Balancing Goats with Life

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by Anita Martin, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. Anita Martin

    Anita Martin Senior Member

    Wow, I just had three does kid, and everything turned out just fine, and I thought that now I would be able to relax, but I'm finding it difficult to balance working a full time job, a part time job, 6 horses, 6 baby goats, three milkers, housework, etc....I live one hour from my full time job, and my part time job can lead me up to two hours away. I'm wondering if any of you have any tips you've found useful for making life work when you have to milk twice a day, plus feed babies, etc. Yes, I AM doing this because I WANT to. Nobody made me. It has been a dream of mine for years and years. My friends down the road are feeding my babies during the day and even milk the girls sometimes if they are looking really full...(bless their hearts), but my college age son doesn't want anything to do with milking goats, so basically, it's all up to me. (no husband or helpful boyfriend). And now we've got to put the garden in. I always wanted to be a homesteader. I'm just wondering how to either get used to being too busy to think, or figure out a way to do things smarter, easier, and faster? Honestly, though, I don't want a "McDonalds" or "BurgerKing" homesteading experience...just need to catch my breath. Everyone here is always so helpful..What are some of your secrets?
    Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
  2. whimmididdle

    whimmididdle Guest

    Anita, I think you are trying to do the just can't be in 2 places at the same time. I guess one thing that I would do is keep my herd very small. Next, if my primary job doesn't pay enough money to make it on, then I would be eagerly looking for a better job so you can drop the part time one. With that much travel on the part time one, and gas as high as it is, I doubt that you are coming out with it anyway.
    I know it's hard to make it now days for the majority of us.
    I used to burn the candle at both ends also, and now at 45 years old, my candle does good to just get warm on one end. This run run run will run you down and put you in the hospital, and then you are no good to anybody. Lot's of folks would tell me to manage my time better and to pace myself......well, there still ain't but 24 hrs in a day no matter how you slice .
    I have found that it is better to give up a few things now, and in my own way/time....rather than to loose it later on in somebody else's.

    Best wishes to you, Whim

  3. Chaty

    Chaty New Member

    :yeahthat I agree with Whim there...I am here all the time and there still isnt enough time for me to get it all done that I have planned for the day. My DH works in the city and its a 1 1/2 hr drive. I basically tend to all that needs done here. DH loves to help when he has a chance, My son and DIL and 2 kids live with us which makes it hard and they dont really want to help either. So I just give myself a few things each day that really needs doing. If you time is so limited why bottle raise? That makes it very hard on your time. Figure out what is the most important and stick with it, and try to keep your herd small so its not that hard. I have over 40 or more goats and I let mine dam raise them. I have 6 horses and over 20 cattle, chickens and a milk cow. I have my hands full too and in the winter I cut wood and bale hay in the summer and still not everything gets done when I would like it. I would love to just sit back and say there isnt anything to do...Thats not going to happen. Get you son to help or tell him You need a job also to help out. Mine and his family are moving out...I cant wait. Good luck and try to see what you can live without.
  4. buckrun

    buckrun New Member

    Gosh - many praises to all you energetic critters out there! Kathy you make my head spin!
    We have a production pottery studio here at home as well as a dairy herd -family size orchard and year round garden.

    We have found that it is much easier to let the kids do one of the milkings.
    Our practice is to teach the kids to run to a baby safe at night (grain inside) and pen them from the does overnight. I take the morning milk and then turn them all out together again.
    This eliminates absolutely tons of labor and also allows us to be gone when we need to because the does are getting milked and the kids are getting fed. Honestly it is the only way we are able to have goats and make a living as well.

    The drawback to this is not being on a classic CAE prevention program but if you test neg and don't bring anyone in who does not test neg you are still in the market for sales.

    You are a whirlwind getting that much done.
    Best luck with that balancing act.
  5. Odeon

    Odeon New Member


    It can be done, you just have to remain focused and committed (or is that you have to BE committed... to an institution!) LOL

    I commute an hour to and from work, and am milking 10 currently. I get up between 3:eek:o and 3:30 am to milk and feed kids. I milk at night closer to 4pm, because that is the time I get home. The goats deal with it! I pasterurize all of the milk at night, since I don't have time in the morning.

    I am also a 4-H leader, actively involved in my church, chair an ADGA committee, have a teenage son, and 3 foster daughters. My husband isn't into the goats, so I don't ask for help unless I REALLY Need to! My son is chief lambar washer, so that is one less thing I need to do.

    You just make do... but it's a choice... or make that a passion. My schedule FORCES me to only keep my best. My numbers stay reasonable and the goats get better care since I don't have as many. It just works...

    Ken in Idaho
  6. Katarina

    Katarina New Member

    Kathy you need to sit down and do an honest accounting of both hours and money.

    I bet that you are spending an awful lot just to GET to work.

    And it may be best to make this discussion with your dc. What are their commitments and interests? They can make it possible...or IMpossible. If it were me, and your dc is reaping the benefits of the household then I would be expecting him to contribute. It may not be in any fashion with the goats (I wouldn't WANT someone who didnt care involved with my animals) but then he ought to be prepared to step up to the plate and carry his share of the load elsewhere. And this is true whether you had goats or not, lived in the country or not. Every member contributes, period.

