Tag Archives: dairy goats

Busy Fall Season

City people seem to have the idea that country people can take it easy fall and winter. All that changes here are the kinds of things being done. I have a busy fall season.

Killing frost left my garden wilted. I knew it was coming so bags of tomatoes, peppers, long beans and squash moved into the kitchen.

These bags await my attention. Some are already sorted. A few bags of peppers are now at someone else’s house. My pepper plants wanted to make sure I had a busy fall season.

The new fall routine is clearing the dead plants out. Then the beds are rebuilt with manure, cardboard and mulch. Garlic is planted. Plastic covers the shade house where cabbage, bok choi and winter radishes already grow.

Nubian buck High Reaches Silk's Augustus wishes for a busy fall season
Fall is breeding season for goats. Nubians will breed all year round, but prefer fall. Every August my buck Augustus begins to smell rank and ogle the girls. By September it’s hard to get him to eat his grain. He spends most of his time pacing the fence or standing on top of the gym watching for the herd to come back.

Dairy goats need attention every day. Fall is breeding season. My busy fall season includes getting some does bred while keeping my winter milkers away from Augustus. And at least one doe will have November kids.

The goat barn must be winterized. And the summer manure build up must be taken out to the garden. Two new lights are supposed to go in, one in the goat section and one in the chicken section.

My busy fall season wouldn’t be complete without a book to complete. “For Love of Goats” is progressing. The front cover is done. Three quarters of the illustrations are done. Sample pages should go up in another week with a release date in mid November.

"For Love of Goats" by Karen GoatKeeper
Watercolor is great for illustrations in my opinion. It takes practice and I’m getting a lot of it completing the sixty or so illustrations for this book. Professional illustrators deserve much more admiration for their work than they are given.

Yes, November. NaNo (National Novel Writing Month). I’m not ready. What will I write? The subconscious is working on this question.

By December I will be back to work on “The City Water Project” for release next March. It’s half done.

Maybe city people can relax over the fall and winter. My busy fall season will morph into an equally busy winter season.

Doe Kid, Buck Kid, Misidentification

Now, any goat owner will tell you it’s easy to tell a doe kid from a buck kid. There are several very obvious differences.

Buck kids have scrotums. They are smooth under the tail. They urinate from the middle of their bellies with their legs planted out in a rectangle.

Doe kids have a tiny vulva under their tails. They squat to urinate. They tend to have smaller, more streamlined heads than buck kids.

buck and doe kid

These two Nubian kids are so alike in size. I assumed both were bucks. Wrong. The black one is a buck. The gray one is a doe.

Telling a doe kid from a buck kid is much easier than figuring out whether or not a kid is polled. For that the hair is swirled over the horn buds and smooth over polled. Hair can stick up or otherwise distort this look.

Three does had kids. Agate was first in the morning. Violet was acting like kids all day but had them in the morning. Lydia had hers that evening.

There was enough time to leisurely take care of each kid set. I took a cursory check and decided Agate had two little bucks. She moved into the large pen with Matilda and Rose.

Nubian buck kid

This little kid is definitely a buck. I double checked. High Reaches Agate isn’t concerned about it. She loves her kids.

That was a mistake. Matilda started chasing Agate. Hay was a temporary distraction. The chase resumed.

Matilda and her week old buck moved into the barn. Peace reigned in the kidding pen. The kids piled up in their cubby hole and slept.

Nubian High Reaches Agate with her kids

The problem with an Houdini buck is keeping him away from yearlings. So High Reaches Agate had twins at just over a year old. She had little trouble kidding, but didn’t know what had happened. She stood looking at the kids, then at me, then at the kids. She sniffed them, but didn’t talk to them. Finally one of the kids started talking. Agate is now a devoted mother goat.

Kids have trouble staying warm for the first few days. They can be stepped on. I build cubby holes for them.

A kid cubby hole is a line of bales against an outside wall. Two bales are put in front spaced apart half the length of a bale.

Two bales are piled on top of the wall line behind the space. A bale is placed over the space leaving a cubby hole.

Kids move into the hole. The hay provides insulation. The small space stays warmer than the outer temperature and keeps drafts out. Does can sniff their kids but can’t step on them.

