On making do with what’s available

Had we moved to a “regular” farm (you know, the one in your imagination:  turn-of-the-last-century farmhouse with big red barn, tall silo, chicken shack, smokehouse, big fenced pastures, etc.), owning many kinds of farm animals would have been a natural thing.  But we moved to a fruit farm.  Fruit farms aren’t all that heavy on outbuildings.  In fact, all that remains in your mind’s eye about our place is the big old farmhouse.  What few outbuildings there are here were specifically used for fruit processing and storing tools…and now house cars and the lawn tractor just fine, thank you.  Housing chickens, pigs, the family milk cow were secondary concerns to the original owners.

Luckily, our chosen animals aren’t terribly picky.  Goats, in particular, just want a dry place to flop down.

Wait:  Did she just say “goats?”

Doesn’t everyone have a goat in the back seat of their old hatchback?  Yes, we were humming the themes of Green Acres and Beverly Hillbillies as we drove down the highway.

Meet our newest critter, an Alpine doe.  She’s a 4 year old family milker.  And:  she’s due to have kids on Feb. 21st.  And:  she’s living, with the rabbits, in my potting shed!  Whee!

25 responses to “On making do with what’s available

  1. How exciting! So you got her for milk? Be sure to share your goat adventures! (why did you pick that particular variety?)

  2. Ooo, I so want goats! Those are still a big No No in our fair city, although Peter Thomason has an amazing urban farm a few blocks away. He’s braver than I. http://thomasonfamilyfarm.blogspot.com/
    Keep us posted with lots of pics!
    I had no idea you also had rabbits. Are they pets or for meat? I’ve bought rabbit meat from a local guy but it was just a little too strange for me to deal with (whole, though skinned). I know, I’ve got issues. 🙂

    • Amanda, the bunnies are pets, two boys (daughter’s comment to a friend: “we didn’t get a girl because I didn’t want Mama to eat the babies.”) Yeah, in my earlier carnivore days, we used to get them from a German butcher in Chicago to make rabbit chili. It was…disconcerting seeing their little bodies in the freezer.

  3. Yay! Are you going to make cheese?

  4. Congrats! I know it’s been on the list for a while 🙂 Sounds like a good start to the new year! Cheers.

  5. Oh my, you finally did it. Congratulations! I can’t wait to hear more about her. I bet your daughter is very excited.:)

  6. Hurrah! Goats are in our future too. We’re thinking Spring of 2011 or so. Happy goatherding!

  7. Holy Cow….Umm I mean Holy Goat… you are CRAZY…. I love it!

  8. yay! You are going to LOVE goats!

  9. Yippee! Now we’ll get goat pictures! Yippee!

  10. tee hee. love it! check out the photo of my 6 week old kid in the back of the honda. here she is just coming out through the tunnel past downtown Pittsburgh. now she’s a suburban goat, and not likely she’ll see the big lights again.

  11. Now you will have to read a neat book by Brad Kessler, titled Goat Song [or did I learn about it here – I can’t remember where]. An urban (NY City) dweller drawn to the land, he (and wife) buy a small farm in Vermont and start raising goats and making goat cheese. What it’s like to live intimately with animals that feed you and to be a herder, learning how to care for and breed and birth goats. With observations along the way on goats in our history, culture, poetry, religion and economy. Good reading!

  12. What a cutie. I always said I wanted goats and chickens, but wasn’t ever sure that dream would become a reality. Now we have 18 girls and two rooster guys. Also, sweet little multi-colored cups that I serve the chickie girl eggs in to my gramerlings. In spite of a boutiful meal for Christmas, the wee ones wanted to cook themselves an egg and eat it out of their cup-sweet.
    I’ll be excited to hear of your goating adventures!

  13. A goat! or goatS? no matter: Congrats! It’s a big step going to 4 legged animals (rabbits don’t quite count). I understand they do quite a job on cleaning underbrushes too if needed.

    When’s the pig arriving? come on… you’ve got to, right?

  14. congrats! i’m so jealous!

    when we get our goats, either in 2010 or 2011, they will be coming home in a minivan.

  15. good luck with your new nanny goat. Currently my farm is goatless. But I used to have as many as 14. Its a real time commitment to milk them 2x a day. But its worth it. Best of luck for Feb. kids. some helpful links



  16. Oh, Denise will be a little jealous! What are you going to do with male kids? That’s got to be harder than bunnies. . . enjoy, enjoy enjoy.

  17. Ohh, SO jealous! I have aspirations, but the city currently specifically says No Goats. So that addition is a way off in time but not in mind. Looking forward to hearing of your adventures!

  18. my next dreamy step – good for you!

