Waubun, Minn., woman raises LaMancha goats for 20-plus years
WAUBUN, Minn. -- Animals have always been a big part of Lori Guenther's life.
"I just love it," she said. "I can't think of me living a life without animals."
She grew up on a farm near here, where her family raised pigs, cows, chickens and ducks.
Her family farm, where she currently lives, is still filled with animals, including more than 30 breeds of chickens. But about 20 years ago, Guenther decided to add a new animal into the mix.
"Someone showed goats at the Mahnomen County Fair and they had LaManchas, and I fell in love with them," she said.
LaMancha goats, which are dairy goats identifiable by their tiny ears, have friendly temperaments. Guenther said they're a lot like dogs in their sociable manner.
"They make excellent pets," she said.
LaManchas produce butterfat-rich milk that can be made into cheese, yogurt, ice cream and soap, according to www.hobbyfarms.com. But Guenther doesn't breed them for their milk. To her, they are pets.
LaMancha goats were developed in the United States in the 1930s, according to Dairy Goat Journal, and are popular 4-H show goats.
Guenther said her nieces and nephews show them in 4-H.
"They're a lot easier to handle than a cow or a steer," she said.
Lori's mom, Anna Guenther, said she's come to love the goats, too.
"They're nice goats," she said. "They don't climb all over cars and buildings and they're real gentle."
People will stop by the Guenthers' farm, she said, just to visit the animals.
"A lot of grandparents will bring their grandkids out," she said.
Lori Guenther starts breeding the goats in September and they give birth in March. Sometimes, she said, the kids (baby goats) are born breech and she has to assist in the birthing process.
Guenther has had as many as 25 goats at one time. She now has five adult female and four kids, all females. One of the kids was born breech and a few days after her birth, she was still weak and wobbly, so Guenther kept her inside the house and fed her its mother's milk warmed up in a bottle.
Each adult female goat (called a doe or nanny) produces about two pints of milk a day. When Guenther has to milk them, she does it by hand and said it's like milking a cow.
Occasionally Guenther uses the goats' milk to save another animal. Last fall, her cousin gave her three piglets whose mother died giving birth. The pigs, Guenther said, did very well on the milk and are now well over 200 pounds each.
Every year Guenther takes some of her animals to Rheault Farm in Fargo for the Park District's Fall Festival to teach people about farm animals. The goats, she said, are always a big hit.