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Today was nuts

I have the kidding area setup so I can separate mammas with their babies at night, but open it up so the babies can mingle in there during the day.  When the mammas start wanting to go out to pasture with their friends, I send them out, and, if they want their babies to stay behind, the kidding area serves as a daycare.

It sounded good on paper.

The mammas don’t want their babies playing with each other.  They’re all being super-protective mammas.  I kept the mammas in the barn with their kids, and kicked everyone out when we had a sunny day.  That did not loosen anyone up.

It does not help that the kids can’t tell Meg and Kit (the red mammas) apart from a distance.  The mammas can’t tell Spirit and Bear (the black babies), or Meg’s boys and Kit’s girl (all red), apart at a distance.  Sweetie is fairly lovely about mistaken identity.  Meg and Kit think the kids are doing it on purpose, and they think the kids need to be put in their place.  “I am NOT your mamma!”

For the last week, I have been alternately ignoring or responding to various mamma’s plaintive wails.

This afternoon, I responded.  There was quite a LOT of screaming.

I found alpacas circling the wagons around goats.  Meg standing by the barn, complaining, but not more than usual, one kid by her side.  Kit racing down the hill to the herd, screaming, with occasional glimpses of a kid bobbing along at her side.  Sweetie bawling her lungs out, racing up the hill.  I knew it was wrong when Abbey raced into the middle of it.  Abbey may be a problem child sometimes, but she takes care of her herd before she head-butts them.

From a distance, all I could tell was that it was a really good-looking kid.  So I thought Kit was taking Spirit down to Sweetie.  “Aw, that’s sweet” ran through my mind.  When I got into the middle of it, Sweetie was already back up the hill, but the kid was so confused, he had run to the gate nearest the house.  Yep, he.  It was Meg’s boy.  Sweetie was panicked, trying to get through the scary-alpacas to the wayward kid.  The alpacas were trying to surround him for protection.  He was trying to escape the scary-alpacas.  By the time I got to him, he was so freaked out he ran from me.

My best guess?  He just followed a red goat.  Since she was the wrong red goat, she ran away from him.  “Don’t drink my milk, kid!”  But he kept coming, so she kept running, and, next thing you know, she’s really far away from her own kids.  “MAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”  Since she doesn’t care who’s kid he is, she doesn’t know which mamma to deposit him with.  Since she’s a new mamma, she’s over her head just keeping track of her kids and her hormones, so she had no clue where Meg was.  She just ran to the herd.  And maybe some part of her knew that taking another goat’s kid OUTSIDE, without his mamma, was a bad thing to do.    “MAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”  And then Sweetie thought what I thought – “A kid that good-looking has to be mine!”

Poor kid.  When a baby goat is scared, we get down low and talk calmly to it.  Chasing a scared goat just upsets them.  So I was able to snatch him up, give him a hug, and take him back to mom.  I put him with his mom, and he and the other kid went running in circles, hiding behind things, acting nuts.  I scooped them up and took them back into the barn – with a pack of angry mammas behind me, screaming like banshees.  It turns out, the kid that had been standing with Meg was Kit’s kid!  When I put them down, I didn’t even have to look to see which one had the big adventure; I could feel his heart pounding in his chest.

So I took ALL their kids away from them after a quick sort-out and a suckle of “nature’s valium” (mamma’s milk).  I sent the mammas outside to cool off, while I hugged baby goats.  Which, it turns out, is what the mammas wanted.  They wanted some “me” time away from their kids, but they wanted me to babysit so they wouldn’t worry while they were out kicking up their heels.

I got 4 out of 5 babies piled together in one hut for a nap, and let Spirit climb on me just outside.  Spirit loves her “me” time, too.  Seems she’s been feeling a little vulnerable, and I’m her “safety zone.”  Spirit tucks into her own baby hut to escape the melee – even though there’s no melee in her bonding stall.  As I spent extra time with the babies today, trying to bond them together, I realized that Spirit needs her safety zone.  She would play a tiny bit with the other (smaller, younger) babies, then run back to me.  She mostly just played with me, while the other babies mingled.

So, tonight, when everyone went back to their stalls, I went into Sweetie’s stall and sat with Spirit for a bit,  I sat on a plastic chair and let Spirit flitter around me.  She ducked under the chair and nibbled hay.  So I put her to bed.  And she ran back out of her hut and begged for more play time.  I sat down on the barn floor and gave her a little more huggies, and gave her mom some huggies, too.  It was the quietest the barn has been in days.  All the babies tired out, napping, except Spirit.  All the mamma’s content that their babies were where they were supposed to be.  Sweetie still feeling a little confused at her new home, but happy to get pets while her baby sat in my lap next to her.


