When we first moved out of the city and into our tiny cabin in country in the fall of 2013, one of the first things I wanted to do was get milk goats!
Well, we ended up getting the chickens first (chickens are the gateway animal to all manner of homestead creatures, don’t ya know!) But within a few months we had our mama milk goat, a good natured Oberhasli doe with delicious milk.
Growing up with goats
Growing up, my family always had goats for milk and meat, but none so beloved as our old milk goat “Mary”. She was a Nubain Saanen cross, and had goofy half flopped ears that stuck out of the sides of her head. She was also a dear old soul, and provided many a pony ride to the little kids.
We played endlessly in the goat pasture, and she was always near, watching over us and trying to be part of whatever we were doing. We made her “feast platters” of the choicest weeds and over ripe fruit, then watcher her devour them. She was my first goaty love, and I’ve never been cured since!
Goats give back to the homestead
Goats are an asset to any homestead. Besides milk, they are also good for meat, manure for the garden, weed and brush control, and last but not least – companionship. When goats are raised around humans, they are wonderfully tame and social. It’s a great feeling as a homesteader when my animals love me back, and goats are affectionate and comforting to me.
Goats also make more goats, and the sales of our goat’s offspring really helps pay for their keep. Our mama goats give birth every spring, and I can wean and sell those young ones, and put the money back into buying the winter’s supply of hay. That’s something every sustainable homesteader likes to hear!
Not everyone is convinced that they will like the taste of goat milk and cheese. I understand this, I’ve tasted goat milk from a store bought carton and I didn’t like it either! But a homesteader can choose the breed and feed of their own goats, which greatly affects the flavor of the milk. There is a very big difference between fresh, cold milk from the farm and the processed (not very fresh) milk in the supermarket. A world of difference really!
One concern that I often hear when folks are considering getting milk goats is the time commitment or restraint. Truth be told, this is one of the biggest reasons I LOVE having goats. They provide a structure for each day, they keep me on track. I can’t skip milking time when the girls are in full swing. I must get out to the barn, come what may. It keeps my days marching along in a wonderfully dependable way.
Keep calm and milk the goats
We’ve had some rough years since we got our first goat in 2013. There have been days of dealing with hard pregnancies, and ongoing health problems, and pain and stress. Yet through it all, the goats must be milked. Every day they are there, anticipating my coming, sounding the call when the see me coming, racing down to the barn and cueing up in their usual milking pattern.
The sound of munching grain and swishing warm milk and the closeness of these creatures always seems to refresh me even when I’m wondering how I can keep this little farm life going. When I’m with the goats, I remember why I do this. Milking time always fills me with a sense of contentedness. It’s not easy this homesteader’s chosen way of life, but it’s the life I love.
Are you a fellow keeper of goats? What treats have you made with your goat milk, and what’s your favorite breed of goat?