Getting your goat. March 25, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: goats, great livestock books, raising goats, small livestock
Just this morning, our friend Ben finished reading The Year of the Goat, a new book by Margaret Hathaway that chronicles a yearlong journey across the U.S. (with occasional ventures abroad) in search of all things goat. Margaret and her then-fiance, now-husband Karl left their big-city lives to see if their real vocation was goat farming and goat cheese-making. After a year’s worth of colorful adventures, they found that the answer was yes.
Now, our friend Ben has always wanted a pair of milking goats. The hands-down best yogurt I ever had was made (by me) from goat milk, and then, of course, there is the cheese. It seems as if milking one goat (I would “freshen” them by turns so one would be producing milk while the other one rested up and kept the milking goat company) would not be too overwhelming, and how much space would they need?
More, most likely, than our friend Ben’s one-acre Eden, Hawk’s Haven, could provide, bisected as it is by Hawk Run and with the greenhouse, Pullet Palace, studio, fruit trees, and veggie beds, as well as the cultivated wild meadow, already in place. Still, the fantasy refuses to die. Our friend Ben’s copy of Your Goats* is dogeared from numerous readings; any homesteading or farming magazine with a goat on the cover will instantly get our friend Ben’s goat—I mean, attention—and subsequent purchase. (Our friend Ben is probably the only person who goes to Tractor Supply to buy magazines, but really, where else can you find Mother Earth News, Back Home, Hobby Farms, Backyard Poultry, Taste of Home, Acres USA, and numerous other specialty garden- and homestead-related publications in one place? Including, of course, several goat specialty magazines.)
Perhaps it has something to do with our friend Ben having been born in the Chinese Year of the Goat, like Margaret Hathaway’s husband. (This is also translated as the Year of the Sheep; apparently separating the sheep from the goats is not a Chinese priority.) Our friend Ben was not initially enamored of the idea of being a goat, or especially a sheep, instead of, say, a tiger or dragon. But after reading that “the sheep is elegant and artistic,” our friend Ben became insufferable for quite some time and had to be frequently suppressed. And anyway, at least it wasn’t the Year of the Rat.
Our friend Ben still wants a pair of milking goats. Perhaps Nigerian Dwarfs would be a good choice? (If anyone out there is raising these diminutive but reputedly excellent milkers, please tell our friend Ben what it really takes.) And I highly recommend The Year of the Goat to anyone who’s ever longed to break away and follow their dream. Maybe it will inspire you to go for it!
* Your Goats is part of an excellent series from Storey Publishing. Ostensibly for kids (pardon the pun in this case), these books are excellent overviews of livestock care. I have pretty much every book on raising chickens known to man, and Your Chickens gets my one-Ben award as best overall chicken-raising guide. If you raise or want to raise animals and don’t know this series, or have dismissed it because it’s aimed at kids, you owe it to yourself to check it out.