Chances are, you have seen the rise in the popularity of goats.
While the cow still rules America, the goat is having her day. One by one, hearts and minds are being wooed and won by . . . the goat.
I am one of those people. In fact, I would have a goat over a dog or cat, but please don’t inform my family of that. Because we have three cats and four dogs and at this time, no precious goats, they would see such information as treason!
But, I would like to take this time to tell you about the amazing benefits of having goats and why I feel they just may be what is missing in your life.
Don’t have land for goats? Check your local farmers’ markets for someone selling goats milk or cheese. Many farms open their doors to those who would come and sit with the babies, giving bottles and helping out here or there.
Some farms even have a sponsorship program where you can ‘adopt’ a goat. It can be dual ownership, or you can own the dear four-legged creature, and they board it, feed it, and milk it for you. You pay a monthly fee, can visit anytime, and get the wonderful benefits that your beloved goat gives.
Why do I feel so strongly about goats?
Let me count the ways!
My first personal encounter was with two Sannan crosses. I had no idea when we picked them up and brought them home they were as sick as they were.
We took them out of a small pen that housed at least seven. Differing ages and sexes, no one knew if they were pregnant or not.
We knew enough to recognize that they were a bit on the thin side, but I would have taken them no matter what. Later, we called them our rescue goats.
Both were pregnant, and the vet said the smallest one probably wouldn’t last until her baby was due.
Looking back, I can’t believe more wasn’t done for them. Basically, they were written off. If I had known then what I know now, I would have done everything I could to get the vitamins, supplements, and minerals into them that they needed.
My sweet Marigold died a few weeks after giving birth, and her sister, Maybel lived on our farm for a long time.
Even despite our beginnings, they were the sweetest most loving goats you could have wanted.
Most goats, no, not all, offer a very unique quality of affection. It’s hard to describe if you have never owned one, or been around them much.
I qualify this statement by adding, not all goats are created equal, the same as people. But most goats, raised and treated well, are splendid companions.
They are loyal, affectionate, smart, and sensitive. If you ever have the opportunity, go sit on a bale of hay or a wooden bench on a farm where the girls hang out. Chances are one or two of them will slowly, casually make their way over to you. Nostrils flaring, they’ll give you a good sniff or two and then start nibbling on your buttons or zipper, or even fingers.
If you’re lucky, you may even get a goat kiss.
They are curious and thoughtful. While it’s hard to grasp this unless they are actually part of your everyday life, they quietly (some not so quietly) and gently take hold of your heart until one day you realize they and you have become quite good friends.
Should you ever have to part with them, they leave a hole that will never be filled. A hole made just the right size and shape for a goat.
Now, on a practical level, as some of us do have to be practical, goats offer so much to a homestead or small farm.
They produce the best tasting milk – ever. Yes. I said it.
Cow’s milk does not compare. It leaves a thickish odd after taste in your mouth, and goats milk is clean as a whistle.
Goats milk is one of the healthiest kinds of milk in the world. I can no longer have any dairy products from a cow. For some reason, my joints swell and become painful.
Not with fresh wholesome goats milk. We use it both raw and pasteurized. Depends on what we are doing with it.
Here is an excerpt from the awesome website of Dr. Axe:
Goat milk is a type of milk produced by goats. It’s high in many essential nutrients and is a good source of vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin and more. It’s also rich in medium-chain fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids are a type of heart-healthy fat that is associated with a wealth of impressive health benefits.
- Easier to Digest
- Fewer Allergens and Less Inflammatory
- High in Calcium
- Helps Reduce Cholesterol Levels
- Promotes Glowing Skin
- Enhances Nutrient Absorption
Did I mention the wonderful flavor? Oh yes, I did. And I should qualify that statement. No one in my family actually drinks milk. We haven’t for years. What we do is make kefirs, milkshakes, smoothies, yogurt and of course, cheeses. Raw fresh cheese, aged cheese, mixed milk cheese.
Did you know you can make a quick goats milk cheese called chevre’, and dehydrate it until it has become hard and dried. Then you take it and pulverize it in a small nut grinder. Put it into a jar for a few weeks and you have aged chevre that tastes like Italian cheese!!
One point in time we had too much milk, and as you know, necessity is the mother of invention. So . . . we did some research as to if it was safe or not, decided to pasteurize it first, and then go for it.
Wow. We had Italian cheese (Romano-like) from our ladies of the barn with little effort!
So, we have covered the personality of the goat, the nutritional benefits, and the practical life-giving foods they produce. What else?
Oh, yes. I would be remiss if I didn’t add in a paragraph of cautions. So, here I go.
In order to fully enjoy and bond with your new family members, be prepared before you get them
Have a warm, safe and protected shed or barn for them. Rain and windproof.
Know where your hay and feed is coming from and make sure it is safe and the healthiest you can find.
Have it ready before you get your girls.
Are you starting with babies? Are you ready to bottle feed often throughout the day? Personally, I think babies are the way to go. You bond with them, they with you. You can also train them to the type of goat proof fencing you want them to grow up in.
Have you heard of the horrors of goats escaping from fencing? Those mind-numbing tales are out there, and we have a few of our own.
But . . . I have to say, with some exception, you can keep your goats in.
We ended up with running an electric fence, three strands, four when the babies came, and our goats never got out again. We also really like the woven wire fencing, with a strand of electric wire that sets away from the fence a few inches.
Believe me, kids growing up will touch that wire, and learn very quickly to stay away.
Electric wire and a charger are not that expensive and are worth it for the peace of mind it will give you.
Will you occasionally get a bad apple? Yup. We had a doe that was so dominant when she was in the throes of heat, she allowed the buck to breed with her once, then turned around and rammed him with all her might.
She wanted nothing to do with her baby, either. She abandoned little Fern, and our wonderful male Pyrenees, Banjo, took care of cleaning her up and keeping her warm.
To sum my post up, I can only say this, if you are considering making goats part of your life, I don’t believe you will regret it. Take your time, go slowly. Be prepared completely. Do your homework. You don’t need to know everything about goats, you don’t need to have all possible medical issue downloaded into your brain.
But for peace of mind, and in order to create the best possible experience to happen, I do recommend being at least prepared to a good degree. Know who to call (vet or experience friend) in case of an emergency.
When those beautiful four-legged friends do come, take time to get to know them. Take them for walks, some can easily be leash trained. Bring them treats and spoil them, goats are great therapy, great friends and a wonderful addition to the backyard farm or homestead.