    Edited to add: this is LeeAnne speaking
    Other than that, you do what you have to to maintain until you are able to do the ideal.
  7. Rose

    Rose New Member

    Stop feeding the son. Seriously. If he can't contribute to what's putting food on his table, then he doesn't put his feet under the table.

    Quit the part time job.

    Seriously consider if you need that much milk and that many does. When we got started in dairy goats, it was so wonderful and exciting and they are all SO CUTE! We've just arrived at the mental awareness that you can NOT do it all. Having enough milk to use, make yogurt and cheese, and cook with is enough. Two does in milk at one time is really more than enough for us.

    I've been living on the homestead since 1979, and things have ebbed and flowed with my 'real life' jobs and whether I had help. Don't wait almost thirty years to discover that you need to decide what's important and how important.

  8. Kalne

    Kalne New Member

    That's a lot on your plate Anita! I would be looking to cut the part time job if at all possible, even if it meant cutting back a little on the animals. And as long as I have any dc at home, no matter their age, they help! I also would definitely be dam raising. We did our first year and it worked just fine. Once the kids were 2 weeks old we started separating at night so we could have the morning milk. Welcome to the board!
  9. Bilrite Farms

    Bilrite Farms Guest

    Anita, I know where you are coming from. Both DH and I work off the farm with a good length commute. We do have other livestock that need care including horses and pigs. Spring on the farm = a lot of very long days here. It is all a question of prioritizing and balancing. Right now, we have too many goats and need to get our numbers back down to a more manageable size for our workload. We know it though and we are working on fixing that situation. However we love life on the farm and we spend a lot of our time caring for animals. The animal and our basic needs come first and then "appearances". One thing that we know will have to slide during the week is housework and we use weekends to catch up.

    Here are some things for you to think about. Do you need to milk twice a day? Maybe once a day is enough? Can you fix the babies up with a free choice lambar (thanks Sara for helping us with this WONDERFUL invention!!!) We are using those this year and the kids (and people) are a lot happier with this set up. How are you feeding the horses? Ours have access to a round grass bale and auto waterers so that cuts out a lot of time. Same for the pigs - self feeder. Our does have free choice access to their hay and now that the weather is warmer we can use our hose to fill a much larger water tank (vs. hanging buckets on the fence and knocking the ice out).

    We also have "morning" chores and "evening" chores. Some things only need to be done once a day so why do them twice? Especially in the mornings when time can get tight when trying to get to work on time (ask us about this morning - whew! LOL)


  10. SherrieC

    SherrieC Active Member

    Anita, does your college age son live with you? I'ld say as part of "rent" he has to do something to help you out. come to terms with him on Something, cleaning house? feeding kids in the evening. We use Lambar, and I have children, my one son is 21 and he feeds the babies their lambars for me. He helps milk by maning the gate. I get up at 5 am, and go milk we've got two stands so I milk one then the next. around 11 girls milking a year. I ONLY get clean fresh house milk at night. in the morning it is Dirty Teat milking, I have to hurry right now, to start the school bus and inspect before route and all the milk get s pastuerized in the morning for the kids. we split it in half and add whole store bought cow milk, so in the evening I clean milk and freeze all of it for goat milk soap making and customers. get my little one s up and ready for thier bus, inspect mine and get rolling. As soon as I'm back home, I walk in the door and quizz the 21 yr old what still needs done' and I help. spend a little time on Net checking orders and this forum then each day of the week has been PRE planned as a Soap making day, or a house cleaning day, or a lotion making, lip balm doing, garden day, I get those things out of the way first as they take a set amount of time, soap making (2 hrs) then I accomplish whatevr else I can. grab a nap if I need one, run after noon bus route, start sup, milk goats, finish supper, eat, start dishes, wrap or cut soap, get daughter clean for bed, rest of kids fend for self lol! maybe take shower, than crawl in bed for 2 hrs of sleep before kicking 6 year old comes in with nightmares. then on Sat. after milking drive 1 1/2 hrs to soap boothe and wrap soap I brought and wait on customers and make notes on what I'm out of and need to make this week. evening same, Sunday church.. If I have one sick or kidding doe it throws all out of whack and supper gets Late like 7 pm and dishes get bumped to morning. It happens ! roll with the punches, Hey we aint bored! :crazy
  11. susie

    susie New Member

    What a great thread! It got me thinking that it's not easy nor static-- there are alot of hard decisions that need to be made when figuring out your priorities and money and time limits. Obviously we all love animals, but have to keep things in balance, or at least at a do-able level. Too many obligations, and something suffers-- your health, marraige, kids, your animals' health, something. We're always having to make choices about where our lives/farm is headed. Good luck Anita!
  12. Bella Star

    Bella Star New Member

    Hmm, Keep your herd small, have your herd checked for diseases, dam raise kids and separate kids at night and milk mornings , run kids thru day with mama does, make a monthly schedule for worming and hoof trimming and vaccines if needed. Keep a pad of notes and jot down things that you need to get and also grocery list when you go to town and make those trips count with getting your stuff. Plant a small garden, plant a few squash hills and wait a week and plant a few more hills to extend your harvest and above all remember that a few well taken care of goats or vegetable plants will produce more milk and more vegetables than a big herd or a large garden that you dont have time and just cant manage properly ,quit the part time job .. and last of all.. get your son to help you !! and dont forget your bubble bath and a glass of wine :yes
  13. Tracy in Idaho

    Tracy in Idaho Member

    Anita, I know how you feel. And I just have to second everyone else's thoughts on here -- you can only do so much.

