Milk, milk, everywhere!!! We started milking our goats and we learned how to pasteurize the milk, but no one in our family wanted to be the first one to try it. So jar after jar of milk entered our refrigerator, until the milk was taking over. We were afraid it would taste terrible. We were afraid it would taste "goaty", whatever that means. What if we got sick from it? But the practical part of me knew it was silly to buy milk from the store when we had all this milk in the fridge. So finally Ben, our fearless leader, took the plunge. He drank some as we all stared at him in amazement and anticipation. Guess what? It tasted a lot like cow's milk, only a little sweeter. No goaty taste. You know how you finish a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and then drink the milk that's leftover in the bowl? It was similar to that. Oh, and you had to shake it first so the cream wouldn't just stay on the top. We were won over by the charms of the delicious milk in our fridge. Even with drinking the milk, we were still accumulating more than we could use. I started making ice cream with it. And cheese. And yogurt. But we still couldn't go through it all. We starting giving it away to family and friends. But it was STILL too much! We looked into selling the milk and cheese, but we found out that we couldn't do that without becoming a licensed dairy. Becoming a licensed dairy would cost tens of thousands of dollars (remember this all started because we couldn't afford a nice mower) so that was out. And the idea was born to try to make soap with the goat's milk. We loved the results of the soap-making, and those who tried our soap loved it too! So that's how we got into the soap-making business.
So in life we live and learn, right? Here we were, livin' our life and enjoying seeing our goats, who were no longer kids, out in the field. Then it happened. One day I looked out in the goat field and saw a little creature out there with our goats. I squinted and tried to make out what it was. Was it a cat? No, not quite a cat. A puppy? No, that's not it. The goats didn't seemed bothered by it. And then I realized what it was. It was a kid goat. Where on earth did that come from, I wondered! Did someone drop off a baby goat like they would an abandoned kitten? And then it dawned on me!!!!
Obviously, we were still pretty new at the goat farming thing and basic biological facts hadn't been thought completely through until that moment! Oh, and it was winter. Cold. With a winter storm coming. And it was going to get very cold. We suddenly had a lot to do. We decided it would be too cold for the newborn to stay outside, so we made a spot in our bathroom for her. We had to figure out how to milk the mama, Martha, so we could feed the kid. And we had to expand our small shelter to have a milking station. The first time we milked Martha we brought her out of the field away from the other goats, and into our driveway. Martha was so sweet and patient with us as we fumbled our very cold hand around her teats figuring out how on earth we were going to get milk out of there. Thanks to some YouTube videos and a bit of trial and error, we figured out the basics of milking and went from there. And that is how the goat-milking part of our story began!
Funny how sometimes the little decisions we make in life can have a huge impact. Several years ago we had an old small riding mower for 5+ acres of land, and we just couldn't keep up with the mowing. It got really bad when the mower was out of commission for repairs. When we did stay on top of the mowing, it took two to three days out of the week to do so. And then the next week we had to do it all again. It was just too much. Sadly, one of those new zero-turn fast mowers was out of our price range. So one day we somewhat spontaneously decided to fence in a big chunk of our land get some goats. Our first two goats were Spanky and Fritz, two bucks. They were a bit too aggressive for our family (lesson learned), so we sold them and got a few small goat-kids. They were small enough that we had to bottle-feed them, and they grew up to be very sweet.
They had a small shelter and all the grass and weeds they could eat. For the most part they respected the fence (except right after I got those new rose bushes... sigh!) and we loved seeing them graze and laze about. Life went on like this for several months. There is something so peaceful about looking out our window and seeing our small herd of goats wandering here and there, contentedly grazing and lying about. And that is how we came to be goat caretakers!
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