Sweetie is new to us.  Most of our Mini Nubian goats are related to each other, so Sweetie brought us some “new blood.”  She’s wonderawful.  We love her, but she isn’t one of ours, so she has some annoying habits we’re asking her to break.

And she is fascinated by how things work here.  Sometimes, she’s terribly annoyed with us.  She tried to break into the milk room almost daily, and she thinks it’s terribly unfair we don’t let her in.  But she also looks a bit amazed when she joins the gaggle of goats swirling around us for pets at the end of the day.

And she is truly fascinated with baby goat bonding.  With the cold weather, I tuck each baby goat into my “mobile portable baby goat heater”, which is to say, I tuck them into my jacket.  It warms them up and gets them used to hugs.  (I do not think goats understand the concept of clothes.  Sweetie can see me put Spirit into my jacket, and she’ll turn around and scream “I lost my baby!” like she has no concept that Spirit is in my jacket.  She doesn’t even look for Spirit near me, even though that’s the last place she saw her.  It’s like she thinks I teleported Spirit when I picked her up.)

Now, I’m tucking new babies into my jacket.  And Sweetie comes over every single time, to look in my jacket. “What do you have there?”

This morning, I sat in Meg’s stall, next to Sweetie’s stall, and warmed up one of Meg’s kids.  Sweetie came over and poked her head through the stall divider.  I sat there awhile, hugging the baby and petting Sweetie.

Baby Goat Video

We posted some cute videos of Spirit to our Facebook page.

You can see the twitchy “I’m tired but I have to PLAAAYYY” energy and her lovely little face.  And her first meeting with an alpaca, complete with KISSES!

Be sure to “Like” Mamma Goat Milk Soap for updates when we post pics and videos!

A nice day for a hike

We were doing barn chores, and the goats told me very firmly that they wanted to go on a hike.  Well, I had work to do, but the poor things have been pretty cooped up with the drizzly weather.  They told me by lining up at the gate as I hauled wheelbarrows of compost through.  They didn’t sneak through.  They just looked at me hopefully.  “Walk?”  I gave in.  We went for a hike.

Our farm is too hilly for normal pastures, but it does lend itself to hiking a bit.  So I grab some tools to tackle Himalayan blackberries, call the goats, and head out to the other side of the farm.  We go down a big hill, and I stop at the bottom, turn around, and watch the goats come down.  They get so happy, they jump in the air.  While running.  Downhill.  Usually sideways jumps, 4 feet in the air, legs dancing.  Then we hike through the trees, and squeeze through a narrow pass into a wider section.  They squeeze through the pass single-file, then mass up in the wide area and run after me as a pack.  Then they spread out and nibble.

I use pallets to smush the blackberry canes.  I press them down, then climb up to use my weight to break the thicker canes.  Abbey is my partner.  Once I get the pallet stable, she climbs up.  Her weight is a big help.  I put my hand on her shoulder, and she stands still and braces me while I climb to the top edge and hop.  She waits for me to release pressure on her shoulder, and climbs up to the top edge with me.  I’m about 120 lbs., she’s about 120 lbs., she climbs up and we’ve got twice as much weight to break blackberry canes.  She puts her weight at the same edge I do – whichever edge that is.  It’s a strange method, but it works.

Abbey wandered off when I was repositioning the pallet again.  A trio of mini Nubians hopped up to help me out, but they did it all wrong.  Nobody was stabilized enough to brace me!  Abbey’s help was never requested or trained – it just sort of evolved naturally.  I didn’t realize until today how perfectly she melded into the process.  When I started, I didn’t let the goats climb the pallet until I stabilized it.  Abbey thought she was special, so she climbed up there anyway.  And she turned into a help.  When she felt that it was shaky, she braced.  When she stood solid, I used her for balance.  And she held steady for me, sensing that she was supporting me.

Abbey has been a real brat lately, but we make a good team most of the time.  She’s bratty because she’s in heat, I think, but she doesn’t like her buck.

Well, I paused on our hike, and just let the goats be goats out there.  I turned to the other side of the clearing, and Kopi was reaching for high leaves, balanced on Maggie’s back.  Maggie and Kopi don’t have a special bond.  Kopi’s big.  Maggie isn’t.  She ducked out from under, but not before giving Kopi a minute to eat high leaves.  I guess that’s what goats do for their herd – they lend a hoof.  And they give us an honorary space in the herd.

It’s kind of cool how the goats help us sometimes, deliberately.  I grew up with dogs and cats, not goats.  I didn’t expect goats to be – well, anything except a milk source, and a pasture occupier.  To see them finding ways to help us out – that’s cool.  My dog tries to help out.  He cleans up food spills and tells the UPS guy – in NO uncertain terms – to go away.  I expect that.  I was really surprised to find goats being actively helpful.

Don’t you hurt my Ma!

I had to run to the house for something near the end of barn chores.  The family dog begged to come back to the barn with me.  A rare treat for him, but I agreed.

