There, I said it, I am a Crazy Goat Lady. The truth is, we’re all a bit crazy but we each get to pick our kind of crazy, right? Well, goats are part of my crazy.
When Gary and I were looking for a piece of land to build our home on we decided one of our non-negotiables was a somewhere we could have animals. Gary grew up with horses, dogs, birds, etc, and after I moved out of my suburban house my mother raised chickens and rabbits. We both agreed that teaching our children to care for animals and have responsibility over another life was important to us. We weren’t quite sure what animals we wanted first but we knew we at least wanted the option.
After we moved into our home in Fall of 2016 I started brainstorming about what sort of animal I wanted to get. Our neighbor joked with Gary about wanting to get fainting goats and Gary sounded like he’d be on board for that so I began researching goats. After a lot of research I decided that I wanted milk goats so I could convert my baby on to raw goat milk once I was done breastfeeding. I visited multiple goat farms, tried a lot of goat milk, and finally made the jump to buy a pair of Nigerian Dwarf goats. I put money down on two does (females), one of which was expecting babies in the spring! But….I didn’t have anywhere to keep them yet.
After making a few popsicle stick models of what I wanted my goat shed to look like my sweet husband and our close friend (who has carpentry experience), helped me build a fantastic shed over Thanksgiving weekend so I could bring my goats home in December!
Our experience over the last year has been fantastic! We have learned SO much! Gary let me know up front that this was going to be my project and its been a great project for me and my girls to have. In the last year we have been able to:
- Kid 3 baby goats from Mamma 1 in March 2017
- Get fresh, organic goat milk every single day to fill our families needs and then some.
- Kid 1 baby goat from Mamma 2 in September 2017
- Breed 2 more goats and expect “kids” in June 2018 from Mamma 1 and Little Mamma 3
Our goat count is at 4 right now and we plan to keep it between 4-6 from here on out. We kept the 2 baby girls we kidded and were able to sell the 2 boys to a sweet family down the road.
I’ll briefly highlight some of my favorite things about this experience so far.
Kids Kidding Kids
My 4 year old daughter has been with me in this goat business since day one. She came with me to see the goat farms. try the goat milk, and choose which goats to buy. She is such a wonderful observer and can tell you just about as much as I can about Nigerian Dwarf goats!
Since we purchased a goat already expecting babies we knew we needed to prepare for kidding and know how to do it! So a sweet friend we met through the “Goat World” allowed us to come watch/help her goats kid in February 2017. My sweet daughter was so tiny and it was SO cold during kidding season but she wanted to come along. When our friends doe was in labor we drove over late at night to come watch. It was a difficult birth and took some time. My sweet little girl sat on my lap for hours in her snow pants as patient as can be until the the goat finally had her babies. I’ll never forget her sweet willingness to just watch and learn with me that night.
As time got closer for our goat to Kid I let my daughter help me prepare a “birth box” with everything we might need when it came time to kid. She took such ownership over that job! Unexpectedly our goat had her babies quickly and in the middle of the day so we were hardly ready! When we checked on the goat to see how things were going and realized it was Game Time my sweet 4 year old knew exactly what to do and ran straight back to the house to get dad and the birth box while I caught the first baby to come out. She fearlessly stepped through the muck of birth to bring me towels, scissors to cut the umbilical cords, and even reminded me I needed to put iodine on them when I had forgotten.
To give my girls the opportunity to understand about conception, birth, life, and death through the lens of an animal has been priceless. The circle of life is normalized and their hesitation to participate in what some may consider “dirty work” is minimal.
Fresh – Raw – Organic Milk
Lets be clear, NOT all goat milk is created equal; and store bought pasteurized goat milk is not a good representation of what fresh, raw, good goat milk tastes like. I’ll be real with you, if you don’t like Whole Cows Milk you won’t like my goat milk. But if you DO like Whole Cows Milk, well then mine tastes better than that.
My household is divided on milk. My husband dislikes all milk but will tell you that our goat’s milk tastes just as good as any cows milk he’s had. I typically only use milk in cooking, protein shakes, and if I eat fruit ‘n milk (one of my treat alternatives). My girls drink milk as much or as little as they want. They drink it from a cup or use it in their oatmeal cereal. The goats we have provide plenty of milk for us and enough to share with any friends or neighbors who are interested in trying some. We have a few neighbors who LOVE our milk and beg for any extras.
So why do I like goat milk? Honestly, I like knowing where the heck my milk came from and what the animal was fed that produced it. That is the main thing I love about having raw milk. I know exactly where it came from. Other things I love about it are the amazing health benefits, the ease of digestibility compared to cows milk. and the taste. Here is a quick link to some benefits of raw goats milk. Just be mindful though, because the FDA doesn’t endorse raw milk of any kind you will be hard pressed to find government backed studies that are pro raw milk. However, I believe that it makes much more sense to keep all the original vitamins and nutrients in milk rather than kill them off and then supplement them back in with fortified ingredients. That’s just me though. Also, with a clean milking process, “home grown” milk can have significantly less bacteria in it than the FDA’s allowable limit that you’ll find in store bought milk.
- The satisfaction alone that comes from being able to provide food for my family for only 15 minutes of extra work a day is a fantastic feeling that definitely fills my cup.
- My goat project is cost effective, saves money on store bought organic milk, and can even bring in money if selling raw milk is legal in your area.
- Low maintenance- my 3 lb Yorkie Terrier is more maintenance than goats.
- Such fun pets. Baby goats are the cutest/most fun things in the world!
- Goat manure and mulch are great for gardening
I hope you enjoy learning about this little hobby of mine. We really enjoy having our goats! If you are thinking of starting your own little goat herd I’d love to answer any questions OR you can hope over to Weed em and Reap’s website for EVERYTHING goat…and chickens….and gardening.