So, you’ve decided to get a goat. Here is some advice from Kathryn Smith, Certified Herbalist, along with some tips for delicious milk: 

A) Goat’s milk contains approximately 50% of the fat content of cow’s milk. In addition, the fatty acid chains in goat’s milk are shorter than the lipids found in cow’s milk, making those fats much easier to assimilate than cow’s milk. So not only does one have half the fat content, but whatever fat is there is less likely (though not completely unlikely) to cause arterial blockage. Goat’s milk also resembles human milk biochemically, making it tolerated by many people who are allergic to cow’s milk. 

B) Goats are browsers. Thus, they will be inclined to be nature’s lawnmowers but also to be tree-strippers. Any trees that are valuable to you should be tall and well established before you get a goat. Because the goats will browse the leaves right off those trees, on branches which are low enough to be accessible to the sweet creatures. (“Sweet” because goats do make loyal pets and they are cute, in their own way!) Lawns should be spacious, because you might find that a goat causes your lawn to disappear if it is there for long enough. If you have enough space, the thing to do might be to rotate grazing areas to allow the grass time to recuperate from the previous browsing.

C) Be sure to check with your local city for zoning regulations. Neighbors of ours had a sheep that was taken away from them, due to some pesky neighbors who complained about the incessant baa-ing of the animal. Sad, because I think people deserve to have whatever pets they want on their own private land. But to avoid any possible loss and heartbreak, do check in first. (K. Smith) 

I prefer Nubians. They are good milkers, and have a good personality. After determining that you can have a goat, make sure that the goat you purchase has a good milking background, and is free of problems such as mastitis, which will interfere with milk production. It is best to get a veterinarian to examine the goat and draw blood before purchase to determine if the goat is healthy. When you go to the farm to purchase your goat, ask if you can be present while the goat is milked. You will then see if she is a good producer, and if she is easy to handle. My goats Susie and Stevie gave me about a gallon of milk each per day.  

One thing that most people do not know about goats is that the milk will taste like what the goat is eating; much more so than cow’s milk. If the goat eats sage, you will have sagey-tasting milk. If the goat is left in a small area and comes in regular contact with her own feces, the milk will taste like…well, you know. Kind of like the taste of store-bought goat’s milk. I never knew goat’s milk could taste so good until I did these things: 

  1. Make sure the goat has a large enough area to roam so that contact with her own feces is minimal.
  2. Supplement her usual diet of weeds and such with leafy alfalfa hay, and don’t forget a corn ration. Molasses is good if you like really sweet milk.
  3. Use the following procedure for milking:
  • Take a bucket of warm water, and mix in just a little bit of a mild cleanser such as Shaklee’s Basic H. Try it on your own skin before trusting it to your goat’s teats. This will be your cleaning solution.
  • Take your cleaning solution with you in your stainless steel milking bucket, along with 2 soft cotton cloths, and a bucket of clear, clean water when you milk your goat.
  • While your goat is up on the stand enjoying her corn ration, gently clean the teats and entire bag with the cleaning solution. This will take any urine/feces/dirt off. Rinse the teats with clean water, and wipe off gently. Make sure your own hands are clean also. Anything that gets into the milk alters the taste.
  • Dump out any cleaning solution left in the bucket, and rinse the bucket out with clean water.
  • You are now ready to milk your goat. Fill your bucket and quickly remove any hairs that have fallen into the milk.
  • Take the milk into the house and strain it through cheesecloth into a freshly cleaned glass container, and refrigerate immediately.
  • When it is nice and cold, take out and enjoy!

Learning how to milk a goat is not difficult. Here is a site that will give you instructions: 

The main thing to remember about goats is that their milk will always taste like the things around it. That is why controlling what your goat eats, making sure that contaminants do not enter the milk, and chilling immediately, will result in a milk that you can tailor to your own taste. I like mine on the sweeter side, so I feed the corn ration with a bit of molasses. It is up to you!

If you’ve taken my advice in previous columns and prepared for hard times, then you have ample food to last for a while, and an adequate water source. Kathryn Smith has some good advice regarding an emergency preparedness kit. Here is a LINK to her article.  

Keeping the shelter where you have everything stored, whether you live in a city or the country, is now a high priority. If you need money to keep your house, consider renting a portion of it to a family that has lost theirs. If you live in an apartment, consider getting a roommate. Unless you like living under a bridge, in a car, or under a tree, make these arrangements quickly. While food storage is essential, when it is gone and there is no way to replace it, you go without. Therefore, our attention must turn to inexpensive ways to keep our food supply re-stocked. Here are some suggestions:  

  • If you have a large enough garden, you will be able to can and dry your own vegetables and fruit. When you harvest your crop, make sure to harvest some seeds also. You will need them for the next planting.
  • Consider getting a couple of chickens or geese. Geese love free ranging, are easy to keep because they eat grass and weeds, and love stormy weather. They are also good watchdogs. Don’t be afraid of stocking up on the eggs. Eggs can be dried and kept in the cupboard for a long time. The shells can also be dried and ground up for a good calcium supplement.
  • If you like milk and cheese, consider that goat’s milk is some of the healthiest milk you can get. Goats are easy keepers, and will eat your brush and weeds. This milk, if processed carefully, is very sweet and you can make various flavors of cheese from it just by adding a few different ingredients. It is not a difficult process. All it takes is a bit of vinegar, the goat’s milk, cheesecloth, and whatever flavorings you want to add.
  • What one person doesn’t have, another will. When money and commodities are scarce, bartering is the way to go. Start networking with others, and let the trading begin.

