Twenty-eight baby goats later, Dani Mangus is plumb tuckered out.
For a while, 18-year-old Dani was operating a maternity ward on her family’s Sherman County farm along the Colorado border. Some days, she was up in the middle of the night checking on her nanny goats. Moreover, for two or three weeks in January and early February, it’s a demanding schedule involving school, other activities and kidding season.
For Dani, her 4-H goat project and business is a passion.
“It’s so much fun to have the little baby goats running around,” she said. “They are like puppies.”
For the past eight years, Dani has been raising goats – largely supplying other 4-H’ers with livestock for the fair. It started when Dani, at around the age of 10 or 11, purchased Maggie and Molly from a local resident.
“When I was first in 4-H, I had really bad hay fever,” said Dani. “I found myself in the goat barn.”
Thus began a love of goats and a long-respected 4-H project and business, which she calls Dani’s Nannies. Her goat business has grown from two nanny goats to about 20-some goats in all.
It’s a busy project. Dani said she is up early to feed the goats before school, and she does so after school as well. She cleans their pens daily. And in early January, Dani put up 15 pens for her expecting nannies.
Her mother, Charlene, said Dani’s passion and work ethic were evident early on.
“She gets up in the night to check on the goats,” Charlene said, adding that Dani loves helping younger members with their goat projects. “It is exciting for (my husband) Dan and I to sit back and watch,” she said. “I just love watching her with the 4-H kids.”
“I teach 4-H’ers how to show, how to clip. I teach them a little more each time I work with them,” Dani said.
During the fair, she sometimes helps to fit and clip 20 goats, along with her own. “The goat project has really grown,” Dani said, adding that goats pencil out more than other livestock projects. Also, with so many participants in 4-H, goats are easier for them to handle.
Charlene noted that last year, standing in the goat barn where Dani’s goats, along with the goats she sold to 4-H’ers, were staying during the fair, she realized Dani’s impact:
“Another parent came up (to Dani) and said, ‘You know, most of the ribbons for the other kids are because you helped them,’ ” said Charlene.
Yet Dani’s leadership, along with being a hard worker, is all part of growing up on a farm. Dani is the fifth generation on the operation near Kanorado. She drives the tractor. She maneuvers a grain cart during harvest. She helps out neighbors, too, Charlene said.
4-H has taught her public speaking, as well, said Dani, who isn’t bashful about talking to other young people about agriculture and goats.
She has been club president and is president of the 4-H Council. She also has served as a junior leader and her involvement in school includes being a member of the Class 4A Goodland High School girls’ golf team that went to state. She also was recently inducted into the National Honor Society.
Dani, a Goodland High School senior, also received the 4-H Key Award. The award recognizes 4-H members’ contributions to their club and the community. Since 1952 this award has been reserved for the top 1 percent of all 4-H members in Kansas, and was presented to Dani in recognition of outstanding achievement.
Dani plans to attend Colby Community College and major in agribusiness. She hopes to continue the goat project for a while. “It’s been profitable,” she said of the goat business, adding it helped her save money for a car and with college.
Goats, she said, “just have a wonderful personality.”