During the holidays, I had the good fortune to meet a lovely lady Kristina, who also had goats. We shared a room at the Löfstad Slott Christmas Market. Kristina, from Hejtorp dairy farm was selling her goat cheese and I my goat milk soap.
We had a lovely time together and quickly became friends and business associates. We decided that we must each make a trip to the others goat farm in the spring. I was the one to make the first visit for a couple of reasons. Kristina was and still is much to busy with her new baby goats being born and I just had to see them. We both have our goats for our businesses and milk is very important. There is a slight difference; Kristina uses her milk immediately to make her cheese and I freeze mine to make my soap. There needs to be a constant flow of milk at a cheese maker’s dairy but not so at a soap making farm. With two freezers filled with goat milk, I and my does are taking a break from breeding, giving birth and being milked.
We spent a wonderful afternoon amid many new mothers and more baby goats than I have ever seen. With 70 does giving birth to 1, 2 or maybe 3 babies, the count was up to 86 babies! There were many does who had not given birth yet, so that number will rise shortly. I understand that last year the count was up to 123 new baby goats born.
As a goat owner and breeder, it’s always a joy to visit other goat owners. You see how they house their goats, what they feed them, and how they have outdoor time.
There are several differences between our goat farms:
At Hejtorp the does all live communally in an open barn.
At Gullringstorp all our goats live in boxes in our stable.
At Hejtorp, the does can go out and come in as they wish. they can walk right out of their barn home into their pastures.
At Gullringstorp, our goats are led out to their enclosures because of proximity of our stable to the enclosures.
At Hejtorp, there are 4 boys or bucks who live outdoors all year long with an outdoor shelter.
At Gullringstorp, there are 6 boys or bucks who come inside every evening.
At Hejtorp. the goats are an indigenous breed, Swedish Lantras.
At Gullringstorp, our goats are West African miniature dairy goats, Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy.
I have learned so much from watching how Kristina manages her goats and its always good to find out new ways to do things.
After enjoying the beautiful goats, I visited the farm boutique.
It was great to see between 20-30 varieties of goat cheese available .
Looking around I spotted Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap on display!
Thank you Kristina from Hejtorp Dairy Farm in Doverstorp, Östergotland for a lovely afternoon.
Well I have to tell you, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it might be to locate goats here. Imagine my disappointment when there were no goats available for miles. Ok I have to clarify , there were goats just not the goats I was looking for. it took up to a year to locate my very first goats to start off my herd. I searched online sites, local animal parks and on-line ads. Finally we ran across an ad that was actually as we later found out was a distress ad. With great excitement and anticipation the days drew closer to our meeting date. I could hardly wait! Finally I would have my much wanted goats!
When we arrived, the first thing I thought was, “oh no we don’t have this type of terrain for them”! They had huge boulders to climb, even a structure to climb and trees everywhere! Needless to say I panicked and felt like this was not the time nor were these the goats for me. Here take a look at where these goats were living:
There see! What fun they must have had playing in this setting. Oh yes he was also looking for a home for these two magnificent big horned sheep that are from the Swedish island of Gotland. My husband thought I was crazy because they were so beautiful and we had the land, I couldn’t see why we couldn’t take them also. We didn’t in the end. there in the photo you can see two of the goats that were available. The black one was actually the breed of goat I was looking for. She is a West African dairy breed , Nigerian Dwarf. She was with two others whom I learned later were part of the package and if we wanted her we had to take them also. They were beautiful even though they were not what I set out to have . They are a rare Swedish breed of dairy goat called Swedish Lantras and just a bit larger than the Nigerian Dwarf. They were also bucks. But it was easy to see that they needed to be together and were indeed a package.
Aren’t the white ones beautiful?? I fell in love instantly! I just had to have them, no matter that they were not my breed of choice. I was about to become a goat owner! That was a fantastic feeling.
As we were negotiating price, we learned that this owner was needing to find them a home together due to his personal stress and it was really sad to know that he was unable to cope with whatever life was throwing his way and he had neither the time nor the energy to give these goats what they needed. In the end there was no exchange of money (kronor) , just hugs and reassuring words that these three would be well taken care of and loved.
Then there was a bonus to our verbal transaction. The Nigerian Dwarf goat named Frida was PREGNANT!!! Oh my goodness!!! And one of the white goats was her “husband”. They were very much attached to each other. that is evident in this next photo:
As we walked around the property and learned what was to be learned about all three, these two “lovers” were never apart. They walked together and when one stopped the other stopped. It was clear to see the connection between them and the bond was strong.
So started the Gullringstorp Goats! We were now proud owners of a tiny herd of goats. Wow, a dream come true. We brought the three home to Gullringstorp in October and we were about to experience the worst winter in our area in over 100 years. So my concerns and fears of having inferior grounds, were quickly put on hold. Winter hit and it hit hard. My new goats which up until they came to Gullringstorp, were outside since he got them, would now be confined to the indoor stable boxes. I have since seen goats that were outdoors through the winter, wind and rain and I was not happy with what I saw. Even a three-sided shelter was not enough for our tough Swedish winters and this was a doozy! Not to worry, my new goats were cozy and as warm as could be, inside. See for your self:
Well here is a photo of Frida and her “husband” Jalle. They remained close even at our home. Goats require fresh branches,grains, hay ,straw, fresh water and minerals to stay healthy. Since my new little herd was “stable bound” for the duration of the winter, it was my husband who cut fresh branches from our property to bring in for our little herd. They could not go out and brows as goats do in nature, we brought nature in to them. in the beginning, we were unaware that the branches really needed to be strung up so the goats could reach up and stretch to get to the leaves and goodies. We learned. We learned a lot with this little herd. It’s similar to being a parent. You can read all the child rearing books in preparation, but nothing teaches like the real thing. you just have to jump in with both feet and your heart and you will learn, together. And that was how we started.
Here are some photos of life in our stable which was once so empty! We had box activities and corridor activities to get through that long winter:
Here are two of my new goats enjoying some yummy branches.
I am so glad we have so many evergreen trees and bushes on the property, so we had plenty of green to offer our goats.
As you can see, the goats do not suffer for being inside through our long cold winter. They were kept quite happy with goodies in the boxes and fun activities in the corridor. They even met a new friend!
Please check back to learn more about Jalle and Julius and the surprise package Frida was carrying!
Thank you for reading and I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to leave your comments på svenska!
Bye for now, (Hej då)