There are a lot of incidents that launch themselves on a trajectory that can lead either to farce or to tragedy, and until they play out, there's no knowing whether to laugh or cry. One such incident happened last Friday.
We "leash breed" our goats, so we can be absolutely sure that breeding has taken place and we know exactly who is the daddy. It means leashing up a specific doe and a specific buck individually and leading each to some place where we can watch them mate. What ensues has nothing that a human would recognize as romance; the deed takes a few seconds, and then the animals get led back home. Being able to provide certainty about our pedigrees enhances the value of our stock, and is reflected in the breeding page of our farm website.
Practically, leash breeding is a bit of work. Our happy, happy bucks live at one corner of the big pasture, where they pass their days grazing, peeing on their beards, making grotesque noises, and trying to relieve their sexual tensions with each other. Our does live in a pasture on the other side of the big pasture, over a hundred yards away, and pass their time with grazing and meditating--except for when they are in heat. Then, they stand up on the junked workbench that I put in their pasture for their amusement, orient themselves towards the distant bucks, and sing a loud song of lust and desire.
Two of our does, Opera and Mizuki, were in heat last Friday. It was far from a beautiful day for romance--it was pouring, and Nigerian Dwarf goats hate rain. But, omnia vincit amor, so Opera didn't complain when I tied her up under the barn's awning. Cernunnos was not too enthusiastic about being rousted out of his dry shelter, but once he figured out what was up, he picked up his pace. The deed done, each went back through the downpour and into their shelters. Then it was Mizuki's turn; she knew what was up, and was willing to be tied up under the barn's eaves to await her mate, Go Daddy.
What happened next was all a wet, furry, stinky blur. I went to fetch Go Daddy, who had figured out what was going on, and was defying the downpour to wait at the gate of his pasture. Cernunnos had the same thought, and the other bucks--Guy, Cherubino, Mustafa, and Caliban, who are less experienced--were curious as to what was going on, so they were at the gate too. I slipped through the gate, attached the lead to Go Daddy's collar, and shooed all the other bucks away from the gate. Go Daddy, I should mention, is the strongest and most eager of our bucks, and it is a genuine struggle to hold onto him. So, perhaps it’s understandable that my attention was focused on restraining him as I fumbled in the pouring rain to close the balky latch on the gate. I failed to notice Cernunnos charging the gate. I did notice him when he barged past me and Go Daddy and was moving at an urgent, waddling trot towards the barn.
And here is where we were suspended between farce and frustration. Rain pouring down, Mizuki tied up at the barn singing of her desire, Cernunnos eagerly galloping across the field towards a doe he should definitely not mate, me getting forcibly dragged away from an open gate by Go Daddy, who is trying to beat Cernunnos, and four naive but intrigued bucks looking intently at the open gate and their buddies who seemed quite keen on...something. I didn't hesitate: the most important thing was to intercept Cernunos--if it were necessary, I could simply pick Mizuki up and throw her over the electric fence, provided I got to her before Cernunos. So, I charged across the field in the pouring rain, accompanied by the lusty Go Daddy, and trailing a train of confused bucklings who didn't know anything about what was going on but that it looked like fun.
Fortunately for the resolution of the affair, Go Daddy and I are faster than Cernunnos. Despite my attempt at sprinting, Go Daddy still towed me most of the way (from the strain he puts on his collar, I have come to the conclusion that his kink is erotic asphyxiation). We got to Mizuki, who was urging her suitors onward, just before Cernunnos. I let go of Go Daddy’s leash, figuring that he would know what to do, and grabbed a hold of Cernunnos’ collar. The other bucks were strung out in a line, halfway between their pasture and the barn, reconsidering the wisdom of going out in the heavy rain for an uncertain reward. Once he was finished, I grabbed Go Daddy's lead, and held onto it with the same hand that was restraining Cernunnos; with the other hand, I hustled Mizuki back through her gate. Temporarily sated, Go Daddy was not too difficult to lead back to his pasture, and Cernunnos also seemed to realize that his date had left him standing in the rain. We shuffled back across the field, and were joined by the other bucks, who seemed confused by the whole business, but content to fall in line and follow the big boys back into the pen. I closed the gate behind everybody, and let out a deep sigh of relief, and some laughter.
So, if you look at our farm’s web page, you will see our breeding list. I can assure you that it is accurate.