Baby, It's Cold Outside

a winter tradition

Snowflakes.  Hot cocoa.  Walks in the snow with the goats.  Cold, cozy nights.  It's Christmas & the most wonderful time of the year.  The girls’ milk late in lactation is decadent - maximum butterfat brings forth a rich, creamy, sweet taste, plus amazing yields for my cheeses.  When the day is over, darkness comes, and the cold of northern New York really sets in, it’s the perfect time for a rich cup of hot cocoa.  We like it dark & decadent around here.  
So let it snow....

"The future lies before you, like a field of fallen snow; be careful how you tread, for every step will show."

playing in the snow

Wishing you and yours
Merry Christmas & a Happy Goat Year
from all of us at Sweet Land Nigerians

Book: Raising Goats Naturally

Deborah Niemann's new book Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, & More is a blend of research and anecdotes on raising Nigerian Dwarf goats in particular.  Her adventurous spirit, combined with comprehensive research and excitement to share her experience, shaped my own views on raising goats.  I started reading Deborah's writings when I brought home Cala and Kizzy, my first two Nigerian Dwarf goats, several years ago and became a bonafide herd owner.  Now she puts it all together in a book that every goat owner will find helpful and encouraging. 

Update from Colleen

Colleen took home Huck & Finn this spring, and sent this note and pictures.  After families take the goats home (and as they prepare) we are happy to answer questions as they come up.  We love our goats and want them and the people who love them to be happy too; it is wonderful getting updates about the kids - thank you Colleen!

I just wanted to to let you know that the boys are wonderful. They have been living in their new shed and love going outside whenever they want!
- Colleen

Huck & Finn
The boys' new building!
In the brambles


Update from Jen

Jennifer took home Patches & Freckles this spring, and sent this note and pictures.  After families take the goats home (and as they prepare) we are happy to answer questions as they come up.  We love our goats and want them and the people who love them to be happy too; it is wonderful getting updates about the kids - thank you Jen!

Hope you enjoyed your summer!  Here are a couple of pics I took of the goats this weekend.  They are very sweet & funny.  They are doing well, they like to stay close.
 Take care,

Patches & Freckles









Walk in the Summer Woods

“The Igbo of Nigeria tell their children, if lost in the wilderness follow a goat, she always knows the way back home. I’ve been following these goats back home each day, but where they led me surprises me still.”   Brad Kessler, Goat Song
the herd (+ 1 dog)

We have been taking the girls and kids for walks in the woods.  They love it!  We laugh so much at their antics.  The little kids are energetic and full of fun.  Soon this year’s babies will go to new homes and it will be back to the originals, with the addition of Calantha, who replaces big sister Cadence as the baby of the group.  I am putting together lots of herbal mixes to use in the coming months.  Using traditional herbs is key to our herd management, maximizes the girls’ health, and is in keeping with their heritage.  Kizzy, Cala, and Trillium are providing plenty of milk in their 3rd lactations.  I am once again making yoghurt in 1 gallon batches at a time.  Goat’s milk ice cream is a perfect treat on summer evenings.  Chevre and fresh mozzarella cheesemaking has also started up again, with garden fresh herbs.  Toasted homemade bagels and fresh Chevre & mozzarella.  YUM!  Summertime!

Cadence & Trillium
 in the blackberry briars  
the little kids join in the fun too!
the first girls born under "Sweet Land" - a sassy pair of sweethearts

Kizzy's Twins - 2013

Update: Huck and Finn are sold.  Thank you Colleen!

Sugar Knoll Kizzy gave birth to twin bucklings late in the evening on May 25.  Both boys were out within a few minutes of each other and nursing, and one has blue eyes.  We were hoping for a doeling from her but didn’t get one this time.  During the birth, Kizzy made sure one of us was in the birthing pen with her before kidding.  Kizzy continues to impress with her milk production!  Sired by James, our best buck, her boys are strong and healthy with steady personalities. 

Raising Goats....

