Answering Questions

Jack & Kathy 05-14-04

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#1. There is never any cow products in goat cheese. It doesn't work that way. If you make your starters out of goat cheese, you use goat milk to make the cheese. If you make starters from cow milk, use cow milk to make cheese. The only thing that I don't make with goat milk is butter. This is because goats milk is naturally homogenized. There is very little fat on top to make butter with. I would never have enough butter to last the whole year.

When a cow freshens (when the calf is born), it takes a one month period before the calf and about 4 weeks after the calf to start using the milk again. This is called drying off the cow so she can start making Colestrum for the calf. The calf then has a 4 week period of drinking the colestrum before we start using the milk.

#2. Go to a goat farm or somewhere goats are kept. Ask at the local feed store. They know who buys goat feed, and who would be willing to teach someone else how to do it.

Choosing a goat is not simple. You really need to handle the animal and they should be gentle and not spooked by a new person. They may be leery for a few minutes, but their natural curiosity will take over and they will come and smell your hand. There are many different breeds. Nubians and Sanaans are great milkers, Sanaans tend to have personality traits that are good and bad. Nubians are generally sweet tempered and easy to milk. Alpines are good for milk and temperament. Boars are meat goats. They give milk, but they are a larger, heavier breed and it is sometimes harder for a woman to handle them because of their size. Talk to the farmer, or whoever milks the goats. Do a hands on by petting and maybe milking the goats. Feed them and find out what the person has been feeding. We feed a combination of corn, oats, wheat and rye. We add some molasses to help keep up the animals iron count. We give them a mineral salt block from the local feed store. The ground is sometimes depleted of the vitamins and minerals the goats need. Like selenium. You can get fancy if you want to. We don't. Our goats have a pasture with grass, brush and some trees for shade. Plenty of fresh water. Even when we have to carry it for them.

Sometimes there are problems with deliveries. We leave the does alone unless we see something really wrong. Such as one front leg and no head or one back leg. These require oiling your arm and helping turn that baby around. Its yucky, but you may lose that baby or that wonderful milking doe that's really your special pet. There is a great book that's called 'Raising Goat's the Natural Way'. Buy it and read it. Its not expensive and will save you a lot of time and grief.

You only need to put a tobacco leaf in front of the goat and it will disappear. They will eat it like candy. We limit ours to two leaves a day; about 3 weeks apart in the spring in May and again in the fall around November. We don't have worm problems. When you do need a commercial wormer for a new goat, or one who has a severe case of worms, don't forget to feed yogurt to the animal within 2 days. You will need to get that good bacteria back into the gut as soon as possible. Tobacco doesn't hurt the good bacteria, it only kills the worms and their eggs.

Chickens are fantastic. Ours are range run. That means they have a pasture and yard to stay in and they eat bugs, grass worms and any grain that the other animals don't process. If it falls on the ground, a chicken will eat it. No matter what end it comes from. That is a chickens nature. They need light and warmth and lots of water to produce eggs. We keep a mixed flock. We have Rhode Island reds, barred rocks, white rocks, black ones and spotted ones. If they lay eggs, that's all that matters to us. We have one rooster to produce babies. When the babies are grown up, they are separated. Hens are kept and roosters are butchered for this next winters roasters and soups. We give ours scratch grain, thrown loose on the ground. They need a source of grit during the wintertime to help them process their food. We give sand in a pan, they help themselves whenever their crop needs more. We lost about 25 chicks one year when a coon got into the yard. We had to put a top on the fence to stop them. We use fishline. If an animal looks up from the bottom of a fence and sees something that looks like a fence above them, they won't climb the fence because they can't 'see' a way in. It works. We open their house door every day, even in the winter so they have plenty of light and stay acclimated to the NY weather. We were in Tennessee a few years ago and a farmer down there told me he kept dogs to keep the predators away from his flock. He also locked his chickens up tightly every night.

