Friday, May 4, 2012
Never enough baby goats!
It is time for some baby goat updates. They are growing like weeds!
Bartlet and Lilly
Cute weeds, that is. These kids....so close in age that I can't help but think of them as triplets....are full of health and life and vigor. Their personalities are already starting to stand out.
Ginger's twin bucklings, 3 weeks old today, I call Cortland and Bartlet. Yes, I know they'll get new names when they go to their new homes, but I have to sort them out in my mind. All my goats are named after plants, and since the oldest buckling is huge and white, he is named after a large apple. Bartlet is sweet and tan, so he gets named for a pear. And Lilly, five days younger, is so feminine, even more so next to her feisty brothers.
Bartlet, Lilly, and Cortland
Cortland is always in the front, the first to run up to me, the one who demands the most attention in a boisterous way. He will be a fun goat, and will be bold and a loyal friend, a great pet. And huge. He will clear a LOT of brush for someone and enjoy every single bite.
Cortland practicing his brush-clearing skills
Bartlet was the snuggler right from day one. He is the one that would leap onto my lap and push against me for warmth and affection. I don't allow this anymore....even at only three weeks old, these kids are far too big to be competing for my lap. I stand when with them now. They still get plenty of pats and scratches, but I must consider their behavior now as to how they should behave when fully grown. Climbing and any pushiness with the horns is not tolerated, rather, they are firmly pushed away. They are already getting the idea, and last night Cortland got on his hind legs a few times to reach for me, then didn't touch me with his feet. Good little boy!
Lilly scooting past big brother Bartlet, and Bartlet still turns it into a hug of sorts.
Lilly still gets her feet on me from behind while I am working with her brothers. I finally figured out that she was asking to be held, so I can avoid this behavior by picking her up shortly after they finish their bottles. I hold her and talk to her and give her some special time, preparing her for the special relationship with the future person who will ultimately be milking her twice a day. Once she has a few minutes of "me time," she is ready to be put into the fray and have some frolicking with her siblings.
A few very short videos:
Why do I have goats? This is a question that I am often asked. It was suggested to me some years ago by a naturopathic doctor that raw milk might be healing to my digestive tract. Yikes, was she crazy? Did she know that a mere teaspoonful of dairy products would make me very sick, with much pain, for at least two days? Now she wanted me to drink it by the cupful....and RAW???
This was the first time I heard the name Weston A. Price. She suggested that I do some research on www.realmilk.com and www.westonaprice.org. Intrigued? Here is a great place to start....a very short video by my heroine, Sally Fallon Morrell, on real milk.
It took me well over a year of reading and research before I got brave enough to consider trying raw milk. I even payed surprise visits to farms within an hour's drive to see if I wanted to buy raw milk from them. I didn't. I did not see cows on pasture, in fact, I didn't even see any pastures, just closed barns full of confined cows on a gorgeous day. One farm has a little muddy paddock that was empty but had cows in it recently, but not a blade of grass in site...within a fence, that is. Plenty of grass, just not that the animals had access to. Other farms had small pastures with cows in them, but a closer look revealed that these were the dry cows. Once lactating, they moved indoors onto cement floors and had all their food carried to them by humans.
I gave up. I bought a pregnant goat.
Ginger in her third season.
The day finally arrived when I would try my very first sip of milk in over 25 years. I was a nervous wreck. I had a supply of Benedryl and planned my sip to take place just before two days off from work. I took a timid gulp and waited.
The feeling overwhelmed me. It was a feeling of desire for more, an instinct that told me that this white liquid was something my body wanted and needed and would not rebel against. Funny thing is, I don't even like plain milk. Yet I was strongly, irresistibly drawn to it. I drank an entire cup.
I was fine. In fact, my mouth watered for more. To this day, years later, my mouth waters when I milk the goats. And I still don't care for the taste of a glass of plain milk.
And yes, indeed, it was immensely healing to my digestive tract. This became very apparent after the first season, when I needed to dry off my doe (gradually stop milking her so she could put her energy into her current pregnancy) and would be without fresh milk for about ten weeks. Many symptoms of my previous long-term struggle....ok, I'll say it, cover your eyes you delicate souls: daily diarrhea.....came back during this time without real, raw milk. The next year I was ready and froze many bags of milk for use during this time. Yes, we must breed the does each year in order to get plenty of milk. Pregnancy and delivery of babies is what triggers lactation in all mammals.
Plum is a "first freshener," or a doe who is on her first lactation.
It soon became apparent that we would be keeping dairy goats for a long, long time. We can easily consume 2 or more gallons a day....no, not by drinking a gallon apiece, rather, most of it is made into cheese (raw cheese, which cannot be purchased in the US unless it is aged for at least 60 days. This means no chevre, no cottage cheese, no May Gouda....) for use throughout the year. Most of this cheese is made during the spring, summer, and fall, when the does have access to green, growing pasture. Other things we do with the milk include making kefir, yogurt, chowders (yes, I can tolerate real milk even if it is not raw), shakes and smoothies, ice cream, etc.
Even my feral cats have become quite tame through their twice daily dose of raw milk.
Sketcher now lets me pet him. It was three months before I even saw him when he first arrived on the farmlet.
Johnny Cat startled me one day by sitting very close while I milked, purring rather loudly.
Even the cats know what is real food. Why is it so hard to get real milk? Vote with your wallets, dear readers, if you have access to real food of any type. Pay a little more, create demand. It is so worth it.