Milk, eggs, and Providence-dependence.

It’s beautiful outside right now. The stars are easily seen out here in the desert away from the city lights.  It hasn’t gotten so hot yet that even when the sun goes down the heat radiates from the baked ground and you find no cool breeze anywhere except next to the air conditioning vent in the house.  It’s still really nice in the mornings too when I get up to milk Darla.

Have I said how much I’m enjoying having dairy goats?  Having laying hens is definitely a close runner up on my enjoyment meter.  There’s just something very satisfying about getting milk and eggs from my own back yard every morning.

Today I trimmed hooves on both my buck and doe.  The buck is getting very big.  Trying to wrestle a 250 pound goat onto a milk stand so you can trim his hooves is definitely a two person job.  Thank goodness I have good neighbors and one who always seems to show up just when I need a hand.  Said neighbor and his wife also trimmed their pecan trees today and gave me all their clippings so I could give my goats what sends them into instant nirvana:  browse.

 Duke and Danny digging into Salt Cedar Shrub
Darla and her girls, Daylight and Daisy (now 9 weeks old) enjoying the shrub too.

Goats aren’t grazers.  They’re browsers.  They don’t like to eat with their heads down, rather, they’re designed to reach up into tree branches.  Besides their alfalfa pellets, hay, fresh water, free choice minerals and grain feed (which only goes to my does), I like to give them three or four branches with leaves daily to nibble on.  I weave them in the fencing on their pens so that they get the more natural method of browsing they enjoy.  The pecan tree branches and leaves were a hit!  They also like salt cedar scrub bushes, pine branches, dandelion weeds and rose bush trimmings.  I haven’t found anyone to donate rose bush trimmings yet but I did notice a house in the neighborhood the other day who has a plethora of rose bushes in her yard.  I think I’ll have to stop and introduce myself soon.

Getting to know my farm animals, observing their behaviors, reading about their needs has opened up an entire world to me.  I don’t look at any plant the same anymore and my compost pile is getting perfected.  Chickens love compost piles!  It’s a total win, win.  They turn the compost for me with all their scratching a burrowing and they get the nutrients their egg-producing bodies need.  And I get more fresh eggs.

I created a very make-shift, temporary hen house for my chickens over the past week using pallets, bale twine, bungee cords and shade cloth.  The Clampetts would be proud.  Today I put together a perch for the hens to roost on at night.  They had been sleeping in the “coop” that came with them, which also served as their nesting box.  But this makes for a messy clean-up every morning, plus,  I read that hens tend to sleep better and be happier if they can get about 36 inches off the ground onto a perch to sleep at night.  For the last two nights I’ve had to go out there and put them on the perch myself as they keep wanting to go to the nesting box to sleep.  Tonight they stayed, all except one hen, on the perch.  It made me happy.

I’m looking forward to planting a garden next, but since summer is upon us and we don’t have the property ready for gardening a plot yet, it’ll have to wait till fall.

I guess we’re on our way to being a little homestead, which is right up my alley.  I was thinking the other day about why I like doing this so much.  Am I just looking to be more self-sufficient?  Am I trying to free myself and my family from factory farm food products and Walmart?  In part yes, I guess.  But rather than striving for self-sufficiency I think what I’m really experiencing is the joy of Providence-dependency.

Every morning when I milk my doe and collect eggs from my hens, I am putting myself and my family in the position of being more aware of our dependence upon the One who created dairy goats and milk and laying hens.  Of course, I’m no more dependent upon God when I milk my own goat and collect my own eggs than I am when I pick up a jug and a dozen at Walmart.  He provides that milk and those eggs too.  You don’t have to have a homestead or a farm to be aware of your dependence upon God for your food. Doing the morning on the farm routine around here, is just making me more aware of that dependence.  As are my kids.  And that’s a good thing.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. – Psalm 145:15-17


Diary of a Milk Maid: Week 3

* Warning:  This post will be full of goat speak.  For anyone who may be interested in learning the lingo I’m learning, I’ve linked the terminology to sites explaining their meanings*

Today completes three weeks of milking my first freshener Darla.  The three weeks was completed in Darla’s cantankerous style.   In fact I would say this morning’s milking was the most frustrating of all the milking days I’ve had thus far.

I purchased a goat hobble last week since Darla’s kicking habit doesn’t seem to be going away.  She’s a kicky milker.  Holding one hind leg with one hand and milking with one hand works, but takes much longer.  On the plus side, my deltoids are getting a nice cut from the isometric workout their receiving holding one kicking goat leg in place with one hand and milking with the other.  But any who,  milking with one hand isn’t ideal so I hoped the goat hobble would do the trick and keep my girl from  kicking.  It didn’t.  This goat could be a ballerina.  She kicks both back legs up in the air, standing on her front legs in a near hand or hoof stand.  And the unsteadiness of falling off the milk stand when she does this doesn’t detour her at all.  She’s an acrobat and stubborn!  This makes for an eventful milking.

