Monday, March 5, 2012

No Goats.

I want a milk goat.

Actually, if we're being completely honest, I also want a Jersey cow. Or maybe a Jersey/Dexter cross. I want my children to be drinking goat's milk, but I want butter, darn it, and I'm only gonna get that with a cow*.

But alas, one must face reality, disappointing as it may be. And reality right now says that this year, I'm not getting my milk goats. Or Clarabelle. (Because yes, I have already named my cow.)

But wait, you ask, didn't you (finally) move to a farm? What is a farm without milk producing animals? Sigh, I know. I agree.

But. There's this list. You know, the ever-dreaded "to-do" list. And it's growing at a pace I can't keep up with, making my head spin before the snow's even melted off the pasture.

Here's this summer's to-do list:

*Learn to irrigate the hay pasture
*Repair and fill the pond
*Fertilize, cut, bale, and sell the hay
*Plant a small orchard
*Increase the chicken flock to 50, mostly for meat
*Butcher said chickens
*Prepare a nursery or greenhouse
*Learn to garden in a climate several zones colder than what I'm accustomed to
*Plant, weed, and harvest said garden, which is ten times bigger than my previous one
*Learn to pressure can, so I can put by the harvest
*Fix bridges, mend fences, shovel gravel, and other maintentance
*Feed, care for, ride and love the horse we are taking in on a semi-permanent basis
*Maintain a rental property in The Big City

Oh. And homeschool Two Little Girls, keep house, feed the family, have some fun, and otherwise function as a normal housewife.

That list is daunting. Adding a home dairy to the list? I think that tips the scale toward "overwhelming."

Adding milk goats (or Clarabelle) to that list isn't just milking twice a day. It's learning to make cheeses, butter, keeping up with yogurt and kefir. It's trying to sell the excess (or give it away because I'm too chicken to sell it.) It's then raising a pig to consume the excess that I'm too chicken to sell. It's breeding and birthing and possible illness. It's a whole lot of things I'm not sure I'm ready to take on right now, on top of the list of things that absolutely have to be done around here.

So there it is: reality. No milk goats. Or jersey cow. At least, not at this moment. I keep reminding myself that it'll only be a year until having a home dairy might really be an option. But then I look at pictures of those sweet brown jersey cow eyes, and I get all twitterpated again.

I have an incredible ability to take on far too much though, and for once it might be best if I reign it in and take it slow. This is our Forever Home. Not everything has to happen this year. There are many years to come. Before we moved, my best friend and I often joked about how if either of us ended up living out on a farm, we'd likely end up sitting in the middle of a hay pasture bawling because we were too overwhelmed. That doesn't seem too far off now, so I'm realizing I best be careful. And sadly, that might mean Clarabelle and her goat companions might have to wait a year.


Anonymous said...

Good wisdom, Julie. :-)

Anonymous said...

Julie I will drive all the way up to your farm if you do get some dairy producing animals. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to get my hands of fresh pasture butter and raw milks. Sorry you feel so over whelmed but I know you will make short work of the learning curve and find you farmer groove in no time.

Jill said...

You've already accomplished so much in the few years I've been following your blogs. I KNOW there is nothing you can't do as long as you are patient with yourself. Knowing your limitations is the first positive step of the journey.

bammajan10 said...

I think that waiting to get your cow/goats is wise. Once spring comes and all the chores that go with it, tending to an animal(s) would push you over the edge.
Now promise me that when you do get goats you get a couple of those little teensy ones that are too cute for words.
And you're going to eat your chickens?? Are you sure? I bet when the time comes to chop off Mrs. Cluck's head you "chicken" out. (I crack me up)
Love reading about your farm!

Julie said...

Jan- yes, we're going to have meat chickens. They will not be loved and cuddled and otherwise befriended as our egg hens are. I really think it'll be fine, though Andrew will probably do the killing, I'll just do the plucking and such.

Emily - as soon as we have milk to sell, I'll let you know. We'd be so thrilled to be helping to provide milk to families!

Jill - it is SO GOOD to hear from you lately! I'm thrilled to see you again, it's been such a long time.

And yes - one must accept limitations. I'm not usually very good at it, but I think it's probably time I start. :-)

Amanda Richards said...

We have dairy cows (jerseys) and also dairy goats (nigerian dwarfs). The dwarf's milk is equal in taste and amount of cream as our jersey's, but come in much smaller packages! I've made butter from our goat milk!! You don't need to know how to make cheese, etc before you get a critter, that can all come s-l-o-w-l-y after! I do everything that you have listed (well, not the hay, we have to buy our own, we planted 3 years ago and it's still slowly coming in). Everything takes time, but if you wait until you're 'all set', something else will come up. I say, get a milk goat (or 5, they are like potato chips, you can't just have 1!!) Definitely get 2, they need company.