My how time flies. One year ago today, Jonathon and I began our adventure with goats. I’ll never forget when Jonathon suggested getting dairy goats before we’d even arrived in Australia. “I think it would be a good idea. I mean we can save money on dairy products. What do you think?” At this point I think I was still unsure of the difference between goats and sheep. My first thought was, “Are you crazy?” my second thought, “I don’t think Rod would like that idea…”
Rod is the owner/farmer of Captain’s Creek Organic Farm and our friend whom we worked for during our stay down under. At the time of Jonathon’s suggestion, I had yet to meet Rod. Now knowing him, it’s laughable to think Rod would say no to any adventure, especially if there’s minimum work on his end. I’m sure when Jonathon asked, Rod (in his ol’ Aussie accent) said, “Oh, I don’t know Jon-o, what do you think?” but thought, “This sounds fun. Let’s watch the Yanks milk a goat for the first time.”
Earlier that month, after having been there for about a month, Jonathon planted the bug in my ear again…this time saying Rod thought it would be a great idea. And for some reason, I couldn’t think of a reason not to. So I started searching on Gumtree, the Aussie equivalent of Craigslist, and found a guy, a three hour drive away nonetheless, who was selling two Toggenburg does, one in milk, one not. I contacted him and he was keen to let us come take a look.
In the time leading up to meeting them, I searched and searched for the perfect how-to book for goats. I read the thing cover to cover, only to exclaim half way through, “I’m gonna be a goat farmer!”
It was finally time to make the early morning trip to meet the goats and witness our first goat-milking. I remember so many things from that day, but in particular this:
- It was one of the most beautiful drives we ever took on our trip there. Sunrise and eucalyptus trees make for a lovely combination.
- The seller would have never guessed who was showing up that morning.
We finally got to meet our two does (whom we affectionately named Charlotte and Josephine “Josie”), witness the guy milk, and try our own hand at milking. I got it on the first try! I was flying high and thought I was made for this. Jonathon wasn’t so lucky. We decided his hands were too big. We loaded them up and away we went. Little did I know that I wouldn’t milk a goat again until August when we got two new goats back home. Jonathon mastered the technique and our girl Charlotte wouldn’t let her milk down unless she could see me. So alas, Jonathon milked.
I didn’t really fall in love with them until we returned from our trip to Tasmania at the end of April. Forced to “figure it out on my own” I decided to take Josie and Charlotte on a “goat trek” without their leads. I quickly realized they would follow me anywhere. Thus began my real adventures with goats. We took them on goat treks across the farm nearly everyday until we had to part in June. I know it sounds silly, but leaving Josie and Charlotte to come back to the U.S. was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
After we were home we knew eventually we’d find some goats again and continue our adventure. Never did we intend to find some as quickly as we did. Within 3 weeks we had goats again. Tullah, a Nubian-Pygmy cross and Coffee, a registered Toggenburg. They were nothing like Josie and Charlotte. For one thing they were older, came from two different homes, and Tullah had never been milked before..and had never planned to be.
Needless to say we had many hair-pulling moments with these two, but now, they’re “our girls.” We have yet to go on “goat treks” with them, and probably never will. Tullah and Coffee are just too set in their ways. BUT, come June, around the same time of our first CSA delivery (I know, what were we thinking?!) we’ll have a few new baby goats!
We are slowly growing our herd to one day be able to include goats cheese and other goats milk products as part of our CSA and for sale outside of our CSA. A year ago I would have never thought I would be dreaming of my own goat dairy, but nowadays, I find myself dreaming of those days more often than not.