Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Goat Milk:
The other white milk

By Daniel Peterson

Georgia Dairy Goat Breeders Association’s
Youth Representative

When most people think of goats, they think of the cute little pygmy goat they saw at the petting zoo or on some farm. What most people don’t know is that there are also dairy goats just the same as there are dairy cows. I live on a small family owned and operated dairy farm in Haddock, Georgia where we raise these fine animals.
I can imagine at this point quite a few people might ask "Who on earth would want to drink goat milk?" Well, this question is fairly simple to answer: more people consume goat milk than they do cow milk. As unbelievable as this may sound, it is true. Most third world countries and quite a few European countries prize goats and goat milk over cow milk. Dairy goats were also often present during the early years of our great country and helped many a settler’s family keep food on the table by supplying them with milk.
Often the dairy goat has been called the "poor man’s cow," because good dairy goats do not cost near as much as good dairy cows do. You can raise more goats on a smaller amount of pasture than you can cows. While it takes an acre for a cow/calf, you can successfully raise six goats on one acre. Cows usually have only one calf per year, while goats have two kids (that’s what you call a young goat) after their second year. Pound for pound a good dairy goat will produce more milk than a cow will. Unlike a cow, a good dairy goat can produce up to 10% of its body weight in milk.
The most common question I get asked is, "What does goat milk taste like?" It is a common misconception that goat milk tastes bad. People believe that it tastes "like a old billy-goat." This is not true. Milk that is properly handled and cared for will not have an off-taste. When folks first taste goat milk they are expecting it to taste different, but to their surprise it tastes just like cow milk. You could not tell a difference between the two types of milk no matter how hard you try.
Goat milk is also a healthier alternative to cow milk. Why? Cow milk has to be homogenized to be more easily digested, which is a process where the fat globules are broken down. However, this is not necessary with goat milk because it is naturally homogenized. Therefore goat milk is much more easily digested than cow milk is.
Goat milk has more of the essential vitamins that we need. Goat milk has 13% more calcium, 25% percent more B6, 47% percent more vitamin A, and 27% more selenium. It also has more chloride, copper, manganese, potassium, and niacin than cow milk. It also produces more silicon and fluorine than any other dairy animal. Silicon and fluorine can help prevent diabetes.
Scientist are not sure why, but people who are lactose intolerant can often drink goat milk without having to worry about side effects. Goat milk does not cause phlegm like cow milk does, so you can drink goat milk even when you have a cold or bad allergy problems.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Winter is Coming" (or how we get ready on the farm)

"Winter is Coming" is a catchphrase from one of my favorite HBO series: Game of Thrones. (Great show if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it). It is also what we are saying and doing to get ready for our cold weather. Even though it is 85 degrees during the day with blue skies and sunshine....The nights will freeze soon. Here is just a bit of what we are doing to prepare for the winter weather.

Goats and Llama - we are fattening them up for winter by allowing them to eat, eat, eat as much hay and alfalfa as possible. We want them to enter winter with a nice pad of fat - just like me!

Unfortunately, we will be putting our little sick doe Sarah down today as she is frail and won't make it through the winter. This is the most unpleasant and sad tasks of raising animals. I have said that as long as they are not in pain they can live out their lives but she is going to get cold and the other animals in the herd don't cut her any slack. They know when a member is weak, and won't even let her get to the hay or other food. We suspect a chronic case of CAE which she might have contracted from nursing off another doe that we no longer own. (CAE is passed down from animal to animal through mother's milk, and is only harmful to animals, not humans). 
My son Derek will dig a grave, and then put her down humanely, with a gunshot to the back of the head. As much as he loves to shoot guns, this will be extremely difficult and emotional for him. Animals aren't afraid of death and we as their guardians need to be able to dispatch them quickly and humanely if need be. We fed Sarah her last supper of strawberries, oranges, grain and leftover french toast and said our sad goodbyes.

A few days ago we cleaned out the barn and put in two tons of hay, replaced all bedding with new straw, and put the old into a compost bin. We filled up around 50 feed sacks full of already composted bedding to help insulate around the greenhouse, and for use in the beds in the spring. A stock tank heater goes into the water tank to keep it from freezing so the goats always have drinkable water.

The chicken coop gets new bedding, and a heater in the water for the chickens. A light bulb will be set up on a timer in the hen house to keep the hens laying eggs throughout the darker months of winter. Hens need 14 hours of light to produce eggs. 

In the greenhouse, we mulch the plants that we intend to overwinter, and will put a heater in the water tank to keep the water above 45 degrees- that helps the goldfish in there as well as the overall temperature inside the greenhouse. 

In our outdoor goldfish pond, we will put a stock tank heater to keep that water from freezing as well.

Our trailers are getting winterized and closed up until next summer. 
Our water lines to the trailers, landscaped areas, and hose bids are all shut down for the winter. Our vehicles are getting winterized as well - antifreeze in all the vehicles including the tractor. 

