A primary ingredient to making goat milk soap requires goat milk. Obviously. We use goat milk from our goats to make the soap, we include it in the lotion, and it is the only milk we drink and use for cooking. Usually, obtaining the milk is simply a daily chore of walking to the shop, opening the door to the pasture, and allowing only one goat to enter at a time. This is usually the “hardest” part, as they all want to come into the shop to enjoy the bowl of yummy grain we provide during the milking process. But this weekend I was faced with the truly hard part of goat husbandry: two sick goats.
While we are farmers and our goats are “farm” animals (as opposed to domestic animals), they still are very precious to us. When they are well, we take it for granted and enjoy the lifestyle that allows us to daily enjoy the benefits of fresh goat milk. But when they hurt, we hurt. It feels like a dark cloud hovers over our hearts when we see them uncomfortable or in pain. Such was the case this weekend. First Bambi (don’t tell the others, but she is my favorite goat) did not want to come into the shop at milking time. As I mentioned, this is unusual and is often the first sign that something is wrong. Sure enough, when she was on the stanchion, I checked her out and found a large open wound on her udder. In addition, I learned she had a fever of 103.9. Normal goat temperature is 101.5-103. After consulting with a veterinarian technician, we started her on antibiotics and flushed the wound with an antibacterial agent. I worried and prayed for her. The next morning, she was out grazing with the herd, although she was moving slower and with obvious discomfort in the back-end.
The following day, Bambi readily entered the shop at milking time. She still had a fever, but she had more energy which is a good sign. However, a second goat, Cinnamon, did not want to come into the shop. When Cinnamon got on the stanchion and I gave her the grain she so loves, she did not eat. My heart sunk. I took her temperature and learned it to be 105.1!! Oh my. I searched her body for any obvious problems but found nothing. Again, I called my friend who is a veterinarian technician and she told me to start Cinnamon on antibiotics immediately. Though I could not see anything wrong with her on the outside, my friend told me it is common for goats to get respiratory conditions when the weather fluctuates between warm and very cold as has been the case in Bend, Oregon lately. So, my learning of how to care for goats continues and I am again reminded that goat husbandry is not always easy-going.
There is more to making goat milk soap that just the making of soap. The caring for our goats is paramount.