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  • Writer's pictureHayley Parker

How We Got Started In Raising Goats

Back in 2019, I had weaned Charlotte from breastfeeding and was struggling to find an alternate milk source that would sit well with her. I often would use nut milk options but it really felt likeI had replaced the liquid but was lacking all of the nutrients. It wasn’t until I had an appointment with my nutritional therapist that she recommended that I seek out a raw goat milk source for Charlotte for its digestibility among the countless benefits of raw milk.  I immediately went on the hunt to find a local farmer. Serendipitously, a friend of mine who ran our local health food store linked me up with a woman who lived just up the hill from me. It was hard to believe since there is no such thing as close by where I live. I was able to get in touch with Jane, the owner of Sunny Acre Farms and the rest was history.

Jane told me that she wouldn’t sell the milk to me but if I was willing to milk Dolly, her Saanen goat, I could have all the milk she produced. And I giggle now because that is really how it all unfolded… a handful of years later with my own herd of goats and I the sole milkmaid of our farm. I loved the challenge, I loved the relationship I was building with the wise older  woman, and most of all, I loved how the milk quickly became the constant superfood I was bringing back to my home.

I started coming to Jane’s farm with Charlotte two to three times a week. She would make sure Dolly would stand for me and give me pointers as I would in those very moments learn how to milk a goat. I still remember how my wrists would burn and just how aggravating it could be at times. But I kept at it and learned quite quickly. Dolly had the quirkiest teets. One was the size of a balloon due to a past case of mastitis. But we don’t discriminate…milk is milk. It was easier to learn on her big teet anyway.

Eventually it became a new learned skill and I didn’t need Jane by my side any longer but she would still come keep me company. It was special that we had time to talk about all the things. I think she appreciated a young enthusiastic woman willing to learn her trade and I loved her knowledge and stamina as a 70 something year old woman running a farm all on her own.

Later that year Jane proposed that she would be willing to breed Dolly for us that season. Dolly would kid the following spring and we could take her to our farm with the new goat kids assuming we would have a potential doeling (milking goat for the future). It didn’t take long for Zack and I to decide hell yes!  This brings on more of the giggles because that just seems to be our attitude I’m seeing come to light, how we have built our own farm and how it continues to evolve. We never really know what we were getting ourselves into but we are willing to find out and even more willing to rise to the occasion with what comes our way as long as the initial enthusiasm is there.

Winter of 2020 Zack would head up to build my goat barn in the late evenings, in the dark, and I will remind you… in the dead of winter. What a man. Dolly went into labor on April 10th, 2020. I will spare you of a rare occurrence and awfully sad birth story but we lost Dolly and one of her bucklings. After a traumatic birth we ended up with one little buckling. Pretty much the worst case scenario when looking to start a herd of milking goats.  Jane started bottle feeding this little buckling named “Wonder Boy” or “Wonder” immediately. He found his name after Jane kept saying “what a wonder” as we watched this little miracle prance around after such a loss of his mother. I wanted to remember his story and savor the connection with Jane who had given me so much. 

We ended up taking home Wonder a few days later since there was no mother to take after him. We loved every moment of bottle feeding this little baby goat and he most definitely made his way into our home on cold nights. It is clearly the reason why he is the sweetest stud buck you could imagine. But here we were without any milking goats. Jane let us take on another one of her goats Tutu, the fattest Saanen goat you’ve ever seen. We were very thankful to have any milk at all while we worked to build our herd. Later that spring we decided to invest in Indigo, a Saanen doe in milk (we bought at a discount rate becaue of her airplane ears, again, we don't discriminate here on our family farm) and Remy, a doeling the same age as Wonder. Now we would have milk for the family and be able to build our herd with Remy and Wonder in the future. We returned Tutu back to Jane and thanked her for helping us out for the time being. And that was the start to our milking herd. 

Anyone who owns goats knows their story is far from linear in raising goats. We have had amazingly successful birth stories. We eventually lost Remy to the nasty meningeal worm parasite. We were able to keep a brother and sister pair birthed by Remy, Suzie and George and now have seen Suzie give birth to healthy doelings. We have had successful births with Indie and with yet another doe we ended up buying, Rue. We now have three milking goats and I am sitting content with that number for now. Three doelings in milk makes me feel rich as a milkmaid. We have all we could need for the family, our goat milk skincare business, and all the extras we enjoy to make like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and more.

I could go on about the inner workings of our goat herd but that is not important in comparison to how it all began and where we are now. It took one little old woman to open up on her passion with me and from there it became something almost magical. I consider Jane such a close friend. I actually owe her a visit. I don’t know, maybe 70 somethings are just my people. But it doesn’t go unnoticed the wealth she has shared with me and what it has now become. 

Just like me, she speaks to the infinite list on her plate, all the work to be done on the farm, and the stress that comes from ensuring the health of a thriving goat herd. I have learned that the tough stuff doesn't just float away after you turn a certain age, wouldn't that be nice. But it is the hard Jane chooses day in and day out. After five years with my own goat herd, it is the hard I now choose.  I am a milkmaid, I giggle. What a wild ride to find myself here.


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