Dairy Diaries: The Making of Minx

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If you follow my farm in any form, be it Facebook, Youtube, or even Reddit, you know who Minx is! How she came to be, and came to be mine is actually an interesting little tale, that covers a range of goats and even a couple of generations.

Our first goat was Hope, a rather large Nigerian Dwarf doe. Once we’d moved to our little farm, we added a few more goats to the herd, and made a few goat friends. I leased a very handsome buck from a neighbor, Pace County Roadhouse Blue, and he bred the handful of does we had.

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Hope gave me two beautiful blue eyed doelings. Both buckskin, one a bright gold, the other a darker shade. Immediately, there was something just . . . not quite right with the darker doeling. I’d never before seen (and never seen since) a kid reject its dam. But this is what this doeling proceeded to do. As both doelings struggled to stand on their wobbly legs, the darker kid wandered away, over and over. No matter how Hope called to her and licked her and chased after her, this kid completely ignored her.

I was able to encourage her to nurse by holding her up to the teat, but after filling her belly, off she went again. As you can imagine, I took both doelings inside, concerned. I milked out Hope and made sure they got full bellies. In the morning, I returned them to Hope. The golden doeling nursed immediately, but again, I had to help the darker doeling.

I christened the doeling “NQR” – Not Quite Right – and kept her inside for a week or so, taking her outside to nurse on Hope alongside her sister and let Hope fuss over her. Besides her strange behavior, NQR was normal – she grew at the expected rate, played, and was a typical goat kid. Both doelings spent the nights inside, as I didn’t want NQR to be lonely.

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After a week or so, NQR’s little lightbulb seemed to go off, and she began to nurse on Hope by herself, though she showed little other interest in her dam. I still kept her inside at night, though I started letting her stay longer outside with her sister as the days passed. Before long, she was almost like a normal doeling in the pasture, so I decided she could go to a pet home with no problem. Her new owner would be a lovely young woman who recommended me through a friend, and after her visit to meet little NQR and my other kids, I had not just a new customer, but a new friend. She planned to take little NQR home when she was weaned, and put down a deposit.

Unfortunately, before that day could come, I suddenly found little NQR cold and still one morning. I’ll never know exactly what happened, but her little life was over.

Saddened, I offered her sister, who I was calling Rose, in replacement. Her new owner promised to bring the now named June back to be bred, and then I could have a baby, as she emphasized with the disappointing turn of events.

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June did indeed return the next year, to meet the most influential buck my herd has seen.Sometime in between she’d lost her ear to a very rude dog, but she hardly seemed to notice. Her owner was planning her wedding, which would be fairly close to the birth, so I was happy to agree to board her again when she was closer to kidding, so that her owner wouldn’t need to worry about her while trying to plan the most exciting event of her life at the same time.

June’s pregnancy progressed normally, and it was almost no time at all before she was back. She enjoyed an extended stay on our farm, and when it came time for her to kid, she had a stall all to herself, and I had a camera to monitor her. When her labor began, I set the camera to record so I could share the event with her owner, and settled in to be with her.

The labor was fairly quick, and uneventful – which is always nice. The kid was a large single, so I gently assisted June as she pushed, and soon the kid landed in the bedding, steaming hot. June was shocked by this and retreated to a corner of the stall to stare at this new foreign life form. I rubbed the kid, stimulating it as it breathed its first startled breaths, and marvelled at what a pretty kid it was! Sturdy and large like most singles are, it was a buckskin like June, but splashed with patches of white. I picked up the kid and checked between the hind legs, dreading the sight of a scrotum, and was rewarded. It was a doeling!

I gently brought June back over and showed her the doeling, and after a short time, she was nuzzling and licking her, one hundred percent mom material. Indeed, she’s ended up being one of the best goat mothers I’ve ever known.

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Once June recovered from the birth, and her owner recovered from her wedding, the little doe went home, and began a career as a home milker. The little doeling stayed with me, and for anyone who doubts whole milk to raise goat kids – that’s what this girl was raised on!

She 485717_2168043218094_370609915_nearned a name quickly enough with her bold hijinks and playful attitude as she froliked amonst the other kids on the farm. I named her Minx, and I adored her like I’d never loved a kid before – though I’ve loved a few almost that much since. She grew quickly and flaunted her domination of her age group, and when I moved her and her companions to Honey Doe Farm, she took it in casual stride. Totally unfazed, she made friends with some other does her age and created the first “teenager gang”, constantly squeezing under gates and getting into trouble together. We’ve had a group of them every year since – much to my dismay!

Since then our love for this doe has only grown. She’s proven herself not only intelligent and affectionate, but a good mother and a great milker. She rules the Nigerian Dwarf herd with little challenge, but she always has time to break off to request a scratch or two from her favorite people. It wasn’t long before she became the face of our farm, with her likeness adorning everything to do with K-N-S Farm. She truly embodies the goals of our breeding: A hardy doe that milks well, mothers well, and does it all in style.

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I Don’t Trust Raw Milk

uh9jch3Let me finish that sentence – I don’t trust raw milk that comes from any animal but my own.

I know that many folks are immense fans of the benefits and digestibility of raw goat’s milk, but I must say that I also feel that some overlook the risks that raw milk truly carries.

I’ll start by saying much of what people claim raw milk can do is greatly exaggerated. I have seen blog posts and news articles hailing it as a miracle healing broth, and quite frankly, I find that terribly amusing. It’s not – it’s milk. “An opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.”

It becomes something far better with a little skill, but cheese is a topic for another day!

That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to goat’s milk of course – we all know how much easier it is to digest, how much more efficient goats can be when compared to other production species. Many people find that it tastes better, and seeing as the majority of the world drinks goat’s milk, it’s certainly a very popular product!

We consume raw milk from the goats here at our dairy. Our animals undergo a full panel of testing before joining our milking line. They have a full time on site caretaker – me – who makes it a mission to spot problems such as mastitis and illness before the milk from that animal is combined with the rest. I know every detail of their history, from deworming, to their last antibiotic treatment, to when their hooves were last trimmed and the health histories of their parents.

So I trust our raw milk.

There’s a reason they do not recommend raw milk to the immunocompromised, the elderly, the pregnant, and the young. While a mature healthy digestive system will have little trouble with raw milk, the fact remains that it can be the vehicle to pass along many problems. Toxoplasmosis, Chlamydia, Q-fever,  Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, along with many other types of bacteria, viruses, even internal parasites and fungal infection.

While it’s unlikely to see many of these problems in a clean maintained herd, the possibility exists, and a shiny healthy looking goat may indeed be hiding a lurking monster, unbeknownst even to the herd owner.

It’s very easy as well, to take a person’s word that their entire herd is CAE-free, use their raw milk to bottle feed your kids, and then later realize that a mistake was made somewhere along the lines. It’s happened before, much to the dismay and grief of both parties.

It happened to me.

When it comes to the health of your stock, it pays to be cautious.

Pasteurization is not some evil method cooked up by corporations to “ruin” the integrity of milk. It is a proven and appreciated way to ensure the safety and quality of your milk. It’s not even terribly difficult to do! Here are some links to help you out:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/pasteurize-raw-milk-at-home

http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/raw-milk-news/story/how-to-pasteurize-raw-milk-at-home/

You’ll find there are nearly as many opinions on pasteurization as there is raw milk, so be sure to do your own research as well.

As with all things, the contents of this blog post are my personal opinion – if raw milk works for you, and you enjoy it, then there is little reason to stop using it! Just be sure to do your research and check into your source, if you’re unable to produce your own. Be careful out there, friends – when folks get sick from raw milk, it only hurts the industry as a whole.

 

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