Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sticker Shock

Every so often, I will come across someone interested in a dairy goat. These people sometimes want to come out and see my herd, spend precious hours chatting, then they ask my prices. When I tell them, I get a reaction like I must be out of my everlovin' mind to think a goat could be worth three, four, five hundred dollars. 

Occasionally, I will get a story about what a great "deal" someone got on goats on Craigslist or at the auction. I'll admit, sometimes there are great deals to be had out there. But I am not a sale barn. 

I'm writing this today, because I heard through the grapevine that I was accused of being rude by one such person. I remember the visit well, and I was certainly not rude.
So why are my goats priced so much when you can get a nanny at the auction for $100? 

First off, all my goats are registered and from registered stock. My does and bucks have cost me $350-700. It then costs me about $8 a goat to register the kids. 

My goats are disease tested (with negative results). I test at least biannually for CAE and do random samples for CL and Johnes. We have never had a positive result, nor a case of any of the big bad diseases on the farm. This costs me about $125 a year. 

They are kept up to date on vaccinations, Selenium, and Copper boluses. This is another $40 or so a year. 

Then there's worming and coccidia prevention. That runs another $150 a year.
Let's put in another $200 a year for vet expenses. This year it was a bit more with Trixie's pregnancy toxemia ($50), a kid with a broken leg ($200), and Alice's mystery illness ($300).

We participate in linear appraisals. A judge comes to our farm and rates all the girls on their body conformation and gives them a score from 0-94. It's like a grade in school, but the highest you can get is a 94 since nobody's perfect. My goats scored an average of 86. This means you can expect long, productive lives from them. This cost $140 and a great deal of time grooming them to be ready and setting up extra pens to act as a host herd.

We also participate in DHI (dairy herd improvement). Each goat has her milked weighed and sampled and sent off to the lab at Langston University each month. There it is tested for somatic cell count, butterfat, and protein. If they reach a standard set by the American Dairy Goat Association, they are awarded a star * for production. Every milker I have earned her star last year. I have one new milker this year- she has a few months left to earn hers. This runs me about $45 a year to sign up for the program and another $25 a month for the sampling and postage.

When you add all this up, my goats are probably a bit under-priced, but then I haven't been breeding as long as some people. A goat from me will be healthy, of good conformation for a long and productive life, and she's going to milk for you.

If that's not what you're looking for, there's always the sale barn. You may get lucky.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Things seem to be headed in the right direction for us this summer. Whiskey Baron, the buck I brought in from New Jersey to be Bubba's buddy, has really surprised me. First I got notice that he is one of 15 lamancha bucks accepted into ADGA's Young Sire Development Program this year. Then I learned that his dam popped up as number one Lamancha on the Elite Doe list. 

Boy, oh boy am I excited for his kids!

As if that's not exciting enough, I put a deposit on a 2016 buck from a herd I really admire in Washington State. I just heard from them and I get first choice from my top choice does! I really hope my top pick has a boy! I am on cloud nine thinking about it. More info on that later- I don't want to jinx anything. 

Many of the girls born here in 2016 will be staying here. I will be selling a couple of milkers come spring.

Bubba and Whiskey. My plan is for these two and the Washington buck to be here long term. We will be doing a bit of line breeding in the next several years now that we have some truly excellent genetics to play around with.
Bubba showing off. I don't give him enough credit. He is really growing up as nicely as Whiskey Baron. I will be breeding him to Herd Queen and my personal favorite, Kat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Goat Milk Soap Gallery

I have been having a ball playing with soap techniques this summer. Some of these are already cured and ready for the market, the rest will be done over the next month, so check out my table for a new soap or two each week.

Just like last year, I will be offering a Christmas Special. Three soaps, wrapped in tissue and packaged in a muslin drawstring bag with gift tag for $15 or a single soap packaged the same way for $5.50.

I will continue making one-two different varieties each week, so there will be plenty to choose from.

My base recipe contains Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Goat Milk, Palm Oil, Castor Oil, and Cocoa Butter. Some are naturally colored and fragranced with essential oils. Others contain mica and oxide colors and are scented with fragrance oils. We still have time for special requests.

Bliss- Naturally fragranced with a blend of essential oils including jasmine, orange, lavender, rose, and ylang ylang. 

Dragon's Blood- This spicy, exotic scent is one of my favorites. 

Apple Pie- with a cinnamon swirl and lattice top 

Love Spell- A bright and fruity frangrance

Relaxation- a herbal EO blend with oatmeal and activated charcoal.
Orange Patchouli Cedarwood- Lightly scented with EO's and decorated with cocoa powder, this bar contains both colloidal oatmeal and ground oatmeal for texture.  

