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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Stories from a Goat Farm and Micro-Dairy (with Video)

You've heard of a one-horse town? Well, we are a one-goat micro-dairy. That doesn't mean we only have one goat to milk but that our milking parlor is set up to take only one goat in at a time for feeding and milking.

We have a small herd of dairy goats. At present time we have 8 does and 3 bucks. This season we've had 3 does to kid — increasing the herd with 4 additional doelings and 1 buck (that is soon to become a wether). We have 2 more does to kid soon.

Offspring of Alby

Among our dairy goats, we have 2 Nubian does, a mix of Nubian/Saanen does, a registered Saanen doe, a registered Saanen buck, a pure Saanen buck and a pure Sable Saanen buck. This is where "Alby" comes in.

We had decided to go from selling state-registered "Animal Feed" milk to getting licensed to sell farmstead aged cheeses. We decided to breed all the does to have enough milk to make our cheeses and to increase, hopefully, our doe herd. The kids we don't keep as replacement for our farm we try to sell as dairy replacements to other farms. The males we keep as bucks we sell as breeding bucks. We don't use or sell as meat. (We are a natural and sustainable farm. No chemical, hormone and/or anti-biotics.)

Our Sable Saanen doe, Black Mist, was bred to our pure Saanen buck, One-More Bubba. We had hoped for at least one doe from this kidding. What we got was the most beautiful Sable Saanen buck...he was just adorable! My sisters saw him and said you should call him "Prince Albert". So, he went from Prince Albert to just "Alby"!

Alby a few days old
When we breed our does, we keep a record of when they're bred and to which buck...this really helps later because it can get really confusing if you have several does. I write this on my calendar then, I also count 145 days from breeding time to see when to start watching the does for kidding. The actual time can be 145-155 days. We like to watch the does and when it is near kidding time to try to separate them out. We also like to try to be there when the doe kids, just in case there is trouble. We have run into problems before with first time kidding. Sometimes the doe will only have one baby and it will be large and she needs help delivering.
This was the first kidding for Black Mist but she did a wonderful job! The baby was perfect and she did really well afterwards...she was a good "Momma"!

Black Mist and Alby together

Alby was about 7 days old when we came to feed one morning and couldn't find him. We called to him and heard him. We found him lying against the barn. He was unable to get up. We tried getting him up but, he couldn't stand. Finally, we worked with him and he was able to "hobble" around. He was having problems with one of his front legs and one of his back — but nothing appeared broken. He and his mother were separated from the herd again.

Now, we had a dilemma. Alby would not get up on his own. He waited for someone to help him up. So, now we had to go at least every 3-4 hours to get him up and hold him while he nursed his mother. We did this for at least 2 weeks. In the meantime, we had another dilemma. Alby was meant to become a whether. But, since he was having problems with his legs we were afraid any more stress (we band to castrate) would cause him more harm. So, we left him a buck and this farm really does not need that many bucks!

Alby started doing much better. He started running and playing. He became an inspiration. We have workshops on the farm and he was a favorite for everyone to make over and pet. We decided to put them back with the rest of the herd and just keep a close watch on little Alby. We were so thankful that he was doing so good! But as everyone knows that lives on a farm things can go very wrong very quickly.

The next day we caught one of the other does head butting little "Alby" and just caught it in time. She too was a mother and she was telling him to "get away." He was re-injured and this time we didn't know if the leg was broken. He just wouldn't get up! We called the vet. We were told the vet we were using no longer treated large farm animals. So, we called the "mobile vet" and had to leave a message. It was the weekend so we didn't hear back until Monday. We didn't know what to do except just try to work with him like before. We finally got him up and walking again even though he was limping.

We just assumed we would have a "special needs" little buck on the farm. But there was a miracle for us and for little Alby! He regained full use of his legs and wasn't stunted at all.

Little Alby is now a Sire. He lays claim to this season's new offspring on the farm.

NOTE: For anyone looking for a pure Sable Saanen buck, Alby, is now ready to be head Sire for his forever herd! We are located in Western North Carolina. 828-682-1405

Susan Tipton-Fox continues the farming and preserving practices that had been passed down to her by her family. She presents on-farm workshops in Yancey County, North Carolina, and growing her on-farm agritourism by promoting "workshop stays" on the farm (extending the farm experience). Find Susan on Facebook, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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