Get goats they said.
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Nigerian dwarf goats are the best they said. Goats are the key to
homesteading they said. Ok, maybe not that last one but when I first started thinking about the concept of homesteading I definitely read a lot about goats.
I read articles about different breeds, different ways to keep them, different things to feed them but there were some things that I never found out until the goats were in my back yard.
Here are those things:
Goats Are Escape Artists: So this one I did read on a blog somewhere before getting them BUT they didn’t exactly tell me how amazingly proficient at this artistry they are. Sometimes (a lot of times) I jump in head first into things and don’t quite have my ducks, or goats, in a row. Such as the time I brought home two goats before having the pen ready. Yup. I bought our goats before we even had a place to put them. No big deal though, I thought to myself, I will just tie them up while I put a fence up quickly. After I put the fence up, the goats went in, and then immediately out. The stinkers went under, over and through my fence more than a dozen times before I finally out smarted them.
Goats are smart, very smart.
Goats Are Demanding: I knew that I’d of course have to feed them and milk them once or twice a day EVERY day. I was no stranger to this, I come from a conventional dairy farm background where it’s the same story. But goats are demanding, mean little creatures. They blat if you are the teensy tiniest bit late, they blat if the hay isn’t perfect, they blat if there is a leaf in their water, they blat if you’re in the house and they think you just need to hear them blat. They are so NEEDY. Goats are creepers too. If they are close enough to the house like ours are, when they get tired of blatting they will just stare at you through the windows like weird neighbors except they don‘t even pretend to be watering their lawn when you catch them. So if you are ever at our house and feel like someone is watching you, it’s probably (definitely) the goats.
Goats Are Super Picky Eaters: Yes, contrary to popular belief, goats are THE pickiest eaters. They don’t graze grass like cows do but prefer to “browse” leaves, bushes, trees, shrubs and weeds. As for hay, they prefer a nice soft grassy hay. I offer them all the left over veggies we having thinking I’m giving them a treat and the buggers turn their little snobby noses up at almost everything I offer! They do however love my stale sourdough most of the time which makes me happy.
So no, the goats will not eat your lawn furniture, your newspaper however I can make no guarantee for…
Goats Are Like Dogs: I have an extensive background with dairy cows and I thought goats would be practically the same. I mean they are both ruminants, they both eat mostly hay and grass/forage, they both have udders, they look sort of the same, how different could they be? Very. Goats are more like dogs than any other livestock I have come in contact with. They want to be with you all the time, they will come in the house if you let them and they stay in the yard better than most dogs do. They make eye contact and care about you like dogs do. In fact when my favorite doe, Abbie was in labor I thought she would be like the many cows I had witness give birth; indifferent to me, wanting to be left alone and generally independent. Abbie proved otherwise. She would not settle in to labor until I came into the pen and every time I left she had a fit and started stressing. So stay with her I did and she amazed me by enjoying and wanting my comfort. She would look me in the eye and her appreciation for me was almost palpable. Not like the cows I had worked with at all.
Goats (Specifically Nigerian Dwarfs) Milk Is THE Best: I had researched many breeds before settling on the Nigerian Dwarf goat. I chose them in the end because their milk has the highest butter fat and closest taste to cow milk. Only it’s better than cow milk. After having our goats, no milk compares. Seriously. We drink raw cow milk when our goats are dry or we just need more than they are giving and it just doesn’t do it for us. Other goat milk doesn’t do it for us either. Dwarfs are where it’s at for rich, creamy, decadent milk.
Goats Are Fun: Goats are some of the cheapest and best entertainment. They make you feel young again. Especially when you have kids around, human and goat kids. They play together like the best of friends. They climb and fall and rough house until the sun goes down. Letting them free range the yard is always an adventure. People should be more like goats and enjoy life like they do.
Goats Are Super Rewarding: Caring for another creature is a huge responsibility, probably the biggest responsibility one can have. When you care for a goat, you nurture them, you milk them, you feed them, you play with them and they become a big part of your life. In return they work hard to give you the best milk you could have, they give you their life essentially, to do what you will with it. When you drink that hard earned milk it becomes a source of pride.
They worked hard for you and you worked hard for them. And for that we can’t thank our goats enough.
Tell me, have you ever considered owning a goat? Have you owned a goat? In what ways were they challenging to you? What did they teach you? I’d love to hear your stories!