rain, demos and goat genetics

7/11 storms & orders

The porch roof next to our bedroom window reverberates the rain drop sounds ten fold, so I was up too late. Such a big storm. There were crazy dreams about animals and projects and sky scrapers and dust storms.

Andrew made a crazy delicious breakfast stirfry with rice noodles. We had our farm meeting and got down to business. I milk the goats, then call accounts for orders, get labels set up, pack eggs, start getting shares set up, work more on the cheese course coming up, make farmer’s cheese which will be innoculated with blue cheese mold for goat milk blue cheese. And I’m gonna pick more of the Nanking cherries. The bushes are almost empty, but there is enough to give every CSA share tomorrow a quart of them.

But, rain! yeah! Everything looks so refreshed and quenched.

Every account needs eggs tomorrow, since we took a week off deliveries during the wedding. This is great for the farm account, but we have to remember that most invoices don’t get paid for 15-30 days. This is pretty standard. You can request shorter “terms” but we haven’t had to yet. Since orders are fairly consistent, the checks coming in the mail are fairly regular too. It’d be nice to come home with a wad of cash after delivering, but this is not generally the way stores and restaurants work.

The turkey went into the oven at 1pm, at 350. Covered and roasted all day, the last hours at 225. Andrew made luscious mashed potatoes and gravy and served me my first 2011 “thanksgiving.” We do have so very much to be thankful for, everyday. First and foremost I am thankful for Andrew being in my life and living it with me, and then for the turkey we get to savor after caring and tending for her since this March. I’m thankful for this farm, and this life, and the chance to give fulltime farming a go. We absolutely gorged ourselves on turkey, it was freekin delicious. I got crazily energized after eating though. I thought Tryptophan was supposed to make you sleepy? Maybe the gravy has something to do with it. Andrew made the gravy with homemade pork stock from our Roxy roast we enjoyed with Heidi last week. These summer turkeys have about zero fat on them, so no pan drippings were to be found, strange huh? This just reflects the lifestyle the turkeys are living here on our farm. Lean mean green eating machines.

7/12 demos

I just love doing duck egg demos. Being the farmer who raised the eggs makes it even better. Especially when customers don’t think you look like a farmer. “How long have you been doing demos for the duck egg company?” or  when I say the eggs were just laid this morning, and they chuckle…like, yeah right, then I get to surprise them with-  “I know cuz’ I collected them myself. It’s our farm!” Spreading the love & devotion for our duck eggs has been easy- they are just so good. So fresh, so rich, so creamy and tender, but hearty and substantial all at once. I usually fry up shredded kale in olive oil, crack an egg on top, break the yolk, and flip once after the egg sets up. Another 30 seconds and it’s ready to go. Each egg makes about 6 samples, amazing!

 

 

Deliveries came first, and I like my drive to the big town once a week. Stopping at the different stores, chatting with the employees, dealing with city traffic… I thought SUVs were out of fashion by now. On the way in, I realized how OCD I am and I wish I could do everything personally. Learning to farm with Andrew has been interesting. I am so used to doing it all, and letting go of this is very healthy. I know he packed up the CSA veggies all nicely and perfectly. We’re in the same boat of wanting only the best for our customers, knowing it is a reflection on us and our farm.

The demo lasted 3 hours, in a little co-op with a fantastic group of customers. Everybody was flipping out over the eggs, and we sold alot of them right then. I had some in-depth conversations with several people about the energy in food, vegan issues, documentaries on farms, and blogging. One person said he thought the eggs tasted “seductive.” At the end of the demo, a lady showed up to signup for our cheese workshop on Saturday. She’d seen a flyer I posted somewhere else and tracked me down at the demo. She prepaid and I gave her directions to the farm. But I forgot to get her contact info in case we have to cancel if no one else actually comes. Whoops.

When I got home, it was milking time. The girls were rather naughty tonight, and Metallika was a kicking monster. She has no reason to do this, and normally is the most well behaved goat on the milk stand. Something was bothering her and she just kept lifting her back leg up as I’d go to squeeze the teats. Then she’d flail her leg sharply up and stomp it down. Nearly landed in the milk bucket several times. Just one of those days for her I guess. There were no flies bothering her, and her udder didn’t seem to have any signs of soreness or injury. Hmmm.

