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.