Want to be convinced that goats are delightful, practical, useful?  They have also been described as sociable, intelligent, inquisitive, clever, and resourceful.  Their milk is delicious and their antics entertaining.  Does this make them the perfect little livestock?  We love our goats and they have their benefits, but they are not for everyone.  So for a more balanced overview of what raising goats entails, here are some important points.

 1.  Boundaries.  A goat's goal in life is to climb on, jump over, or squeeze through whatever obstacle is in the way Good fences are essential.  Pregnant with triplets, a goat will balance precariously on top of a hay feeder, and a petite kid will demonstrate her agility and resourcefulness infinite times.  But with a sturdy fence, foresightedness on the owner's part, and basic carpentry skills, goats can be managed safely and happily, and their owners can have peace of mind.  For the same reason - that the intelligent goat's goal in life is to challenge the ingenuity of their less intelligent human owner - grain must be kept out of sight and out of reach so that they do not gorge themselves and bloat.

2. Routine Care.  Goats, especially dairy goats, require routine care.  Being ruminants, goats need a balanced diet, with adequate amounts of selenium, copper, iodine, and other minerals.  Their nutritional requirements change during pregnancy.  The goat owner must know symptoms of deficiency and how to treat and prevent deficiencies.  Good browse and hay (alfalfa is the best) is a requirement for lactating goats.  The owner should also be comfortable administering shots and vaccines.  Other things to consider are trimming hooves (it's good to do this monthly), disbudding kids with an iron (the most humane and effective way of disbudding), castrating male kids who are to be raised as pets, and drawing blood for blood tests of infectious diseases using a needle and blood collecting device.

3. The Nitty Gritty.  Dairy goats raised for milk will have to be bred to produce milk and begin a new lactation cycle, usually once/year.  This means breeding season, bucks, and baby kids!  Does and bucks in fall heat can be ornery and stubborn.  Bucks at the best of times are stinky and have gross behavior - when they are in rut multiply that times 10.  During breeding season, bucks and does will wail to one another across the fence line and escape if given the chance.  Know what to expect and how to manage them during this time.  It's important to have a breeding schedule, of who to breed to who and when, and mark on the calendar when the kids are due.

4. Responsibility.  Owning goats requires dedication and responsibility from the owner, whether for pets or dairy.  If you own a dairy goat, she must be milked at regular intervals; otherwise, her milk production will decrease or mastitis could be an issue.  If you own pet goats, they will still need care and attention from the owner.  Goats are social creatures.  Each goat needs at least one other caprine companion, as well as adequate shelter, fencing, pasture and browse, feeders, buckets, grain, hay, mineral supplements, and dewormer. 

Every person can decide whether the benefits of owning goats are worth it to their family and circumstances.  In our family and to many others across the country, the answer is a certain "yes."  This all takes some time and some money.  On the other hand, the benefits of drinking raw, organic milk are priceless for health and well-being.  Not to mention the fresh goat cheeses and yoghurt that are better than anything you can buy in the grocery stores.  Goats can enrich your life in many ways, just know what you're up against, be prepared, and most importantly - be willing to learn new skills, have fun and enjoy your critters!

For more about the good, the bad, and the best parts of owning goats:

Over the Rainbeau, by Lisa Schwartz
Lisa Schwartz enjoys her life to the fullest - this book is full of beautiful pictures, seasonal observances, and recipes using goat milk and cheese. 

Goat Song, by Brad Kessler
Simply beautiful.

Homegrown & Handmade, by Deborah Niemann
A resource book on living with intention.

Trillium's Twins - 2013

 Update: Sold

Capsand Creamery Trillium gave birth to 2 male kids just before midnight, May 16.  They are healthy and doing well.  Both have blue eyes.  Sadly, she also gave birth to a breech buckling, stillborn.  After the initial disappointment, what a surprise to see not one, but two more kids ready to come out at the same time and causing a traffic jam in her birth canal.  After a bit of human assistance and patient determination from Trillium, both were safely out into the world.  Trillium was quiet and patient through everything and determined to deliver her babies.  They were soon nursing from Trillium, tiny miracles.

