Ingestion & digestion
Don’t shit where you eat will never apply to goats.
They can literally shit and eat at the same time. So they do. They chow down on alfalfa flakes while simultaneously releasing acorn turds. All it takes is a raised tail and out propel the rounded pebbles, which later play an integral role in creating mulch.
Goats eat grain, hay, alfalfa, baking soda, minerals and whatever they find during open grazing.
They eat and shit and shit and eat. They clomp around on shit-coated hay, churning it into a prime worm-infested natural fertilizer. Then we lay the hay-manure mixture on the garden beds, plant seeds inches deep in goat secretion and wait until we smell garlic.
The plants feed the goats and the goats feed the plants, and both the goats and the plants feed us. And this type of full-circle feeding is life on a farm.
You’re not worth a shit is something goats never hear because, like I said, their shit is valuable. And so is their milk. Just one milking session renders a 2.5-gallon bucket of raw, non-pasteurized goat milk.
All it takes is hydrogen peroxide, a $70 Dansha Farms hand milking machine
, a mason jar, and strong hands. The machine is made up of “Y” shaped tubes. The bottom of the “Y” drips into the mason jar while the two arms suction each respective nip. Usually you’ll need to massage the jugs before establishing a steady flow. Emma has particularly nice flow.
When the machine decides to take a nap, we milk solely by hand: thumb and forefinger in a ring at the base of the nipple, remaining fingers pumping the teat like a heartbeat. Never pull. Maintain a gentle level of pressure while wrapping your other fingers around the nipple.
For speedier hand milking, designate one hand to each nipple and switch off relieving the nipple of all liquid. Remove pressure in between teats, wait for the nipple to fill back up, and repeat.
Goat nipples are longer, plumper and more sausage-shaped than human nipples.
Like humans, they usually come two per goat, but Poppy was born with four. Pearl only has one working nip because she developed mastitis. Poor Jewel doesn’t produce milk, and if you can’t milk it, you eat it. Bye, Jewel. See you in my dinner.
You’re cute as shit can often apply to goats.
Why do they all have names? Because they’re highly intelligent, social animals. Each has a personality, and at times, their behaviors mirror that of dogs.
Jasper, the alpha male, has two-feet-long curled horns that can cause a hematoma, but look into his old man eyes and there he reveals his soft demeanor. His lips curl upward and his eyes close
sleepily when pet along his snout. When I stop, he nudges his nose into my hand ever so slightly.
Lily’s been acting out. She hasn’t been getting any grain because we’re reducing her milk production, or “drying her off.” Because grain is goat gold, drying off is very frustrating. Frustrating enough to ram the barn wall head-first, knocking it clear down. Your dog eats your underwear, your goat rams your wall.
Ruby’s the runt of the litter, and her mother rejected her at birth. The mature mama goats never hesitate to headbutt Ruby if she gets in their way. She’s always scampering underneath the feeder, desperate to find a gap in goat bodies for just a taste of those green alfalfa stalks. She’s rarely successful, so sometimes I slip her a handful when the others aren’t paying attention.
Goats smile and grimace. They get into trouble and freeze when you catch them. They cuddle and play with each other. They nuzzle you. They wag their tails at the sight of food. They bite at your hair when they want seconds. Their hair stands up when they’re upset. They’re delicate, intricate animals who give us cheese, meat, soap, lotion and of course milk.