When you go looking for homesteading property Remember to ask if there is any zoning. This is crucial to being able to do what you want to do with your own land. Here in NY it is very hard to homestead with zoning boards telling you what you can do. Its a huge pain in the ??? Look for property with some flat land to build on, some trees for shade and water. Either a creek or a pond, etc. You need water. It is the one most important feature you have to have. Animals drink a lot. Do not relay totally on a well. It won't work.

Get your living quarters first. Then shelters for your animals. Then the animals. Always be prepared for something to go wrong. Murphy's Law always takes precedence on a homestead. We have extra food, water and medicines (herbal) for ourselves and our animals. We have a spring, a well and a creek on our 15 acres.

We have woods, flat land and a little swamp. The swamp supplies us with a lot of wild foods. Cattails, marsh marigold, dandelion greens, leeks, etc. Study a wild food book for your area, so you can find them when you look at properties. You won't regret it. It will cut down on the amount of gardening you Have to do. Harvest from the wild instead. Try to stay away from towns and villages where the lines might expand.

A friend of mine had a small farmette near a village and the village lines were expanded and she was now in the village. She had to conform to all the village laws which included getting rid of all her animals as farm animals couldn't be kept inside the village limits. Zoning again.

We have raised rabbits, ducks, geese, turkeys, cows, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, guinea hens, pheasants and probably more. We love all the animals. If you want rabbits for meat, get a large breed. Californias or New Zealands. They are great mothers and are also great pets. Do not mix the pets with the butcher animals. It will be very difficult at butchering time.

There are many breeds and some are more saleable than others. A rabbit likes to live in a hole. Build a box cage with a wire attachment. The rabbit can be moved around on the lawn and used as a lawn mower. Cheap feed and you don't have a section of lawn to mow. Let the natural instincts of the animal do the work for you. Again, rabbits should have a small mineral block in their pen. They need the salts too. Especially pregnant mothers. Rabbits carry their babies about 28 days. They will start pulling out the fur on their belly when they are within a few hours of having the babies. This is to make a nest for the babies and pulls the hair from around the nipples so the babies can nurse.

You can raise rabbits for sale if you have somewhere to sell them. When you raise any animal for selling, always be sure there is a market before you raise the animal. You will never make a fortune at homesteading, but sales of animals and produce can make the difference in the quality of life that you live.

Get a good homesteading magazine. NOW!!!!!! Countryside & Small Stock Journal is excellent. It will have articles for so many different aspects of homesteading. You can order back issues with specific information. Use the internet. Backwoods Home Magazine has an excellent site for beginners. Read everything you can find. There is never too much knowledge. We learn new things every day, and we will be learning until we die. Jack is 68 and I am 55.

Jack and I have always regretted not finishing the barn before we had animals. Its really tough to take care of animals outdoors in the winter. Before we put in the no-freeze water faucet, we carried water, sometimes 20 to 30 gallons a day. Heavy. Be sure to have a water source near your animals. Preferably one that they can get to all year around. In your state, you can probably do that. In NY you can't be within 50 feet of the stream because they blame pollution on the farmer instead of on the sanitation plants.

What we have always done right is to get the knowledge we needed. We are not afraid to ask questions. Is there a land grant college for your State. Do they have a local county office. Like 4-H in NY. Branched from Cornell University in Ithaca. They have offices in every county. They are loaded with information.

Just don't get overwhelmed. Stop, read and understand before moving on. If you get to many projects started at once, you'll never get finished and you will never be happy. Do one thing at a time and do it well. We always have projects started so that if it rains and we have to be inside, there is a magazine to read, an herb to study and read up on, a batch of soap to make, or bath oils, hand creams, etc. We are never idle.

If nothing else, you can always clean up behind your animals. They are just like kids, always leaving a mess for Mom or Dad to clean up. The difference is animals never grow up and clean behind themselves.

Contact me if you have any questions.

The greatest luck in the world to you.