Goats, Milk & Cheese

We have written many articles about our goat adventures. You will find them in the archives under The Goats That Feed Us & The Things You Can Do With Milk. Just a reminder – most of our archives go to the old blog over in Blogger. If you want to leave a comment, make sure you do it here, they have been turned off at the old site since we don’t check things over there anymore.

We have continued to downsize our herd. We currently have four adult does, three of which are in milk. Kids were born to them in January and are being weaned and sold now. The cycle continues. One of the does I am milking is a first freshener, what I call a first timer. She has been very easy to train to the milk stand and to hand milk, which is great. Some in the past have not been near this easy. I’m not sure if it’s the temperament of the animal or the years of experience training a goat to be milked. Maybe both.

My favorite milker before she had her triplets in January.

We have one more first timer to birth in May. I don’t really like this goat, and have thought about selling her pregnant, but want to see if she will hold us in milk through the winter until the others have babies again next January. We haven’t been successful in having year round milk because most goats won’t breed in the off season. This doe didn’t breed at all until we got a shot from the vet to force her into heat. We were told if she was pregnant and very far along, the shot would make her abort, but we had never seen any signs of heat or breeding and she had been with the buck for months. The shot worked and now we await her first kids.

This year we are keeping two adult does in milk, the third will be sold after we have our cheese supply stocked for the year. We will keep two young does for replacements, just in case. In years past we have tried to keep does from separate blood lines within our closed herd, but not this year. There has been one ‘family’ of does that consistently out performs the others with temperament, udder size and production, and ease of milking. That’s who we are keeping.

The buck we had, on the other hand, after breeding all of the does including the late one, started losing hair until he was practically bald. It happened over a number of months. We treated him a number of times according to the vet’s directions to no avail. He still ran around when he wasn’t freezing in the cold weather, ate well, hollered like the rest, but looked horrible. He is no longer with us. This was the goat with the strange story of purchase we wrote about on the other blog in this article – Goat Tales & the Stench.

Young buck

This leaves us without a buck, or billy goat, except for the three that were born here in January. We’re on the look out for a new unrelated buck, but if necessity mandates, we will use one of these young ones for future breeding. We will ban two of them for wethers for meat, but keep one for a buck.

We have started making cheese for the season, two batches of mozzarella so far. We ran out of our cheddar a while back and bought some in several different stores. It all tastes the same, kind of like what we remember Velveeta would have tasted like. It’s the first cheese we have bought in years, we don’t remember the last time we bought any. The plan is to make a dozen wheels of cheddar and set them to age while eating fresh mozzarella for now and freezing a whole bunch. We are spoiled to our own cheese, to me, it is so much better.

Mozzarella

You can find the beginning and progression of our cheese making experiences in many of the archive articles. I still make & drink kefir everyday. Frank has always been a milk drinker and prefers goat milk to any other he has had. We did appreciate Braum’s (a regional ice cream store that also has burgers and now some fresh market foods) going to A2 milk. When our does were dry, we bought milk there, usually six to eight gallons at a time since the store is 25 miles away and we don’t like to go to town very often. If you’re not familiar with A1 & A2 milk, look back in the archives. We were very glad we discovered the difference years ago and have tried to share the information far and wide. Our vet can’t drink cows milk without ending up on the floor with cramps. He can drink the A2 milk from Braum’s with no issues. If you don’t know the difference, check it out, it’s interesting information.

Now is the milking, cheese making season along with putting in the garden. As Bear Claw, from the movie Jeremiah Johnson would say, March is a green, muddy month down below, fit for farmers and such (or something like that – we have watched that movie many times, just not in the last decade or so). He’s right. It’s a busy time of year. A good busy. We planted blueberries and strawberries yesterday. Today we made bread and planted a few more things before a rainy spell comes upon us. We do the normal chores, milking the goats, feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, preparing for the rainy weather, planting more seedlings in the greenhouse. The things that make up our daily life.

It’s a busy time and that’s great. I’m glad we have this time to continue our chosen way of life. The choices appear to become more narrow with each passing day, with each new executive order, and attempted legislation. I have no way of predicting how the next few months or years will turn out, but the folks out there saying local, local, local are correct. Frank has made more contact with neighbors in the last few months than we have in years. It’s a good thing. We’ll give you an update on the garden soon with thoughts about planting every square inch with way more than we need.

Always do what you can for yourself, your family and any you deem worthy of your efforts. Work is not a dirty, four letter word. It is what feeds the body and soul. Literally.

We would love to hear what you think. Ideas that will help us all. How to raise animals, grow food, where to buy supplies. God knows we all need help at this point in time.

