When it comes to having an affectionate pet with lots of personality, Phoebe Jan?zen of Florence doesn?t think people should rule out goats.
Dogs and cats might be typical companions for many pet owners, but goats can have a gentle demeanor, too, she said.
?We started with pygmy goats initially because we didn?t know that much about them,? Janzen said. ?The pygmy goats are very energetic and can jump and climb on about anything and everything.?
About eight or nine years ago, Janzen said she and her late husband, Steve, switched to fainting goats because of their docile temperaments.
In addition to being easy to manage, these goats are sometimes very shy, she said.
?We have a couple (of goats) who would prefer to go to their little dog house when company comes because they are afraid,? she said.
Although her goats could pay their way by providing cheese, milk or meat, Janzen said she is not the average animal farmer.
?I get too attached to my animals and have a hard time selling them unless I know they are going to a good home and won?t end up being someone?s freezer fill,? she said.
All in the family
Janzen said she has 30 goats, but didn?t plan to breed them this past year because of her husband?s health.
But while they were in Dallas one weekend in October, one of her little bucklings who had been kept away from the females got out of his fenced in area.
?At 6 months of age, Mango was ?speed dating,?? she said. ?By the time they are 4 months old, they can impregnate the females.?
Friends Eddy Spencer and Kelli and Randy Savage, and their children, were watching the goats, and when they checked on Mango, they saw he had gotten out.
?Mango managed to impregnate eight of my females in the very short time he was out of his fenced-in area,? she said.
Even though it was an unexpected surprise, five months later the females had their kids.
?I name the kids with the same letter of name as their mother,? she said. ?Frankie is my registered miniature silky fainter. He has long hair and is the most laid back buck I have ever had.?
This spring, Lacy had two kids, Leonardo and Luigi.
?Her daughter, Lotus, had four kids this spring, and it was her first pregnancy. Only two of the kids lived but they were healthy enough.?
Lacy was huge, and the first two didn?t make it because she couldn’t get them cleaned and she had them in the middle of the night without help.
?The two survivors are Lilly and Larry,? she said.
?Penny had triplets named Pansy, Poppi and Petey, and Spunky had Sparky and Spanky, which are quarter LaMancha and three-quarter pygmy faint?er.?
Other nannies and their kids included Little Abby, who had Little Annie; Lolita who had Lucky; Princess Laya had Luke Skywalker and Loki and Sunni had Samson, Sinbad and Selah.
?The others who did not have kids were Mattie, Mavis, Tina, Tansey, Lydia, Summer,? she said. ?Out of the 16 kids that lived, I have 10 males and six females.?
Janzen said she needs to sell all of the little males because they seem to have a one-track mind, and by the time they are 4 months old, they too will try speed dating.
?The little males make excellent pets if they are banded, and it is always better to have two together,? she said.
Goats don?t require a lot of maintenance, Janzen said.
?They need to have their hooves trimmed about every two months, they need wormer about twice a year, depending on where they are, and they might need some spray for goat lice occasionally,? she said.
Their droppings are small?about the size of rabbit excrement.
?It is very good for the garden, and seeds don’t make it through to germinate because of their four stomachs,? Janzen added.
Fainting goats are non-aggressive and good with everyone, Janzen said. The plain pygmy is more onery, but the fainters are fun.
Janzen said she wasn?t around animals as a child, but she always had a great respect for any kind of living creature.
Her goats are good companions for her, too.
?The goats will go for a walk on a leash if you train them, and they love to be brushed and messed with,? she said. ?They really like to see you if you bring animal crackers with you.?
Goats might not be the kind of pet that sits in someone?s lap watching television or fetches the newspaper, but they have their good qualities, she said.
?I would recommend the pygmy fainting goats to anyone as pets or as animals that help clean up pastures,? Janzen said. ?They are quiet and calm, and I need to sell most of my herd so it will be more manageable for me now,? she said.
Janzen said she wants to pursue her photography hobby and travel taking photography classes and excursions.
?I do hope I can get some of them sold soon (to good homes) because I plan to go to a wilderness photography class in northwest Wyoming,? she said.
Leaving a lot of goats at home puts stress on the animals and the neighbors who watch them while she is away.
Reason for goats
One reason the Janzens started raising goats was because of where they lived.
?Our property is along Doyle Creek, and we had a lot of brush and poison ivy,? she said. ?The goats loved the poison ivy. They like Queen Anne?s lace, too.?
For the most part, the goats don?t seem to like stinging nettles, preferring woody plants.
?We got the goats to clean up the area, which they did, and we no longer have any poison ivy along the creek or anywhere else on the goat side of the fence.?
The best reason to have goats, she insists, is because you love them and you want them to be part of your life.