Editor’s Note: This issue of Dairy Goat Journal features a beautiful cover picture of a Nubian buck and his loving family – the John Szklarz family, TX. Another DGJ cover photo from the Szklarz family also was featured on the July/August 06 issue but was incorrectly identified. The boy cuddling a LaMancha wether on that cover was Luke Szklarz with him caprine friend, Otis. We apologize for the identification mix-up and thought it fitting to learn more about the family which submitted these wonderful photos. Following is a question and answer essay with answers provided by Goldie May Szklarz, 13, who submitted the beautiful dairy goat photos for DGJ readers to enjoy.
1) How long has your family had dairy goats? Why did you get started with them? Where are you located? Herd name?
While at their friend Jackson’s home, Goldie Szklarz took her baby brother Samuel along to visit the bucks. One of bucks, Topper, is very friendly and didn’t mind all the extra attention they gave him.
We first became interested in goats while we were stationed in England. My father is in the USAF. We were visiting a Living History Farm and they had a Dairy Goat Show there. A kind man allowed my brother and I to show some of his goats. We spoke with him for a long time and he and his wife invited us to their home to learn more about goats. We visited a couple other breeders and we knew we wanted a goat of our own. We first bought a Golden Guernsey. She was lovely with long golden hair. We all enjoyed brushing it. We also borrowed a Golden Guernsey/ Toggenburg cross from the people we bought the G.G. from. There are not many of G.G. here in the states and I am thankful the Lord. We made a lot of mistakes but of course learned a lot through them.
Toward the end of 2002 my mother was flown to the states due to complications with her triplet pregnancy. My father ended up getting a humanitarian so we could all move to the states to be here. This means I had to sell all my animals. That was hard but of course I would rather be with my mother than have any animal. This brought us all to Texas, to the best hospital in the Air force. As we searched for a home while Mom was in the hospital we had two requirements. We had to be able to have chickens and goats.
When the triplets were almost a year old my parents decided we could have goats again. My father and brother Luke had been fixing fences and building a shelter and I was researching about goats every spare second I had.
Goldie’s brother Caleb (7) holds one of their newborn Nubian bucklings.
Children and kids just go together.
We wanted to join the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) and were trying to decide on a herd name. My triplet brother’s names are Joshua, Joseph and James so we picked Triplet J’s. At first ADGA said No because there was a Triple J’s and they thought it was too close but then they decided we could. The Lord led us to all the right people and my brother Luke and I bought our first Nubians. I fell instantly in love with my big-mouthed doe, Sugar Puff. God also blessed us again by allowing us to borrow two Alpines from the lady we bought the Nubians from. This way we again had milk until our goats kidded. Luke’s Nubian doe wasn’t very friendly so in 2005 he bought the sweetest goat we have ever met, a LaMancha named Jessie. He loves the LaMancha’s easy going temperament so much he bought another one this year. We also have a yearling doe, Joy who is Puff’s daughter. I still have my dear Puff and if it’s the Lord’s will I hope to have her until she dies.
2) Tell us about the boy holding the LaMancha wether (DGJ July/August 06 cover photo).
The boy is my brother, Luke Szklarz. The little wether’s name is Otis. He is a LaMancha/Nubian cross. But his personality is 100% LaMancha. We have raised three wethers for meat: a Golden Guernsey, an Alpine/Nubian and a Pygmy cross. I don’t think we will ever raise any goat that has LaMancha in it for meat again. It is just so hard not to get attached to them because they are so sweet. Otis is Jessie’s baby and he is as sweet as she is. Even though he is almost three months old now he still cuddles on us whenever we go see him. He loves to go for walks and car rides. He was a favorite at church when we used to have to take him with us so he could have his bottle. All the children and some of the adults loved him. It will be hard to take him on his last ride.
3) How have you and your family benefited from raising dairy goats? Why do you like them so much?
We have all benefited greatly from our goats. My mother could not make enough milk for all the triplets so they thrived on the nutritious goat’s milk.
Goldie enjoys one of their new miracles. She says, “Goats are great!”
The goats have also helped us to be more responsible. Since we are blessed to have always been homeschooled we have the time to do all the goat care ourselves only having to ask our parents for occasional assistance; building things like hay racks, driving us to shows, the feed store, etc. My brother Caleb (6) began faithfully feeding the kids their bottle and giving them their water, hay, and grain this year. He has helped in the past but now he knows it is all up to him. We believe the goats bring us even closer together as a family.
Also we have been able to bless others with goat related gifts, milk, cheese, soap, lasagna and other foods made with the cheese, etc. It makes us and them feel good to give these ”homemade” gifts.
We have also learned a lot of science and nutrition facts first hand in our day-to-day management of the goats. My mother used to want a Jersey cow but after having goats for a few years she now has no desire for a cow. We get five-plus gallons a day from our four goats and that is the perfect amount for us. Mom also likes the fact that we don’t have the big cow patties to deal with. She doesn’t worry about the little ones getting hurt by the goats, they are fairly easy to handle, trim hooves, etc. and we have room for four goats instead of only one cow.
We can’t picture our family ever being without goats. A lady who was buying milk asked me what I plan on doing when I am done milking goats. I told her I’d probably be either a very crippled up old lady or dead.