This year I’m short on hay. Two straw bales backed by thick flakes of straw with a two inch thick board over the top did the job.

Nubian doe kid

How could I ever think this lovely kid was a buckling? All I can think is that I was very careless. This is definitely a doeling belonging to High Reaches Agate.

Kids grow fast. They want to jump on things and run. Even a big kid pen is too small in a few days.

I moved the kids out into the barn while the rest of the herd was out to pasture. My barn is set up with kid cubby holes.

A sunny day invited pictures of these last six kids. I moved Agate and her kids out. That’s when I noticed. Agate doesn’t have two buck kids. She has one buck kid and one doe kid. Oops.

This is a buck year for me. There are six buck kids. With the addition of Agate’s doe kid, there are three doe kids.

And I’m reminding myself to be more careful in the future.

Goat kid antics play a part in the madcap adventures in Capri Capers. Check out the sample pages.

Doe Rejecting Her Kid

High Reaches Matilda is a good mother goat. She has raised triplets. This year she is rejecting her kid, the little doe from her twins.

The day started out like any other day. Morning chores went smoothly. The herd was lined up devouring morning hay.

Toward noon I opened the pasture goat. The herd rushed out. Hay is great, but new spring grass is much better.

kid Nubian doe kept

High Reaches Matilda’s little Nubian buckling is her pride and joy. He thinks he’s something important too. This is the kid Matilda decided to keep.

I watched the herd file off toward the north, closed the gate and went back to the barn to let the boys out. Matilda was still in the barn munching on hay.

This goat has been playing the ‘any time’ game for two or three weeks. She is one of the first out the pasture gate. Kids were due today.

Bucks can be nuisances. I let Gaius out and ran him out of the barn. He was upset as he wanted to scrounge for leftover hay. Instead I put a barrier across the door.

rejecting her kid doe

Why would High Reaches Matilda reject this lovely Nubian doe? She is lively, alert, active and pretty. Still, Matilda was very busy with her little buck and didn’t notice this one. When her attention was called to the doe, Matilda seemed to think this wasn’t hers.

Augustus hung over the barrier. Anything new needs investigation. He finally gave up and went out to eat fresh grass.

Matilda hung out in the barn all day. She was in labor. She had feet showing. She wanted to wait for the herd to come back, so she did – almost.

The first kid, a little frosted buck, was born about the time the herd was wandering back from pasture. A barn full of goats is not healthy for a newborn. I picked him up and led Matilda in to the kidding section.

Matilda was going to have a second kid, but I had to put the boys up and let the herd in. I left to do early evening chores. Matilda was happily taking care of her little buck.

When I got back, a second kid was on the straw. Matilda was still taking care of the little buck and ignoring the cries of this second kid.

Nubian doeling

Nubian doe High Reaches Rose is delighted with her little doe. This is Rose’s first kid, but she is a good mother.

Picking this second spotted kid up made Matilda stop to look her over. She gave her a couple of licks and turned back to her little buck. She was rejecting her kid.

Usually a doe rejecting her kid indicates something is wrong with the kid. One first freshner rejected her first kid and was a wonderful mother the second kidding. Why was Matilda rejecting her kid?

As far as I can tell, this kid is fine. She is active. She loves to eat. Evidently Matilda bonded to the first one and didn’t notice she had a second so assumes this one is being foisted off on her.

Whatever the reason, I now have a bottle baby.

Spotted Nubian Kids

This has been the year of the spotted Nubian kids here at High Reaches. These kids are due to the escape artist Augustus.

Silk surprised me with that spotted buck. She did have one spot in the middle of her back. She did have spots in her background. But the spots had gradually disappeared over the generations.

Nubian buck kid High Reaches Silk's Augustus

Nubian buck High Reaches Silk’s Augustus was such a cute little kid. Those big white ears. Those little white spots. At 200 pounds, he has grown into those ears. The spots are still there. His neck is getting thick as he matures.

Then came Augustus. He was a frosted gray with white spots from the time he was born.

This year’s spotted Nubian kids are different. The background black or frosted gray is usual enough. It’s the spots.

