How to milk your goat

What would you expect to find in a farmers market? Fruits, vegetables or fresh local produce? How about a goat that poops and pees at will?

Well, you got one on Saturday morning, at the North Oakland Farmers Market on the corner of Market St. and Arlington Ave. Oakland resident Crow, who declined to give his last name, brought along his Oberhasli goat named Prema — which is often mistaken for a giant dog — to show the neighborhood how to milk a goat.

“It usually gets four cups per milking,” said Crow, who said he milks Prema twice a day. “Our kid drinks most of it.”

Crow said he learned goat-keeping skills as a child, from his grandfather. He’s been keeping two goats in his backyard for about three years, he said.

“It’s totally legal, according to Oakland’s municipal code,” said Crow, who got these goats from a friend’s urban farm in north Berkeley.

Because Crow doesn’t pasteurize the milk, he said, the law prevents him from selling it or even giving it away. Still, he said, the goats end up saving him money purchasing milk, “We definitely do better than break-even on it,” he said. “But it’s really not a financial thing.” Crow believes that in terms of nutrient components, goat milk is better for people than cow milk.

But keeping livestock at home is not for everyone, Crow said.  “It’s important to have a community when doing it,” said Crow, who belongs to a co-op of 12 people caring for and milking his goats.

Crow said that once you have support from the neighborhood, keeping a goat doesn’t take too much time. “We joke that people playing Farm Village spend more time on their virtual farms than we spend on our actual farms,” Crow said.

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