Goat Stock Garden Soup

Recently, when we butchered one of our wethers, we made some soup stock with the bones, and since this was a first, we wanted to try it before we made any more. I wanted to see if I could make the soup with ingredients that came from here, just like the wether we made the stock from, so off to the garden on a treasure hunt I went, and here is what I came back with.

Starting from left to right there are purple hull peas or cowpeas, green beans, carrots, tomatoes and some roast from the wether that turned out pretty tough. I was hoping the soup would make it a little better, it didn’t. You can see that the soup stock doesn’t have much meat, but a decent amount of fat for flavor and nutrition.

I also found enough okra in the garden to saute as a side dish. We now cook it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper in a skillet and it tastes great.

This is not a lot of food, but if it was what we had to depend on for our sustenance it would provide for our needs. That is something I look at more and more. In the past I would experiment with all kinds of seeds in the garden, sometimes to see what would grow here, but usually just for fun. I have now grown much more serious about what we grow and I have written about the nutritional content of some of the vegetables. My purpose was to try and determine if what we are growing would be adequate nutrition. I haven’t had the time to sit down and analyze our common vegetable combinations, but it would be interesting to know. I think it will all boil down to what grows well here, the physical demands of the crop itself, the physical demands of growing the crop and how we can preserve it to last until the next crop starts producing, not to mention the ease and success of saving seeds for future crops. There are many variables that will impact the possibilities of adequate, or inadequate nutrition after the SHTF, many of which will be unpredictable. Even if things don’t work out, at least we have to try.

Until next time – Fern

Making Simple Jerky

A couple of days after I butchered the goat last week, I made my first ever jerky. Chevron jerky. This wether was about two and a half years old, and should have been butchered a while back. The only meat I left whole were the two back legs. I baked one while I was grinding the rest, and it came out very tough. We chewed on some of it for a few meals, then I froze the rest. It can go into a jar the next time I can some stock or soup. From this same leg, before I cooked it, I cut out a big chunk of meat with the idea of trying some jerky. This is a task I have wanted to try for quite some time.

A while back, I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not, someone out there told me in a comment that very simple jerky could be made with sliced meat, salt and pepper. That is exactly what I was looking for. I don’t want to buy an extruder and have to grind the meat, mix it with whatever, then squirt it out on a sheet of something that won’t let it fall through the cracks. I know some folks make excellent jerky this way, but I wanted something very simple. I stored the meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator until I was ready to make jerky. You know, that place on the top shelf that will make boiled eggs freeze solid? Right there. It was good and cold when I got it out and started slicing, which made it pretty easy.

I wasn’t sure how much salt and pepper to use, so this time I only sprinkled it on one side, pressed it in and placed the meat on my standard dehydrator trays.

The directions in this book said to dry at about 180* for four hours, turn it over, then dry for another six to eight hours. The problem with that is that eight hours later was about 1:30 am, and I knew I wouldn’t be up then, so I figured a little extra drying time wouldn’t hurt. The baby chicks were in the room I normally use for dehydrating, so we moved next door into the pantry. There isn’t room in the kitchen, so the dehydrator lives elsewhere in the house. Here is the jerky at four hours. It looked very good to me.


I turned off the dehydrator at 6:00 the next morning. Needless to say, the meat was dry, probably too dry. You can’t bite off a piece, you kind of have to chew it off. The four tray Excalibur dehydrator we use is very simple, with a knob that controls the temperature. It doesn’t have an on/off switch, so we plug it into a power strip that does.


What did we think? Frank’s seal of approval is still out for deliberation. Me? I think it’s great! I am very pleased with the process, the ingredients and the taste. Now I have to learn how to store it so it doesn’t go rancid or mold or something. I know I can keep it in the freezer, but what if we don’t have electricity one day?

One of the reasons I am interested in jerky to begin with, is that it is another way to store meat besides canning. Canned meat is very nutritious, but it is one of my least favorite ways to eat meat as far as flavor goes. Fresh cooked meat is great, but if you’re in TEOTWAWKI stage of life, the day of butchering will be one of the only days that fresh meat will be available. Jerky is also a great way to store protein and salt in an easy to transport package. If times get really lean, it will also give your mouth something to do for a while in times of hunger. All of these things come to mind when I think of making jerky from our chevron, or goat meat. I’ll try the same thing when we butcher our first pig. Meat from American Guinea Hogs is more of a red than pinkish white meat you see from many pigs.