These kids don’t have white spots when they are born. They have brown spots. From what I’ve read, these are called liver spots.

one of the spotted Nubian kids

Born July 4th, this frosted gray doeling does have spots. They are still brown but showing white hairs so they will turn white in another month or so.

These brown spots are a problem. They persist for two or three months as brown spots. Many goats are registered by that age and described as having brown spots.

Except, when the kids are two to three months of age, these brown spots can turn white. The description on the papers is now incorrect.

So, why not list them as white spots on the application? Not all brown spots turn white and you won’t know until the kid is four or five months old.

one of the spotted Nubian kids

This twin doeling is black with spots. They are brown but definitely changing to white. The twins were born July 4 to High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie.

This year all my brown spotted Nubian kids have become white spotted kids. The youngest ones are just now making this change.

It is fun to see the spots. Spotted goats are pretty and popular.

one of the spotted Nubian kids

Six months old, independent, grain lover and covered with spots, big on the right and small on the left, this doeling is out of High Reaches Spring.

At one time the rage was for black Nubians. Some people bred their goats for color only. Soon their goats were black but not dairy goats, only pets, as they no longer produced a decent amount of milk.

Will breeding for spots do the same? Or have people learned?

Dairy goats are supposed to produce milk. Having pretty colors may be nice, but the colors don’t put milk in the bucket.

I still have four doe kids to sell. Three have spots. One is a plain brown. The spotted Nubian kids will gather interest immediately. The brown one won’t.

not a spotted Nubian kid

This doeling is so like her mother, High Reaches Trina. She is calm, friendly, but has no spots.

Yet the brown one is from a good milking background. She is friendly like her mother, Trina, who always comes over to stand by me to be petted and fussed over.

I am keeping Agate – yes, Agate, like in Capri Capers, black with white spots. I can only keep one kid.

Perhaps someone can see beyond the spots. Even plain brown can be a lovely color for a goat.

Find out more about Capri Capers and read some pages from the novel here.

Special Nubian High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie

High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie is a special goat. She is also a very lucky goat.

Pixie is a nice looking Nubian doe. Lots of Nubian does are nice looking.

High Reaches Jewel's Pixie

High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie looks like a normal Nubian doe out grazing. Her disability shows when she tries to walk as her back legs swing and sway. this picture was taken earlier this year.

Pixie is friendly. Lots of Nubians are friendly.

Pixie gives a lot of great tasting milk. Lots of Nubians do this too.

What makes High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie special?

Dairy goats need attention twice a day for milking. Every morning is much the same in many respects. The grain is readied. The goats are let in by pairs in my routine as I have two milking stands.

The goats jump up, get locked into the stanchion. I milk them while they eat. I unlock the stanchion and let them out so the next pair can come in.

High Reaches Jewel's Pixie

Born in 2011, Pixie was a good looking, healthy Nubian doe. She was about eight months old in this picture.

Pixie came in as usual one morning. Nothing seemed odd about her. Nothing was odd as I let her out with the rest of the herd to eat in the pasture for the day. I noticed nothing when the herd came in that evening.

Evening milking was normal. Does came in, got up, got down and went out.

Pixie came in and jumped up on the milk stand. She fell off, flat on the floor.

Shakily, Pixie stood up. Her legs were apart as though to brace her. She shook. She staggered when she walked.

That was several years ago. Pixie never recovered her balance. Her back legs are not steady. She has fits when she falls over in spasms.

Pixie still goes out to pasture with the herd. Many mornings she leads the herd out. In the evening she leads the herd in. She climbs the hills.

Perhaps in a larger herd or a commercial dairy, Pixie would be a cull. She is lucky my herd is small and I can accommodate her. She can’t get on the milk stand so I trim her hooves and milk her as she stands on the floor.

I will never know what happened to Pixie that day. Whatever it was, it left her with permanent brain damage.

Why would I keep such a goat as High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie?

Nubian doe kids

These twin Nubian does are outside for the first time at three days old and delighted to escape the boring barn. Both have liver spots which will probably turn white in a few months. High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie is a proud mother and keeps a close eye on her daughters.

