Our new boarder – Puddles

My friend is going away for three months and while she has a very reliable house sitter, she asked if we would like to baby sit Puddles the goat while she is gone. Puddles is due to kid in about three weeks, and she is seven or eight years old, so she could do with a bit of TLC.

We bought her home in the back of the Rav4 (they are such great little cars for moving stock) and introduced her to the sheep.

She took it all in stride and remained calm and friendly through the whole thing. We will make her a comfortable bed of hay once she lets us know where she prefers to sleep and give her a nice lick to keep her mineral content up.

She seems to get on alright with the sheep, but would obviously prefer to be with other goats. Unfortunately, we can’t put her in with the billies we have here (they would just be too rough), but we hope she will become closer to Frieda the sheep with time. The big horned boy below is Mendes and the white boy is Merlin (both magical).

I will try to post updates of our adventures with Puddles as we go. I hope we can keep her healthy and happy until it is time for her to go home.

Learning to milk goats

I am house sitting (well dairy sitting) for a friend who has a goat dairy. Consequently I have had to learn to milk goats. Having grown up on a dairy, I was fairly confident I could manage goats; however they proved a bit harder to milk than I imagined. Goats are very different to cows when it comes to milking.

The dairy has mostly Saanen and Anglo Nubian  milkers. They are a pretty lot. There were billies, dry does and babies to be fed daily too.

The first milk I did was guided by my hosts and involved advice  about how to hold the teats and not to pull downward when milking (different from cows there). The procedure they follow is outlined here. It took me an hour to milk one goat and my hands were very sore. I was to milk between two and five goats twice a day (panic stations). As I had to catch the bus to work at 7.30 am and milking and feeding had to be done before that, I decided to call in backup for my first morning; my daughter (fortuitously home from uni) came over and stayed the night to help out with the morning milking.

By the end of the week I had my timing down to fifteen minutes per goat and was able to get it all done in time for the bus. Afternoons were more leisurely affairs when I got to watch the babies play and the maremma herd dog in action.

My daughter milking her first goat. She has done AI, embryo harvesting and ultrasound on them but never milked.

The milk is taken to the gorgeous milk room where it is strained and bottled. The amount of milk given by each girl is carefully recorded for future reference (some were giving 3 litres per milk)The milk room is then cleaned and the floors swept (the dairy is swept too).

The milk room. I have dairy envy (even though I am not milking at the moment).

The bales where the milking happens. How neat and tidy is that!!

The waiting room, An undercover area with hay and water where the girls to be milked wait for me to get to them.
Some of the girls I was milking.

They are curious and intelligent ladies.

There is a maremma dog to guard the little ones

The babies are a joy to watch.

A little saanen doe, looking like a fairy animal.

One of the many shelters; one for each paddock.

I have really enjoyed learning a new skill and spending time with these pampered goats. Having lots of goat milk to drink is a bonus too. My fiend also makes cheese and soap from her milk (both are beautiful products).

 Have you ever thought about having a dairy? cows or goats? People tend to be either a ‘goat person’ or a ‘cow person’ which are you?