Just for the record

Josh said we could get a goat in the spring! I guess he (and me, too) is tired of owning so much land and not being able to see it because of the mighty, impenetrable, spiny and poison-ivy-ridden jungle that covers it. While we could make a practice of bushwhacking it every summer, the big fallen trees, rough ground, hundreds of saplings, and the cost of the machinery make it a daunting prospect. What better option, then, than goats? Low-maintenance and delighted to browse on any forage presented them, they are nature’s deforesters and are already used by several companies – such as Google – to keep vegetation at bay. They will destroy young saplings, find poison ivy and brambles delicious, and will prevent perennial weeds from coming back.

I’m definitely buying a doe of a dairy breed, because why have an animal just as a land-clearer when that animal could also be providing us with milk at the same time? Though I’ll contradict what I just said there to note that we will probably also buy a wether – castrated male – at the same time, because a) goats are social animals and goats with friends spend less time plotting to get out of their fences, b) wethers cost 25% of what does cost and there’s no way we could afford two does, and c) I don’t think we could find a use for all the milk that would come from two does anyway.

Though it will take 7 months for the new doe kid to hit goat puberty, plus another several months afterwards for her to give birth, I am excited about the possibility of goat milk for at least a couple different reasons.

1: Most obvious, saving money over commercial stuff. I’ve been making a few of our soft cheeses and all our buttermilk and yogurt for some time now; having free milk on hand would encourage me to also make things like cream cheese and maybe some hard cheeses again too.

2: Health reasons. Goat milk is supposed to be much easier on the digestive system; lactose-intolerant people can drink it, and it also (unlike cow’s milk) has a basic reaction in the stomach which can soothe people like me with overactive acidity problems.

But as for the question of what breed of dairy goat…. Who knows?

7 Responses to “Just for the record”

  1. Ayse Says:

    Be aware that while goats eat poison ivy they are standing in it. The ways in which this can be unpleasant are more than you might imagine.

  2. diana Says:

    I do remember my mother telling me a story of a woman who lamented that she didn’t know WHERE she got poison ivy, because the goats ate it all, so why was she covered with rashes when all she did was pet the good goats … oh. -grin- I’ve always remembered that.

  3. Ayse Says:

    The worst is when you lean in to milk them, you get poison ivy along the side of your head and shoulder, in your ear…. and if you are really unfortunate, some of the oil gets in the milk.

    I nearly died from poison ivy when I was 7. Some fool was burning it near where I played after school.

  4. diana Says:

    Oh sheesh. I’m sure glad you didn’t. A very similar thing happened to a neighbor of mine; it got into her bloodstream. Very frightening. Luckily the southern area that we hope to have them penned in is so overgrown with other stuff that there isn’t much poison ivy there; it’s mostly on the north side. Of course we may move the pen around yearly or seasonally, so poison ivy WILL be an issue at some point. I wonder if I could rig up a kind of blanket over the goat during milking as protection, and maybe scrub the teats before milking?

  5. heidi Says:

    yes, watch out for second-hand ivy oils…
    also, a doe and a wether? how will the doe get pregnant to give you the milk?
    artificial insemination?
    and yes, they would help keep the jungle in check, but what to feed and house them during winter? another barn to plot…

  6. diana Says:

    Hi mama – well goats don’t actually need a barn, just shelter from the rain and the worst of the weather. I’m actually hoping to split some of those long logs I saved, and use those to build their little lean-to and their fencing. Though we may do a zip-line-leash-thing for a while, as Josh says we can’t afford fencing. :) I think I could make some split-rail fencing, though I’d still have to buy the wire mesh to line it.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I like Nubian goats, they are pretty.

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