He stayed on the non-goat side of the barn.  The goats stayed on the goat side of the barn.  I went back and forth, gathering hay and delivering it to the goat feeders.

When I stepped to the goat side of the barn, the goats surrounded me, asking for hugs.

When I stepped to the non-goat side, the dog came looking for pets.

When I squatted down to give the goats their good-night hugs, the dog went on alert.  “Don’t you hurt my Mom!”

When i squatted down to give reassuring pets to the dog, the goats went on alert.  “Don’t you hurt our Ma!”

It’s my job to keep my goats and dog safe.  But it’s charming that they want to return the favor.  I hope, every time, that watching the dog hug me like they do, watching him obey (like they don’t!) and watching him be harmless, will assure the goats that this dog is a good one.  They crowd close, and Abbey stands up against the fence, ready to leap over it if I need her.   Hannah reached her head as far as it would stretch, coming as close as she could to gauge the dog’s intention, to smell for any fear emanating from me.

Sigh, I guess the goats will never accept the family dog as a friend.  They’ve either known him for over 2 years, or grown up with him.  He free-ranges with the chickens sometimes, and they’ve had many hours to observe him through the fence.  He’s never so much as chased a single animal.  He has no prey drive in him.  He appreciates wildlife and farm animals like a bird-watcher appreciates birds – something to watch from a distance, just to enjoy the sight.  He learned as a baby that chasing makes them leave.

Only Lisa ignored the dog.  She spends as much of her life as possible with her head buried in alfalfa.

Always on-trend: DHMO (no kidding)

Goat milk is a potent life force, rich in sugars, protein, nutrients, and it’s a natural source of dyhodrogen monoxide (DHMO), one of the most potent beautifiers known to humankind.  DHMO is naturally found in organic kale, healthy soil, aloe vera leaf, and the human body.  It can plump cells and remove toxins from the body.  DHMO can be isolated from milk, vegetables, and even human urine.  In fact, I believe that our goats would not survive without it.  It is so potent that many experts recommend drinking pure DHMO to support health, energy, and beauty.  Studies have shown that drinking as much as 8 to 10 cups of DHMO per day “improves brain performance by as much as 30 percent.”

With a name like Dyhdrogen Monoxide (DHMO), you might think this beautifying wonder comes from a lab.  Don’t let the chemistry types fool you – DHMO was invented by mother nature, and the vast majority of industrial DHMO comes directly from natural sources.

Super models, royals, and movie stars all use DHMO, and their radiant beauty shows its benefits.  Rumor has it, many of the wealthiest beauties through history have soaked in entire tubs of DHMO!  It is said that DHMO plumps the skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.  It can even enhance the oxygenation of cells, supporting the life cycle of healthy skin.  Warm DHMO reputedly opens pores to enhance cleansing and reduce clogged pores.  Cold DHMO is claimed to enhance glossiness in hair.

WebMD reports that exercise can reduce body stores of DHMO.  DHMO is so beneficial, deficiency can lead to death.  Oral supplementation is more effective than topical products for restoring DHMO lost to exercise.  But if you’re not a fan of the taste, don’t worry.  DHMO is naturally present in many foods and beverages, is added to many manufactured food and drinks, and it can be added to coffee or tea for luxurious boost.  In fact, WebMD recommends consuming DHMO with every meal or snack.  It’s just that good!  In its pure form, DHMO is low-calorie and a welcome addition to a healthy diet (but, as always, it is most effective in it’s natural form, and highly-processed versions may contain salt, sugars, synthetic colors and flavors and other diet-busters and beauty-busters).

DHMO gives ice cream a rich mouth-feel, and improves flavor and texture in many cooked foods.  The finest restaurants literally pipe it in to ensure that customers enjoy a truly unforgettable dining experience, and DHMO is found in some of the most expensive wines and liquors in the world.  Discriminating consumers frequently seek out DHMO-rich products, and happily pay a premium price for them.

DHMO is an amazing solvent for soap, enhancing lather and improving rinse effectiveness.  As a component of goat milk, it is an integral part of our soapmaking process.  In moisturizer, it can boost skin levels of DHMO, while the luxurious lotion additives reduce evaporation of DHMO through the skin.  It is so effective, we encourage customers to use DHMO with bar soaps for enhanced skin feel.

In agriculture, DHMO helps plants bloom and flourish.  It can boost milk production in organic dairies, and it is a critical dietary supplement for free-range chickens.  It can be used to alleviate heat stress in livestock, and duck farms often use it to promote mental health and exercise.  Some farms mix it with probiotics or herbs to make natural veterinary supplements.  It can be used to warm hypothermic livestock, and some alpaca farms spray it directly on the alpacas to provide natural cooling.  Yet, DHMO is not eligible for organic certification.