Perhaps this set of lovely twin does is a good enough answer.

Nubian doelings can be ornery and get into everything. See how they fit into the book Capri Capers.

Fresh Homestead Milk

Fresh Homestead Milk

Once fresh eggs with stand up orange yolks appear on the menu, milk comes to mind for lots of new homesteaders. Fresh homestead milk must be better than the commercial milk in the store. That milk is cows’ milk. The homesteader has a choice.

Most people around the world use milk from goats. The U.S. relies on cows. Both are available to the homesteader.

Decision 1: Cows or Goats?

Dairy Cows

These dairy cows belong to a friend. The front one is a Jersey/Ayrshire cross. The other is a Jersey. Jerseys are popular for homesteaders as they are smaller, gentle, high butterfat producing cows.

Either a cow or a few goats will provide plenty of homestead milk. This milk is produced after the cow or goat has a baby. The cow or goat will not give milk for two to three months before having that baby. It will be dry.

The dry period is very important for the mother to be. Their body is stashing away calcium and other nutrients producing milk will take away later on. The developing baby or babies take a lot of nutrition too. Cheating on the dry period will cheat you for homestead milk later.

A cow takes nine months to have a calf. A goat takes five months. A cow normally has one calf. A goat normally has twin kids, but can vary from one to three, sometimes four, rarely five to eight.

The pluses for cows is having only one. That one will produce several gallons a day for nine to ten months. Finding someone to breed the cow by AI or artificial insemination is fairly easy.

Dairy Goat

This Nubian dairy goat is High Reaches Bonnie. Goats differ from cows with two halves to their udder rather than four quarters. They are usually easier to milk. Their smaller size makes them easier to handle.

The pluses for goats is having an animal of a manageable size. A good goat will produce 3 quarts to over a gallon a day for nine to ten months. Up to six goats can be kept for the same amount of feed and hay as one cow.

Both cows and goats come in a number of breeds that vary in color, personality and milk volume, Both require adequate fencing and a building. Both will tie you to twice a day milking regardless of weather or health.

I prefer goats. I like the smaller size. I have been stepped on by both a cow and a goat. The goat is better. I prefer the milk.

Comparison 2: Cow’s milk vs. Goat’s milk

fresh homestead milk

Fresh milk should be stored in glass containers in the refrigerator. Glass is easier to clean than plastic.

An amusing thing at a county fair is to offer goat milk samples. Many people make an assumption the milk will taste bad as soon as they read that word goat. They will make faces as they take a sip. Those willing to keep an open mind will then look surprised and remark how good the milk tastes or how it tastes like milk from the store.

That does not mean goat’s milk and cow’s milk tastes the same. It does not. Both taste good.

Cow’s milk will separate into cream and milk layers. Goat’s milk will not. Both have plenty of cream in them, the composition makes the difference so one separates and one doesn’t. The cream content varies by breed and diet.

Milk allergies come in two common forms. One is to lactose or milk sugar. Both cow’s milk and goat’s milk contain lactose. This intolerance will often produce bloating and gastric symptoms.

The other common intolerance is to bovine or cow proteins. This usually produces sinus problems. Goat milk is often tolerated well with this.

Goat milk is digested much more quickly. This let’s some lactose intolerant people drink some milk and not react. It is a reason goat milk is easy on a sick stomach as one with ulcers and for acid reflux.

Problems 3:

homestead milk becomes homestead cheese

Homemade mozzarella cheese is far different from commercial mozzarella. It is not difficult to make.

Whether these are problems or not is a matter of which homesteader you talk to. One is extra milk.

Whether the homesteader chooses a cow or goats, there will probably be extra milk most of the summer. If the homesteader is like me, the thought of throwing that milk away hurts. There must be something that milk is good for.

One solution is cheese. Even the easy cheeses take time, equipment and facilities. Kefir and buttermilk are other possibilities.

Another solution is using homestead milk to produce a homestead pig or pigs. Sour milk soaked corn is relished by pigs and makes them grow fast. But pigs require a building and fencing plus a way to butcher them.

