That first taste nearly did me in for good.

I’m not a “milk” person to begin with, and so I wasn’t at all sure that I would care for goat milk. Still, what does it actually taste like?

I was searching for the answer to this burning question when I, with equal parts hope and trepidation, took my first sip of milk from Annabel. As that white liquid glided down my throat, a bitter flavor strolled across my tongue and settled in somewhere near my tonsils. I grabbed for a glass of ice water and gulped, trying to get rid of the bitter after-taste that now called my mouth home. It was a strange taste, but not at all what I would describe as “goaty”. After all the glowing reports I had read online about Nigerian Dwarf Goat milk, this was a huge disappointment!

Annabel was about two weeks into her lactation, and I worked hard to learn how to milk by hand and wanted so badly to enjoy the fruit of my labor. The strange taste was so off-putting that I was almost tempted to give up. If that’s how this milk tasted, I had been lied to! Could it be? Could all the people singing the praises of this fabulous goat milk just be deluded by their own desire for the milk to taste good? Were they justifying their little hobby goat dairies by wallowing in denial? Maybe their taste buds just didn’t work correctly.

At least she didn’t give much milk, so I didn’t have to figure out what to do with the terrible stuff.

Still, it bothered me. Could there possibly be another explanation? I had to solve this conundrum. After browsing many goat forums and conversations for a diagnosis, I found three suggestions to try to “sweeten” my goats’ bitter milk.

  1. Administer a copper bolus
  2. Introduce a cobalt block
  3. Get her to dink more water

The first two items were fairly easy. I ordered some copper boluses from Amazon.com and a cobalt block in to our local lumberyard. But I still haven’t figured out how to force goats to drink more water. Gabe gets most of his water in coffee, but I haven’t figured out where goats get theirs. For all the work I do to give them clean water every day they sure don’t make much of it disappear.

I continued to milk Annabel most mornings while I waited for the magical cures to arrive. Her kids were the cleanup crew, so I didn’t have to be too particular about milking her out, especially since nobody in the family was too excited about the milk yet. (except for my younger son who was addicted from the beginning, bitter taste and all!)

When the copper bolus arrived, I opened a capsule and sprinkled the contents on a soda cracker with peanut butter (forcing a goat to swallow a pill is NOT my idea of a fun afternoon), and Annabel daintily enjoyed her treat.

A few days later the cobalt block arrived. We placed it in the pasture, and Annabel acted as happy as my husband with a fresh baked batch of monster cookies. She licked and licked it. She tried to chew chunks off it. She dipped it in milk and ate it whole. Oh wait, I’m back to Gabe and cookies. Whatever it tasted like (I didn’t try it), Annabel thought it was candy.

And do you know what? About three weeks after Annabel began working over that cobalt block, I finally worked up the courage to give her milk another try. The difference wasn’t striking, it was incredible! Or perhaps I had succumbed to the malady affecting other Nigerian Dwarf Goat owners, and just couldn’t taste the bad flavor any more. I had to know for sure, so when my husband got home from work I made him taste it too.

Now Gabe IS more of a “milk” person (especially with cookies), but he had tasted my goat milk before in the terrible-after-taste days. He didn’t look especially excited as he gingerly sipped from the cup. His attitude quickly changed to relief, as he accused me of substituting cows milk as a joke on him.

Now I don’t expect anyone to actually believe that milk from Nigerian Dwarf Goats is indistinguishable from cows milk. And it’s not. It’s creamier, and somehow a bit sweeter. And if you’re someone like me, who’s not a “milk” person, you might notice that it doesn’t have that cowy taste you get for free in store-bought milk.

My children are all sold on it. It’s a much better half and half substitute in my coffee than regular whole cows milk. Incredibly, it not only tastes better to me than cow’s milk, but it also does what no goat milk is ever supposed to do: it keeps its good flavor in my refrigerator for days.

You don’t have to believe me, and that’s okay because I probably don’t have enough to give you a taste these days.

Our only trouble now is that Annabel just doesn’t give enough milk.