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Homesteading – The Goats
This post is kinda sorta a continuation of how “Our address changed (both home and internet)” and how we started our little homestead. That was the 1st article and the 2nd was “Homesteading – The Chickens”. If you didn’t see those you can catch up on the story if you’d like!
Our youngest son, Brett, wanted milk goats since he was small. We had determined he was lactose intolerant when we was a toddler and then eventually determined he was (more accurately) pasteurization intolerant as we learned more about this widespread issue in America. He could drink raw goats’ milk with no problem and had done so since he was young. Brett researched milk goats and determined that the Nubian breed was the right one for us.
About a month after moving out to our new homestead and a month after getting chickens (and then the book on how to raise chickens) we got word that there were 2 Nubian milk goat kids that had just been born to a friend of a friend. This friend knew Brett wanted 2 doelings (young females) and arranged for them to be held until she talked to us. They were exactly what he had been waiting for and were the exact price he was willing to pay. We didn’t think we were ready for goats yet – but there was the perfect scenario presented to us again. So what did we do? We let Brett buy his goats, then…bought a book about how to care for goats!
Twins, Missy and Molly, were bottle-fed their own mother’s milk for four months as we gradually weaned them. Once they were about 18 months old we had a neighboring Nubian buck from a friend down the road come to “visit”. Around 5 months later they each had a set of twins and our homestead milking adventures officially began!
We have had lots of help and advice from our friend and neighbor down the road, Glenna, who has quite a herd of dairy goats. Truth be told, we had her # on speed dial. Which brings up a good point. There a couple of things you should get before getting goats. Good neighbors and a good vet but don’t let the vet get your goat. We never had to call a vet because we had such a good neighbor but you should plan ahead just in case. It’s not so easy to find a vet that comes out for goats! Here in Florida there are vets for “small animals” (think Spot the dog and Whiskers the cat. Period.) There are also large animal vets – that mostly want to treat horses. If you have goats or cows you need good neighbors and to know the way to Tractor Supply.
We have used the fresh raw goat milk for drinking and making many dairy foods like yogurt, kefir and several types of soft cheeses, like Chevre, all of which we keep raw in the process. The Chevre we flavored many different ways with combinations of herbs, seasonings and preserved things like olives or fruits.
Missy and Molly have had another year’s kidding already and had beautiful kids. We have sold the kids after each set was weaned.
Many people are not interested in trying raw goats’ milk because they assume it has the flavor of store-bought pasteurized goat milk. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is fresh and sweet and is actually creamier than cows’ milk because the cream is naturally homogenized throughout the milk. Perfect for smoothies!
One secret we found to avoid having an “off” flavor in goat milk is to make sure that there is not a buck in the same pasture or even neighboring pastures sharing the same fence line. The bucks “spray” the girls (for the lack of a more family-friendly term). We prefer to have the buck over for conjugal visits but not for cohabitating long-term with the goat girls.
If you are considering adding a farm animal to your own homestead there are several reasons we would highly suggest you consider goats:
They are as sweet as a pet dog. Goats have gotten bad press! Don’t believe all of the stories about how goats “eat anything” or how they get into trouble (break through fences, etc.).
Quite the opposite of the “goats eat anything” myth, we have found the goats to be quite picky eaters. They only want good foraged leafy greens and their small cup of “custom feed” that we make (I explain how we make our fermented feed in the Homesteading – The Chickens post).
Considering the whole “goats will eat a tin can” myth – seriously, what kind of respectable homesteading goat owner has coke cans laying around where goats could eat them?
We’ve never had trouble with our goats doing anything to “get into trouble”. First of all, we purposed to buy 2 goats at the same time so that they would have company. Goats are very social animals. Everything we’ve read says that trouble makers are usually just a single goat that is lonely and bored. Just like an untrained puppy left alone in the house…
We have thoroughly enjoyed our goatie girls! Our boys are becoming men now and their ambitions and careers take time. Brennan works full-time at his free-lance videography business, Mission Media Video , and stock options trading. Bradley and Brett (while still homeschooling high school) are now traveling almost every weekend (and often a few week days or nights) to play Americana genre music events (The Anderson Brothers). Of course, we always go with them so that means at least 1 person has to always stay home to milk the animals. With the frequency of events (gigs ; ) increasing, we reluctantly decided that Missy, Molly and their latest kids could go to live with some other aspiring homesteaders. We are now down to the chickens and cows (more about the cows next time!)…
If you are a small family (say, 6 or less), a couple or a single person wanting your own fresh raw milk then goats are the perfect producer for you! They give just enough fresh raw milk to drink and use but not so much that you have to sell it or for you to have to be bathing in it. Seriously though, you could bathe in it – Cleopatra did!
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