Trillium has a beautiful maternal instinct and it is a joy to watch her interact with her kids.  Her udder is buttery soft and her teats easily expressed.  She stands perfectly on the milkstand.  Christine, Trillium’s former owner, has a special place in her heart for Trillium and has been very supportive since we bought Trillium from her last summer.  Last spring in Vermont, Trillium had a difficult post-pregnancy and the herd dynamics at Capsand Creamery weren't best for her recovery.  I am grateful to Christine for trusting Trillium to my care, and I hope that she continues to do well in this lactation.  I will keep a close eye on her throughout the coming months.  It is evident to me that she was well-loved and she is a joy to have. 

Christine retained Titanium, Trillium’s precious only girl from last season and now Christine's favorite doe.  She reports that she has an incredible udder and great capacity this spring, her first lactation.  With the combination of genetics, personality, and flashy looks, Titanium is a superb combination and I hope to likewise retain at least one female from Trillium in the future.  With James as their sire, Trillium’s 2 little guys from this year's kidding will have gentle calm spirits and affectionate personalities.  We will enjoy them for the next several weeks before they leave for their new home!

Cala's Triplets - 2013

Update: Males Sold (Jen), Female Retained 

Spring kidding season has begun!  Sugar Knoll Calabash gave birth to three beautiful, healthy babies ~ two males and one female ~ around 8:00 pm on Friday, March 1.  They are all doing great.  This is too much fun!

The largest kid - he has a lot of vigor and loves to play.

Introducing "Calantha" (lovely blossom) - she has the sweetest personality and loves to be held.  I think she will take after her mama.

The little guy - he has a gentle spirit and enjoys cuddles.

Winter Wonderland


Calabash was bred to Apollo and is due in February, and getting bigger every day.  She is now dried off as her body prepares for the miracle of birth.  Her triplets of last spring were beautiful with wonderful personalities.  The owners' of one of her kids from last season say that the little wether has the sweetest personality of any goat they ever owned!  We can attest that Cadence also has her mother's affection, as well her curiosity and penchant for mischief. 

Kizzy and Trillium were both bred to a blue-eyed buck last month, and we'll know in a few weeks whether they settle.  This was the first time using the new buck God's Love James.  He has a calm, steady personality and seems to be the right match for both Kizzy and Trillium.  Now in her second lactation, Kizzy is our top milker.  Her milking records have proven her terrific milking ability and long lactation!  We are now milking her once/day, and she is still giving a steady quart every morning.  Trillium is another girl with quality genetics, and I'm hoping some of her offspring will have blue eyes.  Christine from CapsandCreamery says that Titanium, Trillium's doeling from last season, is the strongest and fastest growing kid from her 2012 group.  Titanium also has stunning black markings and her dam's beautiful sky-blue eyes.

The girls love their pine needles and daily walks in the winter.  Exercise is important for the health of pregnant does.  Their dense winter coats keep them warm in the often below freezing temperatures.  When Cadence puffs her hair up in the morning she resembles a strange kind of polar bear.  Cadence sometimes races with our yellow Labrador Hudson, though neither knows where the finish line is.  They also love treats of crunchy carrots & turnips from last summer's garden.  Happily for now, summer is a distant memory in this winter wonderland.   

Chickens & Ducks:

Heritage Breed Buckeye (ALBC threatened list). These chickens are friendly and active,a favorite of ours.

Barred Rock and Delaware

Welsh Harlequin Ducks (ALBC critical list)

*ALBC stands for the "American Livestock Breeds Conservancy" - ALBC website

"The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy protects genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of endangered breeds. These rare breeds are part of our national heritage and represent a unique piece of the earth's bio-diversity. The loss of these breeds would impoverish agriculture and diminish the human spirit. We have inherited a rich variety of livestock breeds. For the sake of future generations we must work together to safeguard these treasures.

These breeds are threatened because agriculture has changed. Modern food production now favors the use of a few highly specialized breeds selected for maximum output in a controlled environment. Many traditional livestock breeds have lost popularity and are threatened with extinction. These traditional breeds are an essential part of the American agricultural inheritance."