I sold two of my adult milking does, Luna and Velvet, so we haven’t had goat milk on the table. Fawn, a yearling, freshened just before Buffy. We sold Fawn’s twin does, as they were from a first freshener and we had no idea of how she’d milk. A quart a day? A gallon? And boy was she wild! I’ve NEVER had a goat so wild, and I’ve had lots and lots. It took two of us to corral her to catch her, then getting her on the milking stand was a rodeo. She kicked over my head and soundly kicked me in the chest! But finally I’ve got her tamed down.

Then our sweetheart, Buffy, gave us a buck and doe, so they’ve been hogging all her milk. But now they’re eating grain and have had a great start, so I’m locking them away from her over night so I can steal her milk in the morning. She gives me just a little less than a gallon every morning! What a goat! And she loves people, too. No rodeo. She is happy to be milked.

So now we have fresh milk. Mom even asks for goat milk now! She found out it tastes better than store milk. Maybe if I have time, I can make some easy, fast cheeses. I know some ice cream is just around the corner.

All that milk makes up for the disappointing gardening year. We have had such cool weather that a lot of crops are real sad. But who knows? Maybe things will pick up this month. If you quit, you’re done. So we keep tending the plants and praying for a good harvest.

Readers’ Questions:

Rabbit problems

I am having a big problems in the garden with rabbits. They are everywhere this year. They are eating up my garden like crazy. I have a green plastic fence up like the highway dept, but they are eating holes through it. Is there anything I can do to keep them out? I have a have-a-heart trap set but can’t catch them. They are bold and not afraid of people. I can get so close I can almost catch them. Are they afraid of pie plates hanging, an owl in the garden on a pole or anything else?
Please help. I am going to replace the fence with metal as soon as I can afford a section at a time.

Carol Womelsdorf
Oakville, Connecticut

Get some three foot high chicken wire and replace the plastic with that. It will keep the too tame bunnies out. Be sure to bury the bottom in the soil or they’ll dig under. We had to do that in New Mexico to even HAVE a garden! Also, having a dog helps, as it takes the “tame” out of the bunnies and they’ll often move on if they are chased a few times. No, the owl and pie pans are jokes to the rabbits. And they don’t repel well with sprays, either, although I did have some luck mixing eggs with water and spraying that on the plants; they didn’t seem to like the smell/taste. But the wire will do the trick. And chicken wire is pretty inexpensive, yet. — Jackie

Aggressive Nubian buck

I answered an ad for a free full blooded Nubian buck (probably my first mistake). He’s everything I wanted in a dairy buck anatomically, although we’ve made the discovery that he’s horribly tempered and was taught that people are targets. We are fairly experienced with goats and I should have known better. His health is great and there are no obvious triggers for his behavior. His previous owners kept him penned off but stated to me that he’s never butted anyone (I find that hard to believe). We were very surprised and had I allowed my 8 year old to visit him in the pasture alone, instead of my torn clothes and bruises he would have had broken bones. It’s a real shame that he hadn’t been disbudded.

Is there a way to “humanely” break him of this dangerous behavior (I’m voting for the cattle prod at this point, which I don’t even own yet because I’ve never needed one) or is he destined to become sausage? All of our previous bucks have been gentle or at least respectful.

Nicole Gibson
Seligman, Missouri

Once a buck becomes really aggressive like this one, there is little you can do to make him dependably gentle. You could have him dehorned (a big job for your vet, as mature bucks have very large horn bases), which would help a lot, but may not cure the problem. Because you have an eight year old, I’d recommend the sausage route, unfortunately. Selling him may just get someone else hurt. I’ve never, never had an aggressive buck. But mine have been disbudded and NEVER played with. Grabbing a buck by the horns and wrestling with them is, unfortunately, quite common and some people think it’s funny to see the buck rear back and fight. Until they get hurt. By then the buck has learned bad behavior and it’s usually to late to rehabilitate them. Sorry. — Jackie

Flat tasting canned food

I have opened up two jars of different food items I had pressure canned during the winter, one was chicken in broth and the other chili, each one has a flat taste to it, like the smell of the canner once its been depressurized and you take the top off, not sure how to describe it. What could this be? The food is definitely not gone bad, it just has a taste that is off.