With the looming financial crisis, it is necessary for us to be as self-sufficient as possible. By growing and raising most of our own food and getting together with others that are doing the same, we can make it through hard times and be healthier for it.

Okay, now let’s say that you have woken up with that sinking feeling that you have just been had by your government’s economic warfare on the middle class strategy. Don’t expect a kiss or a cup of coffee. When you realize the money is gone and most likely not coming back, I could say don’t panic, but let’s face it, that is simply not reasonable. So after you’ve had a good panic attack, set it aside and clear your mind. Remember, now is not the time to whine. It is self-destructive and no one wants to hear it. Focus instead.

It is time to break through the delusions of what you think you need, and what you actually do need. Take stock of your assets such as your abilities, the material possessions you have that you actually need, and the things you don’t really use that you can sell. It is also time to connect with others who may be willing to barter. Now is the time when you find out who your true friends are. If they disappear at the first sign of distress, and most will, they were never your friends to begin with. Get over it.

Hopefully, you still have some money coming in, or have some stashed. If you don’t, be prepared to accept a job that pays considerably less than you are use to, if one is available. EBay is a good resource for an online garage sale to get some extra money while you sort things out. If you do have some money left, use it wisely. In either case, it is time to set your priorities and draft a budget. This budget should be realistic, and not include any income you think might be coming in, just what is on hand. Remember, the best budget in the world will not be helpful if you do not stick to it.

The first step in drafting a workable budget is to set your priorities. Food, shelter, and heat should be on the top of the list. If you have not already gotten rid of your credit card debt, be prepared for harassing phone calls. Remember, once you give the collections agencies written notice that you do not want to hear from them, they are legally obligated to stop calling you. They may use written communication methods, but cannot constantly call you to make your life miserable once they have received written notice to cease and desist. If you don’t know how to cook from scratch, learn quickly. Make payment arrangements with the power company if necessary, turn your thermostat down, and bundle up.

When the money you are use to having come in stops or is drastically reduced, it is easy to succumb to depression and just give up. Don’t do it! If you’ve ever needed to dig into your reserves of inner strength and character, now is the time. Others are experiencing the same things that you are. Hold your head up high, vow to overcome, and look at the bright side. If you are a bit chunky, count your blessings. When you lose weight because you cannot afford the junk food, your friends will tell you that you look wonderful. You can smile and thank them for the compliment.

In the next column, we will talk about making the most of what you have, with some solid tips about doing things inexpensively.

What if you woke up in the morning to discover that your bank account had been wiped out, your cupboard contained food for only a week or so, the electric bill was due as well as the mortgage payment, car payment, and credit card bills, and you had no idea how to cope? Think about it. This scenario is not as uncommon today as one might think, and will become more common-place as people lose their jobs, prices go up, and interest rates rise. In fact, this is the type of scenario that must be prepared for if we are to survive the middle class crash, and the time to prepare is now!

Some of the things we can do to prepare are:

  • Purchase a used vehicle and pay cash. You now have a car without payments.
  • Pay off your credit cards. Late payments incur charges that will quickly lead to an increase in the balance of your loan that will become impossible to deal with.
  • Invest in solar for your home.
  • Start a garden.
  • Start a food storage program.

Some of these things are more expensive than others, and thereby cost-prohibitive, so do the things you can. Prioritize according to your abilities, then start working on completing the items on the list.

What is more important, a shiny new vehicle with large payments, or an older vehicle that will not end up in the repossessor’s lot when the money runs out? Credit is not the way to go. If you cannot afford it now, don’t buy it. Just stop shopping! Solar can be put together one piece at a time. Here is a link to a site that shows you how to make a solar generator for $350 or less. A garden is not difficult. Even if you do not have a yard, herbs and some vegetables can be grown indoors in pots. Food storage consists of collecting staples such as wheat, dried fruits, canned vegetables, and any other things you can think of that will store safely, and that your family will actually want to eat. Just remember to rotate your supplies so that they do not go bad, and don’t forget water. Here is a link to a site that will calculate what you need for the number of people in your family.

It is time to spend our time wisely by planning an alternate lifestyle. We need to become more independent and wean ourselves from going to the grocery store every other day and shopping for things we simply cannot afford. By becoming more self-sufficient, we not only become healthier and stronger, but better-prepared to meet the coming financial crisis.

In the next column we will start to talk about what happens if a catastrophe hits before you have had time to prepare. Believe me, it can happen and does, every day. My husband and I are experiencing this right now! You are welcome to join us as we learn to cope and share our experiences.