The goal in learning simple, efficient ways to grow, cook and store food will hopefully make a difference when survival is the name of the game. Packing nutrition into every item in a meal, instead of empty calories void of nutrients, will be an absolute necessity if we’re going to make it. The shear volume of work required to live in a collapse, grid down, do everything yourself or you won’t make it situation, will require adequate nutrition, or will soon turn into an impossibility. Think about it. Seriously. Think long and hard, discuss it with your friends and family that are on board. Come up with solutions that will fit your situation and implement them. Now.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 3

Even with historic rainfall, it seems we have managed to stay busy on our homestead. There are a number of projects that are either ongoing, getting started or waiting in the wings for next week to arrive. Here is a rundown of some of our recent events.

 

Frank has wanted to put another layer of gravel on the road going up to the barn. We had this road constructed when we bought our place, but it was time to increase the gravel depth and width. This should do for this road for years to come.

 

We also wanted a load of gravel placed in the backyard so Frank could spread it out in our parking areas and in a number of other places. Unfortunately, the dump truck got stuck before it could make it down the hill. This necessitated dumping the gravel by the chicken house, which means Frank will have to make many, many trips up and down this hill to place the gravel in the desired place.

The dewberries are ripening, so my friend Grace came over today and between rain showers, we picked a few berries. I hope to pick many more in the next few days. By the way, yesterday and last night we got another 1.4″ of rain, and then today we got another 0.4″. But! This is supposed to be the end of it. There is no rain in the near forecast. Hallelujah!

We have had some issues with the egg turner in our incubator this year and were afraid we would have a very poor hatch rate. Today, the day before our actual hatch date, we already have eleven, no make that sixteen, new baby chicks. We were surprised and pleased with this development. Frank will fill you in on the details in an upcoming chicken story.

Our house was built in 1983 on a stem wall with floor joists. Over time it has settled in the middle and needed to be jacked up and leveled. It was hard to find someone to do this kind of work, but today two of our friends arrived and began this project. After this job is completed, they will be helping us replace some of our 30 year old carpet with new flooring. We are really looking forward to that.

Next week the window company will be here to replace our windows. Many of them are clouded over on the inside, and one on the north side lets the cold air in if it is very windy. This is another project that has been on the drawing board for awhile.

The pigs are growing, and will be given more room sometime in the coming week when we let them out into the larger pig pen. First we need to add a few stock panels up against the barn. The last set of pigs really rooted out a lot of dirt under the edge of the slab the barn is sitting on. We don’t want to allow any more of this dirt to be removed. All of the pigs are becoming tame enough to pat and scratch while they are eating, and occasionally when they are not. They greet me each time they see me, especially if I have a bucket in my hand. 

Easter on top, Bo in the house

Tomorrow our last two kids will be separated from their mothers for weaning. Easter, our Easter Sunday doe, and Bo, our little bowlegged wether will be joining the adult wethers, the teenage wethers, and the billy goat. The teenage wethers and Patch, another young doe, have been separated from their mothers for eight weeks now. One Stripe is Patch’s mom, and she is no longer being milked, so Patch will be rejoining the doe herd tomorrow. I will be glad to have her back with the ‘girls’ so I can give her more attention. She is already a very sweet, tame doe and I look forward to adding her to the milking line up next year.
 

Patch


Tomorrow morning Faith, our friend that bought Penny to milk, is coming over for a cheese making lesson. We will be discussing how to make soft cheese and making a batch of mozzarella. Faith has been reading a lot, but learns best by watching and taking notes. She is just beginning to put together a list of needed equipment and ingredients. We will have a fun time talking goats, milk and cheese.

The garden is growing despite all of the rain. The zinnias we planted in and around some of the vegetables are starting to bloom. And they are beautiful. 

It seems we are busier than ever, with much to do on our plates. Once the few projects I mentioned are complete there are about a half dozen more waiting to be started right behind them. We’ll let you know what they are and how they go. Life on a homestead always gives you many things to do. Some planned. Some not. Either way, you learn, you work, you live. It’s a good life.

