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<snip>
Don't get me started on cheese, we could be here a long time! ;-) Love the stuff. A friend of mine has Nubian goats - their milk is actually really nice to drink - not very goaty at all, unlike milk from Saanens and the usual European milk breeds. It doesn't spoil the tea, or the hot chocolate!


Goat breeds vary in the creaminess of their milk (just like dairy cow breeds, you either get quantity or high butterfat, not both). The alpine breeds are quantity milkers -- Saanens, Toggs, French Alpines, Oberhaslis. They are the Holsteins of the goat world. The African-derived breeds are butterfat milkers -- Nubians, Boers, Nigerians, Kinders (a dual-purpose cross between African Pygmy and Nubian with the highest butterfat of all). Those latter breeds' milk tastes a lot 'sweeter' because it is much creamier.

The other big factor in 'goaty' flavor in milk is proper milk handling. Raw milk must be kept extremely clean and chilled down as fast as possible (in an ice bath if you are a home milker). Otherwise it is going to start tasting goaty.

Oh, and keep your buck far downwind of your milking does!
 

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Yes, we try to practice sustainability. Our horses live on our organic farm and we grow our own hay.



The local area is somewhat hostile towards 'organic' so organic feed is hard to come by. The most I can do is try to avoid plastic (wish they didn't use plastic baling twine!) and not use pesticides, make my own fly spray, try to buy cotton and wool clothes, saddle pads, natural bristle brushes etc. Will try garlic oil as a fly spray this year, but it's hard to find too.



We can't avoid cars unfortunately, farm country with great distances between neighbours and towns.



It's very interesting reading the comments, thanks for the thread!
 

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My DH is a Biologist and also has a degree in Agricultural Technology plus a PhD.
We've both grown up around and worked in dairy farming and field scale veg growing. One of my sons and a brother have degrees in horticultural and botanical science and the son also has the Kew Diploma and worked at Kew Gardens for several years.
While we like to do whatever I can for the environment, our backgrounds also make us realists in terms of being total 'organic'. I use the inverted commas because organic farming allows some very nasty 'natural' things that stay in the soil for many years. Natural does not always mean safe.
We make the most of our grazing land, we don't overgraze and we try to avoid the ground poaching in wet weather that allows weed seeds to take advantage. We remove the manure as often as possible, preferably every day, weather permitting but we will use chemical fertilizer, weed control and insect control if needed.
We buy as much hay as we can from a local farmer and the rest comes from a farm that's in CT but a good drive away - they grow some of their hay in NY state. I would buy more hay locally if it was worth having or available.
My priority is a good quality hay that the horse will eat and so if it comes from miles away that's preferable to bales that are full of weeds that they turn their noses up at.
 

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Thanks for the input! I tried a pair of goats early on. But they both died. They may have been sick to start with. One was lethargic, but seemed to perk up until we found it dead. The other lasted a little while longer. We kept them as the locals do, on picket ropes. I think they need much more shelter than that. I won't try that again until I have a suitable shelter for them. I'd like to have a portable set up. That can be moved up and down the rows of banana trees. That's on a back burner for now.


I like that solarization idea. May have to modify it a bit. Much of the pollution from degraded plastic particles around here comes from the cheap Chinese tarps that dominate the market. In less than a year, they begin to crumble and leave bits and pieces all over the landscape.


I wonder if the rolls of heavy black plastic I've seen used by farmers in the US to control weeds would hold up better. Perhaps even remain strong enough to use in a different spot the following year. We're talking around 500 fruit trees, and one or two hundred banana trees.
We used rolls of heavy black agricultural plastic covered by extremely heavy double sided tarps. At the end the tarps were weathered but still usable (some came home with me), and the black plastic, not having been exposed to the sun, was in excellent shape.
 

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My DH is a Biologist and also has a degree in Agricultural Technology plus a PhD.
We've both grown up around and worked in dairy farming and field scale veg growing. One of my sons and a brother have degrees in horticultural and botanical science and the son also has the Kew Diploma and worked at Kew Gardens for several years.
While we like to do whatever I can for the environment, our backgrounds also make us realists in terms of being total 'organic'. I use the inverted commas because organic farming allows some very nasty 'natural' things that stay in the soil for many years. Natural does not always mean safe.
We make the most of our grazing land, we don't overgraze and we try to avoid the ground poaching in wet weather that allows weed seeds to take advantage. We remove the manure as often as possible, preferably every day, weather permitting but we will use chemical fertilizer, weed control and insect control if needed.
We buy as much hay as we can from a local farmer and the rest comes from a farm that's in CT but a good drive away - they grow some of their hay in NY state. I would buy more hay locally if it was worth having or available.
My priority is a good quality hay that the horse will eat and so if it comes from miles away that's preferable to bales that are full of weeds that they turn their noses up at.
Pragmatism seems a better way than an all or nothing approach from either end.
 

