I hadn't planned to write about goats this week. However, when people ask writers "Where do you get your ideas?" a conversation with South of the Equator Scott provides an object lesson. It started with a humorous Mitsubishi ad Scott sent me from New Zealand. I asked Scott if anyone was d@mnfool enough to take Mitsubishi up on their offer of a free goat rather than an extended warranty, roadside assistance, etc. To which Scott replied,
That’s a good question; I wonder if anyone calls their bluff. You’d have to be a knucklehead to forego thousands in extras on the truck for a $25 goat, though. Even a doe nearing the final few years of her milk production can be had for $50 and you’ll get at least 4 litres/day from her.
I really didn't need to know how much milk a goat produces. No, really. Ever. But anyway, I responded that a goat might be useful to have around for making feta cheese, and not much else. Scott took some umbrage:
So, okay, there ya go. More useful information on goats. Plus, I now have a day trip to try when I get back from Florida to try out some goat cheese. But I've never heard good things about the taste of goat's milk, and I said as much to Brother Scott. Silly me.
Not good for much else? You can drink it. Once you’re converted to goat’s milk you won’t drink cow’s milk anymore. You can make almost any type of cheese with it, not just feta. Don’t forget butter, yogurt, and ice cream.
Fat globules in goat milk are much smaller than in cow milk. That allows for a natural homogenization, which causes less cholesterol to get into your system than with cow’s milk. The pH is slightly alkaline, as is human milk; compared to the slightly acid pH of cow’s milk. That makes it handier to feed babies. The lactose is different and there’s less of it which helps the lactose-intolerant.
Goat milk has many more trace minerals, way more Vitamin A, and some other stuff I can’t remember just now. Survivalists and para-survivalists prefer goats because a gallon of milk per day is much handier for a family to use compared to the 6-7 gallons you get from a cow. An average-size back yard will provide enough forage for a goat but not a cow. It doesn’t need to be flat ground, either.
Goats just don’t lend themselves to large-scale commercial milking which is why you don’t see much of it in stores. The mother of a longtime buddy of mine had a day job at MSFC and founded Fromagerie Belle Chèvre just up the road from you in Bethel. She retired and sold it; apparently it has expanded and is doing well. Mrs. Scott and I visited her when she still owned it; I can tell you the cheese was great. See http://www.bellechevre.com/index.php.
It does taste nasty if the buck is around. Bring the buck in for two weeks every year, and then send him back to the stud farm you rented him from. When they mate it’s the doe’s dry period anyway (you allow the doe's system 40-50 days’ rest each year) so there’s no milk to taste bad at that time. Once the does are back in milk it’ll taste fine.
Um, yeah. That really WAS too much information, and I said so. The barrage continued:
That'll teach me. I thanked Scott and offered to throw another goat on the barbie for him. You know this is only going to end badly, right?
It is not TMI, he said petulantly.
A cheap source of good fresh milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Just the thing for a para-survivalist with a decent-sized back yard. And you don’t need a lawn mower, but you do need a good fence. Something you can put into your blawg.
TMI indeed! I am forced to call your cheesy-leather second-hand electric donkey-bottom-biter animal-food-trough wiping TMI appellation a silly thing and blow my nose at you.*
How the heck does this guy know so much about goats? I have no clue. Scott's a good friend. He's a retired military dude. Mensa-smart, as his writing makes clear. But really--goats? How does one become an expert? I guess we read different books. Or he's become a goat herder in New Zealand. Anyhow, the point is not to mock Scott, but to share a little of his knowledge and sense of humor. I really do have some interesting friends. And yes, I expect a follow-up message or two in response to this blog. It's almost inevitable.
Goat on the barbie indeed. I also sent the ad to a rancher buddy in Texas. He told me the price of goat meat is holding up well, fresh meat going to Mexico and frozen to the Middle East.
I should have thought to tell you that when I listed the benefits, but the meat you eat (includes cattle, sheep, etc.) comes from young castrated males, not intact females. Buy a doe and milk her. Buy meat at the butcher’s. It’s much less hassle.
And don’t forget you can mix their poop with their stomped-down used bedding straw and sell it. Gardeners pay big for that stuff because it’s non-stinky, non-gooey, and is the second-highest in plant nutrients after sheep poop.
Next time you have a free couple of hours and are headed north stop in at Fromagerie Belle Chèvre and tell them you know somebody who’s a long-time mate of the son of the founder emeritus. That oughta be good at least for an extra mouthful of sample cheese if not for a discount. That sort of farmers is the type who’ll be glad to show you around provided they’re not rushed off their feet.
When my buddy’s mother had the operation she was milking Oberhasli goats. The breed originated in Switzerland and they’re exceptionally sure-footed, even by goat standards. They’re also cute, in a goofy, brown with black, ears-like-handlebars sort of way.