Purification- Lavender EO and swirled with activated charcoal. This one has been a hit. I already need to make another batch.
Dirt- for the hunters in your life. Camo colored and dirt scented. This bar smells like potting soil and is supposed to mask human odor. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Whiskey Baron

I received an email this week letting me know that our new buck, Three Bridges TP Whiskey Baron, qualified for ADGA's Young Sire Development Program.

See, all the hassle and expense of getting him from New Jersey is paying off!

This is quite an honor and a great opportunity for our herd. It does put a kink in my breeding plans though. To fully take advantage of this, we need to use him as much as possible early in his life so his daughters can be evaluated. Therefore, most of my does will be bred to him this fall. 

I am still very excited about Bubba and plan to use him on a couple does as well. I just need to decide who. 

Keep making us proud, Whiskey!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Feeling Sad

I heard through the grapevine that a doe I sold last December died yesterday. Her owner has been in touch a few times over the months and I truly believe had the best intentions for her or I would not have sold her to him. However, I don't think he fully understood the danger of a heavy parasite load. The recent heat wave and wet weather has been really hard on the animals.
The thing is, these animals require some work. They are not throw-out-back-and forget-about goats. They have been bred for production and they are going to produce even at the expense of their own health. They need the calories and care to support that production.
I've heard people call sheep "Four Hooves Looking for a Place to Die". That is not how these goats are at all. Some (even most) of my girls only get wormed once or twice a year and require nothing besides food, basic grooming, and daily milking.

Sometimes things pop up. This year, I had some of my adult does come down with coccidiosis. I've had to deal with pregnancy toxemia, heavy worm loads, broken leg, scours, and several other problems in the past. Problems are not the norm, but you have to be attentive, watch for, and treat things as they come up because they will come up.

I have decided that I will not sell a bred doe again without very good reason. Dagny's kids were not disbudded and now there is an issue with their new owner about getting them registered since Dagny was never transferred out of my name. It's just not worth the headache.

I'm sorry things went this way for you, Dagny. You were a sweet girl.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Heat Wave

It has been brutally and relentlessly hot and humid here. The little goats have all been fine, but it's been taking a toll on my grown girls. 

Milk production is down and we have had a wave of scours sweep through them. I think I finally have them on the mend now. Some only required herbs and probiotics, a few got wormed, and a couple needed an antibiotic.  It's been great having to discard milk due to milk withdrawal times.....

In other news, I am considering selling this little girl. This is Hammock Haven Tansy Belle. Her dam, Betty Buttercup, appraised 87 VVVV this spring. I am asking $350 for her.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Almond "Milk"

At the farmers market, I come across a lot of people who drink almond milk as their "milk" of choice. Reasons for this include: "It's healthier", "I'm lactose intolerant", and "I'm a vegetarian".

I have a hard time thinking of plant-based "milks" as milk but decided to check it out during one of my rare trips to the grocery store. Excuse the quality of the pictures, people were looking at me like I was a bit mad.
The first Almond milk I looked at was Almond Breeze by Blue Diamond. I buy their brand almonds from time to time. I didn't notice that it was chocolate milk until I looked at the pictures later. 
Here are the ingredients:

I am immediately struck by the sheer number of ingredients in this. Apparently, some chemistry is needed to make almonds and water taste and feel like some sort of milk. There are ingredients in this list that are downright unhealthy- notaibly Carrageenan and Natural Flavor. I urge you to do some more research on each of these. 

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that has been linked to inflammation and even cancer. Natural Flavor is also misleading. The Code of Federal Regulations defines Natural Flavor as:

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

The next "milk" I looked at was Silk Almond milk. Silk is the brand that started the fake milk trend by giving us soy milk. Don't even get me started on the negative health effects of soy.
Once again, this product is full of gums and Natural Flavor. I didn't get a good picture of the Nutritional information, but found it here:

240g (about a cup) has 60 calories, 3g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 8g carbohydrates, 1g protein. The added Calcium Carbonate gives it 45% of your daily requirement of calcium. 

I looked up goat milk on the same site and found:

244g (about a cup again) has 168 calories, 10g fat, 27mg cholesterol, 122mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, and 9g protein. A cup of goat milk gives 33% of your daily calcium requirement without additives. 

Packaged almond milk is a manufactured food product, full of gums and natural flavor to give it the mouth-feel of milk with very little nutritional value. With only 60 calories, 3g of fat, and 1g of protein, don't expect it to keep you satiated from breakfast until lunch.