    I am downsizing as much as I can this year -- even selling a finished GCH in my herd to make room. I just decided last night that I am going to offer all the doe kids out of my yearlings for sale immediately. I used to keep them for a while to evaluate -- but I just can't do that any more.

    You may want to think about utilizing other homesteader types -- can you buy most of your vegetables from a local stand instead of raising them yourself? Same with eggs -- can you find a local source -- maybe barter milk for eggs? (that's what I am going to do)

  14. whimmididdle

    whimmididdle Guest

    :biggrin.... and don't forget your bubble bath and a glass of wine ......I really like your way of thinking Linda.

    Yep ....ditto on the team effort, even if it's just two on the team. Here, my 12 year old son is expected most of the time to bring in firewood, get the garbage emptied and out to the roadside, help with keeping the yards cleaned up......mostly small things like that, that only takes a few minutes at a time, and is well within his skill/strength levels at that age. Today , I do laundry and vacuum floors and stuff, and yep, a feller can learn how to do this stuff and do it right. Saturday's my wife does the laundry and floors.
    Having somebody to just do some little things to help out , makes such a huge difference in having a few extra minutes a day to just enjoy life.
    I was reading something the other day that said that "they" believe that being stressed all the time both physically and mentally , is the leading cause of most illnesses. Your body has to have some rest time to repair itself.....and just like an old car, if you don't take time to repair it, it starts falling apart.

  15. Sheryl

    Sheryl New Member

    Oh Whimmy, where can a girl find another feller like you "do floors, laundry and other stuff" husband???? :rofl :rofl :rofl

  16. Agape Oaks

    Agape Oaks Guest

    Hey Anita
    I know how you feel. I have the juggling act of working full time, being a single parent & having this goat addiction. Some things I've found to make life easier....I put feeders on the outside of each pen & they stick their heads thru to eat- easy to dump feed & not get mauled.I tried one automatic waterer & they're being installed on all pens next week- YEAH! I've also figured out not to count on my 13 yr old son....I'm happy when he helps, but I don't expect it. He also knows if he chooses not to help I often choose not to take him to the movies or other fun that he wants. With that said, if he were college age & expected room & board, I'd expect a lot of help, or rent paid so I could hire help. My kids stay with their moms at night so I only have to milk those with weaned kids in the morning. I'm also realizing that I'll have to keep my numbers down or it becomes impossible. This week I'm having concrete poured for my milk room- I'm so excited I can't stand it- who would have thought concrete would be exciting :). But having a nice milk room will make life so much easier then milking in a shed with a lantern :)
  17. SherrieC

    SherrieC Active Member

    Sheryl its just the way we spell our name! my hubby and housework, garden, or barn work :rofl :rofl
  18. Truly

    Truly New Member

    Hi Anita - I am so glad I'm not as busy as you, I would be dead.

    The idea that came to me was something I saw on TV a long time ago. The idea is to only cook once a month. You take one weekend a month to prepare large versions of all your meals. They are then cutdown to mealtime servings and frozen. You want to freeze them in a container that goes from freezer to oven. Set the cooktime on your oven and have a hot meal when you get home. Just heat up some canned veggies or whatever and you're ready to eat.

    Obviously, those are not all of the instruction, but that's the idea. By narrowing down your cooking responsibilities to two days a month, you free up a LOT of time each day to do other things.
  19. goatkid

    goatkid New Member

    I agree with the folks who have suggested you see if you can let go of the part time job. There are just so many hours in a day to get things done and you do need some quiet time for yourself to maintain your health. I work four days a week in town which is a 30 mile commute each way. I have 25 goats and now 18 additional kids with more on the way. My DH helps minimally with some of the chores. He doesn't work outside the home. I expect him to help out here. I let my does raise most of the kids. Of the 18 I have now, only 6 are bottle babies. I generally pull doelings. The only buckling I'm feeding is one who experienced a traumatic birth and needed some help getting started. I can't even imagine trying to do a garden in addition to what I'm already doing (though I'd really like one). If we have one, it will have to be hubby's project. Maybe your son should do the garden if he doesn't want to do goats. Kathie
  20. Beverrlly

    Beverrlly New Member

    I have a cookbook that centers around this idea! I think it's called Once A Month Cooking. I don't use it all that often but it gives you 7 meals worth of stuff at a time so you get one big shopping list for all the ingredients, then you get instructions for making 7 meals at once, then it tells you how to package it for freezing. I don't use it because I'm a little bit of a picky eater and if you don't like one of the meals in the menu, it throws off the whole shopping list and instructions.