Goats at Naples - Possible solution for milk difficulty in rural districts - A toothless generation - Ignorance as to nourishing value of separated milk - Mr. Hook on goat-keeping - Personal experiment - Roast kid and agneau-de-lait - Reasons for prejudice against goats - Suggestions for the philanthropic - Immunity of goats from tubercular disease - Day at Guildford - Almonds - The Astolat Press - Mr. Gates' herd of Toggenburg goats - Feeding of goats - Chemistry of food to be taught in elementary schools.
When walking in April in the streets of Naples, I came across a large herd of goats being milked from door to door, and it suddenly flashed upon me with great force that, if the English people could be persuaded greatly to increase the keeping of goats, especially in rural districts, it might be possible to arrive at some solution of the problem which faces everyone who gives thought to matters of health, viz. the serious deterioration in the physique of the people of this kingdom. There is no more convincing sign of this than the fact, universally acknowledged I believe, that a whole generation is growing up which have hardly any teeth left by the early age of twenty. I am told that not by any means the least of the sufferings of the soldiers in South Africa was toothache, and I remember it was suggested in some newspaper that the War Office should provide false teeth for the recruits ! This state of health is by no means surprising when it is remembered how many children and young people are now brought up on baker's bread and stewed tea without any milk at all; and, strange as it may seem, I believe a child might have a better chance of health if it were brought up on moderate quantities of pure beer, instead of what the village mothers of to-day give their children. Milk is looked upon in our country districts as an extravagant luxury sometimes ordered by the doctor instead of cod-liver oil, and even when milk is ordered, there is great difficulty in getting it, for it is an easily verifiable fact that farmers prefer to keep their skim milk for young stock to selling it to the poor - and the new milk is all sent to the towns, or sold to well-to-do customers. Of course, skim milk would in no sense take the place of cod-liver oil, neither does skim milk do for babies unless enriched by some fattening food ; but most people are hopelessly ignorant of the value of separated milk; they think the nourishment of milk is removed with the cream, whereas all the proteid is in the casein of the separated milk, there being none whatever in the cream or butter. For this reason it is obviously useless to depend for nourishment on cheeses made from cream, such as Camembert. I know one village in Suffolk where the proprietress offered the poor the separated milk of her dairy as a gift. This they refused, as they thought it quite worthless, and only ' pig's food,' a very different thing in their minds from food that was good for pigs.
In a village not far from here a friend told me that she had been helping a man seriously ill of consumption. After he was removed to a home, the clergyman said the wife and five young children were very badly off. She, not sending food from her own house except in cases of grave illness, offered to give the mother two quarts of new milk a day for the children. After a few days the mother came up, and said she did not want the milk at all, as she had no use for it. It is almost inconceivable that a mother could so ignorantly refuse what was good for her children; it only helped to confirm me in my opinion that the use of milk and the knowledge of its value are absolutely dying out in English villages.
On my return home after my visit to Italy, I made inquiries as to the most recent book that had been published in England on goat-keeping.This brought to my hand the excellent little book by Mr. Bryan Hook, son of the artist whosebeautiful sea-scapesdelightedthe eyes of my generation on their visits to the Academy. The book is called 'Milch Goats and their Management,' and is published by Vinton & Co., 9 New Bridge Street, E.G.,1896.Foranyoneinterested inthesubjectof goats, and especially for those meaning to keep them, therecould hardly be a betterguide than this book, prompted as it was (see preface) by 'a firm conviction of the advantage that might be derived from a wider cultivation of the milch goat in this country, and an affection for the most intelligent, engaging, and picturesque of our domesticcattle.'Mr. BryanHook hashadsomany years' experience in goat-keeping, that his testimony is exceptionally valuable, and intending goat-keepers will do wisely to follow his advice as to choice of breed, feeding, housing,andgeneralmanagement,theonly point in which I would beg to differ from him being in the constructionof the goat-house.Mr.Hook recommends a raised path down the middle of this, and a gutter on each side for drainage, which is to flow into a pail or tank sunk outside the buildings, and be used for garden manuring.Mr.Gates,the well-known owner of the pure Toggenburg herd of goats near Guildford, suggests that a better way, as an economy of labour and an improvement in hygiene (see results of experiments by Dr. Poore in dry treatment versus water-borne sewage, in his invaluable book'Bural Hygiene'), is that the raised paths and gutters be omitted, and the floor simply strewn with sawdust or dry garden earth.This absorbs all liquids, prevents smells, and is easily swept up each morning when the house is brushed out, and if buried superficially is one of the finest fertilisers. This system has been followed by Mr. Gates, and he recommends it in preference to the water-swilled gutters. Certainly nothing could have been sweeter than his goat-house, which I visited one summer afternoon when it held ten goats. The sparred floor of the stalls is better raised eighteen inches from the floor, and the spars should be placed half an inch apart instead of one inch, as young kids are apt to get their very slender hoofs in between the wood when it begins to soften, and a broken leg may be the result of spars too wide apart, these young creatures being astonishingly nimble even from birth.