Until next time – Fern

The Saga of Penny’s Babies

The past few days have been very busy. You see, Penny, according to my obviously inaccurate estimations, was due to kid tomorrow, on Saturday. Instead, she and her kids decided this past Tuesday was to be the day. So we will start this saga that day and see if we can squeeze the events into one rather long post.

Tuesday morning when I went up to milk and feed the goats, I realized that Penny’s udder had really filled in the night. I had been checking to see how far her hips, or ligaments, had spread for a number of days. I told Frank the evening before that Penny really seemed to be almost wide open and I just didn’t see how she was keeping those babies in there. Well, it didn’t last much longer.


Tuesday was supposed to be a laid back day that allowed us to clean out the barn and get the birthing pens ready at a lolly gagger pace. Not to happen. I called Frank on the radio, remember we use them all the time. I told him that I didn’t think it would be long before Penny went into labor and that we needed to get the birthing pens set up. I asked him to scramble up some quick eggs for breakfast while I milked two does. His idea was better. Milk the goats, bring the milk down and start chilling it, then we would clean the barn and set up the pens before breakfast. Thus began the mad dash to prepare. Not our preferred mod of operation. We would have much preferred the lolly gagger pace. Anyway. I quickly completed the morning chores, took the milk to the house, filtered it and set it to chill in ice water, we woofed down a few bites of cottage cheese, and away we went. 

Frank fired up the tractor while I started in with the pitch fork. It was a surprisingly quick and thorough cleaning. Since Penny was not showing any signs of imminent birth, we went back to the house for a real meal and a cup of coffee. By this time we were hungry, I cooked up a big brunch of sausage and eggs hoping this would hold us for a while. We both knew this would turn out to be a long and busy day.

After we ate, I went back to check on Penny. She was out in the pasture grazing with the herd, showing no signs of labor, no discharge, nothing. She was talking a little which made me think she may be in the beginning stages, but that was all. So I left her grazing thinking this would be the last good exercise she had for a few days and that the new green growth would do her good.

We decided to go to the post office and buy gas. While we were at the gas station some folks from church called to let us know the bacon and sausage we ordered from the local ag class had come in and they were heading our way. So we waited at the little country convenience store, got our bacon and sausage, visited for a few minutes, then headed back home. The longest possible time we could have been gone was about 45 minutes, maybe an hour, but I don’t think so.


As we drove in past the pasture, I could see all of the goats except Penny. Uh-oh. I still had my radio with me, so as soon as we hit the house, I hoofed it up to the barn. As I topped the little hill where the barn sits, Penny saw me from the pasture and started hollering at me. Double uh-oh! I called Frank on the radio to let him know what I was seeing as I went through the barn and into the corral on my way out to the pasture. As I got closer I called him back and said, “We have babies! I need your help!” As I got even closer, I called back again and said, “We have twins!” 

Now, we have had does birth or begin birthing out in the pasture before. I usually pick up the baby or babies, hold them in front of the does nose, and she will follow them to the barn. Penny would have none of it. She paced and she hollered, and she paced and she hollered, but she was afraid of her babies and would have nothing to do with them. I know I called Frank on the radio again and reported the situation, but I have no idea what I said this time. He was busy trying to get the bacon and sausage in the freezer because he knew it would be a while before we would be back down to the house. He asked me to think of what we may need from the house for the birth. We had just about everything there except some towels, so he gathered them up and headed up to the barn.

In the meantime, I decided to take the babies to the barn, get them set up in the birthing pen, then go back for Penny. When I took the babies to the barn, the whole herd followed me there. That is, the whole herd except Penny. She stayed where she had given birth, hollering and pacing. She knew her scent and the scent of her babies was there and she wasn’t going to leave it. After I went back out to the pasture, it took me a while before I could catch her. One Stripe led the herd back out and helped me catch Penny by standing between us. Penny was comfortable enough with One Stripe, our old matriarch, that I could reach across and take Penny’s collar. It took some coaxing to get Penny to leave her birthing place, but when the herd came with us, she did much better.

