Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Regard to Goats

Pin It We used to own goats.

No, really, we did.

Usually when I tell people that my family used to be the proud owner of goats they do the double take; they draw in a breath and to shoot me a strange look. This is usually coupled with a statement something along the lines of, “You’re not serious, are you? Nobody owns goats…”

Nope, I’m serious, just like a chemistry final. This is just one of the many curses of living on a farm while growing up in the rural expanses of the Great Northwest.

To answer your question, we had 7 of them.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking…why in the world did you have goats? Well, aside of trying to ride them and getting yelled at by my mom on a regular basis? My mom had decided that we needed them for their milk. Yep, you heard me correctly; we drank their milk.

Now, before I get any further, just let me explain what goat milk tastes like for those of you who have no idea. Take a box of powdered milk which has been in food storage for an undetermined amount of time, make up a batch with water that has a slightly sulfuric taste, let this ripen a bit and you’ve got yourself goat milk.

Teachinfourth, why in the name of all that is holy would you drink this pungent liquid? To answer that you’d need to better understand my mom. She was a firm believer in natural foods and remedies. As a result meals were often served with Adam’s Peanut Butter, rice cakes, sugarless bottled juice, split pea and lentil soups, corn beef and cabbage, and puffed rice and wheat cereal for breakfast with honey.

Yeah, my siblings and I were the resident freaks during lunchtimes at school.

I could go on and tell you what a terrible childhood I endured, but I’m not trying to play the sympathy card here. Luckily, I had a friend at school who’d trade me her Hostess fruit pie at lunch for my apple. See, I was a survivor who could adapt when called upon…also, I had learned that Ketchup could make just about anything taste better.

Back to goats.

Each and every morning before school, church, or Saturday morning cartoons I’d head outside into the darkness to fulfill the twice-daily ritual of milking. Often it was cold, and each morning at dark-thirty it was pitch black. Undeterred, I would head out to the barn situated by the inky blotch of forest—inside of which anything could have been hiding, just waiting to slither out and get me. I was more often than not completely petrified, just waiting for that creature slinking through the darkness…what other thoughts would you expect to come to mind of a prepubescent boy outside all alone with the wind howling and dark shadows dancing along the hay bales and up in the rafters?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I remember kneeling in the milking stall and stealing glances over my shoulder to make sure that nobody else was in there with me—nobody but the goats. I often wondered if there might have been an escaped convict—a killer—hiding up in the rafters or just in the woods outside, biding his time as he waited for that stupid kid to come wandering outside at five or six in the morning—easy prey and no witnesses.

As you might have guessed, I was never murdered while milking goats—much to the dismay of my older sister, but I would often frighten myself and could be found sprinting the distance back to the house with a two-gallon pail of milk sloshing all over the place.

When you milked your own goats, and lived on a farm, homogenization consisted of straining the milk through a ‘leading brand’ paper towel and then putting the milk in the fridge; this was mostly to get the larger ‘chunks’ out of the stuff and to make you believe that you’d really done something to clean it.

The funny thing about goat milk is that eventually, you become accustomed to it. Like a smoker who coughs and wheezes, their eyes water and lungs burn at first, with time and practice, they become an experienced smoker, drawing in clouds of smoke without the least bit of discomfort.

I hear it’s the same with country music.

My point is, after drinking this stuff for so long, I became used to it. On the rare occasion that a friend would come over and be served goat milk, I always found it fun to watch their face as they took the first drink. They would take a large gulp, confident that it was regular cow’s milk. It would take a moment or their taste buds to register just what they’d really just put into their mouth. Then their face would sour and pull a look akin to when someone smells something quite nasty. It was at this point that they’d request a glass of water and the rest of the milk was left untouched.

It was always entertaining to watch but could cost dearly in the trust department in the future.

For many years we milked our goats, but then one day it happened. My mom finally decided that she’d had enough with goats and we sold them all. While Mimi and Sasha, our first two, were now gone, I couldn’t help but miss them. They had been more than simply dairy providers, they’d been pets—and trusty steeds. However, the idea of no more early-morning milkings was delicious No more fears of murderers in the dark. No more sharp and biting milk. All of these things outweighed the sadness of losing our four-footed friends.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was in the local supermarket. As I passed by the dairy department, I noticed a quart-sized container of goat’s milk in one of the refrigerators. I paused, and even lifted the carton from the shelf, looking at it with memories tumbling around my mind.

