So what's with the goats?
In case you didn't see the photos below, we got our goats!
We've got one Nubians doe and two doelings (Nubians a dairy goat breed), and in a couple weeks, we're getting a 3/4 Boer, 1/4 Nubian buck (Boer is a meat goat breed), so we can raise Nubian-Boer crosses. There is a huge demand for goat meat in the U.S. and particularly in nearby Columbus. There are a number of ethnic communities that eat goat meat. Actually, almost every part of the world outside of the US and Western Europe use goats for meat, and more people in the world drink goat's milk than cow's milk.
We won't be selling any milk, because it's illegal to sell unpasturized milk in Ohio, even for goats, and pasteurization isn't really practical for us. In fact, in Ohio, it's even illegal to give away unpasteurized milk. One way that people have tried to get around this is to buy "shares" of a dairy cow, so that a number of people are part-owners and can legally use the raw milk. The state has started cracking down on these types of arrangements too. There is strong evidence that, with proper sanitation and hygiene in the milking process, pasteurization is unnecessary, and only serves to reduce the nutritional content of the milk. One other interesting side note - goat's milk is not supposed to affect lactose intolerant people.
We could make and sell cheeses and other dairy products, but they are a bit labor intensive. We'll probably use some milk ourselves, assuming we like it. Milk from Nubians is supposed to be indistinguishable from the milk you'd normally buy at the store. [NOTE: We just tried some fresh milk. Very good. It's a bit creamier in texture than the 2% we normally drink, but the flavor is just pure milk.] They don't produce nearly the quantity of milk that dairy cows do, which is a good thing, because we don't need four gallons a day.
But the main reason we're going down this path (look away Suzer!) is for the meat market. There are several ethnic communities in Columbus that are importing chevon (goat meat) all the way from New Zealand and Australia because they can't get it here. Columbus has a pretty large Somali community (about 20,000 strong), and chevon is their meat of choice.
Ohio State did a study to gauge the demand for goat meat in Columbus. They surveyed several Somali markets, but focused on the largest one. The owner of the market estimated demand at 10 goats per week. But after surveying his customers, he found that demand, just at his market, was for 80-100 goats per week. And that doesn't take into account the Greek, Mexican, Asian, or Middle Eastern communities in the area. The OSU study estimated that demand in Columbus would be steadily increasing for the next 25-50 years.
Goats are also easy to raise, they don't need much in the way of shelter, and they're not the least bit picky about the quailty of the forage. They're small enough to manage without too much trouble, and the breeds we're looking at are pretty easy to deal with. They'll keep the pasture in good shape, and bring in a little income too. The Nubians have a lot of personality to go along with those big, floppy beagle ears. I'm pretty sure Boers think they are cows, and just stand around grazing.
The reason for the dairy/meat cross is that the Boers have been bred for a milder taste, but local demand is for a little stornger flavored chevon. Outside of the shows and fairs, which of course want purebreds, it's very common in this area to cross Nubian does with Boer bucks.
Given the fact that the average food item travels something like 1500 miles before it gets to your plate (much more in Canada and Australia), it also makes me feel good to be producing a very sustainable, very healthy, very local food product. I'm curious to try some myself.
So anyway, yes, in case you are wondering, we are slightly crazy. But it should be fun.