Steve has mentioned a project that we’ve been working on in a couple of past posts. Well, we finally brought that project home: two dairy goats!
I can’t tell you how relieved I was when we picked them up. I’d heard plenty of talk about how friendly goats can be, but I know that they also have the reputation for, well, getting into trouble. My imagination had us getting dragged to the van, then wrestling two 150 pound does (female goats) into the back, and then listening to them bleat incessantly for 4 hours as we made our way home while one of us sat in the back, restraining them from jumping all over the car.
These ladies politely walked alongside us out of the barn, loaded up into the van with only a small amount of encouragement, let out a few quiet ‘maa’ sounds, then were silent and still the whole trip.
You may have stopped and thought to yourself: Wait, 4 hours back home? Yep. The family we purchased them from lived 3 hours and 56 minutes away, according to the GPS. When you add in a couple of stops, time to eat and some time at the farm it was an 11-hour day. You’re probably thinking something like: “11 hours! What were you thinking?!”
And I know you’re saying that to yourself, because I kept saying that the whole ride there, and then asking Steve to remind me exactly why we traveled so far for these animals. We could have found perfectly decent dairy goats a lot closer, couldn’t we?
The answer is yes, there are plenty of goats available even just one hour from us. The problem was that none of them met the qualifications that we were looking for. Our list of must-haves for a dairy goat:
- Proven dairy background
- Must be bred/able to be bred for the Spring
- Not a Nubian Goat
Let me explain about the latter two. First, for any animal to make milk, they have to have had a baby (or freshen, or kid, as would be the goat terms). I shared our lament about having to wait 20 some-odd weeks for an egg. I am NOT patient enough to wait a whole year before being able to get milk. Okay, part of it is impatience, but in reality part of it is practical. It just doesn’t make sense to spend money feeding non-productive animals for a full year before getting anything.
The last part – not a Nubian. Nubian Goats are notoriously chatty girls (read:LOUD). Take a peek at a YouTube video with Nubian goats in it. They’re VERY loud. Since we live in a neighborhood, we really want to make sure that our mini-farm adventures aren’t disruptive or an annoyance to anyone who lives around us. With how vocal they can be, Nubians aren’t exactly inconspicuous. Unfortunately, it seemed that everybody around us only had
b) dairy breeds that had been bred more as pets than production animals
c) meat breeds
d) Any other dairy breeds that were too young to kid in the Spring.
There were a few other bonuses to these particular girls on top of meeting our requirements. A huge plus for us was that they’d been raised around children and handled by them as well. The teenager we bought them from lets her four year old brother milk them on occasion. And while we won’t be having OUR four year old milk them (after all, they may have been raised around kids, but he hasn’t been raised around goats!), they were very well mannered when introduced to the boys.
So, that’s how we wound up with Flora and Pepper. Flora is part La Mancha, part Saanan (both excellent dairy breeds), while Pepper is pretty much all La Mancha. In case you couldn’t tell by the pictures, the La Mancha breed doesn’t have visible ears!
To be honest, I’d been reluctant when it came to getting these girls. I’d wanted to get them, but with all that we have going on right now, it was just one.more.thing. The idea of having raw milk in just a few months was so appealing, but I’d felt like we didn’t need to keep jumping from one project right into another. After seeing how well behaved they are, I’m feeling a little better about the whole deal. Okay, maybe it’s also the fact that I got to spend 11 hours alone with my husband while friends babysat for us. Plus, we got to eat at Moe’s, and I can’t remember the last time Steve and I got to eat a meal together, just the two of us! It was almost like a date, but with goats in the back seat.
I’m sure we’ll have plenty more on these ladies later!