A Morning With a Goat Keeper


Iron Oak FarmI begin my day with coffee. A hot steaming cup with goat milk. I’m not a morning person but coffee helps. My first chore of the day is to get the fire going in the wood-burning furnace. I wrap my robe around me and slip outside in my slippers to gather an armful of wood from the pile. One of the benefits of living in the country is you can wear your pajamas outside and no one sees you.

With an armful of wood I make my way down the steep wooden steps to the basement. I’m greeted with the musty smell of all old basements mixed with ash from the furnace cleanout. I open the creaky metal door to the furnace and crumple a handful of junk mail that we save for fire starting. On top of this I stack kindling. I strike a match and for a second my nose burns like the onset of a sneeze as the first fizz of fire lights the match. The paper soon ignites and the fire makes its way to the kindling. I add a few logs and watch for a few moments to make sure it takes. Then I press the valve shut and close the door.

Goats waiting for foodAfter another cup of coffee, the house is warming up and I get dressed in my barn clothes. I head to the back bathroom where two 5-gallon buckets sit outside the old farmhouse tub. I set one under the faucet and turn the water to warm and let it fill. When one is full, I remove it and set the second under the tap to fill. While the second is filling I gather the milking supplies. I fill a small pail with warm water a splash of Castile soap and throw in a clean white washcloth. I hang this over my arm. I also gather the clean milk bucket, and the strip cup. I slip on my wool barn coat, my barn boots and hat with ear flaps. It’s my favorite hat and I’ll cry if I ever lose it.

By now the water buckets are full. I tap the lids on lightly and carry them out to the wagon or the sled if it’s snowy. I call our dog Oliver through the doorway and we all go out to the barn.

The smell of the barn greets me with a number of excited maaas of all tonations. The barn smells like comforting animal mustiness, green hay, sweet molasses and pine.

Alpine goat in the hay

12/29/2014 7:59:02 PM

Jennifer, I too liked the routine of homestead life. Early in my life I was convinced that farm life was for me and wanted to make it a career. Along came technology and directed my journey in another direction. I don't regret my career choice but still remember those days of milking cows, gathering eggs, and feeding the hogs. Diversity is the key to success on the homestead. One income source is sure to fail. ***** Have a wonderful homestead day.

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