She may be determined to not let me milk her for more than 30 seconds (which is what she does with her kids) but I’m even more determined to not let her win.  It’s gonna be a battle and it may take the entire 305 milking days a doe is said to have, but by golly, I’m not giving up!


This morning’s shenanigans had me covered in about a half quart of milk before the not-so-pretty milking was over.  Whoever said milking is a peaceful experience wasn’t milking my Darla.

I’m currently torn between my two favorite herd names.  I have to pick one to officially register my goats and since I’ve found some ADGA members who are willing to write a letter so I can register Darla as Native on Appearance (since apparently she is not registrable with her sire’s papers… something I’m still working on investigating) I can at least use Darla to produce official purebred Nubians in the future (her great grandkids can be registered as purebred).  Depending on how her daughters udders look using Duke’s (my buck) good milking line I may keep breeding her to him.  If they are not correct like their mom’s then I’ll just breed Darla for the milk production at home.  Anway, the two front-runners for my herd name are:

Yellow Door Ranch 
Lil’ Toad Farm

I really like Yellow Door Ranch.  I recently painted my front door a bright yellow.  The pop of color is something of a style I’ve come to really be drawn to.  I’ve always been a yellow fan.  I remember as a kid telling my parents that when I grew up I wanted a yellow house with a wrap-around porch and a white picket fence.  Yellow Door Ranch just has a nice ring to it.  But Lil’ Toad Farm is near to the heart.

If I close my eyes I can hear my mom softly saying, “You’ll always be my Lil’ Toad.”  I can also hear her calling me through the house in a more urgent manner which meant the “Lil'” fell off and I heard, “TOAD!”  This was usually followed by some instructions such as, “Can you run over to the neighbors and see if they have a roll of toilet paper we can borrow?  We’re out!”

When we moved into this place we had several wildlife visitors: Palo Verde Beatles, desert rabbits, coyotes and desert toads.   Desert toads were one of the first to show up at our back door and it was at that time that I first thought of Lil’ Toad Farm.

The nostalgia for Lil’ Toad Farm weighs heavy in my decision, but according to my 9 year old, it’s not fair, cause then it will sound like it’s my farm only and not the whole family’s.  Hmm.  Good point.  But, since the head of the house weighed in and likes Lil’ Toad Farm the best, ownership is mutual.

I just can’t let Yellow Door Ranch go though!  Uh!  Decisions.  Decisions.

The average milk production for a dairy goat is 1500 pounds in 305 days.  I thought it strange that milk is measured in pounds when I first started learning this home dairy thing.  I’ve always been used to the gallon or half gallon as the appropriate measurement for milk.  But, in the dairy goat world, pounds is proper.  If you swear you’re old nanny out back gives you gallons you probably have some missing front teeth, a dozen or more broken down cars on your lot, several goats standing atop those cars and you milk your “nanny” straight into an empty, not-so-clean coffee can and swear that that floaty stuff on top grows hair on your chest.  Yeah.  Don’t measure goat milk in gallons or you’ll be ostracized as a backwards hick for sure.

That said, I calculated my doe’s production thus far and she’s producing at a rate that puts her around 500 pounds per year.  Sounds bad, but actually it’s pretty good considering I’m only milking her once a day.  Most people milk their goats every 12 hours.  So if I doubled her output, assuming she’d put out the same amount twice daily, she’d be producing about 1000 pounds a year.  That’s pretty darn good for a 1 year old first time freshener with a novice milk maid like me milking her.

Darla’s udder is not prize worthy.  And she’ll be considered a “grade” goat because I can’t prove her lineage.  And she’s a kicky milker.  But even still, she’s teaching me tons and despite frustrating mornings like these I’m having a great time being a milk maid!   Besides that, her milk is delicious.  I’ve been skimming the cream off the top.  When I get about a half cup of cream I’m going make some butter.  Can’t wait!


Meanwhile, back at the farm: Journal of a Milk Maid Day 3 {and thoughts on Nahum}

(Daylight and Daisy) 

(Daisy, the more timid of the two doelings, warming up to me and my hat)

(Daisy and Darla (the momma goat) 


I thought it was neat that both my doelings have these pretty markings on their backs.   They both have a black strip down their spine and star of white on the black stripe.  


OK, I know this isn’t my usual form on this blog.  Actual this blog has been anything but usual, regular, for a long time so I guess anything goes.  If you’re over me and my goats already you might wanna avoid this blog for awhile.

I’m in caprine school.   And I’m loving it!

This is my third day milking Darla.  I’m finding that from the moment I wake up at 5:45 to milk her, my mind is on the care of these beautiful, fun creatures God has blessed me with, which are now producing a high quality whole food product for me and my household.  Bonus!

Last night I separated the kids from Darla, putting them in a large dog kennel.   You’re supposed to keep them separate for 12 hours and then milk the doe.  But my girl doesn’t last for 12 hours.  I pen them up at 8 pm and by 5:45 am she’s screaming for relief.  Yesterday I milked her first while the kids screamed for breakfast.  This morning, I let them nurse for a few minutes (Actually only about a minute… that’s about as long as Darla will let them go for before she seems annoyed and jumps over them.  But that’s another subject I’m investigating.) and then took Darla to the milk stand.