Until next time – Fern

10 thoughts on “Goats, Milk & Cheese

  1. Spring rains coming here at the moment, planted some in the greenhouse, more later. Thanks for posting.

  2. I had my three dairy does, one Saanen and two Alpines, bred last fall. The Saanen didn’t kid. I don’t know if she didn’t breed or miscarried. She was bred to an unproven buck. The other two had twins…all bucklings. I was hoping for a doeling from the old gal since I’m not going to have her bred again. She’s going to enjoy the pet life now. I didn’t think I would ever do that, but we’re just too attached to her. The owners of the bucks that we use want to trade one of their doelings for one of our bucklings. My Alpines look good, and they need a new Alpine buck.

    I’m not milking yet, except to even out the doe whose kid we had to put down. (We worked at getting him healthy, but nothing worked.) I’m looking forward to fresh milk and cheese, but my favorite is homemade ice cream. Goats milk makes the absolute best ice cream. There’s nothing else like it. I have many of your cheesemaking articles printed out and in a binder. I reference them every year. I’ve also added a few other cheese recipes that I’ve found.

    I got a greenhouse a couple of years ago and love having it. My five-year-old granddaughter helped me do a little cleaning in it this week. She’s very interested in gardening and helps me a lot. She knows where food comes from and the work that’s involved in the process. She’s also quite the little cook and baker. I’m happy to be instilling some knowledge to the next generation. Next week I’m going to start some tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces in the greenhouse. I wanted to start them last month, but I don’t have any heat in it and it was too cold.

    The hens are laying well. In fact, I have too many chickens, but that’s a good problem to have. I expanded the flock last fall because of everything that was happening in the world. I hope my husband will build me a chicken tractor with some materials we have.

    Questions:
    -How do you store the cheese that you make?
    -I had a great garden last year. I canned and froze a lot of food, and I have a lot left. How do you decide how much to keep? I still have empty jars and room to store more food in the basement.

    1. Grammy, we freeze the mozzarella. The cheddar, we wax and store in our regular refrigerator. The books tell you cheddar needs to be aged at around 50 degrees ideally, but this works for us.

      Keep everything. We are eating cowpeas from 2017 and just finished the green beans from 2017. Now we’re eating both canned in 2019. The pears I am using in a bread recipe I dreamed up were canned in 2015. I know some people would never keep food like this, but we do. That is strictly an individual choice. We have had some canned items start to look cloudy or discolored and have fed them to the chickens. Otherwise, we rotate what we can and use it up.

      Grammy, we can way more than two old people eat and to me, our shelves are looking rather bare. I hope to fill many, many more jars this summer. With the solar minimum, seed shortages and increasing regulations on food production, there are no guarantees I will be able to preserve at this rate in the future. All the filled jars I can stack deep and wide, brings me an increased since of security as far as food goes.

      Be safe, plant lots. May your efforts produce in abundance.

      Fern

  3. Fern beautiful Nubians and a very cute young buck with nice markings. Give me the urge to pick up a couple Nubian does. We loved our herd of Nubians when we raised dairy goats and actually kept 6 Saanens as well for the sheer volume of milk they could give consistently. The Nubians had the higher content of cream though. We constantly were making yogurt, churning ice cream and making chevre and a goat cheese curd known as squeaky cheese.We never did try to make cheddar or mozzarella. I absolutely loved fresh goats milk. It was illegal to sell raw goats milk for human consumption and at that time they were actually arresting people who were doing so. The Amish simply advertised their milk as pet/animal feed to get around the issue. It never made sense to me but then I grew up drinking unpasteurized cows milk delivered to us by a local neighborhood farm back in the good old days.

    You are so right that spring is a busy time of year but it is good to be busy. Today we got the first 12 yards of mulch delivered to be put down in our newly expanded berry patch and gardens are being tilled, prepped for planting. New orchard areas are ready for the 24 new apple trees being delivered. A good mix of mostly heritage apple and crab varieties for fresh eating, cider and jellies. My wife says the only thing she thinks I enjoy more than planting things is working the earth with my John Deere tractor. It is a small diesel tractor but does everything we need done here.

    Once again thanks for what you and Frank post. My wife just said “Awe so cute” when I showed her the pictures of your goats. Definitely thinking about getting a couple of Nubian does.

  4. Fern, Thanks for the caprine update. Do most goats share a general temperament?
    The stereotype is grumpiness. Any truth to it?

    1. We have only raised Nubians with a couple of Boer one time. Boer are much more aggressive than Nubians, so it was not a good mix. We have not raised any of the other breeds, so have no advice there.

      We have had several bucks that have gotten aggressive to other goats, our Pyrenees and humans after about 2-3 years of age. Those we have sold with full disclosure about their behavior.

      Hope that helps some, Fern

  5. I read your posts regularly but don’t have much of anything to add to what you say.

    But I just now noticed your link to the Woodpile Report Archives. I didn’t know any existed. Tuesdays are not quite the same since he left us. Thanks for the link, and for your continuing saga.

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