Last Tuesday we added seven Nigerian Dwarf goats to our little place. Adding goats was something that Joe and I had been discussing for over three years. Two years ago we were days away from welcoming two does when we ran into some issues, not with the does we were getting but with the neighbor’s goats thinking they lived here. We put our goat dreams on hold while the neighbor’s issues resolved.
We started talking about my goat dream again over the winter. I say ‘my goat dream’ because it really is/was just my dream. Joe was okay with getting them but not as enthusiastic about it as me. We decided on Nigerian Dwarf due to their small size and the butterfat content of the milk. I enjoy making cheese so high butterfat is a plus. This little herd kind of fell in my lap. I think it was totally meant to be! Nigerian Dwarf are considered a dairy goat even though they are small. Many people get a quart or more a day from a Nigerian. While that is not a lot of milk it is a fair amount. Here is an article plus video I found on milking Nigerians. I found the comments to also be very helpful.
We had our first milking session on Saturday evening and did not get one drop of milk. We separated the kids overnight and tried again the next morning. Success! Altogether we ended up with less than two cups figuring in the milk the was spilled and what I squirted on my leg instead of into the container. The amount that we saved was absolutely delicious. All of us had a taste of it. Below is a picture of the milking stand my husband made me. We did only attempt two milking sessions. We decided that with the kids being so old and close to weaning that it wasn’t a good time to start milking. We’ll wait until we have new kids.
Meet Our Goats
This is our buck. His name is The Duke. Originally I didn’t intend to have a buck but he was part of the herd I found and we decided that having him would be easier than finding a buck. There are some Nigerians in our area but they are not as common as full size goats. The Duke is only two years old. He was very nervous when he first got here but has calmed down quickly. Now, when his mood is right, he will eat from my hand. He still doesn’t let me touch him but I’m hopeful he will soon. He is fond of jumping on top of his lean-to. The lean-to is temporary. Before winter Joe will build him a better housing structure.
This is Kalena. She is the oldest of the does seven. She is the group leader. She was a little wary of me at first but after a day or so she was eating from my hand and letting me rub her and brush her but completely on her terms.
This is Caliente. On the way home she ‘talked’ the entire time. She also was the one to warm up to me first. She is one still in milk and even though had never been milked before when we tried it she did great. She is four years old. Her baby is Zooko. Caliente will wear the collar and I take her out to snack on the grass in our yard. She comes to me when I shake a container with grain in it.
This is Cocoa. She is three years old and by far the shyest of the group. She really wants very little to do with me. She has taken grain from my hand a couple of times and will eat from the bucket that I’m holding but she is quick to run off. She does not let me touch her. Even in this picture she is ‘hiding’ behind the hay feeder.
This is Peanut. She is two years old. This year was the first time she had babies and she had quadruplets. One of her babies, Knee High, came to live with us. Peanut is absolutely wonderful. She is super loving. I had a hard time getting a picture of her because she wanted to be right with me when I went in. She always comes running to me and almost asks to have the collar on and be taken out. Right now I am only taking Caliente and Peanut out for milking and to browse in the yard. Soon we will set up a portable pen and then all can go in that. First Kalena and Cocoa need to be more comfortable with me. I don’t think they would run off but it might be challenging to get them back in. Anyway, back to Peanut. We are milking her and she is also doing great. She doesn’t seem to mind it much at all.
This is Zooko. Caliente is his mom. He is a wether, which means he is a castrated male. He is around five months old. We got him to be a companion for The Duke. Goats are herd animals and do better in pairs or more. Right now The Duke is alone while we get Zooko accilimated to being here and weaned. The Duke can see the rest of the goats from his pen and is next to the chickens and ducks. I’m told he should be okay for now with our set up but getting Zooko over there soon will be good. We made a mistake with Zooko the other day. We took his mom and Peanut and Knee High out to browse. We thought that Zooko would be good to take out also since his mom was out. WRONG. He ran all over the place and it took us an hour or so to finally catch him. He is a bit on the wild side. 😉
This is Knee High. She is almost four months old. Her mom is Peanut. She is such a cutie. She is not overly friendly yet but is making progress each day.
That’s all of them. So far it has been quite an adventure. I’m sure there will be many more adventures ahead! I may share occasionally on here about the goats but will probably share most of my ‘homesteading’ type posts on the new blog I started. I started this specifically to share about the process of building and developing our new property that we purchased. We now own 20 acres a few hours from here. Eventually we intend to move there but for now will go up there for vacations, weekends and hunting.
If you would like to follow along on that journey you can visit my new blog here. I’m not sure how often I will post due to my lack of time but hopefully once or twice a week.
Below is a picture showing the area we are moving. It is considered High Desert (we now live on what I think people call High Prairie) so is slightly different than here. Here we get a whopping 13 inches of precipitation a year. There it is only 10 inches. The area is surrounded by mountains and national forest. Our property is about 200 yards from a creek and about five minutes to a good sized river. it is a beautiful area. If the clouds were not so low the day I took this picture you would see the mountains.
Joe is on vacation this week and we’ll be making another trip up to the property. I’ll try for more pictures showing the beauty of the area.