every life lesson can be learned

Be Careful What You Wish For

Several years ago we were offered two beautiful Nubian kids (a.k.a. baby goats by the franch layperson) for free if we promised to provide them with a loving home.  These goats came with paperwork verifying their outstanding pedigree with great milking lines.  Yes, someone actually keeps records of how well certain goats produce milk over the course of history.  We knew if we just left them in the front pasture to eat our weeds, it’d be a waste of all the careful planning and time of the breeders listed on the pedigree.  Anyhow, I was ready to get them milking after reading all the existing literature on the health benefits of goat milk.  The demands of the franch often leave little time for exercising, so I was all for a healthy beverage option.  I was also starting to plan how I’d spend all our savings at the supermarket not having to buy milk every week.  I think my husband was anxious to get milking because he wanted to show off his pinch-n-roll technique he mastered milking cows in his youth.  At first, I thought this would be an easy endeavor.  Well, of course, goat utters don’t just start producing milk because you want a cold cup with your cereal every morning.  They need to have babies.  So, the buck arrived and, if you remember, ruined the innocence of my children.  After five months of waiting, there was finally milk! Though it wasn’t for me yet – the goat kids had first dibs.  So, there I was with three more animals to care for and my cup was still empty.  My anticipated savings at the grocery store was spent on a homemade milking stand, udder cream, teet wipes, milking buckets, milk jars, milk strainer and filter, and more.  I needed to get drinking to make up for all that.  Finally, the day came when the kids were weaned, and it was time for us to enjoy some wholesome milk.  It was truly wonderful (after I got over that the milk was just squeezed with my own hands out of the udder of an animal in my backyard).  Well, we certainly got what we wished for as the milk just wouldn’t stop flowing and flowing and flowing.  Our goats were together producing about 1 to 2 gallons a day.  That pedigree was no joke.  We were milking twice a day every day.  Our refrigerator was filled with gallons of milk.  Initially, I didn’t want to waste even one drop.  I made the children feel guilty for not finishing their milk by saying it’d make the goat sad (not my finest parenting moment, I admit).  It just kept coming.  We were soon exhausted.  Instead of quiet evenings gazing at the stars, we spent hours learning how and making almost every kind of goat cheese possible.  And still there were jars of milk on the counter.  I’m tired even thinking about it again.  It’s important to give goats some time off from milking for them to stay healthy and, we learned, for us too.  After months of milking, it was truly a relief to see “milk” scribbled on my grocery list again.

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  1. Lin

    I enjoyed all your milk and goat cheeses! Great story!

  2. Steve

    Jeannie and I love goat milk.

    My first job in (2nd grade) was to go across the street and help milk about 20 goats before I rode my bike to school… I have fond memories 🙂

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