Monday, November 21, 2011

The "GIVING" in Thanksgiving

Photo by Montavilla Farmers Market volunteer who then kindly forwarded it to us:

One more cold and wet market before Thanksgiving... Corvallis Wednesday, by the river, 9 - 1.  In other years, the very last market before the holiday has been a very good market, but this year, this economy, is different.  Still, we'll be there because a few of the people who do show up will be there specifically to pick up something from us.  It's so wonderful to hear from customers that we play a part in gatherings, parties, celebrations, picnics and how everyone loved it.  It's one of the best parts of what we do, knowing that the karma of doing it spreads outward like the ripples in a pond.

This year, what we've heard from people at all the markets is:  I wish I could afford this, or Do you have anything smaller, or We'll I'll see if we have money left after buying what we need.... our quality is better than ever.  Our product is as fresh as ever.  Our goats were wonderfully productive this season.  But people are struggling.  I see shoppers balancing limited budgets more than ever at the Farmers Markets.  Sometimes its frustrating to make something of quality and do all the work to go to market and then not make as much money as in other years.  But when we talk with other vendors, everyone is in the same boat.  Some of the farmers may not even be back next season... in fact I know of one experienced and seasoned farmer who has already packed up and moved from his farm... his home for the last 25 years.  It was so sad to say goodbye to him at the last market.  Big hugs.  Best wishes.  Sad looks.

This year, we had several market days where we gave away our cheese but asked people to make donations.  The cash donations went to that Markets Matching Funds program to let people stretch their token purchases a little further... and some of the donations went to the Alsea Valley Food Bank.  We got a letter from the Board that the donation to the market fund was going to help people at the pre-holiday market, the one just this last Sunday.  That was nice to know.

We also had quite a few days where we sold BOGO, Buy One Get One free.... other days where we sold the second container for 1/2 price, or just sold for last years price.  We've tried to give the best deals we can, discounting liberally, especially to familiar customers.  We've also traded liberally with other vendors, getting to the point where we virtually never shop for food at a traditional grocery store.

There are two bags of holiday meal ingredients sitting by the door.  If I actually make it off the farm tomorrow, they will go into the Food Bank drop box  at the Alsea Mercantile.  This year I'm buying very little for Thanksgiving, pretty much finding most of the ingredients in the cupboard or the freezer.  Simplifying what we are fixing somewhat.  I need to get some chanterelles from my neighbor who picks and sells them and that's a splurge but we had a nice turkey in the freezer from an earlier trade so that's about all we have to buy.  I've been stashing extra eggs and butter for a few weeks so the pies will be covered.  I even traded for some organic cranberries at a Farmers Market.  

Well, I'm rambling.... it's just that I feel the responsibility of "giving" this year more than ever.  Also of being thankful that we are able to be giving..... Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Endings and Beginnings....

Gresham and Milwaukie Farmers Markets ended this weekend and several more will end in the next two or three weeks.  However, Winter Markets will begin just as all the others are ending, there will even be some overlap.
Corvallis Saturday Market will continue through the Sat before Thanksgiving and the Wednesday Market is open the DAY BEFORE Thanksgiving!  Hot Damn.  Pick up your last minute fresh stuff!
 Lane County Sat Farmers Market will continue outdoors for the first two Sat. in November.  A one week break, then on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Holiday Farmers Market will open at the Fairgrounds.
In the Portland area: 
Hollywood Farmers Market will continue through the Saturday before Thanksgiving, though the hours will be 9am - 1pm.
Oregon City Farmers Market begins their Winter Market on Sat. Nov. 5th and again on Nov. 19th. at 8th and Main, 10am - 2pm.
Montavilla Market will have a market on Sunday Nov. 20th, regular location and hours, 10am - 2pm.
King Neighborhood Market is over but the PSU Winter Market will begin Saturday, January 7th, location Shemanski Park.
Corvallis Indoor Winter Market also begins Saturday, January 7th, 9am - 1pm, located at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

Gonna try some new things, maybe dressings for greens, maybe cooking demos.  Come see us, get some cheese.  We're hoping to have a good winter by putting ourselves out there to get our cheese to the well attended winter markets.  It's harder to do it in the cold and sometimes road conditions are scary, and even the nice weather markets are challenging.... people are very cautious these days in what they spend.... so it's hard to tell whether or not these cold weather markets will do well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What do you do with the old goats? "Jack's Goat"

Photo by Nancy Chandler

The mama pictured above is "Jack's Goat".  Jack was about 14 and worked for us in the summers, milking goats.  When he decided he wanted some goats of his own to show in 4H, we picked out two of that seasons nicest kids to give him.  He might have paid for one and gotten one for free, or traded work for them... there have been a lot of transactions since then so I don't exactly remember, I just know that he got two GREAT kids and then did a great job of raising them and showing them for a couple of years.

Like a lot of young people, turning 16 and starting to drive completely altered Jack's priorities and he sold many of his goats.  He offered one he had gotten from us, back to us and we bought her.  I'm not sure what he had named her, but to us she was always "Jack's Goat".

