Sunday, September 25, 2011


Two years ago, one of our finest milk goats died giving birth.  She left behind a beautiful doe kid that we named Dulcinea (latin for soft or sweet), a name that we usually shorten to Dulsa.  We wanted little Dulsa to have her emotional needs met, so we moved her into the house and spent 24 hours a day with her.

Dulsa proved to be easy to house train.  Within a week, she had learned not to pee in the house (we trained her the way you would a puppy) and not to jump on the furniture.  She also learned to ride in the truck and to be well-behaved in other people's houses.

After a couple of months, we gradually moved her out to the barn.  These days, she's almost always with the other goats, though she'll still come and visit on the porch sometimes.

The thought of breeding Dulsa scares me.  I'd hate to lose her the way we lost her mother.  It looks as though I can delay the decision to breed her now.  A couple of months ago, I noticed her udder looking fuller than a virgin doe's udder should be.  I put her on the milking stand and tried milking her.  Sure enough, I got a few squirts of milk.  I discarded the milk, but tried that evening and got slightly more.  The next morning, she gave a bit more again.  I started increasing her grain ration then.  After a few days, I tried the milk and it was delicious.
Now I'm getting about 3 quarts a day from her.  I've read about this (she's called a "precocious milker") but I've never come across one of these before.  It will be interesting to see how long this lactation lasts.  Both her mother and her grandmother were wonderful milkers with extended lactations.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wild blueberries

It's wild blueberry season.  These are the last of the berries, after the raspberries, saskatoons, huckleberries, and blackcurrants.  The blueberries have a lovely intense flavour and I love them best.

Here in the Cariboo, two kinds of wild blueberries grow.  One is a foot or so tall and has upward-facing fruit which are nice but a bit bland.  The best ones are on the tiny low-bush plants.  These grow only a few inches high and hide their tiny berries beneath their leaves, so they aren't easy to pick, but they're worth the trouble.

All my goatwalking these days is in places where the wild blueberries grow.  The goats eat some and trample some, but there are so many that I manage to fill my container every day anyway.  I pick for two or three days, then can a batch.  If I keep this up all month, I'll end up with a really good supply of canned berries to last the winter.
  • Fill small canning jars with blueberries.
  • Pour boiling hot light syrup over the berries to 1/2" from the top of the jars.  I use a syrup made from 1 cup sugar to 8 cups water.
  • Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting lost goatwalking

I got lost today while out goatwalking.  It was a frightening feeling, and a good reminder for me.

I started off planning to go to a meadow just across the road, where the wild blueberries are thick on the ground.  After an hour of picking these, I decided to cross the adjacent swamp and check on the wild blackcurrants.  Then, once across the swamp, I got distracted by a clump of huckleberries I'd never noticed before.  Still distracted, looking for more huckleberries, I took a different way back, through the forest.

I'd gone quite a way when I realized that nothing looked familiar.  The landscape here is all hills and hollows, with lots of swampy ground between the hills, and it's very easy to wander off-track.  I kept going; still, nothing was familiar.  It suddenly became clear to me that I was out in the forest with no compass, no matches, no rain gear, no whistle, and no-one knowing which direction I'd gone.  How stupid I had been!

I stood still and looked for the sun through the trees.  It wasn't where I thought it would be; in fact, I'd been completely turned around.  I watched the sun until I could tell which way it was moving.  The time was around noon, so now I know roughly which direction was northwest and I headed that way, knowing that if I kept going that direction, I would eventually reach the road.

In just a few minutes, with a feeling of great relief, I found the meadow where I'd started out.

It's quite likely that the goats knew exactly which way to go and would have led me home at milking time.  However, it was a scary feeling knowing that I was lost without supplies.  As I said, it was a reminder to me not to be so complacent and to pay more attention to what I'm doing when I'm in the forest.