Years ago when Erreck and I would talk about establishing a farm, we always knew we wanted livestock - namely the portly, hungry, hearty variety. In everything we do, if we plan on taking on the responsibility of animals, they in turn have to provide something valuable in return. Nothing on our farm has a lack of purpose and planning. So when we decided that we wanted ruminants on our farm, the variety would HAVE to be Nigerian Dwarfs. Look up the word ruminants. They are fascinating and highly efficient creatures! Nigerian dwarfs are known for their high milk production in comparison to their size. Their milk quality has a higher percentage of milk fat than other dairy goats which make them the perfect, smaller dairy breed. Craft goat-milk cheeses, soap-making, cream!
We made our selection of four highly bred doelings from a prestigious local breeder, and they've settled down quite well here in the woods at Athol Orchards. They happily co-exist with our 34 laying hens and spend the days chewing, eating, butting heads and playing queen of the mountain. We have
at least two girls who think they are alpha-female and it's fun to watch these power struggles play out in their perfect little world. They have logs to climb and stumps to climb and jump from.
2019 has made it's arrival and with it come many new plans for our farm. Our buckskin girls will be two in April so we decided this would be the year we would turn our humble herd of dwarfs into a breeding herd. In North Idaho exists some amazing small family-owned farms. One such farm I became acquainted with a year or so ago. Owner Laurie Hunt of Grace Ridge Goats LOVES what she does as a Nigerian Dwarf breeder. She cares for her herd in an organic and completely natural manner and that is very admirable in my eyes. She participates in appraisals and takes her role as a breeder of this goat variety very seriously. In the varied conversations we've had over social media ( her farm is North of us and we met through a North Idaho farm page) she has always been witty, thoughtful, and very friendly. It is no wonder that when I set out to find a sire for our girls that it would be none other than Laurie Hunt with Grace Ridge Goats that would suggest one of her very handsome and highly bred sires for our herd after we'd discussed my plans.
For our farm, everything we do must be classy and done the proper way. No corners cut, nothing mediocre. That doesn't mean that we spend unnecessary money - what it means is we do things the right way the first time. First task to be taken was for me to apply as a member to the American Dairy Goat Association. We would not be able to register our full breed Nigerian Dwarfs with the association without membership. Once we get our member ID we can then register each of our does with the ADGA. We also have to register our herd name and it was completely unanimous that our herd would be named after our farm, Athol Orchards. Therefore any kid that is born on our farm will officially carry the name "Athol Orchards...so and so". Last night we made the decision to also name all kids born here after our antique apples. Think names like Pippin, Pearl, Spitzenburg, Spartan. It just fits.
We hope to be welcoming the Grace Ridge Sire here towards the end of the month. If all goes well and nature takes her course, we can be expecting the most angelic, adorable little Nigerian Dwarf babies here on our farm in the late Spring. I can't wait to see them happily romping around with the hens and honeybees!