Lorrae Moon didn't know what she was getting herself into when she purchased her first goats.
"I absolutely hated them at first," she said. "Now I've been in the goat world for 12 years."
Moon started by "tinkering in meat goats." That led her to milk goats, which she used at first for raising bum lambs and calves that had been abandoned by their mothers.
It was only natural to add a herd of goats to the ranch's population of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and rabbits.
It also was the beginning of yet another business for the Moon family.
Lorrae, her husband Lewis, and their three sons are involved in running Frosty Acres, the purebred Angus cattle business started by Lorrae's parents, Doug and Janet Camilletti.
Lewis and sons Doyle, Rance and Nate are preparing 19 head of Angus bulls for the upcoming spring sales. They have been attending the Hayden bull sales each spring, along with the sale in Delta that draws nearly 150 bulls each year.
They pride themselves on producing a good birth weight bull, described as small enough to not have to be pulled out, but one that will quickly put on the pounds.
"They gain from day one," Lewis said. "They put on 2.5 to 3 pounds a day."
Lewis said the breed has good genetics, making them popular at bull sales.
Going for goats
Lorrae, looking for a project of her own, purchased some goats. She now has a herd of eight milk goats and a business, supplying clients with goat milk.
The milk, she said, is a healthy alternative to whole milk from cows.
"People are really getting health conscious," she said. "Some people want it for dietary reasons, some have babies with allergies to regular milk."
The milk is said to be easier to digest, having lower lactose levels than cow's milk.
Some clients make a yogurt-like product out of the milk and drink it as a smoothie each day, Lorrae said.
A goat owner can't just sell milk to the public. Colorado regulations require people seeking goat milk to purchase ownership shares in the goats.
Lorrae's shareholders receive a quart or half-gallon of milk each week for a cost of $1.50 per quart, cheaper than store milk.
She milks the goats each day by hand, and the animals give milk for more than 10 months each year. Milking begins at 5:30 a.m., before Lorrae starts the school bus route she has driven for five years.
She found something special in the time she spends with the goats each morning.
"It's my therapy," she said. "I come back to the house in a much better mood."
Her Oberhasli breed of goats produce exceptional quality milk, Lorrae said. At milking time, twice each day, the goats proceed in order, waiting their turn to be milked. It takes about four minutes to milk each goat, and she gets a third to two-thirds of a gallon from a goat at each milking.
The goats are not grazed on grass because the diet will taint the milk. She feeds them an alfalfa cut and a grain feed that is 16 percent protein.
Lorrae had 10 clients last year, and had to turn away some people who wanted goat milk.
She has plans to acquire a few more dairy goats in the future.
The business takes serious commitment, both in time and commitment to cleanliness.
Barns are kept fly-free and they must be cleaned out frequently.
"I don't go anyplace," she said. "My sons milk if I have to miss a day, but no one milks like I do."
Lewis grew up in Hayden, and Lorrae in Milner. They moved to Craig 15 years ago, and their sons are very familiar with the amount of hard work needed on the ranch.
It takes a family
The three sons also are in the cattle business, raising cows they first acquired from the Van Tassels for 4-H projects.
Fifteen-year-old Nate raises goats and horses, and 18-year-old Rance has a herd of sheep in a Future Farmers of America program. Doyle, 20, returned to Craig after college and began raising pigs for a project to keep him busy in his spare time, which there is little of, with the cattle to tend to and the new log-splitting business recently started by the boys.