Friday, June 10, 2011

#28 - City Classes about Country Living

Living in a metropolitan area has its perks. Our friends and family found this to be quite hysterical, but since we do not have a lot of farms around us to visit and to learn from, we decided to take a class about GOATS in Houston!

In a stacked office building in an area of Houston's downtown business district, we parked the truck in the parking garage and took the elevator up several floors to sit in a class with bright fluorescent lighting and take notes about raising goats. Like I've said before, the great thing about being in a city is that ANYTHING is available...even a class about goats. Yes, the city offers CLASSES on how to live in the country. Funny.

The three hour classroom lesson was extremely informative. It was taught by a woman who has been goat farming for over 15 years, we were given straight-forward facts with college-style hand-outs. The class was rather small, about eight students.

Deputy Dave and I sat on the front row and we absorbed as much as possible. After all, I do want to have goats, mostly to make goat products...goat cheese, goat soap, goat lotion and so on. But, the kicker to my goat-raising-plan is that I had never been around goats, other than my visits to the Houston Rodeo Livestock Show or when having fun in a Farm Animal Petting Farm.

The class was actually held in two-parts. The first part was held in downtown Houston at the high-rise and the next part of the class was held at the teacher's personal farm. It was a small farm, about two acres, but this woman is making a good income doing what she loves with raising goats. In fact, she's just been licensed to become a certified Dairy Goat Producer. Awesome! Needless to say, she's the only one NEAR the Houston area doing this goat dairy farming.

During the farm-visit portion of our class, I found myself to be quite nervous. At the time, I'd never been around SO MANY GOATS! At first, we walked up to the fence that had all of the goats on the OTHER side, and I began to carefully inch closer and closer to the fence-line.

Since I've never been around these awesome little creatures, I wasn't too comfortable and I was hesitant, but I warmed up quickly. Little baby goats were coming up to the fence to investigate and my heart was instantly captured.

 As usual, I whipped out the camera and began to take pictures. Smile!

Deputy Dave was taking notes while visiting the farm, mostly notes that had to do with measurements, construction ideas and layout sketches for consideration.

The time came for us to enter the fenced-in area and that meant we were going to be standing among the goats, big and small. My nervousness was cranked up a few notches, especially as the Guard Dog sat there watching all of us.

Farm Teacher opened the gate and inside we went. Immediately, I found a friend after this goat spied me and decided I was her best-friend for the day. This sweet full-sized goat walked over to me and leaned gently against me. Every time I moved, she moved along with me, then she settled into a cozy lean against me in our new spot. We were Siamese twins. She was gentle and sweet, as if she simply wanted to be near me. I instantly fell in love with my new BFF.

Meanwhile, chickens were running around everywhere, and roosters were roaming around making loud noises, but a couple of roosters had to be contained before our arrival because of their bad attitudes. This seemed to be a typical farm, but Farm Teacher had many goats on her small farm, about 35 goats, yet things looked nice for having so many goats.

And, I was the first one to volunteer to milk a goat. The first pull of a teet found the direction of the milk spray to totally miss the jug opening and instead it ended up spraying myself --- the legs of my jeans had been sprayed thoroughly. And I discovered that goats have two teets. Man, I'm going places...

After the next few tugs, I was on a roll. Lucky Charms cereal --- meet my goat milk! I learned fast. If I got to practice milking a goat every day, I believe I'd be great at it and I'd have better aim. It was amazing fun. I'VE MILKED A GOAT!

Needless to say, I am trying to study goats, their fencing, their habits, etc., and I am looking forward to the day when I can sit on our land, on our own farm and just watch the chickens, the goats and perhaps a few cattle as they do their own thing. We might even have a couple of pigs. The great thing about living on our land full-time, in farm mode, will be that my down-time will allow me to sit with the farm animals while I learn about their habits and appreciate the scenery.

The farming kind of scenery will be hugely different from my city kind of life. I don't know how old I will grow to be, but I really am pumped up to have a chance to live on a farm. Hopefully I'll be on the farm until I am a very old, happy woman.

Our acreage is waiting for us. It beckons me to live upon its fertile soil, I revere its beauty.

Most of all, I am eager to live off of the farm as much as possible so I can avoid Walmart. I won't lie, I enjoy Walmart, but I will be so glad when I don't have to scan in items that I can just gather from the farm. ANNOUNCEMENT:  "Aisle No 5 is No Longer in Business; the Customer is Happy at the Farm."

The bottom line is that sometimes actually LIVING the life you dream of living can be the best teacher. A book can be helpful, but hands-on experience is what counts. Since I'm still in the city, my hands-on experience is minimal, but I am sitting here wide-eyed and amazed that our day of moving to our land full-time is fast approaching. At least I'm getting a jump start on living my dream life as I get to help raise our backyard chickens. But, moving day is not too far away anymore; however, until then, I'll have to take my own notes to learn about farming from blog friends, books and fun farm visits. Even after we do get moved onto the farm, I'm sure there will still be every day lessons to learn, but I AM READY!

Bring on the Farm Life Lessons!


Rae said...

You crack me up. Lol. We're supposed to be getting 5 goats this weekend. Not like we needed more animals, but hey, they're free. I'll try to post a bunch of pictures for ya. :) I haven't had a goat since I was a kid, and now we'll have 5. Nothing like diving in head-first, eh? :)

Rina ... also Chester or Daisysmum. said...

Ha you have been stucked in, love at first sight. Nothing like a baby goat sucking your finger

When you get your first goat make sure your baby get dehorned, by a vet or someone that has done it before, within the first two weeks, so much damage can be done with those horns. My Daisy is two this year, ready to be mated with the billy down the road. interesting times ahead still milking and making feta cheese.

Lana from Farm Life Lessons said...

Rae - I hope that your goat experiences will be awesome. I'm eager to hear about it! Hopefully I'll get to see picture and will get to learn from some of your hurdles. I'm sure it will be fun though!

Rina - We did get to study de-horning a baby goat and it was AWFUL but on a farm, it is necessary. I thought that a goat's cries sounded oddly like a human newborn baby. It strikes you in the heart! Hope the mating with the Billy down the road goes well and I am super interested your feta cheese making experience. Isn't life good?