A Goat Is Born! Homesteading With Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Video.

Homesteading with Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Meet Lulu, our senior Nigerian Dwarf Goat. Lulu is a seasoned mother. At 4 years old she has produced six beautiful babies for us, and more for her previous owner. Our experience with her has been amazing: she is a fantastic mother, kidded quadruplets last year with no trouble and nursed them all exclusively, has a wonderful, laid-back temperament and is an easy milker. To date, she has passed on her good temperament to all of her babies with us. Currently Lulu is supplying us with 1.5L of rich, creamy milk a day.

Homesteading generally involves raising your own animals for meat, eggs or dairy. We chose Nigerian Dwarf goats as our source of dairy because of their compact size and yet surprisingly good milk production. We don’t have a large piece of property so we needed a dairy animal that was small, efficient, and friendly. The Nigerian Dwarf goats fit the bill. Bred to provide impoverished African families with milk, they don’t eat a lot and still have the capacity to produce up to 2L of milk a day. They stand no higher than 23 inches tall (buck) and 21 inches tall (doe) and babies weigh about 2lb at birth. Nigerian does are well-known as easy birthers, and to date we have not had to assist in any labors. We have only had 3 kiddings yet though, so I am sure our time will come.
Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is one of the highest in milk fat for any breed of goats, at around 8%. They also have the sweetest flavoured milk, with no hint of “goat-y flavour” noticeable in their fresh, raw milk. (Milk that is over 2 days old will take on a slight goat-y flavour, and pasteurized milk also takes on a stronger flavour.) The result is a very rich, creamy, healthy milk that is incomparable in flavour to any other milk, goat or cow! Raw Nigerian goat milk makes a fantastic cheese and yogurt as well.

This year Lulu delivered twins in June on an evening when I was home, and able to watch the birth. We have a web cam that connects us to our barn from our computer in the house, and I was spying on Lulu who had been acting uneasy all evening. Sure enough, she went down at about 10pm and I ran outside. By the time I got there the first baby, a little black buck was already born and she was busy licking him off. I called my son and my husband to come watch, and we were able to record the miracle of the second birth, another strong buckling, to share with you. I love the mothering instinct that comes naturally to Lulu.  When she began to deliver her second baby, she continued to talk to her first-born.  The miracle of life is beautiful!  <3

Anyone who is considering raising goats for dairy should definitely take a moment to watch a birth, just to get a feel for what will happen. This birth, as I said, was straight forward, quick and perfect. I did not have to assist at all, and Lulu knew what to do when the babies were born. Just like humans, not all goats make perfect mothers, so it is important to be around for delivery.

For all information on raising goats, please refer to Fiasco Farm website, a complete guide to goat care.

Please enjoy this beautiful miracle, and one of the best rewards of homesteading life!  Click on the links below.  They will direct you to our youtube videos.
*Warning! The video is graphic. I find birth beautiful, but others might not.

This post has been linked to From the Farm Blog Hop, The Homesteaders Blog Hop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #87.

And for fun, a video of the babies frolicking, as only goat kids can, just a few days old.

DIY Faux Paper Towels. Upcycled, Eco-friendly and Economical!

One of the first unsustainable products I “disposed of” when I made the decision to stop using single-use products, was paper towel.  Old rags made from torn up pieces of old cotton bath towels worked beautifully.  They absorbed more than paper towels, they were free, and they washed up nicely to be reused again.  They weren’t, however, attractive.  I like beautiful things, and when I first came across faux paper towels (also known as un-paper towels) on etsy I was attracted to them.  Not only are they functional, eco-friendly and cheap to make: they are a beautiful addition to the kitchen!  And they make great gifts.

I hit up the thrift stores and purchased a few towels in good conditon, as well as a few pillow cases and napkins, also in good condition, made with a fabric pattern that suited what I was looking for.  1 large towel makes 12, 11 inch un-paper towels.  If you happen to already have fabric you like, and a few old towels, you won’t even need to purchase them.  I admit it feels good to upcycle old bedding, table cloths or napkins into something new and useful! 

Perhaps the most challenging part of the un-paper towel project is what to fasten them together with so they roll up nicely and stay together on the roll.  I have a snap press used previously for making my babies’ cloth diapers so I chose snaps.  Buttons would also be attractive, and velcro would work too.  Or, if you don’t want them to roll up like paper towels you can leave them on the counter in a basket.

If you love the concept but don’t have the time, skills or materials needed to make them and would just like to buy them, check out Green Planet Parties (Canadian supplier but also ships to the USA) or this etsy seller (based in the USA), or google them and find many other WAHM-style cotton towels!  Butterflies and Needles is a facebook follower of mine who makes and sells them.  They sell anywhere from $40 and up, and are worth the cost if you can’t make them.  They take several hours to make at home if you have the right materials.

Materials:

  • Attractive fabric for the decorative side of your towels.  11×11 inches or so for each cloth.
  • One large bath towel for the absorbing side of your towels.
  • A sewing machine or serger.
  • Snaps, buttons or velcro for attaching them together.
  • Scissors or rolling cutter (and cutting board), thread, pins.

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry your fabric if necessary.  Iron.
  2. Find something to use as an 11×11 inch, or 12×12 inch pattern.  An old tile would work, or cut one out of cardboard.  I used a child’s book :D.
  3. Cut 12 pieces of your decorative fabric into squares using your pattern.
  4. Cut 12 pieces of your towel into squares using your pattern.
  5. Place one piece of towel together with one piece of decorative fabric, right sides showing.  Pin together and serge or tightly zig-zag your squares together.  Repeat for all pieces.  You could also stitch, turn and top stitch if you would rather have a more finished looking edge.
  6. Choose your fasteners.  Make a simple paper pattern for snap/button placement.  Mark the spots with a washable pen or chalk.   If using buttons, make button holes on one end of each cloth and sew buttons on the other end.  I’d recommend 3 per side.  If using snaps, attach male snaps and caps to one end, and attach female snaps and caps to the other end, making sure that the caps on one end  are not on the same side of the fabric as the caps on the other end, as shown.  (Again, I recommend using 3 snaps per side).  If using velcro, place fuzzy side (loop) and rough side (hook) on opposite sides and ends of the fabric.  Attach.
  7. Fasten together your fabric and roll up, or onto a paper towel holder and you are done!

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #55, Fresh Eggs Daily’s Farm Girl Blog Hop #11 and Waste Not Want Not #7, and Homestead Barn Hop #90.