Moving a couple hay bales aside, I found a translucent snake skin nestled between them. We’ve been seeing so many snakes around here, which is great pest control. Mostly the regular gardener snakes, but also those tiny ribbon-like Red Belly racers. They are adorably petite and you can hold them without worry of bites or them ejecting stinky pee on your fingers.

Before bed, I picked all the turkey meat off the bones, and started the turkey stock. We left the head on, as is custom in Europe, for flavor during roasting, and this too went into the stock pot. Andrew thinks it is gross, but use it all if possible, I say.

7/13 milking & genes

Opening the front door, emerging into a beautiful morning. The shiny silver milk bucket is balanced on my hip, my hand holding a 1/2 gallon jar fitted with the milk filter. As I pivot around, the other hand reaches to pull the door shut behind me. The shifting of my hip causes the metal handle on the bucket to clang down. Trixie hears this and this is her cue, her trigger to begin our morning ritual.

Early this spring, Trixie lost her first babies, twin kids, to a premature delivery. She’s had a rough time making sense of what to do now. When I began milking her after the tragic incident, she instantly transferred her motherly loviness to me. And like a mother goat eager to be reunited with kids, she can’t wait for milking time.

She’s a loud little goat, very vocally insistent. First, she makes a maa maa chortle as she catches a glimpse of me setting up the milking equipment by the stand. There’s a quick follow up MAAA, louder this time. Usually I then quickly dash into the house to gulp down some coffee before milking. Trixie sees me leave the scene, and the horrible noises begin. I can’t quite describe them, but it is frantic and it is loud.

New in the past two weeks is her new effort to demonstrate how badly she wants to get going: head banging. Her mom’s name IS Metallika, so I guess it is fitting (haha) that she discovered head banging on the gate gets my attention. Bang bang bang against the lower corner, where it is weakest. This goat will eventually destroy the gate I fear, so I fall for it everytime. I race down the path to get her out of there, reinforcing her bad behavior. I have no option though, unless maybe I skip the coffee before milking. She sees me coming to open the gate, and just continues banging her stout crown on the gate, over and over. Trixie! I’m coming, and right here for godssakes, just quit it! Already the gate shows sign of abuse, as it leans on the latch and needs to proped up to get it to open. Trixie’s head is now pressing hard against it, waiting for that sliver of space big enough to squeeze out. Out she goes, racing towards the stand, then she always stops. There’s no point of going to the milkstand without me, and she knows it. I find this endearing. She waits as I get the gate shut again, then the second I turn around, she resumes the sprint over to where we milk by the house. Like a little fairy, Trixie somehow bounces straight up on the stand in a single bounce/leap. This also is endearingly cute.

She pretends to eat, keeping her eye on me. What this goats wants is simply close time with me, as she would have had with her kids. Some mornings it is absolutely exasperating, Trixie’s insistence and crazed ways. But she is a special goat, with a hard first preganacy experience. She has robust health & a shiny german shepard colored coat. You just have to give goats time, you must be patient and kind. There’s this quote a friend has on the end of her emails ” be kind, everyone you meet is waging a great battle.”

Trixie’s udder and teats are small, this being her first year milking.They have a proper shape and show promise for filling out very nicely next year. She gives about a pint each milking, so a quart of milk a day. That’s not great, but I’ll wait to see how she does next season before making any judgement. Trixie’s dad was a Boer, which is a meat type goat, & her mom is a LaMancha, a fantastic dairy breed. She’s kind of an experiement, coming from this heritage. I’ve coined her new breed combo the “Bancha.”  I want to develop a really robust dual-purpose goat, meaning the girls are good for milking, and the boy kids who are born grow quickly and are more chunky/meaty. I also want a goat who doesn’t need chemical intervention. Chemical wormers are very commonplace with goat keepers, but I believe if you select the strongest goats with natural resistance to parasites, and rotate them on pasture to the best of your ability, one might just end up with a Super Goat.

This is my quirky little project, and sometimes when I reflect on it, I feel like Gregor Mendel, who studied inheritance in peas. He figured out you could purposefully pollinate flowers to get certain types of peas. I’m selecting the genetic traits I want show up in the next generations. It has been a long hard road, but seeing the benefits with gorgeous, healthy goats is really really rewarding. They are still a pain in the neck though!

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