What's in a name?
On the power of language and perception
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On to Sir Cinny, the studliest stud of them all:
Sir Cinnamon Studlington
Little Cinnamon came into the world just a bit on the smallish side. When baby goats are born, their mothers start immediately licking off all the baby goo (which is not the technical term.) It's a natural instinct honed over generations. As prey animals, goats are at their most vulnerable during birth, and they know it.
The second they're done delivering kids, the mothers will efficiently clean up the entire scene in an effort to eliminate any scent that could alert a potential predator to their whereabouts. This cleaning process creates an instant bond between mother and child, but if you're a human watching it, it's just super gross.
Goats usually birth two or three kids a litter; less often, you'll see a singleton, quadruplets, or even quintuplets. In my experience, twins and triplets tend to be the norm.
Cinnamon was the smaller of twins. His mom, Mini Moo Moo, gave most of her attention and food to his bigger sister. She was born first, so she also got most of the licking and subsequent bonding. It always seems like one is a little bigger and more aggressive, and the other has to fight just a bit harder with twins. Cinnamon wasn't in bad shape, but I did notice that he was not only smaller, he was also born with a tongue that was too big for his mouth.
It was almost impossible to look at him without laughing. I was concerned his goofy tongue could lead to eating problems, but he was trucking along after a few days and some extra bottles to help ensure he kept up his strength.
The comical way in which his tongue hung out instantly endeared him to the entire family. His sweet demeanor, inclination toward snuggling, and ridiculous face made him a keeper. I try to get family buy-in on the naming process, particularly with goats I want to add permanently to our herd (hence our baby girl named Lemony Moon Pie). My husband Mark picked "Cinnamon" and then, after looking more closely at him, expanded it to his full and proper name, "Sir Cinnamon Studlington." Mark has a penchant for the absurd. I loved it.
Cinnamon grew into his tongue but retained his charming and loving personality. Now he only sticks out his tongue to attract the ladies, which is one of the things on the long list of weird ways male goats make themselves sexy.
Firmly into his teenage years and entering puberty with a vengeance, he's currently sharing the "bachelor pen" with our other buck, Funky Fernando. Cinnamon's working on a manly beard, but like a 13-year-old human boy trying to grow facial hair for the first time, he has a sad little looking little goatee (aptly named.)
We're implementing our breeding program in two waves this year; those does who have already had kids before are slated to give birth in February, around Valentine's Day. Experienced mamas who know what they're doing are better suited for kids in the early season, sometimes even in the middle of a snowstorm.
On the other hand, our females born this year, two of whom are Fernando's daughters, won't be bred until December to give birth for the first time in May. We prefer first-time moms to kid when it's warmer, and the margins for error are greater. Those new kids born in May will be extra special to me since they will be the first of the second-generation kids born to our farm.
The emerging issue we'll face with any doelings born in May, though, is that they'll be too closely related to both our bucks to breed with either. Fernando will be their grandfather, and Cinnamon will be their father. Neither male on the premises will be an acceptable mate. Considering that breeding is a necessary precursor to milk, this will cause future problems.
Since a single 3-year-old buck goat can breed up to 40 does at a time, it doesn't make sense to keep many males in our herd. They eat as much as their milking female counterparts and provide only a single service - if you catch my drift.
After two or three years, it makes sense to spin the buck revolving door and move our boys along. This can be an emotionally difficult choice, especially when facing it with a boy you love, as I have before, but it makes the most sense from a herd-management perspective.
So despite my soft spot for Cinnamon, he'll probably move down the road within a few years. By that time, he should have a "milk star," a milk production award to indicate that he has a high likelihood of high milk-producing offspring. He should also have a few daughters, and we'll be able to establish what kinds of kids he has. The combination of these attributes should make him relatively more valuable in the marketplace, so hopefully, it won't be too hard to find him a new home.
It's always easy to sell does, though it's more challenging with the boys. Because I love Cinnamon so much, I'm doing whatever I can to set him up for success down the line.
As I was filling out the registration paperwork for kids this year, I ran Cinnamon's hilarious proper name past a goat friend, Tiffany (yes, goat people have goat friends). After she chortled at "Sir Cinnamon Studlington," Tiffany made a point I hadn't considered. She said that although it's cute and funny, it could hamper Cinnamon's chances for sale later. "People want studs with manly names and sometimes won't even buy goats with a name they don't want on their kids' registrations," she reminded me.
She was right, of course. I have seen some great goats with names that made me less likely to give them a second look. For instance, I saw a buck this season with the name, and I am not making this up, "Hot Wet Dreams." Gross. No matter how great that boy is, I wouldn't buy him.
It makes me realize that although our sense of humor makes "Sir Cinnamon Studlington" a great name, it isn't for everyone. Especially with males, it makes sense to pick something more widely palatable. We’ll have more fun with the girls - but the boys need to have names that make them easiest to serve their purpose - breed and move on.
Not, by the way, that Cinnamon or “Dreams” have any idea what their names mean, nor do they care. It’s all about humans and their perceptions.
When it came down to what's on the registration paperwork, Cinnamon became "Cinnamon Rocky Road." If someone wants to buy a manly stud goat in a few years, they can call him "Rocky," and it will make him more likely to end up as the stud of a great herd and less likely to end up on someone’s barbecue. It’s a small price to pay to help ensure Cinnamon gets to live the long and happy life I hope for him.
No matter what, he'll always be Sir Cinnamon Studlington, the little boy with the flappy tongue, to me.
Please leave me comments! I’m doing an Ask Me Anything on November 1st, so leave your questions in the comments.
You guys are the best.