We also have a list of all the indoor projects that we need to do, like cleaning and organizing. But then again Game of Thrones might be on.... 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TEN little known facts about GOATS!

1. Goats are pack animals, and some goats get so close to their lifelong companion that they have been known to die soon after their companion dies.

2. Goats have horizontal slit shaped pupils so they can see almost all the way around to the back of their heads, thus warning them of approaching predators.

3. Goats are intelligent and mischievous and can figure out how to escape from many enclosures. 

4. Goat intelligence carries over into what they choose to eat, esp. if they need a special plant to make themselves feel better. (i.e. tobacco for worms, charcoal for upset tummies).

5. Majority of goats are horned, both male and female - and do not shed their horns like an elk or deer. Their horns act as radiators and help to keep them cool in the hot summer months. Their horns are filled partially with blood and nerves and most goats love to have their horns scratched.

6. Goat milk has smaller fat molecules and is thus much easier to digest than cow's milk.

7. Goat's milk rarely contains more fat than cow's milk. Rather, the butterfat content has to do with the breed of goat, their particular genetic makeup, time of lactation and their diet.

8. Goats will not eat just anything. Sure, if they are starving to death, they may try to eat something odd, like a car tire, but most of the tales of goats eating everything comes from them mouthing things - such as your clothing while you are petting them.

9. Goats have to produce offspring ("kids") in order to produce milk.

10. The term "he's got your goat" refers to the practice of stealing a racing horse's goat companion the night before a race, in order to stress the horse out and throw the race. Goats make wonderful horse companions.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Married A Bossy Chef: HACCP (Reposted from Becky Goldsmith)

This blog was written by my good friend Becky Goldsmith. I am re-posting on my blog because it truly is important to get the word out. I know people sometimes worry about the goat milk products at the MGL, but we follow all the same safety and sanitation practices of the larger dairies. Here's Becky:

I Married A Bossy Chef: HACCP:   The Bossy Chef has been nagging me to write a post about food safety and food born illness, more commonly known as food poisoning. Not...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rooster Love at Mountain Goat Lodge

I love roosters. Anyone who visits Mountain Goat Lodge can see one of my most prized possessions - Mr. Rooster  - who I had taxidermied. (not a true word, but you get it). Here is Mr. Rooster - preserved forever:
Mr. Rooster - a Wellsummer - preserved forever
 Many times chickens die and don't look so good - not the case with Mr. Rooster. Poor guy was so sweet and some kids were chasing him - he had a seizure and died right in front of me. I couldn't bear to just dispose of him, so my son suggested that I have him stuffed. That's what I did - and he has turned into a beautiful work of art.

Anyway, my point of this blog is to talk about "Stubbs". A sweet little guy who came to my farm a couple of months ago along with his brother. Unfortunately, being new on the block, they didn't feel comfortable roosting with the rest of the flock, and stayed down on the floor of the coop during the winter cold. Frostbite ensued, and, Stubbs lost the ends of his toes.
Missing the ends of his toes due to frostbite
Stubb's brother did not fare so well, as he ended up losing his entire feet. We tried to keep them together, but after a few weeks, we decided it best to put the brother down - as he would never be able to survive without feet. Stubbs showed real promise, however, with the loving care in which he showed his footless brother.
I put Stubbs in with the flock, were he tried his best to protect all the hens. We already had another rooster for this job, so he was literally ignored by the flock. I felt so bad.

Meanwhile one of my hens had gone broody, sitting on top of about 20 eggs. I hoped they would hatch, but alas not one of them hatched. I believe the hen just was a bit long on her breaks and the eggs must have gotten too cold. Well I decided to try and fool her and went to Murdock's to buy some day old chicks. I bought eight little pullets and put them underneath the brooder - thought maybe she would believe them to be hers and then she would raise them....well - a few hours later I went out to check on them, and 3 were already murdered by Ms. Broody. OK, I sighed - now I have 5 chicks that I have to raise....bummer.
But wait! I know who will help me - Stubbs!
So, I put the little chicks in the barn (away from the rest of the flock) and put Mr. Stubbs in as guardian. My prayers were answered and Stubbs has become the most wonderful dad for his 5 little charges. He won't let anything near them!!
Here is a photos of the chicks now that they are about a month old:
5 little pullets - about one month old - various breeds
And so, Stubbs has a place in the barn - protecting his little flock - and he couldnt be happier. Here he is roosting at night, while the chicks rest under the heat lamp:

Stubbs- a Wellsummer Rooster
And his little flock

Saturday, March 16, 2013

One of the RISKIEST things you can do with your Goats

I'll admit to putting dog-collars on my goats now and again - most of us have for the convenience of moving them around easily.  But how many of us realize what risks we are taking with our goats by doing this.
We have found it is much better to use BREAKAWAY collars like these:

Especially with mischievous horned goats like we have. (And what goats are not mischievous?)
As they get to playing, they can get those horns inside a collar and twist.
With the breakaway collar - it breaks and you find it laying on the ground - and your goat is alive and well!
You can buy these plastic chains and connectors at your nearby feed store on online at JEFFERS.COM or CAPRINESupply.com and they are inexpensive. Tip: buy extra connectors as they seem to get out of shape and break before the chains do. You can buy tags and write their names on them if you like. A special ink pen that doesn't wear off is available to write on the tags. Since they come in all colors, you can use them to identify moms and their kids - or any number of categories.

