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and free Farm Tours
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June 10 through June 17, 2017.
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I had never been around any dairy animals before at all, but with the process in place truly anyone can take up milking with City Farm Austin.
My personal search for raw milk took me on a long, inconsistent journey. I decided that if I really wanted raw milk without driving an hour each way and to have a more consistent supply I was going to have to get some goats in my back yard. My adventure with Austin's Funky Chicken Coop Tour let me to check out the city ordinances where I learned that I could have 4 goat does in my back yard. After reading and learning and thinking about it for a year and half, I purchased my first goats from Feral Nature in Lexington in 2010. It took 2 years to get ready to start the Herd Share program which began in June of 2012.
As I had hoped, this venture is working. It is taking longer than I had expected to find people who are almost as crazy as I am to help milk and do chores, but it is coming around. everyone has been flexible as we learn together.
It has been wonderful to see that the shareholders have learned to love the goats, too, and have eagerly taken care of their responsibilities as part-herd owners. They volunteer to pick up milking shifts for each other and for me. Ali even volunteered to take on an extra shift until it was sold! She milked that extra shift for a year. Thanks so much, Ali. With family and farm crises in the late spring for 2014, Iza came to join the program. She dove in and came many times a week for months helping me take care of things and whipping things back into shape. We are continuing today because of Iza's efforts. You are a hero, Iza.
It is so much easier to own the goats jointly rather than doing everything alone.When I need help with some task the shareholder working at that time is always willing to help take care of the matter. Each of the shareholders has a different experience level and different insights and each is very willing to share and often they do their own research to help keep up with the learning curve of maintaining a dairy goat herd. Thank you all!
It has been fun to watch as new shareholders begin their milking sessions with a cup of beet pulp and lure the goats to become their friends. Some of the goats are more eager than others for friendship. It is those less eager ones that pose the most challenge but, so far, all have eventually won the battle for friendship.
I have especially enjoyed watching and helping the children learn to handle the animals. A 5 year old went home after her first encounter with the goats declaring that she smelled like a goat and needed to take a shower. But her 3 year old brother bravely stood up to the 5 month old kid that was trying to play head butting games. He would grab her by the collar, look her in the eye and tell her NO!. But we had to teach him to let go of her collar as she left. Such cute and precious moments. Children are also great milkers, There have been children who have been able to milk as easily (sometimes more easily) than their parents. Many children also enjoy being in the chicken coop to hold, pet and cuddle the chickens. Children also enjoy seeing their pictures in the treasure book where they find treasures, snap a picture, and hide the treasure somewhere else. What a marvel it is to watch children, animals, and adults learn and grow together.
I am grateful for the support of my dear husband who was not originally thrilled with the idea of my getting goats. But it was not hard to win him over with the goat kids. He loves them so much he tries to not be at home when I sell them. Fortunately, we live in the city and can only have 4 goats or we would never be able to afford them for keeping them all. He has become so attached that he took a struggling kid rejected by her mother to sleep with him for the night.
While things are often hectic and I am always behind on things that need to be done, I am grateful for this opportunity of my life to share it with such wonderful people and animals.
FINDINGS: Are there 14 people in South Austin crazy enough to come milk goats and do chores once a week? No. But now we are set up to milk and do chores for you so you only have to come pick up your milk!