Farmer Cindy and her 10 year old daughter Athena travelled down to NJ from the Catskills in a borrowed step van. In the the back cabin were three beloved dairy goats. Cindy and her charge are moving to Uganda in February where she'll study midwifery so she decided to find a good home for her caprine companions. We had worked together at Newton Farm last summer, and she noticed how I doted on the chickens there and as such, I think she might have had some faith in my ability to pay attention to the needs of critters. Add to that that I practically begged to take them, and I'm sure she had a hard time refusing me.
Once the menagerie arrived at Seven Arrows, we got the cloven hooved part of the crew set up in the newly vacated livestock camp. The chickens and rabbits are in their newly constructed, though not completely complete coop now, so we mucked out the camp and spread down fresh straw bedding for it's new occupants. We gave the nervous goats a few flakes of hay and water and let them settle in for the afternoon. We would start milking them the following morning, hopefully without incident.
Cindy and I then went over to check out my provisions. I had though that, in spite of the goat building not being ready to live in, I was pretty prepared. I had hay and grains and feed...no problem! We'd find out the next day that the goats had other thoughts. The feed I had was not to the goats liking, nor was the hay, which was a touch too carbon heavy for them, not enough leafy bits. Good feed stores around here are scarce so I was a little worried about getting something suitable in a pinch. Until I could make it to the next county where I knew I'd find what I needed for them they got a homemade mix of molasses rolled oats, carrots and apples. Not too shabby, I'd say! This would keep them in the milking stand for a bit while we got a handle on things and got some proper feed.
Our first milking with Cindy went pretty well, feed issues aside. A little nervous kicking occurred, but we ended up with 3 quarts of milk that day. We could not complain about that. We had homegrown milk, for crying out loud! We felt like shouting from the rooftops.
Cindy is now back up in Phoenicia afte a few days of guidance and the goats are now getting settled into a routine here at the farm. All but one goat are finding this arrangement sufficient. Their house will be done this week . We're working on bonding with them so that the milking process goes more smoothly. With some practice, tips from Cindy (she recommended this very helpful website), and a little extra sweet feed we should be getting about a gallon of milk daily. As amateurs we are just falling below that. We've got a stubborn goat that threatens to put her hoof in the pail any time we reach for her teats. More updates on that fun relationship later.
Without further ado, here are the gals!
Mocha, the matriarch:
Licorice, the shy one:
Hersheys, the problem child: