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Author Novella Carpenter’s essay on her inner-city farm.


READER'S COMMENT:
"Loved this article! Can't wait to read more, and to find out if I can buy bebe cheese in the East Bay. Thanks! "

I had wanted Dwarf goats because I love goat’s milk, but the lot I am squatting is only a tenth of an acre and could not support full-size goats. I was surprised how sweet, creamy and downright delicious the Nigerian Dwarf milk was. Wearing a milk mustache, I signed the transfer-of-ownership papers.

Bebe’s kids came on St. Patrick’s Day. Two of them: tiny as puppies, one pure white, one brown with white streaks. After a few weeks, I weaned them, and started milking Bebe. This involved me picking her up, while she kicked, and setting her onto the milking stand. It took me almost an hour to squeeze out two cups, Bebe resisting the whole time. Goats, I started to think, might not be for me.

Despite the difficulties, my little urban farm suddenly had milk. I stopped buying half-and-half. I discovered the joys of goat-milk cappuccinos. I even made a little yogurt. Two cups of milk, every day, did add up. But not enough to make cheese, which I had discovered required at least a gallon, sometimes two.

In order to ingratiate myself with Bebe, I scrounged the dumpsters and collected cabbage leaves, which I turned into sauerkraut, which she loved. I saved whatever pennies I earned as a freelance writer to buy her high-quality alfalfa and organic corn, oats and barley.

Once gaunt, Bebe grew sleek. Her coat became shiny and healthy. She soon started jumping up onto the milking stand on her own, and she would let me milk her without complaint.



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