Now I have her in the barn, in the pen with her babies. I quickly leave them alone hoping she would begin to lick and tend to them. She still frantically called and called, even though her babies were right there, she ignored them. Not a good sign. But she was quite agitated. So we put a brass double end clip on the side of the pen down low, clipped it to her collar, then placed her babies right under her nose, and left her alone. As she continued to fuss and call, her babies answered. She started to smell them, then after a few minutes started tentatively licking them. Thank you. I was relieved. After she showed serious interest in cleaning her babies, we unclipped her collar from the pen and let her finish the job. I’m sure you’re not surprised that there are no pictures of any of this process.

Now the next hurdle was for the babies to nurse, and to make sure Penny would let them nurse. I left them alone for quite some time since she was tending to them and I didn’t want to disturb that. Lucky for us the temperatures were right around 80* so I wasn’t too concerned about the kids getting chilled. Penny wasn’t real excited about letting the kids nurse, so we clipped her collar back to the side of the pen again. I put one kid under her nose, while I assisted the other one in getting that first meal. Once the first one was full, I traded them off and made sure the second one had a good meal. We also trimmed off the umbilical cords and sprayed them with 7% iodine somewhere around this time. Now, I could sit back and relax for a bit.

Faith came to see the babies. She plans to have her own goats soon.


Now for some reflection. What a surprise this birth was. Here is what we based our decisions on this day. Penny is a first freshener, meaning this is her first set of babies. Most, obviously not all, but most first timers take a while when they birth. Most pending births are indicated by the amniotic sack breaking and a long string of mucous type material hanging from the doe’s vulva. This is fairly standard. So, when I checked on Penny in the pasture before we went to the post office and she had no discharge, I figured it would still be at least a few hours before she gave birth. Now, we haven’t been able to see all of our goats birth over the years, but we have seen many. I don’t remember any of them having twins from start to finish in under an hour. Penny is definitely the exception when it comes to that observation. 

If I had known she would be giving birth in such a short period of time, I would have penned her up right after we finished cleaning the barn. No matter how much experience you have dealing with animals, there will always be an exception, or a difference that needs to be dealt with that you can learn from. Penny has been an interesting teacher for me this week.


After Penny calmed down and bonded with her sons, yes they were twin boys, she was very attentive, talked up a storm and just fussed over them for hours. She showed no signs of rejecting them, and they are healthy, vigorous and doing great. Since One Stripe and Copper have already provided us with boys named Breakfast and Lunch, we are calling Penny’s boys Dinner and Dessert. They will be banned and become wethers when they are about two weeks old.


We let Penny and the boys out with the herd this evening. First we penned up One Stripe and Copper’s babies in the baby pen for the night, so there weren’t any extra babies around to cause any confusion. And little do the older kids know, but they had their last drink of milk this evening. In the morning we will move them from the baby pen to the weaning pasture. They are now eight weeks old and their moms are ready for them to be weaned. So we will have new little babies in the barn with the herd, older babies in the weaning pasture, and the buck and older wethers in their pasture. We still have wethers that need to be butchered and had plans to put one in the freezer today, but there are only so many hours in the day, and there just weren’t enough of them today. 

Cricket had a son yesterday, but that story will have to wait for another time. I think I learned some important lessons from her as well, and I want to share them with you. Life is an interesting journey. There are many, many lessons to be learned. Some of them are even taught by a goat.

Until next time – Fern

Some Goats Have a Mind of Their Own

Even though it is more work and planning, we have been wanting to get into the routine of breeding at least one goat in July for December babies. This would provide us with fresh milk year round instead of having to buy milk when all of the does dry up for the last two months of gestation. Our plan this year was to breed One Stripe in July and the rest in November. This would bring us one set of babies in December and the rest in April. Good plan, right?

One Stripe’s name comes from that little white stripe on her side.

Well, it appears either One Stripe or Bill, our buck, had other plans. Frank’s back surgery was the beginning of July, so our breeding plans were postponed for a few weeks. But any time I put the two of them together, Bill just cried and acted clueless. He has been slower to mature than the other young bucks we have bought in the past, but this last week he finally figured things out. This means we will not have milk during the last two months of One Stripe’s and Copper’s

Copper is in the back looking over everyone.

gestation. They were both in heat, so we bred them both. We can expect kids from these two does around February 10th, which is 150 days from breeding, or the average gestation for a goat. This is not our optimal time since it is the coldest part of the year. It is normally not a problem, but it can be. It is a problem for cold fingers. We thought back in July that One Stripe might be pregnant….but she wasn’t.
 

