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More Goats??

As you know, we’ve got goats! Last July 6th we brought home four Kiko does. Shortly after that we added three Nigerian Dwarfs, and right after that, Chris decided we needed to add some Purebred Kiko does to the herd. So we did. Within a matter of months we went from four Kiko’s, to seven Kiko does, two Nigerian Dwarf does and a Nigerian Dwarf buck. That’s it, no more goats! I put my foot down. Yes, we have acreage, but “we” only wanted to use about two of those acres for my farm. I say “we” because I like to dream big, and in the middle of my dreaming about the farm, and what we can do with it, Chris limited me to one teeny tiny little postage stamp of said acreage, I believe it was about two full acres. I was fine with it, we wanted to leave the back 20 for hunting, hiking, and the boys rode bikes and 4-wheelers back there. Chris follows along pretty closely in the Facebook groups, and he started reading more posts about the 100% Kiko’s. I didn’t like the idea of spending all this money on a goat. It’s a freaking goat! That’s supposed to be used for meat! The more I thought about it, I thought, well, we do need a herd Sire. But if we breed him to our current herd, we’ll never get a 100% Kiko. So I agreed to ONE 100% Kiko doe as well as one 100% Kiko buck. So naturally that turned into, one buck, one doe and one doeling. (Farm Math, it’s not just chickens).

So once we picked up our new, what I refer to as “designer” goats, and still we’re about to pick up our last two new Registered Nigerian Dwarf does, (they will help us enter into the competition market), we both agreed enough. At least until we know what the plan is with the goats. Like I said after our goat conference, there’s a real market for meat goats, but how and where do we fit in with our herd? So I started looking at the goat meat industry, how do we break into that and what do we need to do? I called the USDA to get our farm registered, that’s a very lengthy process, but we’re excited to be part of their program! Their agriculture program is amazing and they really help guide new farmers to get set up in a way that is beneficial to the land, thus the animals, thus the meat we consume. It’s a win win win! Next we’re working with the food safety department and MDARD to make sure we’re meeting all regulations with each step we take in that direction. Fun fact, when I called MDARD the lady who answered my call was confused with my questions of how I needed to get started. She asked, “have you received a fine”? I said, “no, I’m trying to avoid being fined, so I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction so when we’re ready, we know what we need to do”. She was stunned. “I don’t know if I’ve ever received a call from someone before they were fined”! Crazy!

So I continued to research. I looked at meat processors, I looked at the different licenses we would need to sell and the variety of ways we can sell the meat. Then I stopped and thought, we have a very small breeding herd, and we sold out of everything we had available this year, and we’ve already started a waiting list for next year. Of course you’ve guessed it already, we need more goats! I told Chris my thoughts, but he wasn’t so sure. So I explained it again, “we can’t sell our herd’s kids for meat, they cost too much. We need commercial goats, something that would be profitable immediately”. He humored me and allowed me to search. Within a few days a man down in Alabama posted that he needed to sell his whole herd. My first thought was “ROAD TRIP”! It took Chris a little longer to get on board with the idea, but he got there, and it turned out to be an amazing experience.

In the meantime, we need to make room for our additional 13 goats! My postage stamp farm has turned into the whole 25 acres, nothing is off limits now. This is what happens when Chris gets excited. He added new fencing, extended other fencing. We rested one pasture, combined the Dwarfs and Kiko’s, added some temporary fencing and voila! Before we could make our journey we needed to look seriously at our livestock trailer, it’s old and beat up, but it works well for local things. It’s in no way the thing you take to Alabama to pick up your new herd of 13 goats. So Chris reached out to The Lozier family ,who we bought our first goats from and asked to rent their trailer. Luckily for us, they’re amazing people and agreed to rent it out. Next we had to plan the best route, a stop in Nashville to see family and a very affordable place to sleep. It’s also conveniently on the way down, so that was perfect. Once we got there, we needed a place to sleep, and boy did we meet an amazing man.

Samuel Kenneth was the seller of the herd. He’s a Vietnam Vet. He owns the most beautiful piece of land with a small house that his 94 year old father lives in. Ken, in true Southern hospitality, offered Chris and I his 5th wheel on said beautiful property. So we accepted his offer and off we went! The drive to Nashville is always a pretty one, I especially love driving through Kentucky. I beg Chris to move there each time we go through it, his answer is the same, “you couldn’t handle the

humidity, I know I can’t”. Whimp. I’m a firm believer that humidity keeps me looking young.

We had a lovely and quick stay in Nashville, we got to visit the kids who were on vacation down there, I got to see my dog, the love of my life, Addie aka Fluffy Butt. We took the dogs on a very hot walk to a really cool park with a little ravine right next to it, and the dogs jumped right in and played. After that it was time to hit the road again, another 5 hour drive and we would be in Alabama.

When we got to Ken’s property he was out waiting for us with his two dogs and his Ranger at the side of the road. He told us to follow him in and so we did. (This was the moment I kicked myself for hating a property Chris and I looked at before settling on our current home. Granted the house was nothing special, but the land)!

The pastures the goats were in was beautiful! He had an orchard of peach trees, a warehouse that used to hold laying chickens for a hatchery that had burned down nearby, something he doesn’t want to do again. He showed us the 5th wheel we would be spending the night in, it was complete with fresh picked peaches, and a homemade Bundt cake. I was floored, I had never before experienced real Southern hospitality, and wow! How is this not the norm all over our country? Everyone would be so much happier!

We put our stuff down and hopped on his ranger and he took us all over the property, we met his dad who was sitting on his front porch (❤️), he took us through his woods that backed up to a river, the dogs jumped in immediately and played. From there we went to see the old chicken warehouse, and his dad’s honey room, because his 94 year old dad has honey bees! I know from a little bit of experience, that’s a lot of work, so I am still very impressed. Btw, he gave us a jar of honey which has a peach flavor to it. AMAZING!! Next we went and looked at the goats, we made a plan and agreed it was a good one. Let’s meet at 5am so we can hit the road by 6.

We said good night, Chris and I jumped in the truck to grab dinner and gas in town, it was all of a gas station, and a few restaurants. We opted to grab some beer at the gas station only to realize it’s Sunday in Alabama, (aka the Bible belt, aka they don’t sell alcohol on Sunday’s). Florida was only 10 mins away, so sure why not? Now we can say we drove to Florida from Michigan, but to put that into perspective, the next day we drove from basically the Alabama/Florida state border to Michigan with no stops for sleeping. This was a 16 hour drive with traffic that we had attempted to miss.

Everyone does this right?

So the next morning we met with Ken, we loaded up some of the grain he was feeding his goats and some to coax them onto the trailer. The plan was to get the three buckling's in the trailer first. Next, Ken would get the girls to follow him into the pasture with some feed. That worked beautifully. Where we went wrong was trying for four hours for the other two girls to get into the trailer. It was a mess, and what started as a joke, “let’s leave them behind”, became more of a serious consideration, which led to, “we need to start driving”. So much to all of our dismay, we left two gorgeous goats behind. We made it home super late and very grateful we had most everything done and ready for the goats. The girls were a little reluctant to get out of the trailer, so I had to climb in and push them out. We left the boys in for the night since they were going into the electric fence and we didn’t want to deal with that in the dark. Plus they looked very relaxed and comfortable.

It’s been about a month since the new herd has joined ours and they’re doing great!! They have helped us realize what our plans and goals are with the goats, and as it turns out, we may actually need more. But don’t worry, we’re done buying goats, we will breed for what we need, after all we have plenty!

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