This is how it started...

There are just certain days in your life you never forget. The day I picked up Samson and Delilah were one of them. Raining. Lost. Dark. Crying babies. Bottle feeding.  Thinking what the heck did i just get myself into. 

Little did I know then the impact she would have on my life. The trajectory was all her. If she hadn't had a precocious udder, would I have even started milking? 

For years this is how we milked. Even when I started to have small groups come to the farm to learn. And she loved it. She was the center of attention. And she always stayed that way. Every goat that came on this property (till recently) knew it, and never tried to take it away.  She was the first to eat. First on the milk stand. And first to get her morning hugs. She was the Herd QUEEN.

When I finally got a milk stand she didn't want to have anything to do with it. She would run out and stand by the gate where we would normally milk. Finally, we agreed it was easier on the stand. Then she realized she wanted to be milked last because the last goat on the stand can hang out with me while i clean up. 

Her best pal was Oliver. Who kept them safe. I'm going to miss him too. He was just put down last month and they are both buried next to each other.

She was the goat I learned to do everything to. A bucket of food and she would let you do practically anything to her. Here we were shaving her for Linear appraisal by the ADGA.

For a very long time it was just her, Samson, and Oreo. I had a job off the farm. I worked in Stuart. And didn't even have any chickens. Just one lone rooster. How boring I was. 

She above all the others lived a charmed life. She only had to whisper a bleat and I would come running. They had the whole property to roam. They never left each others side. Or mine. For years after Samson was gone she lived in the house.  And we would take long goat walks. Her teaching the next generation how things worked. If you were talking to me, she would be the goat that was standing by my side, as if she was in the conversation too.

This is her first day here. She lived in the garage and slept in the kennel. 10 days old.  I was too afraid to leave them outside. Alone. Now when the kids are born I toss them out almost immediately! My my.... how things have changed.

She was without a doubt the prettiest kid I've had. She has milked 8 years of her 11. Thousands of pounds of milk. She became a Superior Genetic goat a few years back. Which isn't an easy feat. Sadly, I only have 3 offspring of hers. Every year I would sell her kids because I knew what she could do and could produce.  If anything, I regret not keeping more of her offspring. 

When she died I laid her head on her stomach the way she normally enjoyed sleeping and that is how i buried her. And though i've had death here before with the full size goats,  she is the only one I've buried here.  

Thanks to Delilah every time I sell milk, eggs, cheese, honey or soap it's all because of this little girl and what she inspired me to do. 

She will be missed. 

Here are some links to other stories about her and growing up.


My Office is My Life Line

I love looking at other peoples studios. This is mine. A mess. Muck boots, Bee frames. Parrot. Couch to watch a movie.

Your computer, cell phone, ipad is your life line. 

Ever wonder about where you sit day in and day out? The importance it has in your daily life? The positive and negative effects of it? If anything, like me you’re in office 12-15 hours a day, sometimes. Its the most used room in this house. It really should be the largest room. Every hour of every day, I walk thru it if I’m not in it - to grab something, eat something. Look up stuff on the internet....

Everything flows thru here. Even the goats at milking time. I raise baby goats in here. Wayward kittens.... I feed the dogs in here. The parrot has now taken up residence. It’s where I talk to my customers all day, schedule my day, pay bills, manage the herd, design work, and so on.... In the morning its the first room I walk in, turn on the computer, and see what emails have come in during the night. It’s literally the lifeblood of this homestead.

It begs the questions of how simple is it?  I swore a life of simplicity.... Goats milk, making cheese, soaps. etc. But this is one technology, I just can’t do without. 

Before computers, internet, Facebook, would I even have a customer base? How would I have found them. How would you have found me? Think on that. How? Word of mouth can only go so far. It has taken us to places we’d never dream of. And for that in this stage of life - grateful for it.

The internet has made life so much easier in so many ways, yet in that same thought, complicated it beyond control. You chat with people you wouldn’t in person. You interact with people normally never in your circle of consciousness. Without it though, I would never get to see how those in Peru or Zimbabwe milk goats, how they make cheese. Learn about their cultures and become better for it. It has opened things up for me and everyone, beyond any measure.  

The internet has become so very important to everyone, everyday, that I wonder why are some still so ignorant on so many levels. Shouldn’t everyone become smarter? Where else can you ask a question, and in milliseconds have answers? Where research is at your fingertips. I remember the hours and days in a library to research. Does this generation and future ones,  even know what the word Microfiche means?

I fear for the youth that I stumble across on this internet, and wonder what the future for them will be when the internet gives them that access to think they know it all. But not have to experience it. Those of us that are older understand the difference. Life isn’t the internet. But to them it is. Nor what you experience on it makes it real. But what about the children on there that think life is your next selfie. That what you read takes the place of the experience you lack? 

I have an alarm clock now sitting on my phone that rings at certain parts of the day. To snap me out of office mode,  to go do something outside. If not for that, I would literally get so involved in a project, reading, researching, chatting, 10 hours can pass and not realize it. I can get so caught up on this (ipad, phone, computer)  that sometimes I think it's an extension of me. It's not.  The difference lies though in knowing this. Having 30 or so years of life learning and experience without it helps me appreciate it.  But the next generations? 

I walk the goats thru here to milk them. The parrot thinks its funny. 


TImeline for milk for YOU

These 2015 kids won't be putting milk in the fridge till 2017.

Goats are so popular right now. I have never had so many people interested in getting goats, or starting their own farm, or want to do what I do here - that I thought it time to write a blog post on what some 'expectation myths' people have about dairy goats. 

