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Tale Of The Ear pt4
Quixote LaManchas

expanding the range

In the summer of 1953 when eight Californias banded together to form a club devoted to promoting the American LaMancha they were appealing to two types of goat keepers:

    1) The family seeking a troublefree, easy keeper with tasty milk.
    2) The smallscale dairyman seeking does producing high butterfat milk throughout a nearly level lactation of long duration.
(The fancier/hobbyist with stars in her eyes and a show schedule in her pocket was not far behind.)

For the next 35 years or so California goat dairying in all its permutations was a boom or bust affair - mostly the later. (Only in the 1990's did the demands of the newly arrived cheesemakers begin to stabilze the business to a modest extent.)

Throughout the 1950's and 60's the experiences of Tom Draper and his family exemplified this capricious economy as they and their goats moved from place to place. To his credit through all his travail - and it got worse in 1969 - his love of the LaMancha never wavered. His enthusiasm and energy made a difference. As secretary of this, for the moment, regionally based club he exhorted the faithful to "send in your news and dues."

Some of the names and herd prefixes of those who owned LaManchas in the late 1950's and early 1960's are known to us but few of their stories have been handed down. The exceptions which stand out are Soens (Bomar), Nixons (Nixon's), Considine (Diamond), Tates (Law-Zel), Erbe (K-Lou) and of course Tom Draper (Blue Diamond.)

1960 was a banner year for the LaMancha fancy. Their most visible breeder - Fay Frey - had been honored by her peers. Secondly the first LaMancha Dairy Herd Improvement Records were published in the 1960 AMGRA Handbook and two Lamancha doelings were sold for the first time at the seventh national "Spotlight Sale" sponsored by AMGRA.

The milk records were made in the North Carolina herd of AMGRA secretary Robert Soens. Four aging does (5&6 years) had endured a long journey and a change of environment. True to their reputation they averaged nearly a gallon of milk/day containing well over 4% butterfat for 10 months:

    Fay's Blondie *M L36 - 2544# milk 118.5#butterfat
    Fay's Pollyette *M L63 - 2454# milk 113.4# butterfat
    Fay's Saucy Flossie *M L45 - 2308# milk 106.7# butterfat
    Fay's MaryLou *M L 18 - 2096# milk 91.9# butterfat

The Soens were also credited with consigning the first LaMancha - Bomar Blondie's Golden Queen L165 - to the Spotlight Sale where she sold for $95 to a Florida breeder. Secretary Soens then turned that $95 over - making the winning bid for Fay's Meena L162. Mrs Frey's consignment, Meena, was described as "Black sprinkled with white, silver nose and ears, white in face and behind left shoulder!"

The third breeder to register Lamanchas with his herdname was southern Californian Amos Nixon who early on was "taken" with the breed according to his daughter Sheila Nixon, whose 4H success had driven the family's goat dairying commitments.

Their growing multi-breed herd was augmented with seven does and one buck purchased from Fay Frey at about the time of the initial inspections. The buck was Fay's Randy L91 and the does were named Myrna, Spider, Ava, Mea, Icy and Skeeter, most of whom also earned DHIR stars later on. Prior to the Midolane inspections in 1961 the Nixon's acquired the buck Fay's Ringo L183 and several more Fay does.

Meanwhile in that other dairy state - Wisconsin - goat dairying entrepreneur, Harvey Considine, was not content to sit on the sidelines merely observing the west coast LaMancha phenomenon. He made a pilgrimage to the Frey family Oregon mountain top ranch not once, but twice. First in the early 1960's to select a group of Lamanchas (40 in number?) to inaugurate his enterprise: promoting the earless ones in the eastern half of the continent. The second time occurred soon after Mrs. Frey's death in 1968 to relieve her heirs of the remnants of her pioneering stock. The Fay/Bomar animals were also, in time, to find a home at the Considines' Diamond Goat Dairy.

Harvey promoted LaManchas in the same style as his predecessors. He wrote about their purported adaptability as "easy keepers", their high butterfat potential and their signature long, level lactations. He added an extra twist suggesting that LaManchas should be crossbred and the offspring graded-up since the American LaMancha was the only breed free of the prejudice burdening the other breeds when "graded-up." "American" was the endpoint in status for the LaMancha. He bred LaMancha bucks to "good grades" and "poor purebreds" and he liked the results.

As a practical dairyman the observations he made make sense: "Another desirable trait is their good dairy dispositions. While they enjoy attention, they are relatively independant and like to spend their time eating and making milk. They are usually very businesslike - come into the milking parlor, eat and get milked, then back to their pens with a minimum tendency to dawdle (like Saanens) or get into mischief (like Toggenburgs.)

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Revised 4-16-04
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