As one of our assignments for documentary photography we had to turn in six images that give the viewer a glimpse of our life. We were to look for images that have metaphors or contain enough information for interpretation. I turned in six images of the goats and Gel working them. I did not get a very good grade on it (NOTE: any grade less than an “A” is not a good grade for me) because the instructor said that I should show more diversity and a fuller picture of who I am. I have since wrote him and told him that I was going to resubmit it (we are allowed one resubmit) but that in all due respect, that dog and the goats and all they stand for is who I am. I will admit, the images did not portray that.
On the day that I was laid off from my job as a highly paid commercial real estate paralegal, I was scheduled to pick up my first milk goat: a LaMancha goat named Rain. I almost did not pick her up because I was worried about money, but I’m glad I did. In a few short years, I grew my herd of dairy goats to thirteen solid-milking does, mostly Alpines, but some Saanans and Oberhaslis (all Swiss goats). I figured out early on that I really did not like LaMancha or Nubian goats.
I met Wally when I purchased some goat kids to train Gel on. At that time, sheep were too expensive to purchase. Gel and I learned how to work livestock from those goats. It was not easy training a Border Collie on clever goats, but we did it.
In 2012, I sold our entire herd of dairy goats because the new neighbor did not like them being on her property. Prior to her moving in, the goats roamed all around the adjoining property, with permission, eating brush. It was a wonderful place for goats. Because we did not own the property, we elected to not invest in better fencing which as it turned out, was a good decision. In turn I invested in Jersey milk cows that were a lot easier to keep in our not-so-good fencing. I loved my Jersey cows.
Then we moved to Vale, with the cows and lost Penny which precipitated my decision to sell all of the cows. We then bought four French Alpine dairy goats, with their kids and now we are well on our way to growing our dairy goat herd back up. I will admit that goat milk is not as versatile as cow milk, I cannot make butter with it, but in all honesty, now that I am drinking goat milk again and making cheese, I realize that it really is just as good despite not being able to make butter.
Goats are evil bitches … plain and simple. They are about like cats in that respect. They are opinionated and go out of their way to fight with each other. They are silly and escape artists, but we have excellent fencing now. If a goat decides she does not want to come in to be milked (which was a problem early on), I’ve got the cure for that: Gel. I do not have to worry about a goat potentially killing Gel like I did with the cows. In fact, not too long after I sold the cows, Moon was being a jerk about coming in to be milked and I tried to use Gel to bring her in. She hurt him — bad! We are lucky he recovered.
While I have a milking machine, should we loose power or something malfunctions, I do not have to use it. I can milk them by hand. If a goat does not want to get on the milk stand, I can pick her up and put her on it. If a goat gets sick and goes down, we can pick her up and put her somewhere warm and dry to recover. Not the case when a cow goes down as Penny did. We do not need to rely on a veterinarian like we did with the cows. If a goat dies, you do not have near as much money or time wrapped up in it. All in all, I believe goats are hardier than cows.
Bucks (male goats) are nasty creatures when they are in rut. But at least I do not have to worry about one of them killing me, Wally or a dog like I did with Jersey bulls.
So, being back in goats is like returning home again. Home is not always perfect, but it is home and the best place to be. The goats and Gel are a big part of what is me.
It is what it is.
Until later …