Goats of Farming Past and Future
Three blog posts, two Charles Dickens inspired puns as title…probably this won’t be a defining characteristic of my blog, but I can’t promise it will never happen again.
As a farmer, gardener, and business owner, I spend a lot of time thinking about goals: what they started out as, where they stand currently, and what I would really like when I zoom out and think of the bigger big picture.
When I first moved out to my now home, I knew I wanted a big garden and goats. Check and check. An important part to farming, no matter what scale, is to be pretty honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. I love fresh vegetables, and having beautiful food to work with, and I’m quite a good cook. I am a pretty good gardener. Love veggies, hate weeding. Goats, on the other hand, are just a joy to me. Sure, they can be an awful lot of work, and they’re pretty dramatic to be honest. However, I admire their thrifty constitutions, and even have a grudging respect for their penchant for mischief.
Raising goats has helped define where we are so far. They help us achieve some of our more homesteading centered goals, they allow me to make (delicious) cheese and yogurt for home use, as well as soap and meat for selling. Last year, we kept back the does for our own herd (they’re getting bred this fall!) and sold the wethers as meat kids to a local restaurant. This year, I sold 4 of the 6 does as breeding stock, and we decided to keep Holly and Snowflake for our own breeding purposes. We wanted to keep Holly from the start, as she is a beautiful goat from one of my nicest girls, and Snowflake kind of just grew on us. Sometimes that happens.
This year, we took 5 wethers to the butcher, and I am very happy to be providing our amazing meat to local customers. Our goats are pasture raised, milk fed, and supplemented with non GMO hay and corn that we raise, as well as non GMO grain that we purchase from a local co op. I’m planning on writing a longer post about what goes into raising meat, but suffice to say that I’m proud of what we do. Another goal that I have long held dear is to raise dual purpose animals, and it is very important to me that our little dairy, such as it is, works hard to appreciate the value every animal has to offer.
This summer, I tried my hand at infusing oils for future soap making. I really enjoyed these experiments, and I can’t wait to work with the oils. This is something I would like to keep working on in the future, harvesting herbs to dry and infuse oils with, to add to soaps. I think I would really like to have my own small herb garden, where I can harvest sage and calendula to work with. As we keep making soap, I want to provide as many of the ingredients as possible. If anyone has any resources for this kind of work, please send me your suggestions!
Going forward, our goal is to keep raising happy and healthy goats, to raise and produce high quality, dual purpose animals. I look forward to providing our customers with solid breeding stock, as well as delicious, lean meat. We will also continue to keep ourselves rich in beautiful milk to nourish ourselves with, both with skin loving homemade soaps as well as my homemade dairy products. I hope that one day I am able to make yogurt and cheeses for sale, but for the time being, I am happy with how far we have come, and proud of where we want to go.