She was a beauty!  Big, flashy, correct.  Lots of milk and beautiful kids.  AND she would adopt orphaned kids and raise them as her own!  (I mentioned this in the "Goatie" blog:  We have milked her for five or six years now and Jack milked her for a season or two before we bought her.  She was the big boss doe for years, coming first into the milk stand, pushing other does out of her way.... but now younger does want to push her around....

Finally, this year, her milk is drying off mid-season, she's not as sleek and well-conditioned as she used to be and her appetite is off.  We pulled her out of the milk string, wormed her, gave her some selenium, put her on the finer hay we use for kids, and put her in a stall to rest up a bit, letting her out to graze with the kids during the day.  We also gave her some probiotic paste to stimulate her rumen.

As soon as we are sure that she's not sick, we'll put an ad up on Craigslist or answer someone's ad for a "brush goat".  When I talk to prospective buyers, I always ask:
  • do you have shelter?  They need shelter from wind, rain and sun.
  • do you have good fences?  I'm not a big fan of staking goats out.
  • what are you looking for in goats? milk? meat? pets? brush eaters?  
  • are you aware that you have to feed them besides letting them eat brush?  dry, quality hay and grain.... winter forage is not nutritious enough....
  • do you know you have to worm them, vaccinate them yearly and trim their hooves?
Hopefully, we'll find her a good home where the demands on her will be minimal, where she won't have to go thru the physical challenges of kidding and milking, where she'll get to just finish out her time pleasantly.  She may not survive another winter or she may live for five more years but she'll do better in that setting, where she's not in a big group competing for everything. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Are You Organic?"

Photo by David Lygren

We received an email today from somebody asking us if our cheese is organic.  We get this question every week at the farmers markets and I've wanted to write about it for a long time.  This week is an especially good time to write about it because of a lovely little 2nd freshening 2 year old that is on the milk stand being milked right now. 

Two weeks ago, I was called out to look at her.  She had snot running out of her nostrils, she was warm, she was lethargic and weak.  She didn't want to get up to come in and be milked and when we did bring her in, she wouldn't eat.  She didn't have any milkIf we had done nothing, chances are she would have died in a day or so, of dehydration if not from the Pneumonia she had contracted.  The cool spring nights, along with really wet weather, affected her, as it does at least one doe every year and she was really, really ill and it came on really, really fast.

We live a long way from the Vet and we've learned to do quite a bit on our own.  I had Penicillin in the fridge and I gave her some right away.  We put a special collar on her and a brightly colored band on her hind leg so that front, or back, she could be identified as receiving antibiotics.  She was milked by hand, separately from the others, and her milk was discarded, though at first she hardly had any.  We gave her injections morning and night for five days.  By the second day, she was eating and drinking again.  By the third day, she was getting her milk back and grazing in the sun during the day, chewing her cud to prove that her digestive tract was working again.  At the end of five days, she was her old self and had a really full udder.  The manufacturers label said to withdraw her milk from production for an additional 72 hours after the last dose was administered but we always play it safe and triple that time.

We milk 35 does.  They've been born here.  They've been raised here. We've raised their dams back ten generations.  We have lots of time, lots of grain, lots of milk into them before they ever begin to return that investment.  By the time they produce heavily, we've fed them for several years already.

If we were organic, my choices in this situation would have been:  to put her down, to let her die, to treat her and then sell her, or treat her and move her over into a parallel non-organic herd.  Large dairies with 100's of goats operate dual herds like that and simply move sick goats over to the non-organic herd.  We are much smaller than that.  Our relationship with individual animals is more direct than that.

We try to use antibiotics responsibly.  We don't feed them or administer them routinely but I always tell people that in the event that an animal gets sick, my first responsibility is to make that animal more comfortable, to relieve the pain, treat the infection, restore that animal to health just as you would a sick child with Pneumonia or Meningitis.

So, we have chosen to remain small, to use all the modern tools available to us and to NOT be "organic".  Do I go out of my way to buy organic vegetables?  Yes.  Do I use the same standards for the care of animals?  No.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fresh Ricotta Salata

 Photos by Nancy Chandler using Droid

I may have finally done it.  I may have actually used TOO MUCH GARLIC!!  But oh, it's just so good.  This fresh Ricotta was made on Thursday from that morning's milk, flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, lots of garlic and pine nuts.  Made the old fashioned way, this is a cheese my grandfather suggested, like the ones he ate in Sicily when he was a boy.

This picture was taken just before I cut, bagged and labeled it, put it in David's cooler for Gresham and Milwaukie Farmers Markets this Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12.  Come on down to the market for samples of this and our fresh spring chevre.  Check our website for market locations and hours:  If you attend a different market and want to try this, just ask us for it.  We'll take pre-orders for the following week.

