Desperate times call for desperate measures. We have been living with this drought for so long that Gwen and I quit wondering when itís going to rain and have pretty much given up on any relief from Mother Nature. The few little spritzes of rain that we have gotten have been to few and far between and any hope of a green up after one has flown out the window. The only thing that can help now would be a flood of almost Biblical proportions. One would be nice over a 3 month period!
We have done just about everything we can with our operation to slim down and skimp and save, short of just selling out and paying down the bills we have accrued. We sold off all of the unproductive animals and completely sold our last kids crop without retaining any replacement Does even though this years Doe crop was pretty fine. Other than some Rye grass seed that we spread on the dam of a pond that we had cleaned out we havenít bought and spread any type of winter forage seed. With a huge lack of precipitation of any type and none forecast for the foreseeable future what would be the point of wasting the money?
For the last couple of months our herd has survived on Ellum trees. The variety of tree is good shade and they thrive where many trees wonít grow but all they are good for is goat food. The wood from these trees gives off an awful smell when you burn it and it starts to rot the minute you cut the tree down so they have no value except as a survival ration for a herd of goats. Iím not an arborist so I canít truly affirm how nutritious they are but the goats get a belly full of leaves and along with the Crystalyx likkum tubs they have stayed in fair shape. Most of our goat showing friends would say we are starving our Does to death but they ainít paying for the feed to keep them bloomy!
The acorns started to drop and we received a few beneficial rains along about the end of October. Weíve got about 30-35 acres of Oak and other types of trees and the goats canít be coaxed out of the woods when the acorns start to drop. They will come out long enough to get some greens out in the pasture and a little protein supplement and laze around to ruminate a little while then itís back to grubbing around under the Oaks! Iíve heard an Old Wives Tale that acorns are bad for goats but have never had one get sick from eating them. Iíve heard another OWT that acorns have tannins that help with the barber pole and other worms but since Iím not a parasitologist I canít say for true on that. Maybe Dr. Tom Craig can set me straight on this. The grist from the goat ruminating the shells might act to cut them little suckers up for all I know. What I do know is that acorns along with some green forage and a protein supplement of some kind will help a producer endure this terrible dry spell we are suffering through in all of the Southwestern U.S.
All of this is slowly coming to a screeching halt as the trees lose their leaves and the supply of acorns slowly runs out. We have started to give the goats some of the hay we were able to find, as poor as it is. We have also started to feed the pregnannies some pelleted feed and a little alfalfa in the evening. We let them eat enough of the alfalfa hay to get a small belly full then push them out of the feeding pen. Itís easy for them to founder on this rich hay we got from Kansas. Our supplier, Joe Wilson of Smith Center, says it is really prime leafy stuff. Them nannies sure donít want to leave it but we reluctantly make them. Some of them look like they will kid any day now and this is what raising goats is all about. We work on raising the finest goats we possibly can and when one of our animals takes the Blue it sure can make us smile!
The big goat herd could sure use some tender loving care as we start to prepare them for breeding in January. Along with the hay and likkum tubs we are providing we have started to give them a ration of whole cottonseed in the evening. A small amount of WCS is all you need to put a little cover on your herd. Later on in the winter we will allow them to consume much more but for now we will monitor their intake until we are sure that everyone is getting what they need and eating all that they get during the one evening feeding. We are going to try to do some of the old style ďflushingĒ and get the girls a little bloomy (as opposed to the other flushing for embryo transfer).
The boys are in good shape. Full Throttle and B.B. will be brought in for a hoof trimming, vaccinations, and a worming if needed but other than that they are fat and sassy and ready to go with their Goat Chanel working and everything!
If we can make it to spring we might stand a chance. When it comes to feeding time try to have a plan but stay flexible and adapt to the situations. If youíve got plenty of forage then you may be able to delay feeding and the costs involved. With the way things are going we all need to work on keeping the cost of inputs down and the dollars in our own pockets!
Yaíll missed a great show! The East Texas Goat Raisers Associationís Spectacular Goat Showdown was a great success and more fun than a barrel of monkeys! A lot of great goats and really good show folks took home the bling. Our members would like to thank the participants, the vendors, and everyone who helped out. It was a lot of fun watching the youngsters competing with the OldstersÖ and showing them how itís done!
Things with the Association have started to wind down for the Holidays. We will have the face to face board meeting on December 6th at 6:30 p.m. at the new steak house in Jacksonville. Give Rene McCracken a call for details at 903-683-5416. It will be good eats but Dutch treat and all members are invited to attend to give their input on how OUR association is going to operate. So come on out, put the feed bag on (make sure you got room on your Visa for the meal!) and let us know what yaíll want.
The ETGRA will be holding itís annual Round Robin Instructional Event, Pot Luck Lunch, and General Membership Meeting at the home property on January 21st starting at 10 a.m. Topics included will be medication, hoof trimming, clipping for show, how to build healthy soil and other techniques for improving pastures. If you wish to suggest additional topics, please contact Rene McCracken. I will give you all of the details as they develop. Go to www.etgra.com for more information on events and about our association or friend us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ETGRA/.
The Northeast Texas Goat Raiserís Association (NETGRA) is a non-profit organization established in 2003 through the Texas Cooperative Extension Service and is headed by a Board of Directors who is elected by the general membership. NETGRAís mission is to help Northeast Texas goat producers be more successful in the goat industry. NETGRA members are involved in the production of registered & commercial dairy (Nubian, Saanen, etc.) and meat (Boer, Kiko, etc.) goats. Many members also sell wethers either as show prospects for youth 4-H, FFA and jackpot shows or for consumption (chevron/cabrito). Please visit our Members page for more specific classifications and contact information. Go to http://www.netgra.org/index.html for more info about this dynamic organization.
Thatís all Iíve got for now. I would like to announce that the East Texas Farm and Ranch News will no longer be published. This saddens me because the ETF&R News was the paper that I started with and I shared certain faithfulness with them. I have written this column every two weeks for quite a while and Iím going to kind of miss having the deadline. I will be going to writing the Gossip monthly. Thank yaíll for your continued support. If your hear tell of any training stuff or any other events then let me know so I can spread the word. Please support your favorite local, area, or national goat breeders associations AND the 4-H and FFA. Call me at 903-388-8528 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any goat gossip. Bye, for now