At that point, I put it back on the shelf and grabbed a gallon of the regular stuff. After all, priced at over $3 a quart, goat’s milk just isn’t worth the memories.

Besides, I’ve heard that it’s terrible, just like country music.


Crustacean Queen said...

Haha Amen! Did you ever hear about the time Yvonne was milking the goat as Trina was sitting on top trying to get her to hold still! Goat milk...awesome/terrible memories!

Chrissy said...

My brother had to drink goat's milk because of his asthma... He grew to love it.. I remember tasting it and it reminded me of the smell of goats. To this day, I can't choke it down..Then again I can only take small amts. of blue cheese... Goats are industrious little creatures- my friend wants to get one to eat the weeds at her parents' nursery and from what I hear they are pretty clean animals.

Diana said...

My sister and I had baby goats as pets when we were little, growing up in the hills of KY. I named my Little Egypt. They weren't for milk. At least I'd never heard that was the plan for them. Unfortunately they ended being killed by dogs (wolves? coyotes? escaped convicts?) one night before they were old enough to milk.

Mamma has spoken said...

So I take it you don't like country music ;o)
Around here there are some who do raise goats but not so much for the milk but to show. Yep show as in it's 4H time, clean em up and show em in hopes of winning a blue ribbon.
My son's girlfriend loves goat cheese. I never had it, she got me some and had me eat it. I think it tasted somewhat like how you explain the milk....

Rachel said...

You just had to get your country music jabs in didn'cha!?

This post took me back to similar stories and feelings of the big bad boogie woogies that wait lurking about to snag little girls who are out after dark or before sun up.

We had a cow. I had to laugh at your running back to the house sloshing the milk around. I used to see how many times I could take the pail of milk and go in circles without spilling a drop! High up over my head would go the milk pail in a windmill fashion. Amazed that not a drop would come out.....until the momentum stopped. :) Funny too the straining of the milk. Same here! The milk was put into a strainer (we were more sophisticated, we used coffe filters. :D ) and then into the fridge.

Do you remember the scene in "The Santa Clause" with Tim Allen when the little girl gives him the "lactose intollerant milk" and the face he makes as he chokes it down.... yeah.... that would be me with goats milk. Can't do it! That and powdered milk.....shudder.... When our cow died my mom tried to make us drink that for awhile. Fresh cows milk to powdered milk. I don't think so!!!

You should do a post on changing pipe!! Now those were some good times!!!

Connie said...

This post has brought back memories of our days in Arizona. We too had goats and milked them! I must admit that our goat had good tasting milk. I know you don't believe me but it's true. When she was pregnant and we had stopped milking her, our neighbor brought over some of her goat milk. It was horrible! It tasted how an old billy goat smells! Yuck! Glad you didn't get murdered while milking!

4evermyboys.... said...

Hey thanks for checking out my blog! It's fun to meet and communicate with other people out in blogger world. And just so you know. I'm probably a lot like your mother. I'm ALL about ORGANIC whole foods....much to the dismay of my 4 boys. But I think I'd have to draw the line on "goat's milk"....I can barely drink cow's milk :)

Oh and BTW your photography is AWESOME!

Amy said...

Your story reminds me of my husband's. He grew up having to milk cows as a young child and even took 1st place in a milking contest.

I've never tried goat's milk before and now through your words feel like I have. Great story!

K said...

What I like about goats is that they relate to you. They look at you. They yell at you. They want you to pat their heads. Oddly more predator like than prey like (this comes from a horse person who thinks in those two terms). They're like dogs. Sort of. Not easy to define, really. And whatdaya mea, "Nobody has goats?" I know TONS of people who do - and even more, these days, who've got chickens in their suburban back yards.

Shannon said...

Goats totally rock comin' and goin' - Country music on the other hand...meh. I tried all of the old farmer tricks to deplete the 'goat taste' in our goats' milk, but in the end, the children weren't having it. I did, however, make kick-ass goat cheese and used the milk in all cooking and baking (this is how I used up spare goose eggs too) where milk was required. I miss my goats, but like you...don't miss the work!

