New Maine Times Book Review: 'Goat School'

Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in Culture

New Maine Times Book Review: 'Goat School'

"GOAT SCHOOL: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking"

by Janice Spaulding

Down East Books, 2011

199 pp, $19.95

ISBN 978-0-89272-956-2

reviewed by Lee E. Cart

For over a decade, Janice Spaulding and her husband, Ken, have been raising goats for breeding, milk, meat, and pleasure at Stony Knolls Farm in the small Maine town of St. Albans. Struck by the lack of practical information for the beginning goat herder, Spaulding has compiled useful advice on starting a herd in "Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking."

The first section of the book covers the basics of keeping goats, starting with an all-important checklist titled "Are Goats for Me?" If a reader is unable to answer "yes" to most of the nine questions on the list, then one is advised to put the book down and find some other animal to raise, such as "gerbils or goldfish." Depending on the desires of the farmer, readers are encouraged to pick their herd from 16 different varieties, as some goats are better for milking, meat, or their hair based on the breed. Spaulding covers basic maintenance such as feeding and the importance of lots of clean water, ear tagging, hoof trimming, and shots.

For those who wish to breed goats so there is a constant milk supply, the author covers all aspects of this important process, from selecting a good doe-and-buck combination to birthing the kids. She also includes directions on making a milking stand, a necessary apparatus for any goat herder. Spaulding quickly addresses goats raised for fiber and for meat, emphasizing the need to find a USDA-approved meat processor if one wishes to sell goat meat across state lines. 

The second, larger part of the book provides readers with about 100 recipes, most of them using either goat milk or meat in some fashion. Several recipes cover making a variety of cheeses, from goat-milk mozzarella to a hard or brick cheese. Also included are appetizers and salads, main dishes featuring ground goat meat, breads, cookies and cakes that  use goat milk. Spaulding even offers a section on making pickles, which at first glance seems out of place for a book on goats, until one realizes that all that goat poop makes everything grow in the garden, including cucumber vines.

With an easy-to-read, often humorous style, Spaulding lays out the groundwork for anyone interested in raising goats, covering the fundamentals of goat care for a successful, healthy herd. She provides ample, mouth-watering recipes using the milk and meat. And an added bonus is the invitation for a hands-on experience at the Spaulding farm and their Goat School, located in St. Albans. "Goat School" is a necessary textbook for the beginning goat owner.

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