Forever, it seems, I have wanted to own a couple of goats. I have always considered them singular creatures, intelligent and goofy at the same time, regal and clown-ish. Dairy goats figure in quite well with small farms like ours, too. Their needs are few yet their byproducts are many (bedding for the compost, milk for us, and kids to sell or to add to the herd). Unlike sheep, goats don’t think you’re always going to kill them; unlike cows, you don’t need acres of pasture for their sustenance; unlike non-draft horses, goats are actively contributing members of the small farmstead. T-bell is a friendly, happy soul, and I feel terribly lucky to have her.
I found her on Craigslist, if you can believe it.
Our goat girl is a sundgau-colored French Alpine. She’s kidded before, twice; both times unassisted…in point of fact, she kidded before the family could get there in time to assist her: her kids were there in the straw! She is in every way very much what they call “an easy keeper.” I found a housecall-making vet who specializes in goats and sheep and she has confirmed that T-bell is in great shape, AND pregnant (yay!). And, the vet confirmed she’s free of a certain disease that is fairly common in dairy goats…this was a big concern of mine, as it would require that I sterilize the kids’ milk (it seems convoluted, but I will milk her to bottle-feed her kids). Heating colostrum (first milk) is tricky because it wants to turn into caramel! (No disease = no need to pasteurize the milk.)
At her previous home, she spent much of her time indoors, so her coat is not as thick as those hardy Michigan goats kept outdoors. Like people, they’ll avoid going out into the snow if they can help it…wouldn’t you? Anyway, my vet and I were concerned. Her new home is draft-free, but it’s an unheated, concrete-floored shed. She’s in deep bedding in her pen but we figured a little goat coat wouldn’t hurt. And my mother-in-law loves to sew. (Oh: and the kids will need coats for their first week or so…depending upon the weather.)
She’s due Feb. 26th.
All my dabbling in cheesemaking will soon find some purpose. And the gardens can’t wait, frankly, for the additions of this great bedding…just think how I’ve doubled my compost quantity by adding one animal. And I keep having dreams, too, about the birth. My daughter thinks she’ll have four kids. Two is more like it, but, well…let’s hope for at least one little doeling!