Bill


Our young does are growing nicely. Bill will be turned in with them on November 1st. The girls will be eight months old and ready to breed. Cricket is friendly and the biggest of the three. Penny is just as friendly as her mother, Copper. Lady Bug is a pretty girl, but is still pretty stand-offish. If she doesn’t come around and get easier to handle, she will be sold after she has her babies. Training her to milk may gentle her down some, we will see.

Cricket

Penny

Lady Bug

One Stripe with the two wethers on either side

Our two young wethers that were born in March are still alive. For a while we thought we would lose them. After Frank’s surgery, a neighbor came over and helped us ban and worm the boys. After a while, they weren’t doing well and had some raw skin around the site of the ban. We have used this technique for many years on goats and sheep. Once we took some goats to the vet and had them castrated. Once was enough. We found it to be very gruesome, and returned to banning again. Everyone has their stories and their preferences, and that is great. This is ours. 

An example of the small sheds

Anyway, back to the story. These two wethers were not doing very well and Frank could not help me with them. I managed to catch them while they were eating, and use a double ended brass clip to attach their collars to the fence. That way I wouldn’t have to hold them while I tried to work them over. The first time I put some drawing salve around the ban in hopes they would go ahead and heal up. The scrotum sack was just about to fall off at this point. A few days later, one of the boys started staying in their small shed instead of grazing with the herd. I figured at that point I would loose them both. But, that just wouldn’t do. I had to try something else. On my own. You see, Frank has always been the needle man. Anytime we have to give shots, he gets to do it. Not that I can’t, I just don’t want to. I don’t like it. But, as I found out, I can do it, and it’s no big deal. So, I gave them both a shot of LA200 and applied more salve to the raw area. I figured the one in the shed would still die, but he didn’t.

About a week later while I was in the barn milking, Frank called me on the radio. Yes, we use hand held radios every single day around the farm. Anytime I am in the barn and he is not, well anytime we are outside, whether we are together or not, we always take a radio. It has saved many a step when we need to communicate something. So, Frank called me on the radio and said, “You saved those two boys lives.” That makes it all worth while. And it makes for more meat on the hoof.

We hope to butcher our three older wethers soon. They are way past the age we would normally do it, but it just hasn’t gotten done yet. We are out of red meat in the freezer and it will be nice to have some of our own again. We chose goats because of the smaller carcass size. We don’t need as much milk as a cow would provide. The meat you get from butchering a goat will be easier to process and preserve when we no longer have access to refrigeration or freezers.

There are always hooves to be trimmed and chores to do when it comes to having goats. Sometimes when they won’t cooperate or bellow all the time, they are a real pain and we don’t appreciate them as much. That’s a nice way to say they drive us crazy. It’s interesting to watch animal behavior. If one runs, they all run, if one starts screaming, another one may join in, kind of like people. And I bet if we gave one of them a TV, they would all want a TV, or a free phone. I don’t see the government out here handing out free goat feed. How come some people get things that are ‘free’, and others have to pay for those things that are ‘free’ that they don’t get? So much for my mini rant.

Sometimes plans with the goats just don’t work out the way we would like, but, in the long run, they provide milk, butter, cheese, meat and dog food for our little homestead, and that is part of our long term plan. And it is a good plan. A plan to survive.

Until next time – Fern

Just How Many Goats Do We Need?

We have debated this question many times. In the last few years we have had as many as twelve does and as few as four. Our ideal number revolves around milk and meat production. We try to logically consider what factors may affect the sustained production of these items and our dietary needs. 

How many do you milk? This year we had three milkers and we had so much milk we couldn’t use it up fast enough even though we were feeding it to the dog, cats and chickens. The chickens would only drink so much milk. And Frank is a milk drinker, everyday. So we cut back to milking the three of them once a day. That helped some, but we still had an over abundance of milk. 
 

