When our oldest son decided on goats as a 4-H project, we bought a doeling who was to become the foundation of our herd, ‘Hills ‘O Crimson Blue Banda’, or just Banda. For the next 10 years, she and her daughters and granddaughters taught us goatkeeping. We learned that goats preferred sumac, honeysuckle, and tender, green woodland to pasture, that hay, not grain, is where ruminants get energy, and that colostrum is the elixir of life for a new baby. We found that bedding deeply with straw and lime not only gave the animals comfort, but yielded all the fertilizer we needed for our fields. We planted 20 acres of alfalfa hay and started making fresh cheeses with our extra milk. And then we had the ‘great idea’. Maybe we could make and sell cheese! 10 years and many fiascos later, we bought used equipment and put in a small milk parlor.
Our goal was to build a working goat dairy that would provide a sustainable lifestyle model for others. Since there were no guidelines for commercial goat dairying, we based this trial and error model on an older, more traditional one centered on herd health, longevity, and productivity, and on animals who are born, live, and die in the same place. We did this not only because we loved our animals, but because it worked and since we were not proper dairyman, we let the animals ‘tell’ us what was needed. When we became Certified Humane in 2009 we didn’t have to adjust management and procedures. They’d been in place for over 20 years.
While we have kept a few animals here, the majority of our girls have moved to Tim and Karmen Clark's Tuckhill Farm in Goshen, Indiana. Tim and Karmen have over 18 years dairy experience and most of it with goats! With their four children they provide us with all our milk and we look forward to growing with them over the coming years.