I’ve put my milk stand (which my very nice neighbors are lending to me since they no longer have goats in milk) in our garage.  It’s the most dust free area we have on our little “farm” aka dustbowl. (We are in the middle of getting the property laser leveled so that we can put up fencing and irrigate, so for now we have an acre plus of fine dirt blowing around.)  Walking Darla to the milk stand is not too much work although she is still a bit reluctant and not used to me handling her on a lead.  Getting her up on the milk stand is still slap stick comedy.  Picture a six-foot-tall, just-out-of-bed, blonde woman trying to hoist her black, dusty, protesting, approximately-100-pound Nubian onto a milk stand.

Once I get her up there though everything is just fine.  The kids are playing around at my feet, exploring the garage, my morning playlist is singing to me in the background and Darla and I start the milking process.

I did quite a bit of research about how to milk, when to milk, how often to milk, what equipment to use, etc.  As I said before, I was getting too perfectionistic about it and finally just went to Walmart.  This woman’s blog was/is very helpful and is the model I’m using for my first time dairy goat raising experience.  Folowing her lead, and the info I got from Fias Co Farms on cleaning the udder and teats, my morning milking is starting to take form.   If you happened across this blog and you’re looking to find info on raising a dairy goat or milking a goat I highly recommend The Prairie Homestead and Fias Co Farms.

This morning I got a little under a quart of milk.  I think for one 5-10 minute milking a day we’re doing pretty good.

I am finding that there’s definitely a widespread thought that goat milk is gross.  And I get it.  I really thought it would be off tasting myself.  I guess I figured I’d make cheese with it so I wasn’t too worried if I didn’t like the taste of the milk.  I so wish I could give out a sample to all the skeptics in my life.  My son Ryland, who is one of the biggest food/flavor/texture critics I know, loves it!  It’s sweet and creamy, but not too creamy.  It has the consistency of whole cow’s milk and leaves no funny aftertaste (which cow’s milk does for me).  If you like milk at all I guarantee you would love fresh goat milk.   I’m sure the goat’s milk you can buy in the health food store has a funny flavor because of the process and time on the shelf.  But the stuff in my fridge is delicious!  And it’s good for you!  Seriously.  Have you ever read all the health benefits of goat’s milk?

We aren’t big milk drinkers in our family, but having a source of milk in our own backyard where I know what went into the milk and exactly how it was processed makes me feel really good about the milk we will be drinking in the future.

So today was a productive day and it’s only 1:40 in the afternoon.  A quart of milk.  Hooves trimmed. Coat brushed.  Tail cleaned.  Underside and udders got a haircut (I’d rather not have falling hair in the pail of milk).  Pens cleaned.  Un-used pen measured for feedlot panels to go up to make room for mom and her growing doelings.   An hour’s worth of research on breeding, registration, record keeping, grooming, milking, milk handling, cheese making,  ear-tatooing and feeding done.

I read Nahum today.  Have you ever read Nahum in the Bible?  Take away:  No one can stand before God and withstand his rightful indignation against evil (which every single one of us are infected with).  But God has provided Himself in the form of His Son to be our refuge.  We can’t stand before his wrath but we can run to him and hide in him from it.

If this rubs you the wrong way, if you have a hard time with the thought that God has “indignation” towards you because of your sin, think about how you would feel towards say, your spouse, if he/she took your money, betrayed your trust, was unfaithful, was irritated by your presence and then was offended at you for being angry with them.

God is the perfect spouse.  He’s the perfect person.  He’s good.  Always.  He is not in the tiniest way perverse or unjust or corrupt or selfish.  He is love and he is just.  He created us and we are made in His image to display His character and magnify who He is. But instead we pervert His image in us.  We malign His character.  We putrefy who He is.  We perverse His goodness.  And then we deny that He even is.  We elevate ourselves as god and have not the least bit of desire for the One who made us and loves us so much as to not just wipe us out and start over, but rather send His own Son to bear all the weight of His indignation in our place.

God, of all people, has the right to be angry about the state of the human race and human heart.  Just one glimpse at the news, one sampling of history at any point in time is enough to make any one of us shake our heads in despair at the terrors of the world we live in.  Is there good?  Yes!  Oh yes!  Neighbors helping neighbors, friendships, the love of a husband, the joy of children, the taste of a good meal, even goats.  But these are the evidence that the good grace of God is preserving and keeping us from total rottenness, like salt keeps meat from decay.   These are graces to be thankful for and enjoyed, but they are not the diagnosis of our condition.  A person with terminal cancer may have flawless skin, a beautiful body and disposition, but inside they are dying.  Their condition is deadly even though they enjoy good things.

Our condition is deadly.  Running from God will not get you an escape from his rightful wrath.  Run to Him.  There you will find refuge.  A sure, safe place and healing from all your decay.