Starting a Family

To prevent a barrage of angry comments, I’ll get to the point as soon as possible.  Shae and I are not having children yet, but we are planning for kids!

On our trip back to San Diego during Christmas, we fell in love with a 6-year-old Nigerian Dwarf Goat named Essie, and couldn’t resist the urge to bring her back home with us.  Lately we’ve been thinking very seriously about getting a dairy animal of some sort.  We go through a lot of dairy and frankly we have to limit ourselves so we don’t ruin our food budget.

It’s fair to point out that neither of us are particularly enthusiastic about goat’s milk, and we had been trying to justify spending the thousands of dollars it takes to get a milk cow.  However, very slowly (and serendipitously) friends and neighbors began to allay many of our concerns with goats.  As it turns out the “goaty” flavor of goat’s milk is a function of several factors including the presence of a buck, the breed you are milking, and the freshness of the milk.  My dear friend Galen from Polyface sealed our fate when he told me about his experience with Nigerian Dwarf Goats and how their milk is the most similar to cow’s milk and even has a higher butter-fat content (yippee!).  If Essie’s recent exposure to a buck is as productive as we hope, Essie will be giving birth in May.  Her breeder gave us the exciting, although perhaps daunting, news, that we can expect 3-5 kids and roughly 2 quarts of milk per day once she hits peak production.  Coming from a goat that is no more the two feet tall, I am reminded of the adage about big things in small packages.

However, we didn’t stop with Essie.  A few weeks back, Shae and I visited TLC Ranch in Santa Cruz.  They have sadly gone out of business and we were interested to see what experience and perhaps equipment we could gather.  We spent most of our time talking with Jim and Rebecca, the farm’s owners, and getting an eye-opening lesson on the challenges they faced when trying to get a long-term lease on any piece of land, hiring reliable labor, and keeping up with the regulatory BS that saturates agriculture.  However, all that aside, we learned that their farm/family dog, Iris, wasn’t going to be able to come with them on their next adventure.  Iris is an Australian Shepherd and a true outdoor farm dog that needs not only plenty of space, but also a sense of purpose.  While Shae and I weren’t quite planning on getting a dog in the near future, it has been a goal of ours.  We talked about the cost of caring for her, where we’d put her, and all the practical topics that a responsible young couple should, but we overcame our lingering reluctance when we learned that none of TLC’s neighbors had room for Iris.  We couldn’t be happier with our choice.

Iris is an amazing dog.  She is well behaved, loves strangers, other animals, and scares the coyotes away at night.  She even gets along with Essie (…even though Essie doesn’t quite get along with Iris).  We are still working out the details, like my allergies, but we are thrilled to have such a well-trained dog/coworker helping us out.

As the last few hours of 2010 roll away, Shae and I are particularly grateful to find ourselves healthy and in good spirits.  In 6 months our lives have changed dramatically.  However, through all of it our excitement to share our lives with all of you has not diminished.  From the peepers, to Essie and Iris, to Shae and I, we thank you all for your support and enthusiasm and wish you a very Happy 2011.