Countdown to Dairy Goats!

Oh my… It’s been all I can think about lately. Goats. We’re finally getting goats. It’s really happening.

Even after they’re paid in full, and we’ve made all the necessary preparations, a part of me is still hesitant to accept that in 2 more days, there will be two beautiful milking does browsing around the homestead.

Let’s recap my history with goats briefly, shall we?

One time at a pumpkin patch, (it would’ve had to be a first grade field trip because I was sick for the kindergarten one. I remember because the class brought me back a pumpkin anyway and I cried when the stem broke off while I was waiting in line to go home.) I saw a couple goats at a petting zoo. I didn’t think much of them.

Our cousins west of Knoxville had some dwarf Nigerian goats. Their buck smelled… What’s worse than terrible? Foul? Evil? Take your pick. I decided I didn’t like bucks. (#notallbucks, #mostbucks, I know)

We moved to Tennessee in 2014 and I was sure we’d have a working farm in a couple years. My present day self laughs hysterically at the sheer ignorance and immaturity of that past self’s thought. “Oh, honey…”

After we built our chicken coop and run, I got a more realistic idea of what taking a property from run down mostly woods and weeds to working farm actually costs. And it was still at least a year before we started actively slaying our debt.

In 2017, I did some basic math and discovered that for me to have the quality milk I wanted in the state of Tennessee, I would have to own my own dairy animals. Since our property is more suited to goats than cows or sheep (for now) I decided we could potentially spend less money annually browsing goats on the homestead and making our own dairy products than I could afford to purchase at our then-current rate of consumption.

Then I started to binge watch YouTube videos on people with dairy goats. And I was seeing a lot of dwarf nigerians and I had flashbacks to that horrible stench of the dwarf bucks. Eew. So I breeched the depths of the internet researching goat forums, purchased and read at least 2 audiobooks, and read numerous articles on breed comparison. Then, I happened upon golden guernsey goats. I thought they were beautiful, majestic creatures who incidentally were reputed as giving high butterfat milk in large-for-their-size quantities. Ultimately, we knew we wanted to breed to British Guernsey status, so we looked for farms participating in a breeding-up program and we found Higher Ground Herbs and Homestead in 2019-2020.

Two years in a row, we had placed deposits on 2 doelings with another farm, and each time, something happened which shot our goat budget all to heck. What I actually am able to see now, is that what those things actually taught us is that we can’t do the homestead thing while enslaved to debt. So, I backed off my goat pursuits, and we whipped our finances into shape. Which was anything but easy.

In 2018, my husband worked 3 jobs over the summer while not in school. That was supposed to kill our credit card debt. What it actually did was pay for about 25% of a basement gutting and emergency black mold clean up… So then we really tightened our budget. No subscription services (except for Amazon prime because we buy a lot online), only cheap cuts of chicken for meat (I know Dave Ramsey says only rice and beans, but I’m more nutritionally restricted than most people so I wasn’t willing to cut many grocery costs) no eating out, no extra trips in the car to save gas, no fun purchases, no anything that could be considered extra or luxury- I even went to store brand coffee… And I stopped buying froofy teas altogether (and just took advantage of the fact that I grew my own herbs) I sold plant starts, raw angora rabbit fiber, heirloom seeds, and the odd sewing project to fund things on the homestead, fed our chickens for free on an organic cafe’s twice-weekly compost, and shopped nearly exclusively at Aldi- which by the way, is a cheaper subsidiary of Trader Joe’s- to squeeze every last dime we could from our expenses to slay debt.

I thrift store shopped for clothing, patched jeans, I stitched up armpit holes in shirts, resewed buttons, and I made my own maternity/nursing tees.

We traded our vehicles for used 25+ year old models, FINALLY sold our home in North Carolina, and put every gift check or extra bit of cash toward paying off debt. And in a matter of 18 months, we had paid off just under $200,000 worth of debt, give or take. AND replaced the leaky 40 year old roof, paid for 2 newborns, AND bankrolled a bachelor’s degree and the start of a master’s degree (which is still in progress) and other medical bills.

Let’s be clear- God was gracious in all this and He provided in ways I had never imagined– boxes of produce from church friends, gifted clothing, diapers, baby showers, scholarships, divine timing and orchestration of events- because we set our hearts on honoring God first with our finances and no longer enslaving ourselves to money and debt, He made a way for us. Lots of ways actually. And the whole time, we were actually living about 5k per year beneath the poverty line for a family of 5, and didn’t need to accept government assistance for food. That in itself is pretty spectacular.

Anyway, in that time, we developed a discipline in our hearts and trained our desires to conform to our goals; A process we’re still continuing now.

And what feels like ages later, we are two days away from walking two milking does onto our property and making them the first livestock (beyond chickens) to grace our homestead. We’ve made preparations bit by bit, month by month.

And it’s finally time. It’s surreal.

And part of me won’t accept it as reality until I see them browsing about the property, or when I go out to milk them twice daily.

Photo credit: April, at Higher Ground Herbs and Homestead

But the other part of me is positively giddy and will no doubt cry as soon as I lay eyes on those two beautiful ladies.

Photo credit: April at Higher Ground Herbs and Homestead

3 thoughts on “Countdown to Dairy Goats!

    1. That is amazing! I began with chickens. They’re kinda the gateway animal. Next stop for us is probably rabbits or another poultry.

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    2. Be careful! It’s a slippery slope! I started with chickens too, then guineas, turkeys, geese, ducks, and now pigs too. 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

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