Darnell Rogers
Arden, North Carolina

There are a lot pf possibilities on this problem and I don’t have much information to go on. Was all of the chicken in broth and chili like that or only those two jars? One possibility is flat/sour, resulting in a flat or “off” taste. This is caused by a heat-resistant bacteria and usually results in hurried up canning that doesn’t follow all the directions. The other is that possibly your pressure gauge is off and the foods are processing at a too-high pressure. I hope you find out the cause and have great canning this year! — Jackie

Worming for coccidia

I am wondering about worming for coccidia. I bought a buck kid from a dairy farm with papers that show an ancestry of good milk production and got his runt sister for free ( I know… there ain’t no free lunch or free goat). Any way the gal said I should treat them for it. I think they are growing fine and look good. I’m wondering if it is really necessary.

Also I’m wondering about liver flukes. One of my friends says they are common around swampy areas and she feels her goats need to be treated for them. What would be the signs that liver fluke was a problem in your goats.

Will a fecal exam let you know about coccidia or liver flukes?

Dinah Jo Brosius
Battle Ground, Washington

I would suggest a fecal exam to check for coccidiosis. Evidently the breeder had a problem (possibly slight and she is concerned) and wants to make sure your goats are clear.

Liver fluke is “fairly common” in some swampy areas; the intermediate host is a small snail. But we’ve always lived in low areas and have never had it in a goat or cow. Signs are unthriftiness, diarrhea and death. I’d talk to your vet when you take in the fecal sample and follow his/her advice as they know how common this problem really is in YOUR area. — Jackie

Canning onions

I just received a “boatload” of onions. Big Spanish onions. I have turned into a canning nut since becoming familiar with your site. I love it. Is there a way to can onions that I can possibly quarter or dice to use in cooking later?

Kevin Sakuta
Jesup, Georgia

While I dehydrate most of my onions, which is very easy (simply slice them in 1/2″ slices and lay them on your trays), I do add chopped or quartered onions to my stew vegetable mixes. Onions themselves are not recommended for canning unless they are cut into chunks 1″ square (relatively) or less. Cover the pieces with boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes to heat thoroughly. Pack into jars with cooking liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. If you do this, the processing time is 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; consult your canning book for directions). In stew mixtures, such as carrots, onions, potatoes, and corn, for instance, process the mix for the time required for the vegetable requiring the longest processing time.

Enjoy your onions! I use my dehydrated onions nearly every day in soups, casseroles, stews and hamburgers. — Jackie

Canning strawberries, preserves in pint jars, and dilly beans

I used your recipe for canning strawberries, but my berries have white centers and are hollow. According to the Ball Preserving book (to the left of the Strawberries in Syrup recipe) I cannot can this variety, but they have no information on why. So I cut my berries (no hollow centers now) and then followed your recipe. Do you think this is OK? One last thing about these berries, they do float and so I can see them nearer the top of the jars with the syrup at the bottom.

Secondly, when making preserves all the recipes are for half-pint jars. That is too small for us. Could I can using pint sized jars? Should I increase the processing time?

And lastly, I have a family recipe for dilly beans. This recipe says to wash beans and cut off the stem end. Fit beans in the jar allowing one half inch headspace. Water, vinegar, and salt mixture is heated to a boil and poured over the beans (and garlic and dill). Most recipes I’ve seen say to heat the beans with the vinegar mixture. Is that necessary? It is much easier to fit the uncooked, cold beans in the jar.

Susan Bates
Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Don’t worry about the strawberries. Just slice ’em and can them. Some varieties DO have a white center and it’s a cosmetic thing, not a safety or taste issue. Strawberries tend to float in the jar, as do many fruits, especially those raw packed. Also, no worries.

YES, you can put up your jams, jellies, and preserves in pint jars. When I had 8 kids home, I sure didn’t use half pints! No, you use the same processing time for half pints and pints.