Questions range from how much milk does a goat produce? when can i get them pregnant? do you have any does for sale? How much milk will i get?   Do I have to milk twice a day? Do I have to milk every day? What do you feed your goats?  What happens if you don't milk every day? 

Not all goats produce massive quantities of milk. Some goats are slow growers. Some lines will never produce copious quantities. Some start off great and by 4 are a mess. People think that you get a goat, you get it pregnant, you get lots of milk. Reality is it's not that simple.

This post focuses on the first 4 questions:

One of the things I repeat over and over:  THERE IS NO RUSHING IN ANY OF THIS. If you are in a hurry for goats, milk, adding income, find another source. You are not going to get rich selling milk. Ever. And its not easy finding a goat in milk for sale of quality. And if you want to make sure they are healthy to your standards, you have to raise them from kids. Or spend a fortune amassing a herd already in milk from quality breeders around the state, or country.

This is a 24/7 365 endeavor. There is no time off. There are down times. And there are many many, sleepless times. Sometimes you will question your sanity. But no matter what, they are production animals and they need to be tended to all year round. To either prep them for milk, in milk, for gestation, pregnancy, as well, illness, general care, and so on... Unless you have two strings of goats so that one is down while the other is up. Goats and you are always working. Whether you have ONE or 21. Though when you have 21 hopefully you have all this sorted out already.


Let's say you want milk for the fridge. How long will it take?  There are 3 scenarios (well four actually, as one is just buy it).

1. Buy kids grow them to breeding age.
2. Buy already in milk doe.
3. Buy doe already bred.

The first is easy to find. The 2nd and 3rd scenarios not so much. But why? 

Let's go over the time line. 

Those kids in above picture, will not be producing any substantial amounts of milk for me till they are about 3 years old. They won't mature till they are about 3 years old. Mature meaning a gallon of milk a day per goat.

Physically, they are ready to be bred at 11 months. Approximately 90lbs is generally accepted weight and some people can achieve that at 9 months, but not here. Not on a small managed plot of land. Even at 11 months, they are not full grown, so breeding them at that time will get you babies on the ground but not a capacious udder. Not normally. Some lines yes. Most lines no. 

I would rather grow them bigger then push for an udder the body can't handle. (I've done both and its clear to me that they need to grow to maturation to get that capacious udder long term). 

It takes 5 months (gestation) from the 11 month of age, before kids come. 16 months. You now have kids born, you need to feed. Whether or not you pull the kids or keep them on the dam they still need the milk. (or sell them).  add 3-4 months to the16. 

That is 20 months before YOU get milk in the pail just for YOU from that one goat.  Of course during this time you can start 'stealing' milk and or wean early, feed kids less, or even swap out cow milk (or milk replacer $$)  to the kids and you keep the goat milk.... But the milk from one young doe after feeding all kids won't yield you much until those kids are weaned.

3 year, and 2 year old milker. These girls give on average 4-7 lbs. Next year they will give 6-9lbs / day. But this
line just doesn't give more then that. And that is fine, for me, here. They also are never sick, rarely need to be
wormed, and rarely need trimming, and produce well into the 9 year old range. Longterm amazing. Short term in
a rush? not so much. The girl on the left in her ninth month of lactation has kicked in another gear, she increased in
while the rest of the milkers are decreasing. 

If a yearling, she will not be a 'great' milker. And yes, always there are exceptions to this, if you feed more or better, or spend more, and more more more, then i suppose certain young yearlings can put exceptional amounts of milk in the pail but on average?  4-7 lbs a day for the first few months. They even out around 4-5 lbs for the rest of the year. And end of lactation 2-4 lbs. The kids get the most and best. You get the rest.

Remember-- 1 gallon = 8 lbs.  So.. let's say you want to have a gallon a day for your needs. You will need 2 or 3 yearlings (depending on how many kids they produce). Not just one.

If above goat has triplets or quads? ALL that milk goes to the kids till they are weaned.

See how this all revolves around the kids? and people wonder why i sell them so quickly.

6 year old mature milker, she gives on average 8-12 lbs  and will for 6 months of the 10 month lactation.
Then she will even out 6-7. Then 4-5 late lactation. I've kept her in milk on occasion for 2 years. 

So, after all that care and all that management... This is why #2 or even #3 scenario is harder to find. Once invested all that time, money and effort to turn around and sell this milker?  You can see why quality milkers are difficult to find. I never understood one of my mentors when he would say 'I never sell my milkers'.  (yo Joe).

I rarely have ever sold a milker. Or a yearling. I sell kids to people that are not in a hurry. That want raise them to their standards. That understand this isn't a quick or easy process. 

And all above is predicated on everything going perfectly! No illness. No parasitism. No death. Great weather. Grain. Hay. etc. and you being consistent!


Iggy meet Sweet Pea

Iggy is 11 years old. He was my first 'livestock' purchase. He lived in the house for about 4 or 5 years till he knocked over my refrigerator and ate all the contents. He still comes in periodically for a nap. But he knows the minute he knocks something over or re-arranges the furniture out he goes.

Sweet Pea is 6 months old and she so far hasn't figured out how to knock things over. ...yet.

Over the past 2 weeks I've been letting them get closer and closer together. 

Iggy doesn't want anything to do with Sweet Pea.

Sweet Pea wants to make friends with Iggy.


First it was like this. I ignore you, you ignore me. Life is fine. 

Sweet Pea gave in first. Ok there you are. Wanna be friends? 

With the help of the tree, Sweet pea makes her move. Iggy tries to kill the tree.

Here comes the peacemaker... 

Finally, Sweet pea gives up and goes to graze with the goats. 
At least THEY aren't chasing her away any more...

At this rate. Sometime in the next couple years they might become pals...

Goodness Gracious More...

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