The start of Fall in the desert found two new creatures in my life; two baby dairy goats. Why did you get goats? They ask. For years I’ve wanted a dairy cow, a Jersey cow of my own so I could drink milk from my own cow. I have since realized what a large investment that is, and how impractical that would be for my current lifestyle. A dairy cow is for a family.
I took care of my friend Crystal’s dairy cow Maggie a few times last year. “You can keep whatever you milk,” she said. I diligently milked Maggie the cow. I poured her grain into her bucket at her milking stand and she patiently let me strap on the automatic milker with its little suction cups. Yes, I did hand milk her once for fun. Crystal showed me how to take the container into the house and dump the milk into the glass milk jugs. How to use the strainer, and how delicious that creamtastes in coffee. She even had me over for breakfast one morning with her own eggs and products from Maggie’s milk. Aside from being lots of work, it all seemed so simple, so wholesome. I drank milk straight from the cow, warm and freshly squeezed, and loved it.
I started doing my research on dairy goats, the smaller dairy production animals. In high school I had a Nubian-Boar cross goat named “Goat.” She was just a pet, and she thought she was a dog. When I went to college, sadly I sold her to a man who raised goats for projects for a local 4H club. Dairy goats were a bit different from Goat. I read articles online about raising dairy goats, I found recipes for making butter and cheese from homesteading websites and the like. I found kid raising articles, and “Goats for Beginners” tips. I made a Pinterest page of my research.
Not all goat milk is created equal, I read. The milk is affected by what the goats eat and even by their breeding! I ruled out buying a cheap, backyard goat with no history, as cheap and simple as that originally sounded. That led me to the fancy goat breeders across Arizona; I read when their breeding schedules were and what goat babies cost. They could be upwards of $600 for fancy little well-bred doelings. More expensive than I was ready to pay. Haphazardly scrolling throughCraigslist one day I came cross two Nubian doelings for sale. They were registered, and they were located in my town. That was a big plus after I was beginning to think I’d have to venture to northern Arizona to purchase a well-bred registered dairy goat. I emailed the breeder, and she sent me pictures and answered my other questions. I had learned about diseases such as CAE, and learned to make sure that my goat was negative for such things. The woman encouraged I get another goat soon if I was to only take one, so that the little goat wouldn’t get lonely.
I really only wanted one Nubian goat, but also secretly wanted a Nigerian Dwarf goat. (Shhh, I really secretly wanted a fainting goat …) We drove out to the goat farm for the little 7-month-old Nubian doeling in the Volkswagen Passat with a blanket down on the back seat, and an old dog collar and chain. I didn’t have all my goat supplies yet. The woman showed me back to her goat pens, and other assorted critter pens, and I saw the little black goat I’d picked out from pictures.
I picked the little goat up and set her in the backseat of the Passat with me. She couldnt have weighed more than 45 lbs. As soon as her face felt the cool A/C of the car, she lay down between my knees, and sat calmly with her chin on my knee. Her big brown eyes and stared up at me under large eyelashes, she didn’t make a peep! When we arrived at the house and I took her to an empty yard without goats, the crying began.
” Maaaaammmm!” She cried, “Maaaaamm!” She’d cry and cry until I came out and sat with her. She would lay downbeside me, content as long as I was with her. I named her Flower. Gentle as a kitten and docile as a deer, Flower is quite the little floppy-eared lady.
Probably within 2 weeks of bringing Flower home I came across another little goat from Craigslist … this one, by some one-in-a-million chance was a 9 month old Nigerian Dwarf goat of show quality breeding, with two blue eyes and spots all over. Such a colorful little goat didn’t seem like she could be real! I tried to talk myself out of another goat, it all happened so quickly. After sitting on the idea for two days, dreaming about that goat but not opening Craigslist, I peeked back on the ad to see if it was still up. I contacted the seller, the little goat was still available.
The next afternoon little Nilah goat was in the back seat of the car too, plopped across my lap, and surprisingly heavier than Flower! Nilah was saucy. She put up a fight all the way to the car and absolutely refused to walk on a lead. Her owner, a young gal who showed in 4H throughout high school and was now moving away (ha, doesn’t this story sound familiar?) explained that Nilah had done tremendously in the fair this year. I met Nilah’s mom, Cleopatra. The girl explained that none of the other baby goats survived, just Nilah, the little fighter. It seems that with each day Nilah gains more and more sass, picking fights with the dog and most often, Flower. Her little back hairs raise up and she pops up her front end, ears stuck straight out to the side and she rams into (or threatens) anything that looks at her. Its really all just talk, she loves her ears and butt scratched as much as anyone.
Both little goats are now good friends, even though Nilah continuously picks on Flower, who is taller but not as heavy as thick little Nilah. Both are too young to be bred, so my girls just get to enjoy their days playing and enjoying the desert for now. I can’t wait to see what sort of adventures we can get ourselves into.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci