When we decided a little more than a year ago to add a dairy goat to our little farm, I had absolutely no idea how to even go about finding one. I started out buying books about dairy goats at our local farm store. I think Mark thought one would be enough, but when you are starting out knowing nothing, I needed all the help I could get! I decided Nubian was the breed I wanted. I searched the internet trying to find a breeder close by. I did find one and started up an email conversation about the possibility of buying a female from her. I asked her many questions because, again, I had no idea what I was doing. I think she started worrying I wouldn’t be a very good goat owner because she sent me a message that she didn’t think her goats would be a very good fit for me. I was about to give up the idea of getting one any time soon, when I walked into the farm store and there on the bulletin board was a picture of a Nubian goat and her 2 month old daughter for sale! I quickly called the number, praying they were still available. I was thrilled when I found out they were. Bless my husbands heart, just as soon as we left the store he drove me the twenty miles to their place. It was most definitely love at first sight! I told the lady who owned them I only had one more question. When she asked what it was, I asked, “Do you have some milk I can taste?” Because if I didn’t like the taste of the milk there wasn’t any reason to shell out the $360 for the two of them. She said sure and brought me out a mason jar full of ice-cold milk. I took it from her, looked at it a minute and said to myself “You can do this, just take a quick drink.” Imagine my surprise and delight when it was very good. I could not tell the difference between it and regular milk. I was sold! We paid the lady and said we would be back to pick them up in a couple of weeks after we got things ready for them. And that is how I entered into the wonderful world of goat milking.
Gracie was the mamma’s name and I liked that so we kept her name. The little girl I named Liddy. Buying a goat who was already used to being milked was definitely the way to go. I didn’t have to worry about training her to jump on the stantion or train her that it was OK for this human to be touching her in such an intimate way. The actual act of milking came easy for me, which was a blessing because I have learned that isn’t always the case. After about a month I stopped thinking, “I am drinking goats milk” every time I drank a glass of milk. And slowly one by one, I won over my kids and grandkids and now we all think Gracie’s milk is far superior to cow’s milk both nutritionally and tasting.
Soon, a new aspect of goat ownership came around. It was time to have Gracie bred again. Since I didn’t have a Billy, I borrowed a neighbors when I felt Gracie was in the mood for love. Call it beginners luck, but I was right and romance blossomed almost immediately. The Billy was returned home and the wait began. Of course, being a first time owner of a bred goat, I nervously watched for signs that it had “worked.” There is a line of numbers on the door frame of my milking room where I measured Gracie’s stomach with a tape measure every week to see if she was getting any bigger and she was! But still I worried, was it because she was pregnant or was she just getting fat? When she only had about a month to go, I finally decided she really was pregnant and I could stop worrying. As she got closer though, I started worrying about the coming blessed event. Would she be able to have them on her own, if she did have trouble would I be able to tell? I’d read that most goats deliver between 150 and 155 days so I knew we had to be close. One evening in late May, I went out to shut the door on our chickens and as I walked by Gracie’s stall I shined the light in and stopped dead in my tracks. My sweet goat who had shown no signs of labor as far as I could tell two hours earlier, was standing in the middle of not one, not two, but three precious little baby goats. I ran in to tell Mark we had triplets!!
Of course, just like with any new arrival, calls were made to all the family to tell them of the blessed event! If we weren’t before, we definitely were hooked now! There is nothing more precious in all the world than a newborn baby goat! Especially when you throw human kids in with them!
The original plan had been to raise and butcher the youngsters for meat, but we hadn’t had Gracie and Liddy very long when we realized that was not going to happen. Goats are extremely tame, friendly, and people loving animals. They truly are pets. If we sit down out in the yard, they will come up and nose their way under our hands so we will pet them. They became a part of our family just like a dog or cat.
I didn’t milk Gracie at all the first month. At four weeks when the babies were eating hay and grass well, we gave two of them to a nice family who would give them a good home. I let the third baby nurse through the day, then kept them apart at night and I milked Gracie in the morning. At two months, we took the third one to the Amish Auction and got $57 out of her. At that point Gracie was giving 2 quarts of milk in the morning and 2 quarts at night. Now, four months later she is giving half of that, but that is still a half-gallon of milk a day. More than enough for us and plenty for my kids also. Having goats has definitely added a new and fun dimension to our little farm but it has also added one more food item that I would have a hard time eating from a grocery store. Just like fresh picked tomatoes vs grocery store tomatoes, Gracie’s milk is so fresh and sweet and chock full of nutrition that regular grocery store milk doesn’t have. In fact our family calls it “White Gold!”