Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New American Gothic

Our milking this week went without incident although we've made a new observation. The Billy Goat is tired and losing interest in the women! He no longer runs over to the corral where we keep them, I had to put the collar on him and drag him over. At the end of the day, he was plenty ready to go back to his own pen. I guess that those Nanny's are getting old hat after a month or two, he is ready for something new. Maybe that are starting to make "Honey Do" lists for him...Whatever the reason there isn't that excitement anymore.

We are getting snow now and it is starting to cool down enough to stick to the ground. That means more and more mud until it really gets cold and starts to freeze. We've had some big rubber goat milking boots for awhile now, but a while back we got some coveralls. Helps keep all the goat off of us. I really like them and recommend that everyone get a pair. I no longer feel so contaminated after I get home from milking the goats. I got a picture that reminds me of the American Gothic painting that everyone has seen. I feel about as happy as those olden day farmers appear to.

One thing about that I've started to do when I'm milking is that I no longer need to close the gate between the milking area and the feeding area. When the goats are done milking and I let them off the stand, they jump down and go over to eat. I can then let 2 more in to milk them. I used to close the separator gate to keep the goats that are done milking from coming back into the milking area. I don't have to do that anymore, the will sometimes come to the line and look in, but I just have to give them a steely gaze and they don't dare cross into the milking area. Once in a while I'll have to kick one if they get daring, but it has worked pretty well and eliminated having to keep opening and closing the gate. We went to the movies the other night and I saw a preview for "The Men Who Stare at Goats". I'm going to have to go see it to see if I can get any tips for staring them down.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another use for Goat Milk.

A while back Diane was at a family auction, no not a place to pick up new family members for cheap, but where each family member brought something to auction off to raise money for family activities. She got a bar of goat milk soap that one of her distant relatives had made. The person was quite secretive about it and wouldn't divulge much information, but apparently she makes a tidy sum of money from it.

This got me to thinking, that with some of our group complaining/whining/bellyaching about the taste of the milk and instead of just drinking it, pouring it down the drain, or giving it to chickens, this would be a great use for that milk and earn them some extra money. Doing a quick search brings lots of links but not much of it was straight forward so here are some links that should tie it together for those that want to try.

All soap is made using a lye/water solution, since we have the surplus goat milk, it needs to be a lye/milk solution. This link describes how to go about that How to make goat milk/lye solution. That seems to be the only difference in using milk as opposed to water so once you have that, you can proceed with the other steps. Here is a easy recipe for the beginners Soap recipies. Once you have got that down this sites seems to have some good additional information, plus many more links to resources Soap making site. To get real fancy you could make your own soap molds.

I suppose that once you have whipped up some lovely goat milk soap (which goes for over $5 a bar) you can run over to Oh! Sweet Sadie and sell it at their shin-digs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bum Leg

Here is a picture of the injury that is still plaguing our goat. She can't seem to bend her leg past that angle yet, but even this much is better than it was before. As she keeps moving on it, it will continue to limber up.

The other thing this goat is trying to recover, is her dignity. All the other goats, but the white one in particular, are pushing her around all the time. She tries to eat with the rest and they will butt her away. She will hobble over to another spot and the white goat will follow her just to keep her from eating. She doesn't quite have the mobility to be knocking heads with them like she used to. I've also noticed that one of the little brown goats seems to have it in for her. I've seen that little brown one come flying across the pen and crash right into the injured goat to keep it from eating. I think that it is getting it's revenge for when the injured goat was healthy and kept knocking the little goats around. The other day I did see this injured goat start the fighting, she got knocked over, but it looks like she is starting to feel good enough to begin mixing it up again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

On the Mend

After the ravaging that happened to the herd a while back, the one goat that was seriously hurt is on the mend. She still has a leg that she is limping on but she has rejoined the herd and redefining her place in it. Being solo while she healed left an opening in the hierarchy and the little goats were quick to usurp it. Now that she is back and still not 100%, she is relegated to the bottom of the pack. I think when(if?) her leg fully heals she'll spend some time butting the little goats around and take her spot back, but until she has the stability of 4 good legs, she'll be stuck in the lowest spot.

We've decided to let the goats start drying up towards the end of December and hope to have them deliver in March. That puts the worst months of the winter out of the milking cycle so we don't have to deal with the cold and the snow as much. The billy goat is still with us but he seems exhausted. He no longer immediately gets to work when he joins the other goats during the day, he goes and eats first to build up his strength. Those demanding women are really wearing him out! The only questionable one is the injured goat. I'm not sure if her leg has been able to support those rough and tumble encounters, but she does seem willing. Only time will tell.

The milk production has been down, but stable, right around 30 lbs or so. This is almost a full gallon less then what we seemed to peak at during the summer months. Our sales pool has seemed to fallen as well. We've lost 1 person and the remaining have been cutting back somewhat. Ah well, we didn't really get in this to make money, just trying to save some.