  19. Goat cheese is great.I’ve bought rabbit several times in LA from a butcher for Rabbit in Mustard sauce recipe from Patrica Wells but I find I like making it with chicken more.The raised stuff doesn’t taste anything like the wild rabbit my uncle hunted years ago and would make Hares in Pepper(forget the German Spelling) but I loved that dish as a young man.None of my brothers would go near it.Hope you got to see the Blue Moon New Year’s Eve.It’s peeping in my window right now.

  20. Happy New Year, everyone!

    Sparow, thanks, I am sure to share. I kinda picked the goat, not the breed…she’s very easy going, and even a 4 year old girl has milked her in the past.

    Amanda, thanks for sharing the link to your neighbor! Glad to see urban farming: much more exciting than what’s going on in the pastoral plains out here, really. And yes, bunnies. Not my idea but they are cute…

    TLC, absolutely. And with an Alpine I will have a lot of milk to work with!

    Sara, indeed, it is all new. And good. Happy new year!

    Mike! Yes, we did it. And I am so happy.

    Milkweed, well that’s fitting. I hope you can learn something from me…or not, if I really screw up…

    Mavis, I hope you mean crazy in a good way? 🙂

    Aimee, I might be bending your ear about the whole thing. But: she is so fun.

    rsalis, how hilarious!!! Gah, it’s so good to know I am not the only nutcase with farm creatures in her car. And Turd Acres: it’s all for the garden, you know: I do swear I can just FEEL how fast the plants (and weeds) will be growing with this nutritional boost.

    DennisP, you know, I don’t think I mentioned that book but it sure was one of my favorites last year. He “gave me the strength” to put the critter in my car, frankly. Ah well. His personal anecdotes were wonderful but I really enjoyed his historical stuff, frankly. Like the origin of some of our letters.

    Kimberly, how sweet about the gramerlings and their eggcups! It IS fun when they really glom on to the wonder that is The Egg. Personally, I never get tired of it. And who knows? Maybe a goat’s in your future too 😉

    Oh Sylvie one step at a time! I think Tom would have a fit if I started talking pig already…but pigs are in the 5 year plan. But yes, goatS as she’s pregnant. Here’s hoping she throws a doeling. And yes: we have LOTS of poison ivy that could use the goat treatment…

    Serina, indeed, a minivan was this girl’s prime mode of transport until she hooked up with us. No big deal. They’re usually so freaked out they don’t poop/pee, and they usually just lie down.

    Shelly, you milked 14 2x a day? Whooee! It was cute: the folks I bought her from said “well you probably don’t need a milk machine. It helps if you have to milk more than 5 goats,” and I nearly fainted. One milker, maybe two!! yipes! But thank you for those links. Anything is helpful with me being such a newbie.

    Stef, good question (on what to do with the bucklings). They’ll be sold, probably once they’re weaned. Indeed, it’s the dark underbelly about the whole endeavor. But: tell Denise to live vicariously until your town allows them 🙂

    Hi Elsie! What a wonderful dairy name you have! Yeah, I have been dreaming for a while, too…it’s nice when dreams come true.

    Shellywoman, hah! Good. This is definitely one of the last steps to cutting those supermarket ties, so I hope you get to go there too…

    John, my dad hunted rabbits too; I vaguely remember something with them…they were definitely on the gamey side of the spectrum. Both mustard and pepper though sound really wonderful right now at this early hour of the a.m. No blue moon for us, too snowy! But happy New Year to you out there.

  21. She’s beautiful! I love goats, but no no no… they are escape artists and I’m just not up to the challenge. I’ll enjoy watching you post about yours though…

  22. The sunday NYTimes mag food article is on a goat farm in Vermont and has a nice looking recipe for baked goat cheese on greens and a goat cheese cheesecake.

  23. I am so jealous of your new addition! I so badly want a pygmy goat. A good friend of mine lives outside of town and has many goats. She has promised me milk after the ladies birth their kids so that I can make cheese, but I wish I could have my own. I’m looking forward to your adventures; keep us posted.

  24. Hayden, well, yeah, I have heard about that escape-artist kind of thing. I am hoping we’ll just keep them happy enough not to wander…and we’ll also let them wander. Kind of like dogs that way: if you trust them to go off leash then they’ll not really run away. That’s the plan, anyway.

    John, yeah, I saw that. I of course got all excited about the formwork for her new cheese cave. Of course it gave me ideas. BUT I have done the baked goat cheese thing before; yum, wunderbar…

    aastricker, yeah, how fun, cheese experiments!!! I am looking forwar to it all too. I know it will be a bit of work but heck I am always up for a new challenge or two.

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