Local Goatherd Emily Hartnett Talks Baby Goats
Thealmanac.org is bursting with news about new baby animals – spring brings calves, lambs and kids. KVNF's Marty Durlin reported on one of the almanac.org stories about Emily Hartnett, who lives on Garvin Mesa with her chickens, goats and cats. It’s a rustic life that begins by dawn and ends late in the day. On Friday one of her six adult goats, Alba, gave birth to two male kids. Instead of the soft, protected place Emily had prepared for her, Alba chose to deliver next to an old tractor embedded in the dirt in the middle of the goat yard. When we arrived several hours afterward, mama and babes were still getting acquainted.
"That noise that she’s making is very specific," said Hartnett. "I mean, she only makes that noise for her babies. Like that’s how you can kind of tell if they’re going to give birth soon, if they start making that noise."
"That little mmm-mmm-mmm, that’s the mama noise. I’ve read all these very interesting articles about the
sounds that the babies make with their moms, and the moms make with their babies. And that they have like, accents. Like a mom will remember her baby, even if they’ve been separated for a year. Each mom-baby pair has these different accents."
The view from the farm is awesome and the animals are beautiful, but Emily’s small goat operation is demanding, and it costs money. This year it was tough to get the hay she wanted, and the price was high.
"I like to have third-cutting alfalfa," she said. "That has the highest protein. It’s so expensive. Yeah, it’s stressful. But I made it through, I bought a bunch and I have enough. I just had to do it. Hopefully this year it’ll be cheaper again, back down to what it was, $5 for a bale – a bale’s like 80 pounds, a standard size bale. And this year I got some hay for $8 or $9 a bale. So almost double what it usually is, and not as good quality – maybe just because it didn’t rain. I think there’s a lot of nutriment in the rain, that’s not in the irrigation water. The six for the winter, I went through between a bale a day and a bale in three feedings,
in a day and a half."
And although she was able to purchase local hay, Emily couldn’t find the organic grain she wanted here.
"I actually had to go to the San Luis Valley to get wheat, I bought wheat. But I like to buy barley and triticale. Last year, just not having a lot of water was stressful, but things seemed to survive. It seems like a pretty good spring coming."
Protected by the wind-break of the tractor and trading occasional sounds, the goats were resting – the smaller black and the fawn with their mother, who seemed to finally settle down after the rigors of giving birth. The wind whipped up Garvin Mesa and Emily mused about how fast the baby goats progress.
"In two or three days they’re jumping off of everything, and playing – so crazy, it’s great," she said. "And it’s neat to see them when they’re first born, they have this instinct to nuzzle to find the teat, to get to the milk, they need to drink right away. And it’s just so neat to see them blindly butting her body, with their front noses, and they’re butting on her neck – no –and they finally find it. It’s just neat that they have that instinct to get up and nurse as soon as possible."