Monday, March 9, 2009

Saving (or earning) money with goats?

At this point we had spent a lot of money on the goats, their barn, their feed, their straw, and various pieces of equipment. But we had not seen a lot of income from them.

By early April 1977 we were having all our dairy needs fulfilled. As a family we were drinking a gallon or more of this good fresh unpasteurized unhomogenized frothy pure-white goat milk per day, and we had lots left over, even after the babies finished with their share.

It was time to make that goat milk pay.

The first idea was to store it in the tried and true traditional method, which is to make it into cheese. That gave us cheese to eat and meant we didn't have to buy it at the store, and we were heavy cheese eaters. One gallon of extra milk meant one wheel of cheese, or about the amount we could eat in a day. Recipes for what to do with it are on GrammyPeg's Kitchen.

But cheese could not be an income making venture at that time. Goat cheese had yet to be discovered as something an intelligent person would pay good money for.

So I decided to look into selling milk. In Massachusetts at that time, it could be sold only from the door, so I would need to lean on word of mouth advertising or the milk would not be going anywhere.

But that turned out not to be a problem. The word did spread. Some people wanted it for sick babies, others for sick animals, others just because they liked it. We sold all we could produce, and we knew we could have sold more. We bottled it in half gallon juice bottles and our customers needed to bring the bottles back clean. They paid us $2 per half gallon.

Since we were selling all we had to spare, the milk going down the throats of rapidly growing babies began to look like an asset going to waste. We were happy to have our doelings consume it so they could grow big and produce milk of their own, but the bucklings that were named Hamburger 1, Hamburger 2, etc. were a different story.

So I decided to see if I could sell them.

Of course all goat people have an excess of bucklings at the same time of year. I tried to get the word out by using a wonderful little weekly sales booklet that allowed us to put in ads for free and pay 10% when we sold the item.That fit my budget perfectly! It circulated all over the eastern half of the state. But no one called for our kids. And I didn't want to feed them milk I could sell. In any case, I couldn't keep them, and as vegetarians we weren't going to eat them...

So I mulled over how to change my success, and one morning I woke up with a new ad to try. Instead of saying Goat Kid For Sale, I submitted, "Bottle feed your own baby goat".

I sold all of them that weekend.

The people buying them had a choice of what to feed them. Some opted to wean them to hay, some to milk replacer (an awful concoction that purports to be like milk but everyone knows from looking at it that it bears no resemblance to anything like milk), and some to, tada! goat's milk! Which they would have to buy from me...

I castrated the young bucks before they went so they would remain small and friendly.

We sold all the goat milk we weren't drinking. And so the goats started to pay for themselves and all our milk and whatever cheese we had the milk to make.


Real said...

Economy is a crazy thing. $2 for a half gallon isn't nearly as cheap as I would have expected for 30 years ago. I mean, for cow's milk today, that's still a lot of money. And when I bought goat's milk a few years ago I think it was $4 for a half gallon.

Also, that you fed your family of 5 on $500/month 30 years ago was surprising too. We just barely upped our budget from $500 to $750 last year!

It's just surprising. I would have thought things would be much cheaper back in the old days! ; )

Tessie258 said...

I know I'm not good at finding says see Grammy Peg's Kitchen for the recipes....I can't find the kitchen!! Help I'm lost in your blog and I can't find the kitchen!

Toni-Shaklee Rep said...

Love your stories!

Peg Lewis said...

At $2 per half gallon, the goat milk was definitely not cheap! That's what we pay today per gallon of organic cow's milk. And it was yet more expensive because the dollar was much more valuable. So it was a real help to us.

Counting all our food, we were spending $500 a month in those more valuable dollars. That was when we were eating what the grocery store had to offer, and buying as frugally as I knew how. I have no idea why it's so different from your experience. Maybe it's the butter? :)

Eloise said...

That's really interesting. Goat's milk at the store (pasteurized) here costs about $4-$6 for the quart. Raw goats milk is only available through goat shares, which run $25/week for 1/2 gallon a week or $50/week for 1 gallon a week. This is why, after reading the chapters and ordinances for this city, I decided it was time to raise my own milk :).