As of this morning, we have cut our final tie with the Nigerian Dwarf goat series of our life (aka the milk stand). Whew. That was a bad one. I mean, not BAD bad, but, perhaps “reconsider your whole life’s path” bad? We re-homed our little dairy herd back in July, so it’s been a bit, but I’m just now realizing how truly WRONG goats were for us. We read all the homesteading books, you know, the ones that say “dairy goats and chickens will make your every dream come true!” Yeah. Those. Sorry, but soooo not our experience.
I’ll break it down for you. But first, lemme say, I’m not AGAINST goats. I’m just against them HERE. And I’ll admit, we probably got goats in the most goofy, unprepared way possible.
Here’s how our goat story went down.
New friends leaving area, had two Nigerian Dwarf goat wethers (aka neutered males, so pets) and two Katahdin ewes (aka pets if you aren’t breeding them).
We were newly arrived and just ITCHING to get animals…so we said, “SURE, we’ll take ‘em!”
We didn’t have the right fence from the get go, although with goats, I’m not sure there is EVER a right fence. We really wanted to rotationally graze them, so we went with electric initially. That didn’t work, so then we went with welded wire fence, since our fence budget was in the negative (for new farm owners, woven wire is the way to go, welded doesn’t last at all).
Enter months of struggling to keep them in their pen, only to give up and let them freely range our yard and acreage.
It worked pretty well, except for when UPS would show up with a package, and the whole herd would gallop down the driveway, trying to follow the truck out. Fun stuff!
Then, I had the bright idea to add to the madness with two pedigreed Nigerian Dwarf does (aka expensive female goats) to try and get milk out of our so-far pet herd. One goat was bred, the other not…and not due for months. So no milk there, but you gotta have patience, right?
We were also preparing to move to our new yurt, from our rental house, and I heard our new location had TONS of coyotes. Enough that our neighbor wouldn’t leave his Great Dane out at night because the coyotes would kill him. YIKES.
So we brought in a livestock guardian puppy, Max.
Of course, then I was worried the coyotes were going to get HIM. But no adult livestock guardians (LGDs) were to be found.
So at this point, we had moments of giddy “we have goats and sheep and an LGD!!” happiness, followed by dark “we have useless goats and sheep and a puppy” depression.
Enter the move. 4 goats, 2 sheep and one fluff ball of a puppy. In a white van. Lots of mud.
Shortly thereafter, with the goats nonstop bullying the sheep out of shelter and food, we realized having two huge pet sheep didn’t make much sense if we were getting into the goat biz.
Luckily we happened upon someone who LOVED sheep, and happily took them off our hands.
Things were better then. There was peace(ish) in the herd, and hope…hope that when Katie had her babies, we would be swimming in fresh, raw goat milk.
Five.months.later, the miracle of a goat birth happened on the farm. It was amazing and magical, and some of you followed along on Facebook.
Her name was Tallulah, and she was (is) beautiful. And we had GOAT MILK.
Since Katie only had one kid, that meant separating her was pretty difficult with no goat kids for Tallulah to buddy up with (and stay warm with).
So we left Tallulah with Katie 24/7.
Which meant, every morning after I cleaned and sterilized my equipment and went out to milk our dairy goat (yay!)….there was MAYBE half a cup of delicious, rich goat milk left for us.
It became a…joke? It was enough for Mike’s coffee, and that was it.
No cheese, no soap making, nothing.
The other goats tried to give Mike a stroke by consistently getting out of their fencing (even though we moved it far more than it was meant to be moved AND gave them hand cut brush/daily walks/plenty of hay), usually while he was on a conference call with work, and stampeding around and around the yurt deck.
Funny the first twenty times, not so much the next few hundred.
They also have an insane appetite for chicken food. And, since our chickens free range, their goat crack was pretty easily accessible.
Enter broken chicken coop and lots of McGuyver-esque attempts to fix the situation.
Things finally came to a head when we realized we didn’t have any interest in getting a buck (male goat) to breed our does, and no close neighbors with goats to breed our girls. We were also looking at $500+ for winter hay.
Things just seemed far too stressful, and expensive (good hay is pricey, dontcha know)…especially considering I had only wanted to test goats to see if I liked having a dairy animal.
My dream has always been a dairy cow (I’m a cow and sheep girl from way back), but instead we spent who-knows-how-much on goats, AND I got rid of my pet sheep for those darn goats!
It wasn’t ALL bad though…check it out.
So that, my friends, is how we went from being innocent, impressionable city folk to being battle hardened homesteaders.
In short, if you like chaos…get a GOAT. But before you do, visit people with the breed and setup you want to emulate…talk to them, and really ask some hard questions.
::steps off of soap box::
PS. For those of you that followed along on the Max journey, I still miss him like crazy…but his new home is awesome, and we visited him for the first time this past weekend. He remembered us, and was super excited to show off his new digs. We’re planning to go back in April when he’s surrounded by baby goats.
I don’t miss THIS though.
And finally, because I don’t want to give goats a bad rap, AND I know lots of people are happy with theirs…I’m working on a collaborative ebook project, all about goats, with some pretty awesome goat tenders.
Check out the cover below. Like it?
Should be available via Amazon by mid-March.