Another solution is to find people who want your extra milk. This is not always legal. Make sure you monitor your animal’s health. If you deworm or treat an animal, follow the withdrawal times carefully. The customer needs to provide the containers or you will be left scrambling for jars. Your homestead milk needs to be as clean, really cleaner than store milk.

Another problem is the responsibility. Milking is done twice a day, every day, regardless. Your day begins at the end of morning chores and ends at the beginning of evening chores. Vacations are no longer on your calendar.

One solution is to have a friend or neighbor who can milk for you from time to time. Another solution is to have a vacation while your milkers are dry although, for goats, this is normally in the winter. And the animals must still be fed and checked on daily. The other choice is to stay home or only take very short day trips.

Bull or buck service is needed every year. A homesteader with a few animals should not keep a male around. The male needs separate facilities. He will eat as much as a milking animal for use once a year. He can be aggressive and difficult to handle. A good male is expensive and a cheap one is not worth the cheap price.

It is much easier to find someone to AI a cow than a goat. A goat is easier to transport to a buck or the owner may lease out the buck. Find out about this before you need the use of a male.

Veterinarians get lots of training with cows. Goats can be ignored or barely mentioned. More vets are learning about goats so this isn’t as big a problem as it was. However, vets are not inexpensive. The homesteader needs to learn to do much of the routine vet care, get the equipment and find out how to use it correctly.

Food On the Table

Fresh homestead milk and eggs are great. They do not make a meal. That garden produce makes the meal.

Gardening can be challenging on the homestead. There are bugs, floods, droughts, good and bad soil, diseases, weeds and the list goes on. Is it worth it? The homesteader must decide.


Missing Kids

Adult goats are nice to have around most of the time. They do cause problems such as getting out to eat things they shouldn’t or sabotaging plans to get to town on time.

Kids more than make up for these problems. Kids are cute, soft, cuddly although they prefer not, and lots of fun to watch. It’s so easy to get attached to them.

Nubians are sun worshippers. They find the goat gym the perfect place. The kids join right in.

Nubians are sun worshippers. They find the goat gym the perfect place. The kids join right in.

The problem with getting attached to goat kids is that they stay. They grow up. The herd gets bigger. Milking takes longer. The volume of milk increases creating a problem of what to do with these gallons.

Matilda had enough milk for triplets but the biggest buckling was greedy so the other two got small bottles twice a day. Bottle babies are very friendly. This doeling was always wanting petting. She too will be a lovely doe when she grows up.

Matilda had enough milk for triplets but the biggest buckling was greedy so the other two got small bottles twice a day. Bottle babies are very friendly. This doeling was always wanting petting. She too will be a lovely doe when she grows up.

Like it or not, people get older every year too. After a time those chores that took hours take days. Bales of hay get harder to lift and stack. Obstinate adult goats get harder to push around.

My herd is half what it was a few years ago. Regretfully I am planning on a herd less than half what it is now in a few more years. Therefore I decided to stop keeping kids.

Can't you tell? Bonnie's blond doeling is filled with personality. Her color will deepen a little like her mother's did then gleam like burnished gold.

Can’t you tell? Bonnie’s blond doeling is filled with personality. Her color will deepen a little like her mother’s did then gleam like burnished gold.

Somehow this decision to stop keeping kids makes each year’s kids seem cuter, friendlier and more desirable. This year was no exception.

Four doe kids have played, gone out to pasture and come into the milk room each day for two months. Their mothers are good milkers. They are sweet.

Bonnie's black doeling is still shy. She will be a lovely doe when she grows up. Bonnie is a good milker and this one should be too. We were just getting to be good friends.

Bonnie’s black doeling is still shy. She will be a lovely doe when she grows up. Bonnie is a good milker and this one should be too. We were just getting to be good friends.

And now three are gone.

The milk room seems empty. The goat gym has blank spaces where they used to lie and bask in the morning sun or play in the evening.

You noticed? Only three doe kids left.

I do not need another goat. My herd is supposed to get smaller which means: Don't keep any kids. But Juliette's daughter is staying anyway.

I do not need another goat. My herd is supposed to get smaller which means: Don’t keep any kids. But Juliette’s daughter is staying anyway.

So much for not keeping any kids.