Nov 1, 2009

And lastly--the Alpines

About fifteen months ago we were months away from the dairy being finished and licensed. We began to be anxious that we did not have the amount of milk that we needed to supply what we hoped would be a growing demand for goat milk products. I called our goat mentor to see if she might have any neurotic but well-producing Nubians for sale. She did not. "If I were starting a dairy and were looking for goats.." she said thoughtfully...

"well? WHAT?!"

"I'd make the trip to Idaho to see if (she named a fellow goat breeder) has any alpines that she is needing to sell to gain some space in that ice cave that they call a barn up there in the frozen north!"

So I called. And lo and behold, she did, indeed have eight does that we could purchase. The thought of the trip was daunting, but the need for goats was greater, so we set out.

All I knew of Alpines at this point was that they made a lot of milk. In the weeks to come I would hear of rumors of nasty temperament and aggression with other goats, but thankfully this was after we had made the trip to get the Alpines.

What we have learned of Alpines is that they are one of the Swiss breeds, so they make a lot of milk that tends to be somewhat lower in butterfat than the Nubians and Alpines. They come in different colors and patters (all designated by fancy french-derived names). They have upright ears.

The ears were a big surprise. I knew that they had upright ears. What I had not expected was how enjoyable those ears would be. I was surprised to see how expressive they are. They turn forward when the goats are listening or are curious. When the goat does not feel well, they droop. They are an enjoyable barometer into the personality and the mood of the goat.

They are also inquisitive and friendly. When we walk to the fence, it is usually an Alpine that comes to visit. If someone walks into the milkroom when goats are being milked, the LaManchas and Nubians usually keep right on eating. The Alpines take the opportunity to stop, look up and see what is going on. They are willing to leave eating for kisses.

They have also been the goats that have shown the propensity for getting themselves into the most mischief. It was Cinnamon who figured out how to get into the alleyway that leads to the milkroom, turn the round doorknob with her mouth and let herself and her compadres in for an evening snack. They tried to get into the milk plant room as well, thankfully they were foiled by being discovered.

I never thought I would say it, but pretty much everyone here has admitted that should we find ourselves in the position to start a goat herd over from scratch, that it might just be all Alpines that would be preferred.

Whodda thunk?

1 comment:

Tracy Stampke said...

I'd have thunk! :)

And my ice cave is nice and full of some wonderful girls this winter!

I've been meaning to ask you, how is Hallie??? I haven't heard you mention her in a long time. You don't know how much I wish I had her at nationals this year...she would have done SO well.