--- Saerlaith ingen Ruadan <barknark@...
I'm going house shopping this spring, and while I
don't know if I can afford
anything with room for farm-type critters, for now I
can at least dream 8- )
I've been wondering, if a person could have just one
type critter, what
would be the most bang for the buck? Do cashmere goats
give enough milk to
make cheese, etc.? How hard is a sheep to milk? How
many would one have to
keep to get enough fiber for spinning, weaving etc.?
--Saerlaith (who wishes chickens gave milk and wool 8-
Depending on your land's size and your rapport
with animals, your best choices are probably (In
approximate order easy-hard)
An Italian Milking ewe's offspring by a Really
Good wool-breed ram -calm, great udder and teats, at
least decent wool in decent (4+pounds) amounts,
non-aggressive- but the milk tastes funny. They're
delicate, die easily, picky feeders, weather
sensitive, offspring good for food only and skin &
meat notoriously poor.
A Scots Black cow, if they aren't extinct yet
-relatively calm, eat anything, survive any weather,
can become very friendly with kind handling. Both
rope-quality hair and outerwear-quality plucked
underwool, small quantity (only about twice an Italian
milking ewe's output) very rich milk with familiar
taste, offspring very salable, very edible, very
trainable for Oxen. Skin, skull and horns very
salable - but your first one will cost the earth
unless you can get frozen embryos to insert in a
worn-out old Holstein, and insemination fees will be
Icelandic sheep- Great wool, great milk, great
skins, OK meat, frequent twins, very hardy, and they
can kill their own stinkin' feral dog pack, thank
you... - But not cheap, and you _MUST_ buy a newborn
ewe lamb and hand bottle-feed it, then hand feed it
twice a day for life. Otherwise it goes wild and
you'll never come out of a milking stall uninjured.
(grim experience talking!)
Scots Highland cattle- as multipurpose as Scots
Black, with more milk, more underwool, more and longer
guard hairs, and magnificent long horns. Not nearly as
expensive, either. - But they're every bit as hard to
keep tame as Icelandic sheep, plus big and strong
enough to kill a human without even raising a sweat.
Artificial insemination a must, as the bulls are like
the cows only crazy.
Of course, if your fingers are thin enough,
almost any large breed of sheep is theoretically
milk-able; shave the nipple area clean before the
birth, then just tie the hind legs together for the
first few milkings! (however, you won't be able to let
the lambs nurse at all. If you breed the ewe at the
right time, this isn't a big problem. You can sell the
week-old lambs for Orthodox Church Easter dinners.)
I hope I haven't turned you off the idea
completely. If you do a web search on rare domestic
breeds, you may find several other choices that I've
just never run across.
Good luck, and keep dreaming.