Marnie said...

Goats milk is easier to digest than cows milk. You grew up with drinking it in it's raw state - it's healthier that way.

Ally said...

First of all, you were adorable at 8. OMG! How cute!

Great story.

Not sure if this counts but I like goat cheese. Same diff? Kinda?

tiburon said...

You won my heart with your comments on country music and then you promptly lost it by making me imagine what goat juice tastes like.

Then I threw up in my mouth.

All those things from one post - and not necessarily in that order.

Kathy V said...

Yes. I went through that, with country music.

We had goats too, right here in west provo. But they weren't ours. We just let someone keep them on our land. Hmmm. I can feel a blog coming on.

Farscaper said...

I had a friend offer me a glass of "milk" only to find it was goat's milk. I know exactly what you did to your friends (meenie). It does taste exactly like the animal smells. When we were in Jamaica for a wedding, one of the soups they offered was goat soup. It tasted (to me) exactly like the animal smells. My husband liked it enough to finish his serving. I had one bite. Goats are cute... that's it.

Natasha said...

Good for you that you were able to break the addiction! I forgot that you don't like natural peanut butter either.

One of my friends grew up on goat's milk- but she liked it, or so she tells me.

Linn said...

Oh, we had goats growing up, we had goats growing up. *Waving her raised hand wildly* I kid (pun intended) you not. Some of my favorite animals ever.


Carrie Stuart said...

I grew up with sheep. Did 4-H, too. In SoCal. Yep...I was TOTALLY popular. I guess I should count my blessings I only had to help sheer and castrate milking involved. We at them, too...and it never occurred to me to be bothered by it. I recently paid $17 to have 2 boxes of milk crackers mailed from Canada to me in Japan just for a trip down memory lane (and blogged about it, of course). I say you should have sprung for the quart!

Richard & Natalie said...

Ummm....yuck! You poor dear boy. At least, you grew into a wise enough man not to travel down that road again.

I had a friend who switched to goats milk because she thought the hormones given to the cows were making her kids hairy. I just thought, 'BONUS! If it happens to mine maybe I won't have to buy them winter coats.' ;)

PS- I'm lovin the country jabs.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

OMGosh! Our moms must be twins. No seriously. She is an all natural fanatic and we had goats as a kid too!
My mom swears by goat milk. Truly.

Believe it or not, I still rather like goat cheese! :D

Danielle said...

Oh, I love when something triggers a memory and takes you back. Your descriptions took me back to your house in Addy, although I know that you didn't live there during that time, but I think of all the animals, and your mom making me eat home made split pea soup. UGH, I loved the can stuff, but GOOD NIGHT, I had a hard time with that. And grandma Scott would make me eat Rye bread! GROSSSSSS!!! I'd sit there and pick out the little seeds! YUCKY! I spent many hours sitting at the table cause I couldn't get up until I'd eaten it all!

Lori said...

Okay. So much to say here....what a great post! First--bub--country music is amazing. Real country music, that is. Don't I recall you liking Nickle Creek or something? That's bluegrass, which is country "roots" music--country the way it used to and ought to be (not this "pop" country crapola--I won't get started on that)...Second--I irkitate my husband at least once a week by asking him why this family up the road from us has these goats (like he's going to know, I know...I do it totally to be annoying ;) PERHAPS they have them to feed their children pungent milk and cheese, like Heidi used to eat???

No, in all seriousness, I was cracking up all through this. My kids would be the ones with the Hostess twinkies trading you for the apples and bananas, which I do buy on occasion but which nearly always manage to go bad prior to actual consumption.

Maybe I should get a goat.

Maybe I should get two goats.


Sarah said...

When I was a child, our neighbors had goats. I use neighbors in the loosest sense of the term, since we lived in the country. Their goats always got loose. They ate my mother's rosebushes. They stood on cars-- My mother would have to shoo them down with a broom. And then, once, while Mom was pruning something in the flower beds, a goat took careful consideration of her backside, aimed, and charged. I was so surprised that I was not able to react in time to warn her... Needless to say, not a fan of goats, although I do like goat cheese...

Kris said...

Oh the tap dancing goats! We had dents on our car from those hoofs!

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