If you were to poll the six members of the Hust Roost on what enterprise we are looking forward to the most, I feel pretty confident that you would find a clear winner: goats. It took us a while to consider goats, and a goat farm a couple miles down the road that went out of business at least turned me off to the idea of it. Obviously, we have since warmed up to them.
|This picture of a very happy Rachel was
taken at Dave George’s house.
When researching and discussing what things we wanted to do on our farm, it became clear that we had room for and wanted to try at least one type of milking animal. Our choices came down to having a family cow, a couple goats, or some sheep (we never really looked into yaks). As we try to be a practical bunch, we studied up on all of them in an attempt to discover which creature would fit our farm the best and would reap the most rewards for the least risk.
The pros for goats began to pile up. They would provide good-tasting milk at a rate that was easily what we would need (a cow would produce way more than we would need!). Health-wise, the Journal of American Medicine says, “Goat milk is the most complete known food.”
It is much easier to digest than cow milk and has more nutrients. Their milk is also ideal for making cheese, soap, and lotion because of its high butterfat content and binding ability. They are great for clearing brush (and the good Lord knows we have some of that to do). They are hardy and relatively inexpensive (especially compared to a cow). They have strong personalities, the kids are a hoot, and it is easy to see them becoming a draw for the farm.
One negative of having goats would be that they will need an excellent fence. A common saying is that “if you take a bucket of water, throw it on your fence, and some of it gets through, so will your goat.” But after some consideration, we have decided that we are willing to invest in a very solid fence. We also decided to stay away from electric fencing. Although cheaper and more mobile, we want to make our farm as human kid friendly as possible. In our minds, this means leaning up against the fence to check the goats out and reaching through it to pet the curious creatures. We also think that it will look a lot better and fits our farm scheme of being a welcoming place better than electric fencing.
The other big negative of having goats, or any milking creature, is that we will have to milk them every day. We have decided that we are willing to put that work in and that it will be offset by a few things. 1) There are six of us. That means I don’t have to milk every day. 2) We are only going to have a couple goats. That means milking really won’t take that long (a good goat milker can do an average goat in 2 minutes). 3) We will have as much milk as we can drink. And 4) Rachel wants to do all the milking because she is already in love with them (No, we don’t have them yet. Yes, I still expect that I will be doing my share of milking).
|The shirt that Tom and Hannah got Dad (Joe),
who is very excited for the goats.
Our plan is to get a couple goats (heavily leaning towards nubians, as they are good for both milking and meat) this upcoming spring. We have an area that will suffice for them in the summer, and preparing winter housing for them throughout the summer will be on the ultra-urgent list. Depending on how old they are when we buy them, they may not be ready to kid and milk for a while, and it may be a while before we taste any of them. We intend to start out small, only producing what we can eat ourselves as we test the market for selling goat meat— over 60% of the red meat consumed in the world is goat, and apparently there is quite the market for it). It is legal to sell raw milk and cheese at the farm, but there are many stipulations, and we will have to look further into it to see if it is worth following such stipulations. In the meantime, we plan on keeping the milk for personal use (and letting some family and friends try it!), making cheese for personal use, making soap (which we will sell), and recycling old milk to the other animals on the farm (it is a great source of protein).
At the very least, goats will be an adventure, and we are looking forward to giving them a try.