Cheddar

After we made all of the cheese we wanted we dried up one of the does. Then we found out that One Stripe had 

Chevre

bred in July like we wanted her to, and was farther along than we thought. She starts drying up about two months after she breeds and that left us with only one goat to milk. Since that wasn’t giving us as much milk as we wanted, we went back to milking her twice a day in the hopes she would

Mozzarella

increase her milk production again, but that hasn’t really worked. We are just barely getting by and are dipping into our frozen milk reserves for Pearl and the kittens.

Special note: Some people will ask, “Why don’t you sell the milk?” The reason is that it is illegal to sell raw milk. You have to be a registered dairy to sell milk. And then, some would say, “Barter for the milk.” It doesn’t make any difference. If we barter, sell or give milk away and someone gets sick, whether it is from the milk or not, we can lose everything we have and do jail time. Therefore, we do not sell, barter or give milk away for any human consumption. And that’s it. 

If we keep the four does we have right now, next year we will have four milking goats. So we thought, why not go down to three? Three milking goats, as we mentioned earlier, will give us an abundance of milk. So, why not let one of them dry up early, which is a very good idea. Then you have two full-time milking goats and an abundance of milk. Here are the delimmas. If you want to have fresh milk year round, then you can’t have them all breed at the same time. Goats need to dry up a few months before they birth. The reason for our messed up breeding schedule is because that is what we tried to do this year, was have separate breeding times for different goats, and it just didn’t work.

We don’t have a good answer for this situation. We have tried freezing milk. It’s okay, but as long as the grocery store continues to sell milk, it is much better. We have tried canning milk. As Frank has been known to say, “I’m not putting that stuff in my mouth.” But the chickens will drink it and you can cook with it. We store powdered milk as part of our food storage and it is just fine. But someday, it will run out. Our nine years in Alaska we drank powdered milk. Remember, Frank is a milk drinker.

We have not come across a sure fire way to solve the problem of being able to have fresh milk year round. There is a chance, because of our mixed up breeding schedule, that we might actually have fresh milk all year. We’ll let you know in about January or February. Right now we have been getting fresh milk since January, so it will be close.

Okay, so getting back to the question of how many goats? We are probably going to stay with four. But then, what if one of the does has beautiful kid? Okay…..maybe five goats. We talked about going down to three does, but if one of them got sick or had problems that would only leave us with two to milk and that may or may not be enough. So we’re going to stick with four, for now. But that doesn’t mean that we are going to keep the four we have. We have one doe that keeps everybody stirred up all the time, she just spooks at anything and everything. She is a nice looking goat, good udder, good teats and a great milker, but she just keeps everybody on edge all the time. Remember, goats are herd animals, and if one animal spooks, they all run. You know, kind of like sheeple.

There are many factors that come into the decision making process in keeping a doe or putting her up for sale. Here is a list of some of the determining factors:

  • Milkablity (Frank’s new word) which is volume of milk; udder conformation (the shape of the bag); and teat size; not to mention attitude about being milked and ease of training
  • Cooperation within the herd; ease of handling
  • Healthy kids; ease of, or problems birthing; attentive mother or not; looks – no one wants an ugly goat
  • Over all good or bad habits 
  • Family tree; don’t keep too many from the same parents even if they produce desired characteristics – like Teddy – he is a big strong, good looking, healthy male that is easy to handle and a solid breeder. But when the girls are in heat, his attitude changes sharply and he can be dangerous. So he is leaving, dead or alive.
  • And one of the major deciding factors is Fern. If she likes a goat we will usually keep it, for a while anyway. The exception to the rule of selling off older stock on our place is One Stripe who will live out her days here. She is a great goat, good attitude, wonderful milker, excellent mother and Fern just loves her. So she stays until the end of her days. This is not always a good idea, but it is the plan for just this one.

 

One Stripe

In the birthing process, we have about half doe and half buck kids. On average, healthy adult does have twins or triplets. This year we will probably have four does and four buck kids. The plan is to keep one doe

kid to replace the one we are selling. But remember, plans can change.