By the way - the same goes for your dogs - esp. if you let them run free on your property. They can get caught and twist till they choke. This happened to my brother's dog years ago - he ran over to a neighbor's property and got hung up on a fire pit grill and while trying to free himself - well, you guessed it - he lost his life as he choked.
I am not against collars if you are right there with your pets - your situation may be much different than mine. Until then happy goating!

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to make Goat Cheese (Chèvre)

Chèvre is all the rage these days, and for good reason. It is delicious and easy to make. Chèvre is French for 'goat'. Since we use just the milk, shouldn't the French have called it fromage de chèvre (cheese of goat)?
If you don't have access to fresh goat's milk, try to use fresh cow's milk, but then you must call it "Fromage Blanc" (French for 'white cheese').

Equipment needed: cheese cloth, a bungee cord, 1 gallon stainless steel pot with lid, dairy thermometer, and an eye dropper. 
Ingredients: rennet and mesophilic culture (order here), salt, and of course, a gallon of milk.

This is Rachel our Oberhasli dairy goat, on the milk stand:

To prepare for milking, her udders are wiped clean of any hay or dirt (our girls are super clean).

Then she is milked by hand (no milking machines here - we like it old school).

The milk is filtered through clean muslin into a pail:

And then into the house to pasteurize (or not).

After milking, the choice to keep it raw, or pasteurize, is up to you. This pasteurizer probably goes back to the 1950's and still works. (Found it on Ebay)

Our high tech machine heats to 145 Degrees for 45 minutes, then turns off automatically. Wow you say.

You will need to cool the milk down quickly by putting it in a sink full of ice water until it gets down to 78 degrees. (I used really cold water cause my icemaker had quit me)  

If you don't pasteurize, just cool the milk down right after milking. (Fun fact: The temperature right from the udder is around 102 F). 

Pour the milk into the pot, and add 1/2 teaspoon of the mesophilic culture. It is freeze dried and looks like powdered milk. Let it sit on top of the milk to dissolve before stirring it in.

Measure 1/2 cup of cool, unchlorinated water into a measuring cup, and add one drop only of the liquid rennet. Add this to the pot of milk.

Now you get to stir for about a minute, it is fun.

Put the lid on, and , to quote an infomercial,'Just set it and forget it!'  All day and night, for about 18 hours or so at room temp. Assume your room temp is like mine, which is around 70 degrees or so...whatever.

Abracadabra! Here is the cheese nicely curded up floating in a wonderful whey bath. You can drink this for powerful muscles, or feed your plants or go to this website for more ideas.

Me? I pour it down the drain to feed my septic tank. "Yum" says the tank.  (Note the nice large chunk of curd in the pot).

Now drape your cheesecloth into a colander (which I forgot to picture in the equipment list - sorry) then put THAT inside a large bowl to catch the whey. Or place it inside your sink if you don't want the whey.

Just pour the curds -glob glob glob, into the cheesecloth lined colander.

Then tie it up with a bungee cord. Since I discovered the bungee cord method, it makes me so happy! I used to use wire, and that was a pain.

Now hang for a day, or a night. It depends actually on your humidity. In my dry state of Colorado, it needs about 24 hours to hang until the right consistency. Your mileage may vary. 

Here is a photo of half of the contents from the bag. I already had started divying it up into 4 portions. Thats an old fashioned word huh? Divy. I like it. 

Sprinkle salt about 1/2 teaspoon per each portion.Knead it in there. Some might say salt is optional, but it improves the flavor, and helps preserve the cheese.

 Rolled into a traditional log shape.

Or a ball. Not very symmetrical.

Get creative with seasoning, herbs, flavorings. Here's my latest passion - Tajin, a Mexican seasoning made from chile peppers and lime. Oh gosh I had it on my omelete this morning...yum!

Another favorite of mine - Dill. If you have it growing in your garden you are one lucky person. Mine is from a jar so you can feel sorry for me. It's still pretty darn good though.

Let your imagination run free here people! Roll into chopped nuts, pour sundried tomato or basil pesto over the cheese and serve with crackers. Mix in some jalepeno jelly or marmalade, citrus fruit zest, candied fruit, heck just about anything. Sweet or savory. Use as cream cheese, put it in an omelete, make your best friend a salad.
Wrap well and use within a week, or freeze for later. OKAY you can DO this!
NOTE: If you don't think you want to invest in the bits and pieces of equipment, or would enjoy doing this with a group of friends, I do classes on making goat cheese all the time to guests who stay with me at Mountain Goat Lodge!