and raise it as respectfully and healthy as possibe – caring for all it’s needs – that is repaid to you with the most wholesome and healthy nourshment you are gonna get. My husband and his family all hunt and we mostly eat venison, elk or occasionally antelop. And we also eat lamb or pork the family raises. I miss beef, but sometimes we get some from friends who raise their own. In the near future we will be adding some new goats and possibly some chickens or ducks. Its about being a good steward.


Camille March 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Thanks, Kelly.


Eve Geisler March 25, 2012 at 5:38 am

Ugh, we respectfully dispatch our backyard flock of chickens every year just before Christmas. Nobody looks forward to the job, but it does get easier, at least more efficient. Since we are meat eaters, I figure that the 6 chickens I personally take care of and eat saves 6 chickens from having a miserable life locked up in a barn somewhere.
New flock coming April 2nd!!


Julie Gibson March 25, 2012 at 9:28 am

We have butchered a few of our chickens. Dh does the initial work, and I clean and cook. I can honestly say I don’t enjoy it, but I appreciate our food more from doing this. Just because something is hard, that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. My hat’s off to you.


Camille March 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Honestly, I like the fact that it’s a little hard. I don’t want to get too complacent about taking an animal’s life without feeling respectful and a little sad about the whole thing.


Erin March 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

We also made the mistake of not disbudding our kids which led to them becoming part of our freezer, but we did so much sooner than you did at about 6 months old.


Preita March 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm

the problems you have with Kai is exactly why we have tried to breed our Icelandic sheep to be poled (without horns). I love our ram, he’s sweet as pie, but during the rut he’s all man and not afraid to try and get you. We just finished kidding (ending up with 2 girls who we’ll keep & 3 little boys). I’m bummed that they are boys and will have to go because I love my La Mancha’s so much, but that is the way of too many boys.


Erika March 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Sorry you had to do away with Kai! I worry about our little sweet yearling ram becoming a not so sweet and gentle jerk. I was told I gotta keep him in fear of me, but gracious he is so adorable and akward i want to treat him like a pet-not potentially dangerous livestock! Sad when the little boys grow up :( I hope you are your family an enjoy the sustenance hes bringing toy our table. Hope the rest of your kidding goes well this year!


Kai March 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Wait, what!?!?!?!?!


Camille March 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I am so busted…Sorry ’bout that.


Nea March 28, 2012 at 7:02 am

I would definitely be interested in reading about the process and/or how you go about it? I’m looking forward to raising chickens (mostly for eggs & garden work) someday, but still struggle with what to do with roosters & older hens. I’m a softie, so insight into how other people feel about eating animals they’ve raised would be helpful!


Marta March 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I agree with taking part in the “harvesting” process. If you eat meat, you should experience birth/life/death of the animal you end up putting on the table. Your livestock get to have a healthy diet, and a good life, even if they might not consciously appreciate it. Sure beats large scale animal husbandry. Thanks for not being a hypocrite!!! We’ve taken deer and boars off the land, but will not randomly kill animals unless we can eat/store/gift most parts.


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