As for the dilly beans, my recipe also has you pack raw, washed, trimmed beans in the jar and pour the pickling solution over the beans, leaving 1/2″ of headspace. They are then boiling water bath processed for 10 minutes. Happy canning! — Jackie

Personal garbage dump

I am planning for the coming economic collapse which I see as inevitable. I suspect that one of the first services to go will be rural garbage collection. Look as I might I cannot find any guidance about a personal garbage/waste dump. I am sure the old pioneers and farmers had a system. What would you recommend?

Nevin Smith
Alexandria, Minnesota

The reason early pioneers and farmers got along so well is that they didn’t have much waste. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Consider this; when you have home canned foods, use a jar, you don’t have a tin can to throw away, only a thin lid. If you don’t buy any prepackaged foods, you don’t have the container to dispose of. If you don’t buy sodas and other drinks, you also don’t have a container to get rid of. We burn all of our paper products (envelopes, newspapers, cardboard, etc.) in our wood stove to start fires that keep us warm.

In the old days, folks simply dug a deep hole to receive any “trash” such as broken glass, jar lids, etc. I’m certain that would still work if you had no other way to dispose of it. Remember, the less you buy, the less you have to get rid of, so more homegrown foods are a definite plus!

We feed all our kitchen scraps to the goats and chickens except meat bones and meat products. The bones, we burn and the meat goes to the dogs. If we didn’t have goats and chickens, we would add the kitchen scraps to the compost pile. I can’t think of more “garbage/trash” to get rid of. — Jackie

Saving tomato seeds

Can you tell me how to save tomato seeds? Do I just dry them and seal them in a jar? If I plant a second crop of tomatoes this year can I use these seeds? This is the first time I have grown heirloom seeds and the tomatoes are so good.

Kathleen Minkkinen
Cedar Bluff, Alabama

Tomato seeds are real easy to save. Just add the seeds to water in a small jar and let them ferment on the counter for about 3 days. The gel disappears and the seeds are left. Rinse them well in a sieve then put them on a wax paper to dry. As they dry, stir them to dry them evenly. When they are very dry, store them in an airtight jar. You can save seeds from any very ripe tomato. I’m glad you found out how good some of those heirloom tomatoes are. That’s why they’ve been around so long! Enjoy! — Jackie

Storing homemade bread

I was wondering about storing homemade bread. I have recently starting making most of the bread for our family by hand. We love it but it only keeps for a couple days. Is there anything I’m not doing that I should be to keep it a little longer?

Tracy Doldan
Kenmore, New York

Because homemade bread IS so good and has no chemicals added, like preservatives, it is harder to keep than store bought bread that lasts for a week or more. To keep it longer, you can either freeze a loaf in an airtight bag or refrigerate it. Both will make it last much longer. But around here, when I bake bread, we usually eat up the first loaf when it is still hot, making most of a meal from it and the second loaf quickly follows. Keep making the bread and your family’s eating habits will change; most families aren’t used to having GOOD bread (the staff of life!) on the table to enjoy and it takes awhile to get in the habit. Remember that homemade bread makes terrific toast and French toast for breakfast, too! — Jackie


  1. We have a chance to get a very young jersy cow that was bred to young and so will be small. I want her so bad but we travel all summer with the almonds and so either won’t get her or will have to find some one to mild while we are gone. I would rather do that as some one else could use the milk also because it will be to much for a family of only three now. We will see.

  2. In response to personal garbage dump;

    Most of the old homesteads just dug a big hole and dumped the little garbage they had and buried it when full. Quite a bit of stuff would go down the Privy as well, or even into old dry-wells once the water was gone. I’ve been on lots of old homesteads and in old town-sites where the former residents were very much not ecologically minded and just dumped their trash a few feet from the door, or in the back alley.

  3. Love your blog Jackie! Glad you are getting goat milk again. We have had a disappointing year in the garden as well. Glad I have lots left over from my canning adventures last year. Hopefully things will perk up here too.

    Keep your pictures and wisdom coming! I love it.

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