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Pragmatism seems a better way than an all or nothing approach from either end.
Let's have that up at the barn, in cross-stitch! :)

I also like the saying that in philosophy, the truth is found neither in the thesis or in its antithesis, but in a synthesis that reconciles the two. (I think that was Hegel.)
 

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Let's have that up at the barn, in cross-stitch! :)

I also like the saying that in philosophy, the truth is found neither in the thesis or in its antithesis, but in a synthesis that reconciles the two. (I think that was Hegel.)
The truth is a shifting target ... in terms of sustainability, I try for the broadest and longest view I'm capable of. That's something human beings have completely lost track of -- the once normal idea that what we do now is going to affect our children's children's children, and that we are always walking in the footsteps of our oldest grandparents. Time has compressed and compressed until we can only think as far as the next financial year, if that.

Since moving to a 230 year old farmstead, I have been able to consider what I can do to leave this property better than I found it, and what "better" actually means. Livestock can heal pastures as well as ruin them, it depends on how you manage them.
 

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@tinyliny has a thread on Don't Don't versus Do Do!

What I quote below is from an article on Christianity, but lots of non-Christians have come to the same conclusions, if couched in somewhat different terms.
One way to resolve the tension between disinterestedness (doing it for nothing) and reward is to realize that self-interest is not the same thing as selfishness. Some maintain that Mark 8:35-36 is Lewis’ most quoted passage in Scripture. Jesus appeals to self-interest as a motive for self-denial, saying, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel shall save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” We are being encouraged to truly “save” our lives and not “lose” our lives or “forfeit” our soul. The appeal is to our own self-interest.

Unless we have a sufficient reason to sacrifice something we love, the cost will always be too great. Jesus gives us sufficient reason to pay the cost. First, if we try to “save” our lives by seeking our own selfish pleasures in our own way, we will lose (what is in our self-interest) our eternal life and the fullness of life right now. Second, if we “lose” our lives—give them away to Christ and others—we will gain not only eternal life, but fullness of life in the present. Lewis expresses this dilemma and the way out of it in the last paragraph of Mere Christianity:

“The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and the death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”11

In other words, if you want to “save” then “lose”. If you are selfish, it will not be in your self-interest. Self-denial is in your self-interest.

C.S. Lewis, Greed, and Self-Interest
Greed - the desire for short term gain, be it money, prestige or pleasure - was considered one of the seven deadly sins. Like my battle against weight, it is a battle I'll fight until I die. From the same article:

"C. S. Lewis understood the layers of selfishness and pride that were present in his own life (and ours). He wrote in a letter: “And will you believe it, one out of every three is a thought of self-admiration … I pretend I am carefully thinking out what to say to the next pupil (for his good, of course) and then suddenly realize I am really thinking how frightfully clever I’m going to be and how he will admire me … And when you force yourself to stop it, you admire yourself for doing that. It’s like fighting the hydra.
Sustainability is a battle against greed. Bringing it back to my first sentence, saying "Don't be greedy" is like telling me, "Don't eat that pie!" My only success comes if, instead of "Don't Don't", I focus on what I want to "Do Do" more - to be able to run in the desert, to feel good riding, to be able to hike, to see my grandkids getting older.

"in terms of sustainability, I try for the broadest and longest view I'm capable of." - @Avna

In battling greed, it is the long term good that saves us. We limit ourselves now in hope of a long term reward. When we focus on "don't", we get discouraged. Maybe like a horse. When we focus on "Do", we are encouraged. Maybe like a horse. And when we are scolded by others - I'm thinking Hollywood actors - we get resentful. As a horse may if often scolded by his rider.

I can't save the world. I resent being scolded by strangers in a parking lot (twice now) for owning a truck instead of some tiny car I'd barely fit in and that couldn't haul a flake of hay, let alone bales. My plastic saddle may not be biodegradable, but it is light on my back. Light on my horse's back. Makes it easier to stay on his back when he spooks. Cost me 80% less than my leather saddle. And my kids can probably give it to someone else when I die. If choosing it makes me a bad person, then bad I be. My hay buying decisions are based on my horses' health, not how many miles the hay traveled to get here.

