The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Milking schedule

Nursing goat

Milking stanchionBaby goats grow almost unbelievably quickly. The kids can stand up within minutes of birth, they seem to double in size at a remarkable rate, and at two weeks old they are mature enough to be separated from Mom overnight.

Friday was Lamb Chop's big night. After milking Abigail nearly at dark, I stuck our little kid in the milking stall all by himself and walked away. He cried and Abigail cried, but they both fared fine overnight, and the next morning I was able to collect a larger share of the milk (11.8 ounces). As Lamb Chop learns to eat solid food over the next few weeks, I'm hoping the human milk quota will continue to grow.

Talking goat kid

Baby goat hornsMy original milking plan involved separating the kid(s) at night and then just milking once in the morning, but Abigail's early nursing issues set me off on a different track. Even after Lamb Chop found his way to the teat on day four, I kept milking twice a day anyway, only getting dribs and drabs (seldom more than cup and often much less). The small amount of milk was appreciated, but I felt like the milking was particularly important because Lamb Chop seems to prefer Abigail's right side, a common issue with single kids. By milking our doe out twice a day, I'm able to ensure that both sides of Abigail's udder keep producing milk. Meanwhile, Lamb Chop was getting all he could drink until the nighttime separation, so I didn't have to worry that he was lacking in nutrients. In fact, he seems to have doubled in size over the last week.

Goat eating bark

Speaking of lacking in nutrients, Abigail has recently started peeling bark off the little saplings in her yard. I suspect she's getting desperate for fresh growth, and I have high hopes that we can set up some temporary enclosures in the most sunny part of the yard in a week or two to let our goats enjoy the first spring grass. I learned this fall that even though goats aren't supposed to be grazers, our girls are quite happy to eat tender leaves growing out of the ground and I can hardly wait for our girls to be off the hay train.

Goat head butt

Mom and goatIn other news, Artemesia seems to be losing her youthful bounce at the same time that Lamb Chop learns to caper --- I guess there can only be one baby in the family at any given time. As you can see in the photo above, I upgraded our doeling to a real collar and gave the mini collar to Lamb Chop. I think our buckling is confident enough in his masculinity that he won't mind wearing pink. In fact, he'll be old enough to possibly become a father in just another ten weeks --- then we'll have to figure out whether Artemesia is willing to go into heat in the summer for a fall kidding or whether we'll need to separate Lamb Chop for the summer so he doesn't knock his mother up. Goat management definitely leaves us with a continuing set of hurdles, but they sure are fun!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Always fun seeing the photos. Will you disbud him, or leave the horns?
How are you liking the milk?

Comment by deb Mon Mar 23 00:20:23 2015
We don't plan to disbud him since he won't be around long enough for the horns to be a problem (we hope). As for the milk --- we're loving it! I want to try making cheeses, but there's not enough yet since we keep drinking up the day's ration as hot chocolate each night. I'm looking forward to peak lactation in six weeks or so!
Comment by anna Mon Mar 23 20:59:32 2015
Testing out goat products, since we are considering getting one.I made some goat milk yogurt.. it was good, and very creamy. I might make some soap. But before commiting to them, i just want to know we will utilize them, and they will be more than cute pasture decoration!
Comment by deb Mon Mar 23 21:40:34 2015

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