When we first moved to our farm in 2011, the one animal that I insisted we get was goats. We started with two male goats (Willy and Waylon) and then added three female goats (Luna, Pickles, and Olive.) Then we bred the gals and got babies. But after having goats for a few years, we ultimately decided goats weren't for us. I am often asked about why that was, so here are the reasons we no longer raise goats.
And none of the reasons are even because goats are often described as "unruly toddlers" or "drunk teenagers". ;)
Milking actually does control your schedule:
It's one thing to know in your head that having a doe in milk means you will be milking and that you have to milk everyday at about the same time. It's another thing entirely to actually live that. You can't drop what you're doing and run off to that thing you just got invited to. You can't run super late at an event with the kids. You really have to pay attention to what you're involved in outside the farm and make sure it works with milking.
No one was drinking the milk:
In the beginning, milking was a "thing" and it was "cool". We had milk from our goats in the fridge. Ain't that cool? Not if no one drinks it. While my husband and I have never been huge milk drinkers, my kids were. Until they weren't. And then I had a lot of milk in my fridge.
Goat milk soap sounded like a real great adventure to get into. Until I realized that likeliness of me fitting that in was similar to the likelihood of me finishing that one quilt I have in the basement...
We don't make our own hay:
We don't make our own hay at our farm which meant we had to buy it. And wouldn't you know it, the final year we had goats was the year hay prices went through the roof.
That's fine, goat friends. Just go ahead and toss that hay all over the ground. It's fine. Really.
Babies are stressful:
While I've always enjoyed hatching out chicks, pheasants, and ducklings, larger livestock babies ended up being a ball of stress for me. (This was similar to the reason we stopped doing piglets and now only do feeder pigs.) Some people enjoy the "rush" and stress of kidding season. I discovered I didn't, regardless of how adorable those kids ended up to be.
Selling/finding new homes for babies was a pain:
Wanting milk from goats meant having babies, and having babies meant selling babies. Selling babies meant dealing with people coming to our farm. That sounded like a lot less hassle on paper than it ended up being in real life. In our search for new homes for goat kids, we dealt with all sorts of people—from multiple no-shows, to the guy who insisted you can't have a male dairy breed goat because you can't milk males, to the woman who showed up alone to take three goat kids in her car... with nowhere to put them. They'll just stay in the backseat, right?
I'm more of a small farm animal/don't overwinter gal.
Every homesteader is different, and you don't know what kind of homesteader you really are until you actually live the homesteading life. After being on the farm for a decade now, I've realized that smaller animals are my thing. I've also learned I'm not big on overwintering in Minnesota. We do overwinter our egg birds and our ducks, but everything else is put in the freezer before the snow flies and we start again in the spring (pigs, meat chickens, and turkeys).
I'm glad we tried goats, because you really don't know if an animal works for you until you try them out!
Honest talk about growing and raising your own food, as well as a caution to the homesteading community about pride.
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