Aug. 16, 2012 - When Michelle Lyon, owner of Circle 3 Ranch in Gainesville first purchased the property, her family had a lot of brush clearing to do to make it cow friendly, after all what is a cutting horse facility without cows? After some time attempting to clear brush that grew as fast as they could clear it, they decided to try something a little different and purchased a few goats to do the work for them.
Since then, what was meant to be a cow operation with cutting horses, has become a "pioneer" business partnership between Circle 3 and Cottonwood Creek Farm Black Boers owner Rubye Rollins for the production of show-quality spotted goats.
"I love the colors and the unusual things and Rubye, she knows the pedigrees and she is like a walking encyclopedia, and we just make a great balance," Michelle said.
She was first attracted to the spotted Boer goats when she had seen one in passing and told her husband she wanted one. He initially said 'no,' but she eventually wore him down after the goats they had were doing such a good job of maintaining their property.
"We wanted to get some more stock and I got online and researched it," Michelle said. "I found her (Rubye)... and we went out and saw her and bought some goats from her."
Over time, Rubye became Michelle's mentor and they began to develop a friendship. Although Rubye was not necessarily keen on the spotted goats, she was more than willing to help a newbie to the industry with her advice.
"That's how we got to be friends, because she bought the goats and she would call me and be like 'what do I do?'" Rubye said. "I wanted to help her and I felt like we could benefit each other. We have the two websites, and if somebody finds hers first and she doesn't have what they wanted, she can refer them to me and vise versa. It benefits both of us."
Rubye admitted that she didn't like the spotted goats and preferred her blacks in the beginning, but once she saw some of the nicer spotted goats, she couldn't help but fall in love with them like Michelle did.
"A lot of it for me is the passion and enthusiasm that she has for the goats," Michelle said.
Much like Rubye, many in the Boer goat industry aren't initially excited about spotted boer goats, but it is catching on. Michelle and Rubye work very hard to develop not only unique color patterns, but also show-quality genetics that will allow their goats to stand out in the show ring for both their color and conformation.
"In Texas, the show demand for spotted is slowly shifting South," Michelle explained. "My first show goat I had that went into the show ring was in Oklahoma. It is so competitive -- it is like high school football. They have like 1,200 goats show at the Fort Worth Stock Show last year.
"People say 'I just want to be noticed,'" she continued. "It used to be 'I want a solid goat, I want a solid red, I want a solid black,' well now the spotted came out. I took a $1,200 buck and castrated him and told this little girl 'if you will take him into the show ring and let me know how you do, I will sell him to you for the same price as I would sell a traditional.'"
The little girl's family jumped at the chance to own such a flashy show goat and they didn't regret it. Michelle received a call from the girl's grandmother telling her the 8-year-old little girl took first and grand champion at the show with her spotted goat.
"They said when she walked that goat in they said it was just a collective gasp, people had never seen anything like it," Michelle said.
Their goats are beginning to really make waves in the Boer goat industry as they have produced the first ever ennobled spotted goat as well.
"The best of the best," Rubye said. "We take one with good genetics and a good bloodline and you show it, and you sell its offspring, they show it and they build up points when they win."
To get this far and be so successful they have had to be extremely picky about their breeding and cull very hard to keep only the best animals in their herd. They say they have to be this way to continue to improve the spotted Boers to prove to people that just because it is not traditionally colored, doesn't mean it isn't a quality animal.
"Like I started with the black goats and they were pretty, I loved them," Michelle said. "But, the first ones just had skinny little legs that didn't look good. So, you incorporate the top genetics into your colored goats, and then you have colored goats that are built like the traditionals."
This is just what they have done with their spotted goats.
The two country girls have now turned spotted goats into a hot commodity and all because they both had a passion for the breed and a flare for the unusual.
"I am not just like this with goats, I am like this with flowers, furniture -- I like the unusual, the unique," Rubye said.
"It started off as a business relationship and we became friends," Michelle said.
It has since turned into a more profitable business than the cattle for the Circle 3 Ranch, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. To learn more about these spotted Boer goats and these unique ladies, visit their websites at http://www.circle3ranch.net/ or http://www.cottonwoodcreekblackboers.com/ .