A Visit to the Goat Farm

A Visit to the Goat Farm CradleRockingMama.com

Two weeks ago we drove for the first time to pick up goat milk.

I’d visited Real Milk’s milk finder online to find sources of raw milk in our area, and the closest one I could find that was (mostly) grain free was almost a two hour drive away.

Undeterred, my Mom and I loaded up the car with kiddos, an ice chest, snacks, and diapers and hit the road.

The kids weren’t thrilled with being in the car that long, but I think they’d agree it was worth it!

Lois runs Rockin’ A Ranch out of Ozark, Arkansas, and was gracious enough to give us a tour of her lovely little farm when we arrived.

First we entered the pasture with the mama goats. They were all just adorable! Friendly, too, as they came right up to us. We couldn’t get too distracted by the sweet mama’s, though, when just over the fence we could see the babies bouncing around!

Zac pets a goat CradleRockingMama.com

We had to go see the babies! Lois let us into the other pasture with the kids and oh-my-goodness! I think baby goats are just about the cutest things ever! I’ve never seen them in person before, but I couldn’t stop laughing over the way they bound and hop around.

It is precious.

MY kiddos liked the goat kids, too! Zac didn’t quite know what to make of these strange creatures that kept approaching him; he would giggle and shriek, run away, then run back.

I don’t think the goats knew what to make of him, either!

Jed, on the other hand, is absolutely fearless with animals. From the minute he saw the goats, he was chomping at the bit to get to them. With nary a concern, he kept running up to goats, grabbing them around their necks and giving them huge hugs.

Yeah, it was pretty cute.

Not so cute was his desire to climb fences the whole time we were there. I swear I can’t keep that kiddos feet on the ground when there is something to climb!

Jed Climbs a fence CradleRockingMama.com

Soon enough, the boys found a mud puddle, making me very glad I’d made them wear boots.

There’s just nothing more fun than splashing and stomping in a mud puddle, doncha know?

Finding a Mud Puddle CradleRockingMama.com

Lois took us in to her barn to show us where she milks the goats. She and her husband built a nifty milking station inside that means she can stand up to milk the goats, and can milk all of them in under half an hour – all while in the comfort of a semi-climate controlled room! It’s awesome for its ingenuity.

My boys, of course, just liked that it had steps and was a platform to run around on.

Playing on the Milking Table CradleRockingMama.com

I don’t think it needs stating that Lois was very kind and tolerant of my children.

On the way out of the barn, we got a neat surprise: all the OTHER animals she has had come for a visit!

Seeing people in the barn made them all think “Hey! I might get some food!” So they moseyed on over to mooch some treats from us.

Jed. Was. In. Heaven!

Horsies! Right there!

We’re really trying to teach Jed how to behave around horses. I think I mentioned he’s fearless; he’ll walk under their bellies, right behind their legs, and he lets off shrieks of excitement at random moments. In case you’re not familiar with them, that is NOT how to act around a horse!

They’ll bolt when they’re startled, and a horse is – obviously – much larger and heavier than a three year old little boy!

He did okay, but he’s not yet ready to hang with horses unsupervised. He gave me about three heart attacks that afternoon!

But it was really precious to watch him giggle while feeding the horses some hay.

Feeding the Horses CradleRockingMama.com

I already mentioned that the boys chugged down enormous amounts of goat milk the first week of the trial. Eventually they drank two whole gallons of goat milk in a week, and we had to make the drive back to Lois sooner than expected.

On that trip she was busy doing farm work and didn’t have time to take us around to play with the animals. The boys were sorely disappointed at that!

Not only does she have the goats, horses, and a mule…she has dogs! And chickens! And turkeys! And doves! (And probably some other critters that I missed seeing while chasing the kids.)

Jed and Zac are in love with Lois’ ranch, because she has so many fabulous furry friends there to play with. Plus, Lois herself is just a sweetheart. She was so happy to hear that her milk was helping the boys.

That is something I’ve noticed about small farmers. Every single one that I’ve dealt with has actually been excited for us and proud of their work when we report that the kids are handling their food well. Marc, who provided us with lamb, was so sad when Zac reacted. I think he was almost as disappointed as we were!

Small farmers CARE. They take pride in what they do and truly want the best for their customers.

Lois is no exception. She was happy to send me home with 4 gallons of milk the last time we went, plus small tub’s of her homemade goat milk butter and cheese for us to trial on the boys.

I hope next time we go she’ll have the time to let the boys run around and visit the animals, but even if she doesn’t, the drive is worth it.

Seeing the boys drinking and loving their fresh milk makes the effort seem effortless.

Zac drinking goat milk CradleRockingMama Jed drinking goat milk CradleRockingMama

Besides, my Mom made an accidental discovery on the first trip down there. Did you know that store bought pork rinds only have two items in their ingredient list? Pork and salt. Jed can have those!

So grabbing a big ol’ bag of pork rinds to share with Grandma on the drive back from the goat farm has become sort of a tradition.

It’s the only time he ever gets that kind of junk food, after all.Β 

Do you Β just love visiting local farms and ranches? What’s your favorite thing about “knowing your farmer”?

