For most of the winter so far — 42 days to be exact — we’ve had a special guest at the farm, a male goat named Blue.
He is a buck, which is what an intact male goat is called, and was here on loan to help our two female dairy goats get pregnant.
We have two female goats, Pancha and Alaina. They are La Mancha goats, a breed known for their tiny ears and high milk production. Their tiny ears are distinctive, making their heads look kind of strange at first. We bought them from a local family that was having trouble keeping them out of their home orchard.
Taking a walk with Pancha
When they came to us, Pancha was giving us milk each day and Alaina was not. Last winter, a year ago, we decided to bring both goats over to a buck that we new about for an afternoon. This was our first experience trying to breed a goat. The farmer of the buck assured us that one afternoon was all it would take.
One of our goats is already a bit chunky so we began to believe they were both pregnant. And even went so far as to “dry out” Pancha by systematically slowing down how much we milked her.
As it turned out, last spring we had two goats that we thought were pregnant who were not giving any milk — but neither of them was actually pregnant!
We found out we would have to wait until this winter to try again since the ideal situation is to have the kids born in the spring so they have the entire summer and fall to grow up and be ready for a harsh winter.
If the breeding with Blue takes, we should have baby goats by the end of May. We’ll keep you posted! Shortly after the kids are born (a few weeks) we will be able to drink some of the milk from the goats all the while continuing to share with the kids.
Milking a goat is actually quite fun. Compared to a dairy cow that will give you 4-5 gallons a day, each goat will typically give us 1-2 quarts each day. For our family this is perfect. We were a little hesitant at first about the taste of goat milk, as we had tried some from the grocery store and found the taste to have a distinct “off” flavor. Some people call it a “goaty” taste. But we learned that if you cool the milk down quickly, within 30 minutes it tastes wonderful. Sweet and pure and clean. Last year, when we had been drinking it every day, we began to like it more than cows milk. We do not pasteurize it. We use careful cleaning practices.
The other advantage of milking goats over cows is that it only takes 10-15 minutes. A cow would take much longer. We milk only once per day and it is a simple task that the kids enjoy being a part of.
Millie after goat milking last summer
We use the milk for fresh drinking, simple soft cheeses and for goat soap. Anytime we have some milk we can’t finish, we freeze it until we have enough to make soap.
I look forward to sharing pictures of the babies when the come in the spring!
For Christmas, we designed and built Millie her very own Fairy House.
So without snow this winter, we’ve been enjoying some inside time crafting new furniture and dolls from wood we gather outside to keep the fairy house alive and fun.
Millie especially loves to work with the wood and cuts out blankets and clothes for all the little people she plays with.
Other than the goats and the Fairy House, I’ve been re-reading my pruning books and watching videos as we will need to prune all of our fruit and nut trees and the grapevines by mid-March.
Guess what my next post will be about??!?