We will sell the three remaining doe kids and that will leave us with four bucks. Young bucks in the industry are considered to be ‘a dime a dozen’. It is rare that you keep a buck to become a new breeding billy. So, therefore, we may have four young bucks that we will castrate and one year later will butcher. These are called wethers, which is pronounced like ‘weather’. This is part of our food supply. Now remember, it takes one billy to service 10 to 20 does, therefore, bucks are not in high demand. So that is where our meat comes from. All the wethers have the same name – Meat. One time Fern named them Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Teddy and the wethers, Meat, Meat and Meat

So, how many goats do we need? Four does and one billy will keep us in milk and meat and then some. The key is balancing them out so that we are not overrun with either. That is the plan anyway. So if you’re thinking about goats, this is the way we do it. Hope this helps.

That’s the news from the farm.

Frank and Fern
 

Some Things About Raising Goats

Raising goats, just like anything, has taught us a lot over the years and I thought I would share a few things.

Despite the best laid plans, animals don’t always accommodate our wishes. I showed my breeding calendar in a previous post and thought I would give you an update.

As you can see, One Stripe did finally breed this summer. I don’t think it was so much her as it was Teddy, our buck, that delayed the breeding. We bred One Stripe in the summer to have December kids, although it may be January this year. We are trying to have year-round milk instead of drying all of the does off at once. Ivory, Velvet and Copper will be due in late February and early March. That will get us into the heavy milking season just when we are ready to start making cheese again.


We dried up Velvet in August because we had made most of the cheese we wanted and we just had too much milk to deal with. 

One Stripe is currently drying off by herself. This is her typical pattern. About two to three months after she breeds, she begins to dry up so she can put her energy into her developing kids. 

So right now, we are only milking Ivory. We have gone back to milking her twice a day to try to increase her production a little. We are getting about a quart and a half a day, but would like to get at least half a gallon a day. We like milk and Pearl usually gets about 3 cups a day for breakfast.

Red was born here, but has since been sold.


As the kids are born we will share how we disbud them. It is a nasty project, but we have tried raising the goats with horns and have decided it is much safer for them and us if they are dehorned or disbudded.

Disbudding doesn’t always work. There have been times that we let the kids get a little too old and didn’t get all of the horn bud killed off when we burned them off.

We use a disbudding iron. Sometimes only a little nub of a horn bud grows out and sometimes some odd looking horns grow.

Velvet and Copper both have little nubs. This is about as big as they get. Copper has even knocked hers off before.

Nubby is the red goat in the center.

Nubby’s grew much more (his name comes from his horns). He is one of our wethers that is destined for the freezer.

This little guy’s disbudding was successful, but he has parrot mouth. This is a birth defect resulting in the length of the jaws not being the same. His bottom jaw is shorter than the top one. The lips should meet evenly and smoothly together in the front. We had this happen to a doe born here a few years ago. I’m not sure what causes it, my reading indicates it may be a genetic anomaly. The animals don’t seem to have any difficulty eating or anything, but it is not a defect we want to pass on in our herd or anyone else’s, so this is also a wether that is destined for the freezer.

And then there is Teddy. He is a nice looking, big buck that we could use to add some size to our herd. We hope all of our does are bred and have healthy kids from his bloodline because he will not be staying here much longer. 

We bought him last spring as a three year old. He is easy to handle when led by his collar or a leash and loads into a trailer with ease. So we were very impressed, initially. The first time we turned him in with the does he became aggressive toward Frank and

I by trying to bump and kind of herd us, so we started carrying a baseball bat when we were out among the animals. That worked for us. But then he started being aggressive with Pearl, our Great Pyrenees. It was bad enough when he started rearing up like he was going to butt heads with her, but then he started ramming her against the fence or gates. That was the last straw. He is not worth injuring us or losing Pearl. She is an excellent livestock guardian. While Frank was taking pictures of the wethers over the gate, Teddy was pushing against the gate with his head over and over trying to get it to open. So, as soon as we are sure the does are bred, he will be going to the sale barn. Then we can get the wethers in the freezer and be down to four does for a few weeks until the kids start arriving.


The seasons bring changes in everything – the garden, the goats and the chores we do around the farm. Everything in it’s season. The season of our country is also changing. It appears that autumn is coming quickly and the winter that follows may be cold, dark and harsh. Be ready.

Until next time – Fern