Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kids and dogs

My oldest daughter turned 13 this May. This is my child that has begged me for animals her whole life and this year is no different. She wants a puppy so she can breed it and sell the puppies.

I am not an animal lover. Not at all. I used to like cats, but not anymore. When I started having children I lost any interest I had for animals. HOWEVER as you know, we have many animals. This is mostly the fault of Martha Stewart and my daughter. Martha Stewart because when I watched her show years back she had the most beautiful eggs and I coveted them. I wanted THOSE chickens so I could get THOSE eggs. My neighbor knew about chickens so we jumped in. Turns out having chickens is fun and my husband took to them much more than I did. I love the eggs, he likes the hens.

When my daughter was eight she begged me for a horse (again) we have 2 acers but no fence or barn. Horses are very impractical in Alaska, however, as a homeschooling family we want to encourage our kids passions not discourage them. We got her into horse lessons. Unfortunately she was a natural...which sucks 'cause that means we can't easily quit. So we go during the summer. Last year she won the first competition she was in...beginners luck? At this point in time we are not equipped for horses and perhaps never will be, but we like the idea of her being distracted with animals through her teenage years. I don't think that will be a problem...our younger girls on the other hand, well that's a different story.

Another animal she begged for were goats. I didn't want to milk a goat, who was I kidding. I'm a lazy NOT farm girl. But goats make a whole lot more sense than horses do. I began collecting chain link dog kennel panels after our friend gave us theirs and another friend gave us theirs. I realized they would be great for goats (who are terrible at getting through fences). When I discovered last year that goats don't need the kind of heavy duty shelter that chickens do up here in the winter, I realized it was time to jump on board. No time like the present...if I don't do this now I may never. So we took the plunge, 2 Nubian does in milk producing 2 gallons a day. A whirlwind of a learning curve, what to do with THAT much milk?! Learn to make everything out of it and find what you like best.

This June one doe is maybe pregnant, harder to get her knocked up than the other. The other had 3 bucklings. The nice thing is that bucklings need more milk than doelings, so the doe will produce more that year, but the bad part is they suck it all and you don't have it to drink. We get about 1/2 gallon a day from the other doe now for ourselves, which is barely enough...we have to ration it. I'd wanted a LaMancha doe last year but the breeder I chose didn't have any. This year she had more LaMancha kids available. I don't have enough milk at the moment with the doe feeding kids and I also don't want my children getting attached to the bucklings we're raising to sell as bucks or to butcher this fall for meat...I decided that after my daughter did an amazing job this year doing 95% of the milking that I'd buy her a goat instead of a puppy.

It was a good call (so far) she was not disappointed, she's totally in love, she picked out the one that was born the day we were at the breeder's visiting, she and I will split any profits from sales of kids and the doeling will provide our family milk for years to come. Daughter named her Elka and though LaMancha's aren't nearly as cute as Nubians (no ears!) with her docile personality, she will definitely grow on us.

I'm finding the goats are growing on me in general. I dare say I could end up being a goat lover. Don't tell anyone.

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