Farmers, especially goat farmers, are always looking for ways to make a little more money on the farm. I believe Iíve come up with an idea thatís going to catch on like wildfire. For years Iíve noticed all the "truck" farmers (no, they donít raise trucks) with signs along the road advertising their farm produce. You see "Home Grown Tomatoes", "Honey", "Fresh Eggs", "Apples", and so forth. This usually makes the person driving by stop to pick up something tasty to take home.
Well, with all this reality TV going on, why not advertise on a billboard what you are going to do that day on the farm and charge an admission price for all these "reality buffs" to watch you do farm chores? Since it would be too costly to build bleachers for the droves of people that would drop in, plus the seats have to be portable to move around to where you are going to work next, youíd have to put a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bucket) on the billboard sign. That way they can carry their seat (bucket) with them to wherever you go next. And, an added way to make some more money is to have buckets available for people to rent, say a dollar an hour, to sit on.
When I first thought of this money making idea was during weaning time. We had separated the kids from their moms the day before. The moms were in another pen with grass hay and were not to receive any grain for two weeks until everyone got dried up. Some people leave it at that, but we donít. We come from dairy goat background and you sure donít walk away from a dairy goat and tell her to start drying up on her own. Youíd end up with mastitis for sure. And, a lot of our Boers - percentages, purebreds, & full bloods milk heavy, almost as good as a dairy goat and some just as good.
To prevent them from getting bad udders, udders eat up with mastitis, we would start milking these girls a little once a day when we weaned. That way we could check for any hardness and heat in the udders, or if the milk had clots in it - all very bad signs. We wouldnít milk enough to make them want to produce more milk, just basically light milking for light checking, once a day for a week, and then every other day for a week and that would usually prevent or take care of any problems that might occur.
So, that evening was to be the first light milking session. In this one large pen we had around 25 girls. They were restless, hollering for their kids, uncomfortable, and a few of the older ones were eying us suspiciously because they had been through the drying up routine on our farm before.
For those who had been through this routine before, you had to act very unconcerned, extremely casual, like you just had to go for a walk in their pen that evening. If the older girls caught you looking at them, they disappeared in a flash and it was a real pill trying to catch them. Knowing this, Lee and I just did our farm saunter through the herd. I would then snake out a hand and catch a girl and hold her collar, or if she had none, put one on her. Lee would then bring the milk container and start milking.
Sounds simple, right? Very uninteresting. Wrong. As soon as Lee would start milking, the doe would either stampede off, dragging me off with her as I hold on for dear life, or jump straight up and land on Leeís bent over head, or sashay her rear-end left to right as Lee is trying to milk, knocking him over, or fly backwards, dragging me over top of Lee. And, there are a multitude of other movements they can think of to get you with. Also a combination of all the above. I am really betting people would pay to see this part of goat farming. All the above usually happens with one goat, we still have 24 more to go!
You say, well, at least get a milking stand to control the doe. Have you ever tried to get a very unwilling doe to get on a milking stand? You have to train them first to do this. Sure, you do it with your dairy does because you are going to be milking them every day for months and months. But, when you are just wanting to do only a little milking to a nondairy doe just to dry them up, you never even consider a milk stand. To those does who have not been patiently trained to get on a milk stand, whew! Better have a crane ready to hoist them up in it because they just arenít going to willingly get on it.
And why is Lee doing the milking? Very simply, he can still squat down. My knees have locked up ages ago. If I tried to squat down to milk, they would pop and creak so loud it would scare goats and deer away for a least a mile in every direction. I tried sitting on a bucket once to milk one of the does to give Lee a break and she side swiped me and I fell over on my back, milk going everywhere, and a goat standing on me. No thanks.
By the time we were through with the girls that evening, Lee and I looked like a bunch of ragamuffins, torn clothes, dirt everywhere, with smears of milk on face and mingling into the dirt on our clothes. The things we do to keep good udders on the girls!
Now, Iím betting I could get $5.00 each for people to come in and watch us trying to lightly milk the girls. Another good feature for people to watch on this Billboard Farming would be trimming the buckís feet. You say thatís not interesting, youíve handled your buckís feet from day one and have him so well trained that all you have to do is say, "Foot, please." and he hands you one of his feet plus the trimming tools to trim and manicure them up real pretty. Nothing exciting about that. Well, we do things a little differently around here.
Usually the bucksí feet doesnít need trimming that often because they have room to roam and they are walking the fence to see if there is a way out to get to the girls. Their feet stay wore down unless itís a muddy season. But, when they do need trimming, itís a real surprise for everyone concerned.
Lee use to be a blacksmith in his younger days, so he does all the feet trimming on the horses and goats on the farm. With the goats, heís tall enough while doing the goatís back feet to straddle them, facing the rear, and use his legs as stocks to hold the goat in place while he picks up each hind foot and trims it. Iím usually the goat catcher and holder. Thatís about as far as my skills go. Now his way of trimming the hind feet of the goats works great on kids, does, wethers, but when it comes to 350 pound bucks whose feet arenít handled that much, itís a whole new world.
The first time he straddled olí Nico to trim up his hind feet, that big buck shot out from under him, dragging me in a full circle, because I was innocently holding onto him, to stand and face Lee. Eyes bugged out, snorting at the indignity of it all, you could almost hear Nico say, "What on earth do you think you are doing?!! Are you crazy?!" I was rather short of breath myself and Iím sure my eyes were bugging out too as I held onto the big buck through all this. I have never learned to turn loose of an animal once Iíve caught them. If Iíve caught them and their heading down over the hill, well, I guess Iím heading down over the hill because I never think to let go.
And, then thereís worming. Nothing like trying to worm 70-100 goats in a couple of hours. You say thatís no biggie. Nothing interesting to watch there. That you are set up with stocks and chutes and holding pens and lots of help. Guess again. The only thing we have lots of is goats and no help and no holding pens and so forth.
The billboard would read, "Worming today at 1 p.m. Plenty of action with two creaky olí people and lots of fast, wily, and strong goats. Come one, come all. $3.50 each. BYOB or rent a bucket for a dollar an hour. Who will really get wormed today? The goats or the two creaky people?" That should draw the crowd in. Iíd better go order my billboard today.