Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Got Milk? September 9, 2009

Filed under: Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 9:49 am
Tags: , , ,

The goatless barn

The goatless barn

The struggles and trials I have been going through in order to set up a home goat dairy have been fairly surprising. Construction on the barn has been easy, with my boyfriend being able to build nearly the entire thing in a day. The fence construction has been a breeze, being less expensive than originally thought. Finding food, milking supplies, storage etc. has been easy as pie.

Finding the goats has been a nightmare. We have lost three!

The first was due to the fact that the seller’s pregnant does had half as many kids as she was expecting, and half of those were male. Since we were not first in line for a goat, we didn’t get one. The second goat was a beautiful white beauty named Rose for whom we made an offer, only to discover that the other interested party countered and she was sold out from under us. The most recent tragedy has been with Sweetie, the goat I wrote about just the other day. Her health has declined dramatically in the last month due to a terminated pregnancy and the owner doesn’t feel she can sell her in good conscience.

Luckily she has offered up a replacement goat at a lower price, which is helpful, but that still leaves us with only one goat (we were planning on taking Sweetie and her kids). Goats are social creatures and we really need two. So we are searching for more and honestly, the pickings are slim this time of year. Most goats are bred in October or November and deliver in March or April, which means all the kids have been sold by now. People are offloading their older dairy goats, but they will all be dried up for the most part, and will need to be bred – yet another expense. And while I have a few contacts that I am working with, we have reached the high end of our budget, the low end of our patience, and wits end in general.

The whole purpose of setting up this dairy was in order to have a safe, reliable source for food – raw milk, cheese, yogurt etc. However it has really illuminated for me how difficult it can be to actually do this!

Like most people, I have always taken my food for granted. The abundance, variety and seemingly endless supply of foods in the grocery stores and farmer’s markets has always been a pleasure, but I never considered it a privilege until I started trying to grow more of my own food, including milk.

The amount of work required to nurture enough food to feed a family of four is…mind boggling. And not just because of the foibles of trying to find a goat. We have had squash bugs, companion planting issues, late starts with our seedlings, grasshoppers…the list is endless. It really opens one’s eyes to the whole idea of privilege. For centuries the upper classes were in power and had so much wealth because they didn’t have to worry about their food supplies. They had serfs or servants, tenants or slaves to do all that work for them. They could devote their time to intrigue, war, politics and art.

And while I don’t really have an interest in intrigue, war or politics, I am used to a lot more free time than I am currently allowed. I am in no way regretful of my decision to become more self sufficient and to provide my son with reliable and safe food, I may miss all that free time.

So hopefully, the goat saga will not go on for much longer and I will soon have myself a nice caprian friend.

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One Response to “Got Milk?”

  1. Martha Ann Says:

    Wow. You’ve really had your nose to the proverbial grindstone on getting set up. It will be sweet once you are done. I’ve put you in my google reader so I can follow your progress.

    Martha Ann


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