The contents of this blog chronicle our experience with owning a small herd of dairy goats for nine years in the Arizona desert. When we moved to a rural area in mid-2002 we were anxious to try the self-sufficient lifestyle. After we had gotten settled for a few months and learned about the local critters, like hawks, coyotes, owls, Sonoran Desert toads (which are toxic and said to kill more dogs than rattlesnakes each year), scorpions and rattlesnakes, we decided it was time to start living the dream. My husband built a chicken pen and we went to the feed store and bought a few chicks.
Turns out we bought meat chicks… which grow big very fast because they are meant to eat. Well, we weren’t ready for that! So we took them back to the feed store and bought chicks that would grow up and lay eggs!
Then a post came through on a local online group I’d joined to learn about chickens… for a “great family milker” and within a week we had our first goat. A nine-month old doeling.
We learned two lessons that first week.
First, do not attempt to own just one goat, especially if that goat is accustomed to living with a large herd! Poor Brooklyn bleated pitifully every time we left her sight. Within 24 hours we had our second goat, Dallas.
The second lesson was (duh), does must bear kids in order to produce milk, which was why we were getting goats in the first place! Dallas had been bred, so we were anticipating milk. Within a couple months Dallas had two kids, one doeling and one buckling, and we learned how to milk!
Had we known more, we would have invested in two milkers who were already producing milk. But we were city folk, drawn to owning land like our ancestors before us, and we learned along the way.
Speaking of learning… Brooklyn taught us many lessons. She was our teacher for various goat issues like Polioencephalomalacia, miscarriage after being head butted, subclinical mastitis and hypocalcemia. There are also kidding stories, if you like birth stories. All the books claimed that MOST births will be uneventful, but we had more than our fair share of “eventful” births, so we learned a lot.
We’d been goat farmers for seven years when I started on the GAPS Diet in December 2009. I already knew that dairy was an issue for my body (asthma and allergies) so I removed dairy from my diet along with all the other foods we are asked to avoid on GAPS. (By the way, dairy is allowed on GAPS, but it needs to be fermented and aged properly).
As a result of removing dairy, my whole family experienced major health improvements. After about 10 months on GAPS, I was able to taper completely off my asthma medication. My allergies which had been constant, just went away.
We kept our little herd for another year, faithfully milking every day, hoping we would be able to resume drinking our precious raw “white gold, but unfortunately symptoms would return every time we tried.
It was a hard decision to make, but we finally decided to re-home our small herd in the summer of 2011.
This site will remain for archival purposes; I hope you will enjoy reading about our experiences.