"Goat Life" is a different kind of living. Dedicated goat owners forgo sleep during kidding season to feed newborn goats every few hours for the first days of their lives. For the better part of the year, milk is an everyday chore, no matter the weather or personal circumstances.
The joy goats bring to the homestead comes with a heavy workload.
They didn't understand the unexpected change in their surroundings and the sudden disowning of them behind a fence. The posh life of blankets and pillows abruptly changes to fence and hay, and they don't understand why they have been abandoned, so they scream for their human mommas. They feel left behind. This teaches them to scream for attention, which becomes problematic when they are fully grown. Goats that learn to call for attention will scream each time they see you. I couldn't let the dogs outside to go to the bathroom, bring in groceries, or mow the lawn without the goats seeing me and screaming for attention.
I started raising the kids in the barn with a lot less human interaction- about an hour a day, the time needed for milking adults. They became more independent from me and grew closer to each other. They no longer needed the constant human coddling to be comfortable and, for me, the most important, quiet.
It was hard not to love them so much as adorable kids, but it made for a more pleasant day outside every day when they were grown. Goats will expect the same kind of treatment they get as kids for the rest of their lives. (Dogs also expect the same treatment for the rest of their lives they get as puppies.) So hold them often if you plan on doing it for the rest of their lives daily, no matter how big or old they get.
Bucks also need company but will fight when the does are in season. The photo is of the first little buck we brought home. He isn't covered with dirt. That is his sexual attractant for the does. He was disbudded improperly and grew "scurs". Scurs are defectively grown horns from remnants of the horn being left to grow from poor disbudding attempts.
Billys are hard to handle because you will smell like them for days, no matter your washing routine. Bleach or oven cleaner will not even remove it from the skin. I did my best to keep his scurs trimmed with PVC pipe wire cutters, yet each year he would battle until bloody for his chance to mate even though they were housed separately.
Billy goats can also get mastitis. They have nipples that must be checked for infection. I have had to treat billygoats for mastitis (teat infections), which is about the most unpleasant job on the planet. They won't stand for it, but the infection must be drained, and medicine must be infused into the teat for several days in a row.
Nothing will make you feel tougher on a farm than milking a full-size billygoat or giving one a pedicure.
A figure 8 branding needed to be done to get all of the horn areas done correctly to disbud the bucks.
The goat kids were only in pain for a few minutes. I applied the burn medications a few times a day until the hair returned.
While the kid's bottle feed, I spent time touching them, so the sudden attention on the milking stanchion isn't uncomfortable. Touching them while they feed helps remove first-timer's jitters when milking. It is also the most effortless time to band bucks for wethering. They often don't know it has been done.
I liked to walk our does for fresh brows to make us healthier milk from the abundance of grasses and weeds here in Kansas.
We had to wrap all of the trees in their pasture with four-foot tall chicken wire to keep them from stripping the bark off and killing them all.
Left to right: Angel, Buttons, Smiley, Winnie, Sippsy, and Gypsy.
The surroundings where you do your milking should be clean, easy to use to prevent frustration, and a pleasant environment making it an enjoyable experience for you and your goats. Goats are in milk a minimum of five months a year, and you can not skip a day. The everyday commitment needs to be kept from getting old by having suitable surroundings.
Early Morning Goat Kids on the Homestead
A nasty winter storm morning with the day-old kids as they learn to use their legs. I am getting ready for the day, making coffee, Ronnie's lunch for work, and getting milk bottles ready for the kid's breakfast while Ronnie is still in bed.