Originally, the plan was for a family cow. I could visualize it so clearly when we finally found this property a few years ago…a lovely jersey cow would graze the green grassy areas. We would fence in the pastures and rotate her through smaller paddocks. There would be milk, butter and cheese!
Then we moved in and I learned a little more about the land we live on. I studied more about fencing and other needs of livestock. And the more I learned, the further off in the distance the vision became. Why? What changed?
Well, after living here for a few months, some issues with the soil and land became apparent. First, clay soil. This has been a steep learning curve for me. Our soil does not drain readily–the clay holds onto the rainwater, like a sponge. During our long winters and cold springs, this damp soil turns to mud anytime it is a) not frozen and b) has any sort of traffic (humans, animals, tractor, etc). Now if people and a few chickens walking a path turn a patch of grass into mucky mud within a few months’ time, imagine what would happen if a bovine or two were turned out onto small pastures here. And I DESPISE mud.
Second, fencing. From my research, purchasing and installing fencing for several acres to contain cows sounds like too much of an undertaking for one hour homesteading. A very sturdy perimeter fence is needed, in addition to smaller movable (electric) fence to create rotation of grazing areas. After several years of researching, I still can’t wrap my head around how to make this happen in a cost and time effective manner.
And so, I moved on to goats. I actually feel guilty now, that they were my consolation dairy animals. As it turns out…I love them.
Our two does are now 3 years old. They were purchased as eight week old kids. After some research, I had decided to look for mini-Lamancha goats. This cross of Nigerian Dwarf and Lamancha goats produces a dairy animal of smaller size with very rich milk. Nigerian Dwarf goats are known for having the highest butterfat among dairy goats, but their diminutive size corresponds to limited milk production. Lamanchas, on the other hand, are full-sized dairy goats, known for production and also high-fat, rich milk. The cross of these breeds would meet the needs of our small farm…delicious milk, in adequate quantity, and their small to medium size would have minimal mud-producing impact.
As luck would have it, within a couple of months, I located two mini-Lamancha doelings for sale in a nearby town. The daughter and I went to visit them. We were fascinated to find these goats being raised in a small backyard setting. Although not inside of city limits, a terrific family was raising these goats, and some chickens in a typical cul-de-sac, neighborhood setting. They had two does of their own and a buck; they bred the does annually to provide milk for their family. These goats had a simple fence made of pallets, a wooden three-sided shelter, and an ingenious rainwater collection system for their drinking water. The two young goat kids that were listed for sale were adorable, but wild and skittish–having been handled very little by humans. And after a brief transaction and a few instructions, they were ours.
We will be coming up to our third kidding season here in a couple of months. Each of the past two years, the two does have been bred to Nigerian Dwarf buck, resulting in beautiful kids. All of the kids have been rehomed, after being loved on and adored by the family, and providing us with hours of entertainment.
This year, we will have something new–baby mini-Lamancha Fainting goats!! Due to a scheduling mishap, the usual Nigerian Dwarf buck (we schedule a ‘date’ for our does at another breeders’ farm) was unavailable. So, we bred one of our does to their Fainting buck. This will be…interesting! These kids are due in early May. Our other doe will have Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha kids due in July.
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