WillowSedge Farm

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The Goats

We had a very small dairy goat herd that for about 8 years supplied milk for our own family's use. Currently we are not milking any goats. We have two young does, "Wren" and "Finch," who will be milk-producers in spring 2021. They have a handsome boyfriend, "Nyug," which means "bird" in Hmong.

Goats breed in the fall. They are seasonal breeders, like deer -- it is hard to get them to breed at other times of the year. They are pregnant for 5 months. In February or March they give birth to one to four kids. Twins are the most common.

The goats have a lactation cycle similar to a dairy cow: they start out producing colostrum for a few days, then begin producing milk. Milk production gradually increases for a few weeks, then levels off for a few weeks, then begins to very gradually decline. We have been able to count on 7 months of milk. When the goats are "dry," during their gestation, we really miss the milk! Goats are more productive than most people realize. We get an average of one gallon of milk per goat per day for three months before production starts to decline.

Since our family cannot always keep up with all the milk produced by the goats, I make cheese from surplus milk. I buy rennet tablets from Nasco. One-fourth of a rennet tablet will coagulate 2 gallons of milk.

A note about raw milk: We do drink raw goats' milk. There is a lot of controversy about raw milk. I have done a fair bit of reading on the subject, and what I've decided for our own family is that we will drink raw milk. The goats are totally free-range, and they find what they need in their diet so that I do not need to give them any de-wormers or other medications.

Since we live here and are accustomed to the bacteria, viruses, and molds that are present here on our farm, we have built up immunity to those things that we may encounter in the milk. Milk goes in the fridge within 10 minutes of when I finish milking, and we use it within a couple of days or else it goes to the pigs or chickens. We have stomach upsets far less often than the national average, and I'm convinced that raw milk from our own goats is safe for us.

On the other hand, I am not willing to sell, trade, barter, or give raw milk to anyone else. I have had a number of requests for this. All of the things that make the raw milk safe for my family break down as soon as the milk goes to someone else.

  • Someone else who doesn't live here would not have immunity built up to the mix of microbes on our farm.

  • Someone else would be transporting that milk for some distance, and the temperature of the milk could creep up during transport.

  • I wouldn't have control over how soon someone else used the milk.

So please, don't ask me for milk! I will say no. I might be willing to sell you a goat, though.

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