Friday, May 16, 2014

Dairy Daydreams

Remember how last fall I was totally dreaming of getting a cow?

Well, I've recently changed my tune.  

It all started when my friend approached me at church and said she was getting goat's milk from someone she knew but couldn't drink it all and wondered if we'd be interested in any.  

(Actually, her asking was an amazing sign of God's tender mercy for me at a time when I was doubting it--but that's a story for another day.)

I jumped on the opportunity for some fresh goats milk and was insanely curious to try it.  

It was delicious!  And there was a giant seismic shift in my world and--suddenly--I wanted a dairy goat.

Because, guess what?!

Goats cost less money than cows.

Goats cost less to feed than cows.

Goats need less land than cows.

Goats don't take a trailer to haul them around like a cow. (Ye olde standard minivan will work fine!)

And most importantly:

Goats fall into the small farm animal category as opposed to large farm animal category, which means there are a lot more places we could live where we could be zoned to have a goat than a cow.

So I did what every good geek does when honing in on a new "pet topic" (get it?!), I went to the public library and checked out every book they had on raising dairy goats.  

Oh, and it was great, I filled up on all this knowledge that I really hope I get to use one day, and then on my third book, I came across this picture and died:


I can just see Wyatt driving his own little goat wagon like this!

And there's more:

Two little kids in a wagon?!  I just can't contain myself.  That is beyond awesome.  Apparently Abraham Lincoln's kids burst in on a state dinner on one of these!

So then of course we had to youtube cart goats (well worth your time),  and now I have to figure out how to build a goat-wagon because I'm pretty sure they don't sell those things down at the hardware store these days!

So I've continued my research into dairy goats, but here's the thing--I've researched dairy goats before.  See Jeremy back in the day was all, "We should get a cow some day."

And I was like, "Are you crazy?!"

So I researched dairy goats as a compromise.  But every thing I read said: Goat's milk is naturally homogenized so you can't skim the cream and make butter, etc without buying a ridiculously-priced machine. So that was one of the reasons I was dreaming of a cow--I wanted to be able to provide for more than just our milk and yogurt, but also our cream, and butter, and ice cream. . .

But as I started to look into it more I was hearing plenty of people saying they were making butter from goat's milk.  True the cream takes longer to rise, and there's not as much of it as a good cow will give, but it is there.

So I experimented.

I put two quarts of goat milk in the back of my fridge for two days, skimmed some cream off the top, shook it up in a jar, and look:

Crazy thing about goat's milk butter--it's white.  Grass-fed cows' milk is pretty yellow from beta carotene, but goats convert the beta carotene into vitamin A, so--not yellow butter.

And I looked up the cream separator on E-bay, and I can get one for --yes--over a hundred dollars, but still, less than a cow, and definitely worth it's price for the ability to make cream and butter to add to the list of things we would not have to purchase weekly from the store.

One more thing about a goat that's a con and pro, is that goats make a lot less milk than a cow.  But 2-4 gallons of milk a day from a cow is a lot to deal with.  It would require more milking time, and more time to make use of the extra milk by turning it into other dairy products.  So I think a goat would be just right for us.

Not just yet though, so until then we'll just continue our dairy daydreams!

Jonas, not quite sure he wan't to touch them.

Momma goat checking out who has her babies.

Mmmilk! (Actually this one isn't a "dairy" goat--her kids get it all.)


Owen'll be a great milker!

Wyatt'll be a great goat cart teamster.

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