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18 Responses to A Visit to the Goat Farm

  1. dkaj says:

    Carrie, I just thought of this. Ask your goat supplier if you can freeze their goat milk. I have done this with cow’s milk and it does work. You just need to leave extra room in the milk container for expansion during freezing and then it takes about 4 days in the refrigerator to thaw per gallon. It may water the milk down a little due to the freezing, but shake the milk good to stir it back up. I am not sure if freezing milk will destroy the enzymes in the milk, but I think your goat lady may know. Plus, this might save you a few trips and gas if you can buy more at one time. BEST WISHES AND GOOD LUCK GOING BACK TO WORK!!!

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks! She actually did tell us that goat milk will keep for about three or four weeks in the freezer. I’ve got two gallons in my freezer right now, just for the reasons you listed: saving us a trip and money!

      I didn’t know that it took 4 days to thaw, though, so thanks for the heads up! I may need to get a half gallon out to start thawing now! πŸ™‚

      • Ruth P. says:

        It does take that long to thaw a gallon (less for smaller containers), and don’t try to rush it or the milk fat will separate badly into large flakes and chunks. Keep in mind, if you are buying RAW milk, that thawing period also starts taking time off the freshness clock.

  2. Ruth P. says:

    And you got it right – that is exactly how small farmers and homesteaders feel about the food we produce. We want what is best for our customers AND for our animals. I see why the boys love the milk – those are Nubians. Nubian and Lamancha goats produce the sweetest, highest fat milk of the full-size dairy breeds, with very little “goaty flavor”. My girls are Nubian/Lamancha crosses. πŸ™‚

    • Carrie says:

      Lois talked to my mom about goats, and said that pure Nubians are very sickness prone. Are the Nubian/Lamancha crosses more hardy?

      I can’t wait to drink the milk in a few days and see how sweet it is! πŸ™‚

      • Ruth P. says:

        Interesting – I’ve never heard of anyone refer to Nubians as “sickness prone” and I know quite a few homesteaders that have them. If your mom actually decides to get some goats, all I would say about health is that she seriously consider only getting goats that have tested negative for caseous lymphadoma (CL) and caprine arthritic encephalitis (CAE) – and if the person selling the goats has never heard of those diseases or is unwilling to test, I’d look elsewhere.

  3. Greetings from an Urban Goat Farmer in Tampa, Florida – The Dancing Goat! We must sell for pet consumption only but I am not so gullible to think that Fido and Princess are the benefactors of the products I sell so I keep that in mind every time we milk and bottle that milk. Ruth P is right, if a breeder doesn’t know about CL or CAE and doesn’t test or raise kids on CAE prevention, run, don’t walk, the other way!

    We have Lamancha, Alpine and Saanen. While Nubians (and after over 16 years in goats I have never known them to be sickness prone) are known for their high butterfat, I find my Alpines and Lamanchas are producing a comparable amount which contributes to the goodness of our cheeses. The Saanens are much lower but with only two on the milkline of 30+, when it is “pooled” with the rest of the goat’s milk, it really doesn’t affect the overall butterfat ratio. It does provide us with volume as the Saanens are miniature cows in disguise as goats and can give up to 2 gallon per day!

    Normally a Saanen doesn’t do well in Florida heat but we have a unique set up where they have access to the barn and ceiling fans 24/7 and even are misted in the summer heat! Management is everything in keeping the milk sweet and wonderful! From the clean environment to the quality hay fed the goats!

    I do offer that your farmer sounds like she is a working farm and please try to remember that when you visit. If I dropped everything to tour people around and let their kids play each time they showed up, I would never get my chores finished. We offer pickups one day a week and that day I try to be showered and halfway presentable (compared to days I am mucking stalls and fixing fencing and trimming hooves…). If I have an extra 10 minutes, I try to take people on the “nickel” tour and let them see the animals and barn so they realize the care we take of our environment.

    I look at it this way, for every hour I spend with a visitor, that is an hour I do not sleep. My husband is disabled and I work 18 hours a day for 7 days a week. If not for the wonderful volunteers, I would not sleep at all! Farming is a labor of love, not for those looking to bank some money!

    • Carrie says:

      Hello Urban Goat Farmer! Thank you for all your great goat advice! If my parents can be talked in to adding goats to their farm, it will come in very useful.

      Oh, you needn’t worry! I would never inconvenience Lois! She’s wonderful and has her hands full. I know how hard it is to keep up with a small farm, thanks to my parents efforts – and they have far less to care for at this moment than Lois does. It’s just always a pleasant experience when we’re gifted the opportunity to visit the animals. πŸ™‚

      Your blog is cracking me up! I love how you handled Mr. Underpants, and am dying to know what happened to Bada Boom. And Facebook Farmer? That’s brilliant.

      So glad you stopped by! Don’t be a stranger. πŸ™‚

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  6. Samantha says:

    Lois is a good friend of mine! We live in Mountainburg, which is about 30 min from Ozark, and raise the Nigerian Dwarf Goats for milk, & a hobby because they’re so tiny and hilarious! Lois is a great goat mentor! We love her!!

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