“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde
Last night I got so tired I decided to finish my post today, but I forgot to change the publish date. I woke up this morning to find a half published post, so, here is “the rest of the story”.
Where was I, oh yes, goat milk. I learned that you don’t milk a goat in anything but stainless and store the milk in glass only. For some reason, plastic imparts an unpleasant taste to the milk. Once I got this technique down, and of course, keeping the rear hooves from either stepping in the bucket or knocking it over, fresh goat milk became a staple in our home. I even began drinking milk again, like I did as a child. As I got older I stopped drinking milk because I became lactose intolerant. Goat milk on the other hand, has smaller fat molecules, and therefore is more easily digested. And if you think what is sold in the stores as goat milk tastes good, you’re in for a real treat when you taste fresh goat milk. It’s really really good! So, now I didn’t have to worry about running out of milk either.
I did draw the line at making butter and cheese. After all, butter will freeze well and cheese lasts a good long time. So here we had a little farm going, why not grow vegetables too. My husband roto-tilled up about a quarter of an acre and we planted Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers of all kinds, eggplant squash and various herbs. I also had fruit trees – peach, pear, grapefruit, orange and lemon. This was starting to be fun. I even had a section of beautiful antique roses growing and boy, were they beautiful and odoriferous.
Little by little we added more goats, meat goats – two milk goats was all I wanted to milk . We purchased a few Spanish meat goats along with some Boar goats and of course a buck to keep all the nannies happy. Then I found out that when the nannies freshened – gave birth, – I would have to eventually wether – neuter – the bucks or they may mate with their mother. Neutering was not a pleasant thought to this city girl, and even more unpleasant to my husband. This process of banding the testes of a male goat or sheep is called wethering. I guess it’s called that because when the process is all said and done, at first glance one doesn’t know whether they are looking at a male or female goat. All kidding aside, or should I say joking aside, this was not my favorite task although not a difficult one. Soon ten goats became twenty, which became forty and so on untill we were up to seventy-five goats. At this point the rear pasture was pretty much cleaned up. When we started with goats the rear pasture was so overgrown, there were weeds taller than me. By the time our goat numbers reached 75 the rear pasture looked like a golf course. It is at this point that I found out a full-grown goat can squeeze through a hole in the fence the size of a quarter.
At first it was just two or three goats getting out and getting them back in was fairly easy. I shook a bucket with feed in it and led the goats back into their pen. But the more goats that got out, the harder it was to get them back in. What would happen was they would all rush me and my little bucket of feed before I could get them back in their pen. Fifteen goats to one 5′-2″ woman with a bucket of feed – guess who wins – the goats. This was becoming frustrating because there were no visible holes in the fence, how were they getting out?
One day my husband came home from work and the goats were out again. My husband quickly got them back in and when I came home he told me how he found the goats lounging around the front porch chewing their cud quite contentedly. He also told me how he managed to get them back in. I wondered what those darn goats got into while they were in the front yard, so I went to check things out for myself. Well they not only got into the front yard, but also the side where our garden was. Luckily, the growing season was over and there were no tomato or pepper plants left. But as I turned to survey the rest of the garden, I couldn’t believe my eyes, they ate the lower branches off the fruit trees – even the citrus with the thorns. Then I quickly turned to see my rose garden and all I saw were 2 inches of stubby shoots coming from the ground. – THEY ATE MY ROSES! THORNS AND ALL!! Those *#@#*#*@*#* goats! Then I looked at my husband and told him he’d better find and fix whatever hole they were getting out of. Later, when I calmed down, we both walked the fence line and found no holes whatsoever. How were these goats getting out? I had a plan – tomorrow I would watch from in the house and catch them in the act.
I think those darn goats bugged our house because they didn’t get out the next day, or the day after, or the day after that. It was actually four days before they finally did the Houdini trick again and this time I caught them. There was one section of the fence where erosion had left a small space between the bottom of the fence and the ground. These goats would stick their head under the fence and wiggle their way to the other side. The fence was beginning to curl at that spot, making it even easier for them to escape. Now, how do we fix this? We could add dirt, but the next rain would just wash it away. We could block it with objects, but the goats will just find another spot. What to do? My husband decided to put a hot wire near the lower part of the fence, so they couldn’t rub along the fence anymore. That worked, but we had to be careful when we went in the pen not to let the wire touch us as we opened the gate. Then of course there was the problem of walking too close to the fence when it was sprinkling rain – occasionally an electrical pulse would connect with our skin and send us shaking our head, rubbing our zapped spot and mumbling some incoherent words about goats. Such was life on the farm.
One Saturday, when my in-laws were visiting, we came home from the store to find the back field empty once again. Together we went looking for the goats and found them two miles down the road happily eating the bushes in a neighbor’s front yard. Rob went back home to get a bucket of feed and the pickup. The plan was my mother-in-law would sit on the back of the pick up shaking the bucket of feed so the goats would follow and our daughter and I would try to keep the goats in line following the truck. If you’ve ever lived in the country, you’ve probably had occasion to wait while a farmer crossed his cows to another pasture across the road. When farmers do this they are organized. Usually there are a few hands on horseback guiding the herd, while there is a truck at both end of a section of road stopping traffic, and a few more men making sure no calves stray. Here we were, a couple of city slickers trying to get forty goats down two miles of road. We might as well have been trying to herd cats. Eventually we did make it back, and all the goats were safe and sound. But what a fiasco! We did make a few people laugh along the way as they slowly crept by in their cars. I’m sure we were quite a sight!
Oh, I forgot to mention the part about Max, our horse. We had to fence off a section of the pasture for him when the young goats were old enough to venture out on their own. Max got along real good with grown goats. They would graze side by side without a problem. But the young goats of two or so months he thought were his very own play toys. He would pick them up by the back of their neck and toss them a few feet. That didn’t go over very good with the mommy goats and they would run towards Max screaming and trying to get their babies to safety. Luckily, there was another section of pasture we could fence off for Max before any of the babies were hurt by his playfulness.
Farming was soon becoming a drudge – no longer fun.