To this day, we still remember Scarlet

Keeping goats on the farm

We loved our days of  keeping goats on the farm and fully understand Tasha Tudor’s love of goats. 

On the farm children and farm animals go together like peanut butter and jelly on bread.   On the farm of my youth, I did not grow up with goats or sheep. We had cows, horses, hogs, chickens and ducks. So when our oldest son Danny needed an FFA project he said, “How about a goat?”
We decided upon an Alpine dairy goat. Within a week, we built our first homemade pole barn and fenced a pen. And because I intended to milk the goat, we built a milk-stand from scrap lumber.  It was a magical week I recall.  I was excited to start milking and the thoughts of having an abundance of milk and cheese and butter for my family thrilled this farm girl’s spirit. I imagined I would be like Caroline Ingalls.(Or like Tasha Tudor if I had known about her back then.)
To this day, we still remember Scarlet the FFA dairy goat project.  Of how Scarlet learned to butt one day when she saw our youngest son Andrew bend over to pick up something. Up to this point she wasn’t into butting. But now her target was in plain sight. Of how she came in the house one day when the door wasn’t closed properly and jumped on the water bed  as we chased her through the house hoping to get her out before she had an accident on the floor. She thought it was a game and the kids thought it funny too.
Did I mention goats like to climb. On wooden spools
and your car hoods if you aren’t careful
Of how one day, upon returning from the video store, as we were pulling in the driveway, everyone in unison called out, “Oh, no, Scarlet’s out again.”  There she was standing on her two hind legs eating the apples off the tree.  When she saw us, she came running.  Andrew had the videos in hand and ran for the door to avoid her torment, but Scarlet ran faster and jumped upon the deck before he could get the door open. We all watched her pull the yellow  receipt from between the VHS and gobble it down. Yes, it is true, goats will eat anything.  Andrew made it inside safely.  
Then the day came to haul her to the Brown County Fair. So, without a trailer, we let her jump in the back of my mini-van to get her there.  When we opened the hatch, on-lookers were so shocked to see a goat jump out. Some would call that red-neck.  But it worked. And I must say she jumped in and out real nice.
As for milking twice per day, I didn’t mind for a while. My pioneer spirit really  enjoyed it. I read everything I could about the subject of goats.   Disappointingly, I read that goat milk is naturally homogenized and  does not separate like raw cow’s milk does so without a cream separator, it was difficult to get  enough cream separated to make much butter. But we did once and shook the cream   in a Mason Jar till it turned to butter.  I think I got enough for the dinner roles that evening.  
But the best memory among many of our dairy goat operation came when I made cheese. When making cheese you must  be very careful to get the exact temperature and not overheat the milk,  as well as many other things, or your cheese won’t turn out as planned. I learned this first hand with my first batch.At dinner that evening,  I presented homemade cottage cheese in a nice stoneware crock just like my ancestors.    All around the table from my dear family were compliments I had hoped for.  I proudly boasted, “It really wasn’t too difficult.” 
One by one, as we chewed, we all looked at one another and wondered with disbelief, what   that squeaking noise was. It, none the less, was the cottage cheese. Yes, I had not kept the temperature correct. Who knew this would be the result. It was tasty, but for lack of a better description, rubbery. Our analysis of the cheese however was cut short when once again, we saw Scarlet running through the yard toward her favorite apple tree. Did I mention goats can be difficult to keep penned up? We learned they really can jump very high. Buy the taller fence.  The farmer’s cheese I made was real good! 
Henry, my daily dose of goat keeping memories!
To this day, many years later, we still laugh out loud about our goat keeping days here on the farm.
The water-beds, the VHS and my dear little mini-van are all history now as are Scarlet and my milking days and cheese making. But I know I wouldn’t trade  my keeping goat  days  for anything.   It truly was a season of bliss, that I thoroughly  enjoyed here on the farm.  And who knows, I may revive it  once again. Or maybe just write a book about it. For now,  we do have a pet goat named Henry living at the horse barn. He is my daily reminder of my days of keeping  goats.  
Nothing as cute as a baby goat!

So here’s the thing:When we bought the dairy goats for the project, we had no idea that it would teach us so many things and give us such great experiences.  I could have easily said, no to goats especially because of the twice daily milking. And some thought I was nuts to consider it.   But everything in life I am learning is for a season.  I “had a season” of goat keeping, milking and cheese making. And for that I am still smiling,  for the memories made not only with my family but with that wonderful goat named Scarlet. 
Take Joy!

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