Sep 2, 2009


Add ImageNyla was one of our first goats. When we were snuggled in to bed with our respective books one fine evening in Houston, before we had even found the farm, I passed to Tim a description of the different breeds of dairy goats. He read them all, then tossed the book back to me, saying "LaMancha". I asked why and he reminded me
that the description said that LaManchas are the quietest and friendliest breed...and with eight children already, we didn't need anything else that would talk back to us!

It just so happened that when we did find, buy and move to the farm that I made a discovery. One of the best known LaMancha breeders in our area happened to live less than a mile from our new house. I called, we went to see and a few months later, brought home two LaMancha does, Nyla and Zelda.

You will meet Zelda in the future, no doubt...or at least meet some of her offspring. We now have five generations from Zelda on the property.

From the beginning when we brought Nyla home I was in love. I thought her the most wonderful goat and was so proud! I spent lots of time reading about goats, goat nutrition, goat personalities, goat conformation...and running out to the barn, books in hand, to compare what I was reading to what was in my barn.

In February 2005, less than five months after we bought her, Nyla kidded. I thought I would die a thousand times. I learned that although everyone said "oh you are a midwife!
You will do fine!" that there is a big difference between delivering people babies and goat babies. People call and say "I think this is it!" Goats act just suspiciously enough to give you a surge of adrenalin then look at you as if to say "oh...just stretching..." People babies usually come out just one at a time and those times when they don't, you usually have a pretty good idea of how many there actually are Goat babies come singly...or in sets of up to five! People babies don't come out (usually) with their left rear leg stretched out over their right ear, upside down and backwards.

Nyla did fine, though. Two bucklings. Now I might be disappointed. Then I was just thrilled that they--and I--survived.

Each year Nyla reliably gave us beautiful babies and wonderful milk. She became more and more beautiful becoming not only a productive doe but also one that was
competitive in the show ring. My children laughed at me, but I would often slow down as I drove down the driveway because I would be admiring her as she moved across the pasture.

Then the day came...we were taking her to the Houston Livestock Show for the first time. I was a bundle of nerves, she handled it like a pro. Like always. The third day that we were there, I noticed that she seemed "off". We looked her over. She didn't seem to be making much milk. We took her temperature, it was low. Too high indicates a fever. Too low can indicate a metabolic crash of some sort. We called for the show vet who was only too happy to sign the release for us to take her home. She held her own and we nursed her for the next day or so until the vet opened on Monday.

After we got her to the vet she went sharply downhill. We spent the entire day at the vet, shoulder to shoulder, poring over goat vet textbooks to no avail. We called every goat expert we could think of across the country. Everything we thought it might be, blood work or other tests proved us wrong. Finally, when the vet's office closed for the night, the vet promised to stay with her and we said goodbye and left for home. I knew we wouldn't be bringing her home again. Tim met me in the driveway with two still-wet doelings and the promise that we weren't going to quit, but in all honesty I had no interest what-so-ever in continuing. To me, Nyla was Swede Farm and I just wasn't interested in envisioning a farm without her quiet dignity and beauty.

The next morning the vet called and told me what my heart already knew, that Nyla did not survive he night. He asked for permission to do a necropsy, an animal autopsy, to which I agreed. I needed to know what would take down such a healthy goat in the prime of life. When the results of the final tissue samples came back from Texas A&M, it was a shock. Basically Nyla had been fed something caustic, and everything pointed to it having been
at the Livestock Show. It was impossible to say what it might have been, with cleaning crews moving through the area, and hundreds, if not thousands of visitors milling about the animals, it could have been anything, undoubtedly an innocent mistake.

We still have much of Nyla in our herd. Every single year that we have been in goats we have had a descendant of her's born. She was stingy with daughters, we only own one Nyla daughter, but she has sons in several herds, carrying on her legacy. We are proud to have owned such a wonderful goat and couldn't have asked for a better start in goats.

Sabine, here, is the only Nyla daughter that we own.

The two babies here are Sam Bass and Cherokee Bill, the last babies that Nyla had. Sam is still on Swede Farm, making beautiful babies and Bill is likewise living the male goat dream life in a herd in far East Texas.

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