Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Nasty Buck

Copper, King of the Rock

We love having visitors to our little farm.  And, I'll admit, things are very entertaining in the backyard right now.  I would not, however, think this is a prime time to bring over the kiddos for a friendly farm visit.  In fact, if any kiddos are reading this post along with you, it might be time to send them to make their beds or clean their rooms.

Yep, it's breeding season, and though we're not sure Copper has managed to actually get things done yet, he's trying desperately.  While a lot of dairy goat owners today choose artificial insemination, we opted to go a more natural route and own a buck.  Honestly, I think we're beginning to rethink the decision.  In the months we've owned him, Copper has gone from adorable little buckling to disgusting buck Herd King.

For those who are unfamiliar with buck behavior, allow me to quote from The Backyard Goat as way of explanation:

**Warning:  Parts of this quote are NOT suitable for the kiddos and, in fact, use language that I stumble over myself, as an adult!**

"Though regal and affectionate to a fault, bucks have bizarre habits that  make them unsuitable for most applications.  Bucks,  . . . enter 'rut' as autumn approaches. . . Since many bucks consider humans part of their herd, they court female caretakers and challenge human males for leadership.  A two-hundred-pound buck is a force to reckon with [luckily for us, Copper isn't near that size], whether he's standing with his front feet on a woman's shoulders blubbering in her face or ramming a man with his forehead or horns.  People are seriously injured by bucks every year.  . . . If the danger factor isn't enough, consider this: during rut, scent glands located near a buck's horns (or where his horns used to be) secrete incredibly strong-scented, greasy musk.  When a buck rubs his forehead on a person or object, he's spreading his scent.  . . . They also spray thin streams of urine along their bellies, on their front legs and chests, and into their mouths and beards.  Bucks also twist themselves and grasp their penises in their mouths.  They sometimes masturbate on their bellies and front legs and then sniff themselves and 'flehmen.'"

Okay.  Aren't you glad I warned you about the content of this post?  Now, I do not plan to post any pics of Copper's myriad disgusting behaviors, but I have tried to snap a pic of him "flehmening."  So far,  I've been unsuccessful.  Flehmening is when he lifts his chin and curls his upper lip.  "By curling his lip, he exposes the vomeronasal organ (also called the Jacobson's organ), in the roof of his mouth, and draws scent toward it.  This behavior helps him identify scents."    So, Copper is flehmening a lot these days.  He flehmens as he follows the gals around.  He flehmens as he admires his own terrible stench.  In fact, he does it so often that the only reason I haven't photographed it is that he stinks so terribly that I try to stay as far away from him as possible these days. 
Sharing a moment with Honey

This post has left me wondering where I ought to draw the line when it comes to how much info is too much for the blog.  What do you think, TMI?  I just want to paint an accurate picture of what it's like to live on our little farm, and right now, it's pretty hard to ignore the fact that all of this is going on. 

What do the kids think of all this?  Well, there've definitely been some questions.  And, the other day, I watched Girl 2 stop playing on the swingset and just watch Copper, mesmerized, as he proceeded to do some pretty disgusting things that left his hair on his face matted together.  Thankfully, she did not then come ask me about it.  When it was all over, she just went right back to hanging upside down on the playset. 
Offering a view of the matted hair on his face

Though it's disgusting to read about (I just literally cringed as I reread The Backyard Goat quote above), it is just a part of nature.  When it comes to this season of autumn, though, I think I much prefer the pumpkins and jewel-toned leaves to the flehmening goats.

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