Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First time milker, long time drinker

Last week I visited my friend Kate's goat farm in Nokesville. She is an awesome women with some wonderful goats. The goats are very happy as Kate often lets the mommas out to run through the woods and eat whatever they like. Goats love to eat poison ivy and drinking their raw milk will give you an immunity to poison ivy which is very helpful as they get covered in the ivy. Goats are wonderful lawn mowers. The goats eyes bright and white, their coats are soft and shiny. I only wish I could remember the breeds. I know most of the are mixed breed and....
Goats like to butt heads with each as a sing of affection. I have know some people who do much the same. The mommas and babies have very strong family bonds. It is sweet to see the babies following their mommas. The males are separated and only good for one thing and they have a very strong smell. One of the baby goats has been sick for a few weeks and doesn't seem to be getting any better. The other goats will pick on the sick one and deprive it of food.
First we brought out a goat who had been having some toe nail rot issues. We, and when I say we i mostly mean Kate and I watched. First Kate shaved down the goats ankles and I shaved one which took me three times as long as it took Kate. Kate used a solution to clean out the toes or shall i say hooves. Goats have two big toenails that can spread apart quite far and sometimes a spongy mass of dead tissue can accumulate and get infected. After cleaning the area we clipped some toenails and I did one all by myself. If you give a goat a bucket of food you can do almost anything to them without much protest. Kate also checked her udders for any tics or scratches. If there was any issue, she applies iodine.
Then she brought out a different goat and I got to try my hand at milking for the first time. The goat was very calm and enjoying her food. At first I had no luck and Kate gave a teet a try with success. Then I tried and after some squeezing was able to get some nice strong streams of milk to flow. I had no luck with the other teet but wasn't trying to get a gallon of milk, this was only practice. I managed to get a nice amount of milk for the hungry cat to enjoy. That recently had some kittens and was just wandering around the yard looking for food.
Aside for goats and cats, Kate also has two dogs, chickens, quail, a beehive and a productive garden. She hopes to train one of the dogs to herd the goats and this dog really seems to need a job to do instead of chasing cars. I am very excited to learn about goats and farming from Kate.
I met Kate at the Nokesville farmers market last year and loved her bacon and shallot chevre. Once she had enough milk o spare I started buying milk from her and making my own goat cheeses. I love to give her samples of my cheese which she seems to enjoy.
Can't wait to get back to the farm and get my milk on!

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