Life At the Farm
During thirty years of breeding, caring for animals (including twice-daily feeding) and the cycles of shearing, coupling and birthing have determined the rhythm of life on the farm.
The first shearing takes place around mid-February. At the same time goats are wormed and their hooves trimmed; these procedures that have to be repeated every three months.
Birthing time and much to celebrate! Only hours after birth the newborns are capering and dancing all over the farm. Only seconds after birth the mother licks her kids to dry them and, by bleating, which the newborns respond to, establishes an initial sound contact that will be the basis for their emotional ties.
Gestation time for angora goats is around five months, with one or two babies each time and more rarely, three. In this case, one of the triplets is almost immediately bottle-fed and follows the breeders (its new mom and dad) around like a puppy.
After the snow has gone it’s time to clean the barn floor of the winter’s accumulation of bedding.
As soon as the ground is dry and the grass is high enough, the goats go into the fields. The young, still nursing, follow the mothers. The flock is divided into several groups according to the adults’ age and sex. Pastureland is rotated.
Trimming hooves. Worming. Cleaning parts of the fleece soiled by urine (part of females’ hind legs or bellies of males). Special attention paid to animals that will be presented at competitions.
In mid-August, competitions are held to find the finest angora goats in the province. They will be judged on both the quality of their fleece and the excellence of their build. The judge, himself a seasoned breeder, is from Texas. A number of Grand Flodden animals have been declared champions and over the years, Grand Flodden has won a number of prizes not only at Quebec’s ExpoCité but also at Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair and in regional agricultural exhibitions (Saint-Hyacinthe, Drummondville, Richmond and others).
In late August the females come into heat and allow the male – who of course is in rut most of the year – to approach them. The females will be in heat every twenty-one days, for two days, until late January. The young males are separated from the mothers and other females.
In late September the goats are shorn for the second time. They will be brought to the bucks some days after shearing.
After each shearing the fastidious work begins of preparing the fleece to send to the mills. The mohair must be classified. Double cut, soiled streaks and as much plant debris as possible have to be eliminated.
In September or October the barn must be cleared again of bedding accumulated on the ground over the summer.
At the first snowfall the animals go back inside for the winter. In mid-December the breeder males are separated from the females.