I do this thing where I get an idea in my head and it just kind of niggles there for a while. Since I have zero self control with regards to all things farming, if one of those ideas is farm related…we move to the next phase. The next phase is just poking around online doing research. This research is what landed us in North Carolina in the boonies with acreage. The latest farm related idea to niggle in my head was dairy goats. We wrote them off as a lost cause here because of horror stories we heard etc. But what if? I’ll spare you the process that landed us here: four goats the richer and over a hundred t-posts to drive. I’ll just skip to the juicy bits and describe the adventures we are now having with milking goats again.
In my research I came across a breeder with Nubian goats. The dairy goats we had in Vegas were La Manchas. Now, this means we have covered the complete spectrum from literally no ears (the la manchas) to the biggest of all ears (nubians). Nubians are a wonderful dairy breed and turns out they can do well here with proper care (regular de-worming and hoof work). Neil and I went on a date to meet the breeder and we came home with Aayla (collage picture) and Muscadine, we call her Dusky (the close up and laying down). Dusky had kidded two weeks prior so we went ahead and bought her baby girl. The kids named her Luna and she is gorgeous.
Since we bought so many girls the breeder half jokingly asked if we wanted a buck too…for free. After talking and losing our minds we said sure! We’d love a good nubian buck for free!
All of our nubians are registered with impressive lineages. Animals with fancy pedigrees often have ridiculous names. The name of the free buck we got is “Party All Night” out of “Party Rock Anthem.” Sigh. We decided to go with Pan. So Pan and Porthos (our very handsome Kiko buck) are now able to be separated in their own pen, which allows us to better control breedings.
After several days of caterwauling when they were acclimating, I’m happy to report that now the goats only holler at us in the morning when we take to long to get breakfast out. Nubians are recognized universally as being the loudest breed.
Aayla is not in milk, but will be an excellent milker. She has amazing body condition and is our tallest goat. Probably the most affectionate and people oriented also. Dusky is in milk, giving about 2 cups a morning. We separate the babies at night, then milk the mamas in the morning and then let the babies out with them. Luna only nursed on one side so only one side of Dusky’s udder is producing. Next kidding should be much better. She is more skittish and needs to gain some weight once we dry her off. Our current plan is to breed her, Luna, and our other kiko, Kairi next spring for fall babies. We will breed Kiwi, Kuwati, and Aayla early this fall for spring babies. Hopefully that will keep us from drowning in milk.
Naturally if you want to milk a goat you need a convenient stand, or stanchion, because otherwise you are sitting on the ground to milk and that’s no fun. Neil got on it and built us an awesome stanchion out of mostly scrap wood that was just cluttering up the yard. [Fist bump to my farmer man]
He also built two rock solid feeders and I got busy and built a goat jungle gym to use up even more scrap wood. But back to milk!
One of the coolest things I think one can do with goat milk is make cajeta. A Mexican confection made by simmering milk, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans, it’s the corollary to dulce de leche, which is made from cow milk. My first attempts have been yummy, but not the smooth caramel-esque end product they should be. I’ve researched and will be trying new things until I succeed. Luckily, the kids are happy to eat my attempts on everything from apples to pancakes.
Chèvre is one of my favorite cheeses and my first attempt was lovely. I’d like to get it to be smoother, so darn…I’ll just have to keep making more. Buttermilk and gjetost also happened and were magical. I’ve yet to tackle goat milk yogurt, as my human kids are drinking it pretty fast.
Porthos made sure he wasn’t left out of the photo shoot.