I mentioned in my last post that half of the herd goes out to eat in the morning and the other half goes out in the afternoon. So each goat is out for about three hours a day. That’s not enough time for the goats to get all the food they need, so Rafa has to give them supplementary food. They get some hay, and when there’s not much food outside, they also get some grain – mostly oats that Rafa grows himself.
But right now, most of the goats’ supplemental food come in the form of olive leaves. Olive farmers in the area bring their olives to a cooperative to have it milled into olive oil. The cooperative uses machine that separates the olives, the rocks, and the leaves. They give the leaves to Rafa for free. The goats love them! And their milk tastes delicious – similar to the milk at Coonridge. In my experience, goats who eat mostly wild food give better-tasting milk – and although olive trees aren’t wild, these goats are still mostly eating leaves, like they would in nature.
Here’s Rob scooping olive leaves into bags. We bring these inside the barn and dump them into the feeders.
Although Cortijo el Manzano has a gas-powered milking maching, they rarely use it. Rafa prefers to milk the really old-fashioned way: by hand, squatting behind the goats in the barn!
Rafa only milks once a day. He told me that when the goats are giving a lot of milk, it can take three hours for one experienced person to milk them all by hand. Of course they don’t give quite as much milk as they would if he milked them twice a day, but milking only once allows him to do it by hand, and also to milk a little bit later in the day.
P.S. Pardon my English! It’s not coming to me as naturally as it usually does. You win some, you lose some – I trust that it will come back when I start speaking it all the time again.