It is more productive to ask people what sort of life they want to live 10-20 years from now, what they want their community to look like in 10-20 years, and how they can achieve those goals. Sustainability will follow. Acting in our self interest isn't bad, if our self-interest has the right scope of action.
 

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This has been an interesting discussion and I've enjoyed the various perspectives. My husband and I do think a lot about sustainability (it's actually what his degree is in, and he used to be a professor in a "Green MBA" program if you can believe such a thing exists and is not an oxymoron :wink:) but it introduces a great amount of cognitive dissonance in our lives. We recently moved to a beautiful 200+ acre farm where we are working on renovating an old farmhouse and managing the land through a professional forestry plan. Part of what attracted us to this property was the opportunity to be stewards of the landscape and keep open the wildlife corridors and forest that's already here. That's the "sustainable" part. The highly "unsustainable" part is that living rurally means consuming huge amounts of fossil fuels to go anywhere off the property. My husband has a job that requires him to drive long distances every day, generally at least 2 hours daily (he works in economic development helping businesses in rural communities statewide). I work virtually, so most days I am working from home but for 5-10 days a month, I am flying all over the country after driving two hours one way to the airport. Electric vehicles sound nice, but there are no charging stations anywhere on these long drives, and electricity in our home is currently coming from fossil fueled plants (solar is a long term option). The house is way too big for just two people (no kids and no plans to, for both personal and environmental reasons- more on that in a minute) but you can not find an old house on a property like this that was built for a DINK couple. We have horses and chickens here; hay comes from local farmers trucked on huge flatbeds. Feed for both horses and chickens is milled in state and then trucked around to various retailers that we drive to to get it. We mostly buy and cook local food with minimal processed foods, but we drive to get it and use trucked-in propane to cook it (in the house heated with oil for 6 months out of the year; wood is a long term option but comes with its own tradeoffs). What is our "net" impact? I think the balance of our footprint is probably a net drain on the planet.

A few months ago I read this article- Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy? When I clicked to read it, the answer seemed so simple to me- of course not, it will be wonderful for the planet when we wipe ourselves out and things return to a better balance. That's part of the reason I wouldn't want children, why perpetuate the drain on the natural world? The philospopher's argument in the article though was rather counter to that perspective. It didn't change my opinion, but I guess was enlightening to contemplate the other side of things.
 

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Last night I stopped at a farm store for some supplies, and was sad to see their tubs of horseshoes now have the shoes in thick, colorful plastic bags..... just.... why? Horseshoes have done just fine in bins and boxes for centuries. Why on earth would they have to be wrapped individually in plastic now? Gah!
 

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Hmm. IDK. I mean, we try our best in all we do to minimize our footprints. Pack it in, pack it out, even if it's not ours...

I use the cow patties our heifers are kind enough leave in the pasture for my flower beds. I am mixing my garden plants in with my flowers this year, rather than having two separate areas to have to spend water and personal, physical energy on. We use ground water, do our best to be conservative with it, take no more than we need.

I buy used tack on the whole. Reuse, repair, replace, repurpose until it's worn out and can't be fixed or used any longer.

Hay is local, I can't imagine going out of state for it.

We place our round bales in areas where the topsoil was long gone, far before our time on earth, leaving red clay exposed. Over time, the cows and horses stomp the left overs and seeds into the ground, fertilize it, and voila! Top soil! Grass!


I let certain good citizen horses out of their pasture on a regular basis - they are allowed to roam our property and mow the yard. They do a good job on the whole, but a mower is still needed.


Feed is NOT organic, and only used when the grass stop growing (First freeze) until the grass comes in (Now). Now they're all getting grass fat. Still keeping hay out for now.

We've started reusing our wads of round bale mesh to stop erosion - figured out if you ball it up good and tight, tie it up good and tight, then chuck it in an erosion destroyed wash, it will trap dirt the next time it rains, but allows the water to pass through and doesn't wash away into the creek. Not an entirely eco friendly decision, but it's working. We tried old bales of hay, but the water just washed under them and continued to chew away at our creek bottom. Contacted USDA/Dept of Ag, asked what to do, they sent out an expert. He said: Cross fence.

Say what? So, just... fence it off and forget about it?

Thanks for nothing, genius.

:p
 
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Last night I stopped at a farm store for some supplies, and was sad to see their tubs of horseshoes now have the shoes in thick, colorful plastic bags..... just.... why? Horseshoes have done just fine in bins and boxes for centuries. Why on earth would they have to be wrapped individually in plastic now? Gah!

That annoys the begeebus out of me. That and plastic clamshell packaging. The less plastic I take home with me, the happier I am. Tubs are nice - you can reuse them.
 
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