Posted in goatlife

Goats Just Want to Have Fun

Looking for ways to make milking fun? I adorned my Alpine milking goat named Faith Hill bright pink tutu. She easily stepped into it as she stood on the stanchion. 

Walking around in tulle is not a fashion statement every goat wants, so it’s important to help her remove the accessory before returning to the herd. Especially if there are not enough for everyone. 

This elasticized ensemble can be reused for 5K races, Halloween parties and bonfires.  You just never know when a good tutu will come in handy. 

Posted in farmlife, goatlife

Weirdo Goats

As the days turn to fall, the days shorten and dusk falls earlier each night. The goat still needs to be milked. Tonight, it was just me with Faith Hill who easily went to the stanchion. As I sat to milk her, 3 other goats nudied my legs for treats. Then, I felt something breathing on my neck. I jumped, turned and met the gaze of ADHD Sam, who licked me on the cheek. At least he didn’t make those crazy mating calls. I gave him an apple treat, and he headbutted Connie Francis. Rita Rudner laid her poke-berry stained head in my lap and Betty White nibbled at my apron.  I only screamed a little when the old barn made creaking noises and a barn cat streaked by my feet. Weirdo goats. 

Posted in goatlife

American Ninja Goats

I admit it, I watch American Ninja Warrior on television. There is skill, training, dedication and hard-work that these folks demonstrate on national television. There are gyms across the country that teach people to master the skills necessary to compete. The website to submit an application to compete on the show is impressive in itself.
For me, racing against the clock to jump onto plexiglass walls over pools of water is quite foreign. I spent years balancing on rocks crossing icy creeks in the winter and dodging steaming piles of cow manure in the pastures of hot, humid summers. Yet, devoting hours each week to mastering an obstacle course never really crossed my mind.

However, our goats love climbing.They attempt to climb trees, hay bales, and they even like to stand on the donkeys’ backs. To amuse them, Jim built a goat tree house / obstacle course, worthy of the American Ninja Warrior contestants. Now, they spend hours jumping on the boards and knocking each other off.  We lack the television crew to film their antics, but their dismounts are medal-worthy!

Posted in farmlife, goatlife, Raised by a village

You Get a Collar! You Get a Collar! Giveaways on the Farm….

In all those years of 4-H cow showmanship contests, I garnered white-participation ribbons and learned to appreciate 16th place. Now, decades later, the skills paid off…in goats. 

Catching goats is worse than herding cats. With their sharp horns and cheetah-like sprints, we quickly tired of grabbing horns and chasing them like a rogue version of a ninja warrior television show. Animal scientist, Temple Grandin calls goat horns the “no-fly zone” for human touch. 

There had to be a better way. Faith Hill weighs at least 45 pounds and the other night, I picked her up, and she smacked her horn into my jaw. I thought I was going to lose a tooth. 

That night, I watched a video by K-N-S Farm of the lady using a dog harness for her blind goat, and I finally saw the light. A quick trip to Tractor Supply after work the next day, and I scored a goat halter, lead, and a medium dog collar. We cornered Faith Hill in the barn, and I added the pink collar.  She allowed me to walk and coax her to the milking stanchion.  

Once we had her head secured, I added the halter.  She stood for milking and when we released her head, I held the lead, walked her down the stanchion, and around the pasture.  

This small success involved an ancient trick of bribing the her with a bowl of feed and a treat. My technique works now, but all those years ago, judges in the fairground exhibition ring found my tactic to be completely wrong. As a youngster, I watched in frustration as all the other 4-Hers easily maneuvered their cows into straight lines like dog handlers at Westminster; my stubborn calf wanted to find the nearest bucket of feed…in the stand with the spectators. Mortified, the judges handed me a white ribbon, and I think one may have muttered something about not coming back.  That calf, known by her number ,”583″,  grew up to be a milking cow who was always first in line at milking times, and she didn’t mind being handled by us humans. 

I certainly would have never imagined that all those failed attempts at cow showmanship would one day be a shining moment in our milking time with goats. 

After my next trip to Tractor Supply, it’s going to be like an Oprah Winfrey car-giveaway-episode on the farm when I go to the pasture saying,  “You get a collar..and you get a collar…and you get a collar!”

Photos courtesy of Kelly Reep. 

Posted in goatlife

As the herd grows…a soap opera from the farm.

Most commonly, people ask, “What do you do with goats?” At first, I responded, “goat races.” Then, I realized that they believed me. My standard response is, “grass control.” Usually met with, “ah. Do you milk them?”  “One nanny. The buck doesn’t stand for it.”

This response is usually met with a blank stare or an audible groan. Sometimes the conversation turns to soap and cheese. 

Over the last decade, I’ve made soap without milk. Now, with the supply of fresh goat milk, I’ve started making small batches of goat milk soap. It’s a project that will last as long as the milk flows. As of last weekend, I’ve successfully made a batch of chevre, goat’s milk cheese, that resembles ricotta, and it was quite easy to make!

How did we get to goat milking?

In the summer of 2015, we relocated four pygmy goats from Daddy’s farm to our newly fenced area. We lost those goats to a pair of wild dogs. After burying the goats, we found a pair of miniature jack donkeys who needed a new home when their owner’s daughter headed off to college. Pete and Ney enjoyed full-run of expanded pasture until February, when Jim announced that he wanted to try more goats. 

By the summer of 2016, the tiny herd increased the nine, complete with new breeds, babies and bucks. Our tiny herd is growing, along with our skills for mending fences, wrangling and milking goats. 

Posted in farmlife, goatlife, Raised by a village

As The Goat Turns

We welcomed 2 new goats to the farm.. Sam, the yearling buck, and a yet to be named year-old female who happens to be Faith Hill’s daughter. 

Any suggestions on names for the new gal? She has one white side, two black circles on the other side, a black neck and head with fawn-brown legs. 

Buckling Jim Cantore went to be a growing stud on the farm where he was conceived.