Like all miracle beauty boosters, moderation is key.  Massive amounts of DHMO have required Federal disaster assistance in locations as diverse as Florida, Louisiana, and New York.  Excessive consumption can have health repercussions.  And DHMO is a major constituent in agricultural runoff and sewer flows.  But normal topical use in skincare is considered not only safe, but beneficial.  Fortunately, the toxic dose for DHMO is extremely high, and quantities as high as 2600 mL per day have been considered as safe and beneficial even for breastfeeding mothers.  Yet, some over-reaching local governments have proposed to ban, restrict, tax, or regulate DHMO.  Our goat farm friends in California are experiencing severe restrictions.  Well-meaning but misguided activists have encouraged this regulatory over-reach.  And Oregon farmers are subject legal restrictions on its use.

There is no validity to the controversy regarding DHMO.  People use it safely every day.  Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents survived years of unregulated use with little to no side-effects.  Like many natural ingredients, DHMO has been “field tested” over millenia and we won’t let modern rabble-rousers stop us from enjoying the traditional benefits of sensible DHMO use.

Yes, we supplement our goats with this amazing natural complex.  It boosts milk production and supports goat health.  DHMO is allowed under organic certification standards for uses as diverse as cleaning udders and treating heat stress.  In fact, no government anywhere in the world has ever banned feeding DHMO to livestock.  Not even in Europe.  Not even in California.  Not even in France.

By offering our goats DHMO every day, we ensure that their milk is rich with DHMO along with other water-soluble nutrients.  Their kids drink the DHMO-rich milk, and even consume pure DHMO on the side sometimes.  We believe that DHMO is the most important foundation of our nutrition program for producing rich milk and healthy babies.  And the results speak for themselves!  Our goats enjoy glossy, soft coats, sparkling eyes, vibrant energy, and supple skin.

Let yourself in on the beauty secret goats and royalty have known for millennia – try DHMO today!

If you’re having trouble finding DHMO in stores, look for it under its many names: H20, hydric acid, water, Dihydrogen Oxide, aqua, Hydrogen Hydroxide, or Hydronium Hydroxide.  In beauty products, it is usually simply labeled as “Water” but European brands often prefer to label it as “Aqua.”

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, and Happy New Year’s, y’all!

New way to pasteurize milk

“Researchers in Oregon State University’s Department of Food Science and Technology are using an emerging high-pressure technology to process milk at lower temperatures while still maintaining the safety of heat-pasteurized milk. The result is safe milk that tastes fresher and has a longer shelf life than conventionally processed milk.”

Pasteurizing at lower temperatures should retain more of the nutrients, as well.   This could be a win for raw-milk drinkers and cheese-makers, as well as farmers.

Working on a new product

The baby goats love to nibble on my hair.

Now, I do pretty well taking care of the goats, but not so much for my hair.  A haircut for me goes like this:

“Phil, I need a haircut.  Find some scissors.”

I put my hair in a ponytail, and he hacks off the end.

Seriously.  If I have time for going to a hairdresser, I’ll use that time to fix things the goats broke.  I used to have an amazing hairdresser.  I used to put gobs of products in my hair to make it silky-smooth.  Who has time for that when there are adorable baby goats that need hugs?

So when the goats nibble on my hair, I yell at them “I don’t care if it looks like straw!  You can’t eat it!”

A couple days ago, Paddy had a baby flashback.  She’s almost 2 years old now, but she got behind me and nibbled my hair.

But today, I can’t stop petting my hair.  It feels as nice as Sweetie’s fur, and Sweeties fur feels amazing.

We’re not ready for sale yet, but daanng, we’re on the right track.  Good stuff coming your way this summer.

Grrrr. No pics

Abbey was doing her thing – standing at the gate, wondering when we’d come back.  I decided to snap a pic, so you could see Abbey the way we sooo often see her.

Well, I had the big camera out, so I headed down to the barn to finally get pics of the Nibbly Nibblets, and pics of our beautiful new Nubian, Sweet Romance (Sweetie).

Still no decent shots of Butters and Token (the Nibbly-Nibblets).  And Sweetie seems to think she looks best in profile.  Every time I pointed the camera at her, she looked away, so I got profile pics of her lovely Roman nose and big floppy ears.

I walked around to the other side to try to get a front-face shot.  Sweetie looked at Kit, Kit looked at Sweetie, and they silently agreed to kiss for the camera.  And I got the shot!!  OMG, soooo cute!  She IS a sweetie!  Well, I snapped some other cute shots of other adorable goats, too.

And I grabbed the memory card reader to download the pics – and found the memory card in the reader rather than in the camera. 🙁  🙁  🙁


It’s a Cannon camera, and Cannon doesn’t support drivers for it anymore.  So the pictures are lost.