After the first day at Guildford we felt rather crest-fallen at having learnt so little that was new about goats. I wrote to Mr. Gates, and he quickly answered that we might come over at once and see his herd. We were received with the greatest kindness and hospitality, and every question was most cordially answered. His goat-house was a picturesque thatched building, the floor strewn with sawdust, the animals being tethered in little stalls on a raised platform of battens half an inch apart, and about two inches wide. Apart from the obvious gain in cleanliness, this raised structure is a great convenience in milking and saves a special milking bench.
The goats were nearly all pure Toggenburgs - beautiful deer-like creatures with fine fawn-and-white coats - and when I asked why they were being sold all together, thinking in my ignorance that it would be better to spread them about, Mr. Gates told me that he was anxious to sell them to someone who would keep the breed pure, as the Swiss Government had now forbidden their exportation. They have been purchased by Mr. R. Sugden, Longden, near Rugeley, Staffs. Mr. Sugden intends to keep the breed pure.
The average yield of these goats in full milk is two to two and a half quarts each daily, the actual quantity given by Mr. Gates' herd of five in one season having been 714 Imperial gallons, or forty-two full-sized railway churns. In addition to his household supply of milk and butter, Mr. Gates has sent out more than 1,000 bottles of milk, sterilised for travelling, besides selling the fresh milk for infants at Guildford. The price he charged - viz., eightpence a quart - is an interesting contrast to the price at the London dairies.
Further details may be gathered from an illustrated article entitled 'A Dairy Farm in Miniature/ by Mr. Bryan Hook, in 'Country Life' of April 8,1899. The goats were photographed, but the pictures do not do them justice.
The impression made on one by these goats is that, compared with other breeds, they are as racehorses to cart-horses. Probably with increased knowledge and interest in the subject, the English goat will be improved - it being a most useful creature for all who cannot afford the special breed. Mr. Gates' little goat farm had the advantage that it was adjoining a common where the goats could be turned out in charge of a boy. We also noticed that those in a field were allowed to run loose, a great improvement on the tethering system, as these creatures love change. Mr. Gates told us that this was quite safe when once they had grown used to a place, for they are so intelligent and friendly that they attach themselves to people and places like dogs. It was interesting to us to notice that, although there were eight milch goats and two or three kids in the house, the place was as sweet as a well-kept stable - the he-goats, the only offenders in this matter, being kept apart in a field.
On the subject of feeding Mr. Gates told us that he grew lucerne on purpose for them, as they were fond of it for a change, and it was a most useful fodder, as he cut it three times over in the summer, and it grows almost as fast as it is cut.
I have found that other useful foods are comfrey, sunflowers, summer prunings of apple and pear trees, hedge-row cuttings, sweet chestnut leaves, and the leaves of the globe artichoke. In Italy cows are fed on artichoke leaves, but I cannot persuade my pampered Jerseys to eat them.
According to many people, for the last two years I have had goats on the brain, which is only a variety of the more usual accusation that for many years, alas! for them, I have had diet on the brain. These accusations at first really distressed me, as no one feels cheerful under the implied supposition that senile decay is coming upon one with rapid strides. The fact is that goat-keeping is merely a variation of my interest in diet and the improvement I hope it is to bring about in the health of the modern world. It has been an immense gratification to me to see that there has been such a very general growth of interest in this subject during the last few years. We see it affecting all classes from the highest to the lowest-our statesmen, our clergy, our men of science, almost the entire Press, and last, but not least, the King himself. The cloud of ignorance about food shows signs of breaking up and dispersing. How complete it can be, even among intelligent well-educated people, was illustrated to me the other day when talking about food values over a tea-table with a trained village nurse and a friend much interested in the subject. Neither of them seemed to understand what I meant, and one of them suggested, ' Surely the most nourishing food is that which digests most easily.' I answered, 'You may easily digest fruit and vegetables, but the actual food value of what you have digested is very small indeed.' In fact, they were entirely unaware that there was such a thing as chemical analysis of food, and a scientific knowledge of the subject which they might have mastered with half the labour and time spent over complicated crochet stitches and lovely drawn-thread needlework. A friend of mine who has lately had a serious illness, told me that neither of the first-rate trained nurses who attended her had ever heard of such a thing as being able to calculate the number of grains of proteid necessary for the day's nourishment, or to decide at a glance, at a well-spread table, what food on it is the best to choose.
Nothing has encouraged me more than finding this summer that the matter has been taken up in the highest quarters, and has been introduced into the Revised Instructions for the Public Elementary Schools (1902). As few people take the trouble to get Blue-books, I venture to quote the following paragraphs from Appendix V. on Cookery:-
The dietary value of the food and cost of the materials should be taught at each lesson, if only one course of Cookery lessons is being given. When the arrangement is that the girls attend Cookery classes for two or more successive years, the dietary value of food should not be taught till the second year.
Instructions should be given on the various food stuffs, i.e. - cereals, pulse, fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish; beverages. The dietary value of food. Digestion of albumen, starch, fat. More advanced dishes should be demonstrated and practised at each lesson, illustrating over again the Primary Methods taught in the First Year course.
Complete dinners should be cooked by groups of children attending the class. The price of the dinner and the number of persons for whom it is intended should be written on the blackboard. Instructions should be given on :-
(a) Expenditure of wages on food.
(b) The making of preserves.
(c) Use and abuse of tin foods.
(d) Vegetarian diet.
(e) Preparation of food suitable for infants.
The scholars should have practice in drawing up menus of dinners suitable for an artisan family, stating the price and season of the year.'
This will instruct in the Elementary Schools, but I hope the time is not distant when no educated child will sit down to any table whereon food is displayed without a perfect knowledge of the simple rules as to the nourishing values and right combination of food, and when a young mother will no more dream of asking her nurse whether she shall give her rather delicate offspring fruit or no fruit, than whether it shall go naked or clothed.