A Day in the Life of Lizette, the Dairy Goat

Well, hi there!  I bet you weren’t expecting to see me here, but no worries, if you hear me out, I promise I won’t disappoint.

Lizette - South Mountain Dairy. Photo by Stacy Boyne

Lizette – South Mountain Dairy. Photo by Stacy Boyne

My name is Lizette, and I am a Sable Saanen dairy goat at South Mountain Dairy, just a short drive (I hear that’s how humans get around) away from the greater Albuquerque area.  I’m the head honcho over at the farm, but rightfully so.  Sable Saanens are known to be hardworking, well-mannered, strong, and easy on the eyes.  I’ve been around for a while now, but everyone tells me age is just a number.  A lady never reveals her true age, so I will leave that up to you to speculate.  My wonderful owners, Marge and Donna call me the herd queen.  As the herd queen, I call the shots around here.  It sure is a lot of work, but I am rewarded with a primo sleeping spot and first dibs during milking time.  I guess you could say that I’m kind of a big deal, at least out here in Edgewood.

Here at South Mountain Dairy, we are preparing to embark on another year of production.  Around this time of year, things really start to pick up around the farm.  Marge and Donna, joint owners of South Mountain Dairy, are wonderful caretakers and help us girls get back in the swing of things after these long, cold Edgewood winters.  When Marge and Donna aren’t busy milking or creating delectable dairy products, they are out showing people around the farm.  Beginning in April, Marge and Donna offer tours of our home.

Gosh, I can be such a rambler sometimes.  Luckily, I’ve been keeping a journal these last few years—mentally, of course, because, well, I don’t have thumbs, making writing out of the question. I have elected to share with you my account of the summer months—the time of the year when I am kept busiest.

Journal Entry #1:
July 3rd 2012
Tuesday

I think I’m finally getting used to this whole 5 a.m. thing.  Personally, I’m a night owl, and the girls and I love to stay up late and gossip about the wethers (male goats).  

While the other girls are still shaking the early morning from their eyes, I’m standing by the gate waiting. What exactly I am waiting for is yet to be determined.  Zorro, one of the guard llamas here on the farm, won’t stop staring at me.  I’ve been meaning to ask him what the fuss is about.  The other girls are still down at the cabanas, but I have staked out a prime spot at the front by the gate.

Ah, milking season is in full swing, and the girls and I are feeling the heat (literally).  Now I know why Marge and Donna get us up at the crack of dawn—to get the milking done before we all turn into ice cream. Milking is hard work, and I’ve sure worked up an appetite… I can’t wait to get to the feeder this morning. Eight of us file in to the milk room, where we wait our turn to be milked.  There’s room for four at the milkstand, but as herd queen, I usually get to go in the first group. When I do have to wait, I don’t really mind… it gives me time to think.

The milking machine. Photo by South Mountain Dairy

The milking machine. Photo by South Mountain Dairy

When we’re in the milkstand, we get to chow down on a hearty blend of sunflower seeds, grain, flax, and calf manna. Calf manna is a dietary supplement that helps keep us girls in peak milking condition.  \As a sustainable farm, Marge and Donna make sure that our feed has nothing that would ultimately hurt you or me. Our food is antibiotic and growth hormone free.  I’m not sure what that means, but those words are difficult say, so they must be bad. Try saying ‘antibiotic’ ten times fast… it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue; I tried, but the other girls quickly became annoyed and told me to “put a sock in it.”  How rude.   

Whatever.

The milking machine. Photo by South Mountain Dairy

The milking machine. Photo by South Mountain Dairy

This morning I had a ravenous appetite, so I didn’t even notice when the milking machine was hooked up to my udders.  Because there are 79 of us milking girls, Marge and Donna prefer to use the machine.  I hear hand cramps are no fun.  I’m indifferent to this strange machine because it’s only on my udders for 10 minutes or so.  Any longer and I might start to become antsy.

Finally, after all of us girls are done milking, we get to go back out into the field.  I overheard some of the younger girls discussing what happens to our milk after milking.  Some of the scenarios they were concocting were absolutely ridiculous.  I don’t quite know how to tell them that goat milk does not possess magical healing powers.  Where do they come up with this stuff?  It does, however, provide you humans with a variety of yogurts, cheeses, and pasteurized milk.

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Journal Entry #2:
July 4th 2012
Wednesday

Fun Fact: Did you know that South Mountain Dairy is the only local producer of pasteurized goat milk and yogurt?

Lately, I’ve been hearing the word “pasteurized” a lot.  My good friend Kathy told me that Marge and Donna use something called “Low Batch Pasteurization.”  Apparently, this keeps our milk flavorful.  I once witnessed Donna filtering my milk into an 80 gallon cooling tank.  The tank is stainless steel because it is easy to wash and disinfect.  The milk has to chill as soon as possible so that bad bacteria doesn’t spoil it.  After the milk has had a chance to cool, it goes through pasteurization, ultimately creating edible products.  Rumor has it, the milk is pasteurized in a huge 50 gallon vat. Kathy seems pretty sure that this is true, and I guess it is reasonable considering 65- 80 gallons of milk is processed on the farm daily.  I hate when Kathy’s right.    

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There you have it folks.  The untold stories of a dairy goat have been unraveled before your eyes. Of course, there’s a lot more hard work that goes into running the farm than I have described. Marge and Donna really do mean it when they say “It’s all about the girls!”

South Mountain Dairy cheeses, milk, and yogurt can be purchased locally at the Santa Fe, Corrales, and Los Ranchos Farmers’ Markets, as well as the La Montañita Co-ops in Santa Fe, Rio Grande, and Nob Hill.

For more information about South Mountain Dairy, feel free to check out our website.

Additional Resources can be found by visiting the American Dairy Goat Association’s website.

-Posted by Caitlin

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