The Goat Question


For a while now we’ve been considering adding milking goats to our menagerie, but it seems like such a step up from bees and chickens.  Still, we got some encouragement recently.

My friend from a neighboring town, Kath of This One Good Life, would love goats too, and promised to be a goat buddy if we go ahead. Blogger Leigh from 5 Acres and A Dream recommended Nigerian Dwarfs, writing that they have wonderful personalities and that, being aseasonal breeders, they can be bred almost any time of year (which means if you have two, it’s possible to breed them in opposite seasons and have year round milk between the two). She also has a long resource list of “Goat Links” on her blog. I also revisited Sharon Astyk’s blog post on “The Lazy Goat-keeper,” which puts so much of goat-keeping into perspective (also read this blog post). (The goat in the picture is hers, a buckling called Cadfael.)

So, to goat or not to goat? We would love the milk, cheese and butter – we go through so much of it, and I hate buying it in plastic. I think the skills of keeping mammalian livestock and processing their food will be good to have. I believe we can fit two goats onto our property and into our daily lives. I’ve seen how good the hens are, for all three of us, for animal companionship and lessons in life, death and gratitude (I thank those hens every day when I take their eggs). And I inordinately look forward to taking the goats for a walk in the neighborhood. Amie is of course ecstatic and DH is open to the idea.

We do need to do some more research, but I’m aware that at some point research becomes an excuse to put off taking the risk and that one just has to take the plunge. Goats are resilient creatures, and I think they’ll forgive us our first mistakes.

My only concerns are getting a permit from the town, potential vet bills, and taking holidays.

At the end of the month we will all be going to Western Mass, me to take a training, Amie and DH to have  a trip. We found a wonderful place to stay: a community farm with permaculture, gardens, herbs, bees and… milking  goats! Getting some hands-on experience would be major encouragement and perhaps the final step forward.

On other animal news, we finally got back to four eggs (four hens). The broody hen, which we decided not to break, just to experiment, has finally started laying again!

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  1. Oh dear, you do that, you breed them, I’ll take the first set of babies :-)
    I turned down the opportunity this time, just because we can’t make the infrastructure happen this fall. Will think it over through winter ….

  2. Where in WMass will you be? My 6 Nigerian Dwarf does kidded a total of 14 kids in August in Amherst. I’d be more than glad to show you around, talk about milking, vetting, and housing/fencing requirements. I got my goats from Sharon as well, though this batch of kids were sired by a buck not from her herd (flock?). I haven’t put photos up on my blog yet, though. You can shoot me an email if you wish – blessedacre (at) yahoo (dot) com.

  3. I will be so interested in what you decide and how things work out. And here are a couple more resources, email lists you can join, even now.

    Holistic Goats
    Totally Natural Goats

    If Michelle has a goat vet near you, that’s a major bonus! One of the biggest problems goat owners have is that so few vets are knowledgeable about goats. Most of us end up doing most of our own vetting, but there is a lot of experienced help on either of those goat groups.

  4. And here are three book recommendations!

    Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby (review on my blog)
    Alternative Treatments for Ruminant Animals by Paul Dettloff DMV
    The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

    (I’m such an enabler!!!)

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