Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

now entering goatland

I fought for a long time to only have chickens, but then Mike showed up with cows. Ok, cows and chickens, it is. However, Mike had no intention of stopping there. As you well know, we’ve also had pigs (and will again this spring), pheasants (not sure if we’ll get more since we’ve such bad luck with keeping them alive), guinea fowl (again, those suckers can’t stay alive to save their lives), and peacocks (much like the guinea fowl, they can’t seem to stay alive). Mike has been saying from day one that he wants to get goats. It seems like everyone around here has only horror stories to tell and recommend sheep instead if we must go down that road. So I tried unsuccessfully with all my might to talk Mike into sheep. We actually did have some of the neighbors’ sheep for a few weeks to help mow a wooded area, but they went back to their home once they cleared the land.

Then Mimi fell in love with the goats at the fair last summer, and that was enough to convince Mike we needed goats. I was belligerent reluctant at first, but Mike found a wonderful blog where she educates about raising goats and how to milk them once freshened (that’s goat talk for a female goat who’s had babies). I’ll admit it didn’t take long to get sucked in. If you read her articles about goat’s milk, then you’ll be convinced you need to start drinking it, too. (In fact, she’s become quite the expert on much else, and I’ve been soaking it all up.) There are also so many possibilities for goat’s milk: yogurt, cheese, soap, lotion, and more. We’re already familiar with making soap and really love having it on hand, so I’m excited to try to make goat’s milk soap.

Mike thought he had the goats we’d be getting already picked out. They were Alpine Goats which are full-size goats. However, I kept reading online all these horror stories about full-size goats being quite the escape artists that love to eat and destroy just about everything. Mike calmly explained that he had it all figured out, but I was still pretty freaked out about what I was reading from experienced goat owners. In pursuit of more information, I decided that we may want to instead get Nigerian Dwarf goats because they are smaller (about the size of Lucy, our hunting dog) and are a pretty calm breed. Also some Googling about the breed revealed that most people think Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is the best tasting, even better than cow’s milk. Mike needed a few days of convincing, but he finally relented after I found some local Nigerian Dwarf breeders (who have very informative websites). The breeder we went with confirmed that Nigerian Dwarf goats are great goats for beginners.

After some wheeling and dealing we are now the owners of two bred goats (meaning they are both knocked up). Again, I was a bit panicked about having to birth goat babies, but the mamas will do all the work and actually get nervous if the owners help too much. The Nigerian Dwarf goat breed is actually quite popular, so we shouldn’t have trouble selling the babies once they are weened. So how about I introduce you to our ladies.

Meet Nougat. She belongs to Annie, and Annie named her. Her due date is in the middle of June. Nougat is just over a year old and will be a first time Mama. Her coat is so soft, as soft as my Persian cat’s coat. You can see from the second picture that the Nigerian Dwarf is small enough to fit into a dog kennel which is how we transported them home. Much easier than how we would have had to transport a full-sized goat.
Introducing Nougat, Annie's Nigerian Dwarf GoatIntroducing Nougat, Annie's Nigerian Dwarf GoatIntroducing Nougat, Annie's Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Mimi’s goat is named Sugar Cookie (this was her name already). Sugar Cookie’s due date is May 9. Apparently, the Nigerian Dwarf goats tend to deliver early though, so we’ll have to start watching her at the end of April. She is a little over two years old and will also be a first time Mama.
Introducing Sugar Cookie, Mimi's Nigerian Dwarf GoatIntroducing Sugar Cookie, Mimi's Nigerian Dwarf Goat

We are very excited about having the babies. The Nigerian Dwarves typically have 3-4 babies in a litter. The breeder had a lot of mamas with babies, and they are about the cutest things you’ll ever see. The babies are around 2-5 pounds when they are born. Here is a video I took of our two does meeting each other (they were kept in separate pens), but you can also see a few babies bouncing around that are only a couple of weeks old. Now tell me those babies aren’t irresistible!

Here the goats are all settled into the new home. Once the weather gets warmer outside we’ll make an outside pen for them. In the meantime, the girls will walk them daily on a leash. So far they really aren’t interested in leaving their pen. We will have to put each mama into their own pen once they have babies because they get very protective and territorial.

This is certainly going to be an adventure for us, but everyone is excited and ready for it! We hope to get visitors to come see the babies once they are born.

5 Responses to “ now entering goatland ”

  1. Shoebox Princess says:

    THOSE BABY GOATS ARE SO SQUEEEEEEE! They look like bunnies with longer legs. I will have to plan a trip out there. Not to do office work, but to cuddle up with baby goats and get working on them being indoor house goats. Because you know that’s where they should be. I’ll be a willing taste tester of goat mild and goat cheese, and I’ll pay you for some goat milk soap even. Kudos to you, Jen, for doing your homework on raising goats.

  2. Julie says:

    Of course, I am not surprised and as always I think man, Jen is a good sport. I actually knew people with goats when I was growing up (in L.A. keep in mind) and they would walk them down the street, like they were pet dogs or something. I have heard fabulous things about goats milk as well so you will have to keep us posted. I always wonder how Mike can possibly run a business and a farm, but then I remember that I don’t think I have ever seen the man sit down so that probably helps, And it can’t hurt that he married someone who just goes with the flow and gets on board with each new vision, well except for the honey bees. You are still holding out on the bees, right? I know I tease, but you really do inspire me to become more self-sufficient.

  3. Grandma Florida says:

    They are so adorable. Can’t wait to see the babies!

  4. Jenni says:

    Your puns were killing me!!!

    “she educates about raising goats and how to milk them once freshened (that’s goat talk for a female goat who’s had babies). I’ll admit it didn’t take long to get sucked in”

    “We’re already familiar with making soap and really love having it on hand,”

    Those goats are so cute! I like it when they hop sideways!!

  5. Dennis says:

    I knew it would come to this and I’m so happy for you and the girls. This will be a great learning experience for them, especially birthing the babies. I have never heard of goat milk soap but you will certainly make the most use of everything goat. We are planning to come out there shortly after school is out (Mike is going to give me a fake tooth to go along with my fake knee) and will be happy to see your new babies.
    Jen you are a very special person to put up with Mike and I love you for it.

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