So, as requested, goats. Goats are the crazy clowns of the homestead. They are like big kittens. They’re smart, precocious, mischievous, and can be their own worst enemies. They will helpfully mow down your entire property if you let them, including poison ivy, invasive vines and weeds, brambles, thistles, and your prize rose bushes—it’s all food to them! They will hang themselves if you leave them out tethered. They will use your vehicles for a trampoline, and bawl their eyes out (driving you nuts) if left alone with no friend, the big babies. They will crawl into your lap like a cat. They are the opposite of sheep, being devilishly clever rather than mindless drones, which is why I’d rather have goats any day.
There are a couple of things to know if you raise goats for milk. Always keep the does separate from the buck, (except when breeding), because his nasty smells will permeate the milk. Keep milking conditions and equipment absolutely clean and hygienic, keep any debris away, and chill the milk ASAP. That way it won’t smell and taste quite as ‘goaty’. Make sure you test it for bacteria every so often You can use goat cream as you would cow’s, if you don’t mind that unique ‘je ne sais quoi’. I tried making goat cheese once. Enough said. Maybe I had too much goaty milk in my life, but I’m not a big chèvre fan to this day. But if you are, tant mieux alors!
There are many goat breeds, of which I’ve experienced about four dairy breeds: Alpine (French Alps, white and black/brown/etc.), Saanen (Swiss, white) , Toggenberg (Tog) (Swiss, fawn color), and Nubian (black and brown). The latter originated in North Africa and the Middle East, then was bred with Anglo goats. Its milk is very high in butterfat, and it can be sort of comical with its floppy ears and drama-queen personality.
My funny goat anecdote–one time a buck took one too many liberties with me (they can be too obnoxious for their own good) so I grabbed his big horns and wrestled him to the ground and sat on him. Was he embarrassed! Did I stink! But it was worth it. His pride was the only thing injured. I think he respected me after that.
I don’t know why goats have to be so vilified in religious traditions. Goats are the smart, clever, affectionate ones, while sheep are dumb panicky followers. Sheep are good for food and wool, maybe cheese, and require a good herd dog to keep them in line. Goats have a mind of their own, love to make up fun, devilish games, and think they are adorable kittens. I’d rather have a goat-like personality and point of view any day. At least they have one!