"How do I use this?"  Try brushing a thick slice of this cheese with olive oil and then grilling it.  It won't melt, it just gets soft, kind of crispy in places and ultimately crumbly.  Place it warm on fresh spring salad greens with a vinaigrette and some homemade toasted croutons or bruscetta.  Yum yum yum!  As Grandpa used to say, Mangia and Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fresh Bread and Spring Chevre

Photos by Nancy Chandler using Droid

Finally found a replacement for the absolutely used until it just couldn't be used anymore bread machine.  Took weeks and several false starts on ebay/amazon/craigslist until I found exactly the right one.... a few years newer, a few more settings but basically the exact same machine I wore out making bread three times a week, the one I bought it at the Nifty Thrifty for $20 ten years ago.

So, a new, used bread machine sitting there waiting for the maiden loaves....

I only use it for making a simple, partly whole grain, french dough and then knead, form loaves, add ingredients or topping and then bake it in an Artisan style.  My husband will eat almost a whole loaf, with goats cheese, in a day....

The bread machine arrived right when we were getting ready for markets so I had to leave it untouched until after the holiday weekend... but I did pick up extra flour in preparation.... then I stopped at a yard sale Saturday afternoon and there were three Brotform pans, very clean, almost new.... $1 each....  I had looked at these on Amazon and ebay with longings but they were just too much at the time.  $20 each was the lowest price I found... I asked the woman at the sale if she knew what they were, and she didn't.  Was just glad to get rid of them... so I gave her $5 instead of $3 and skedaddled....

As of now, there are two loaves rising in Brotforms, a round loaf and a baguette, and another large batch of dough rising in the bread maker.  A baking stone is warming and the oven is preheating.  Some pinto beans are simmering in the crockpot, a couple of pork chops from my neighbors pig are defrosting... and oh my, the house smells so good.  I've also got laundry going, I'm writing a blog, and in a little while, I'll go over to the dairy and start pasteurizing a 60 gallon batch of milk which will be 90 lbs of fresh chevre on Thursday.  Just a lazy Tuesday on the farm.

Finished bread photo added above.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Chevre!!!

It was so much fun giving out samples at the Corvallis Farmers Market yesterday, April 23.  Even folks familiar with our cheese tasted something new and special.  Spring Chevre! So FRESH!  Kind of lemony or citrusy.... The tasty spring grasses they are eating contribute to their production and the taste.  Huge bulging udders are full to bursting with the best milk of the year which is giving us the best cheese of the year, in my opinion.  I like it all, but I LOVE it in April, May and June.  Check out our website for a list of Farmers Markets where you can find us.  Opening dates for each appear there also.  Come try this cheese while it's so so so good!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rockin the muuuuuuud!

 Peaches on a new layer of crushed gravel outside the dairy:  Photo by David Lygren

The mud is drying out and we're taking advantage of the sun to bring in truckloads of crushed gravel:  almost ten tons so far (sub 1" crushed rock @ $8 per ton) and SO worth it.  The entrance road to the Alsea Quarry is about 1/4 mile away from the farm.   Old rusting dump beds and the skeletons of giant loaders line the sides of the steep one lane gravel road to the crest of the hill.  The giant scale, just up the hill from the crusher, gives us the vehicle weight.  Then we circle around and chug our big Beastly Flatbed back to where the looming black and gray pyramids of crushed rock dwarf the biggest yellow front end loader I've ever seen.  This is not my first time at the Quarry.... I know where to park so the loader can maneuver.... I'm familiar with the pantomime that lets the operator know to keep it coming... "yes, we really DO need THAT much!"  I don't think he sees many women driving up there for rock, however, the crusher and scale are "womaned" by a nice blond lady.  We drive back to the scale and get our weight slip from her.  Crinkled, damp, pink weight slips from the Quarry clipped to the visor of the Beastly Flatbed are sure signs of Spring every year.

We are about 1/2 done but it's always a temptation to stop putting down gravel once the weather turns and the ground begins to dry out.  If we do that though, we're sorry in the fall.  Do it now and keep at it till it's done.  About every other year we really go to town on it, putting gravel down in the area between the two barns, around the dairy, all the way out the driveway, around the backyard firepit and on all the paths.  In the goats area, we dig out the mud at all the gates and replace this with gravel.  The more it's walked on, the more the gravel just sinks and disappears.  Wherever a vehicle might be likely to be brought in for barn cleaning or hay delivery we both dig out the top few inches of broken down goat poop, and then top it with a few inches of rock.  In the worst weather, we only sink a few inches before our boots hit the rock underneath.  David will take the uneaten stemmy hay from the feeders and spread it into the worst of the mud so that we are walking on top of a layer of wet adobe consistency.  But since we're doing the gravel anyway, we make a path out to the field so that the kids, venturing out with the Moms, are out of the mud.  Once they are in the lush green field, they run, jump on their stumps, or curl up next to Mom for a nap in the sunshine.

Composted manure and bedding, newly piled on all the flower beds and greenhouse beds.... dark, earthy, black, full of worms.... and the new solid grey expanse of gravel.... the lush green of all the growing things.... the cheery color of the Spring flowers..... the healthy goats enjoying the Sun.....  the SUN!!!!! Oh my, the Sun makes the farm look SO good! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Feta and Spinach Omelette

Photo by David Lygren

Our chickens are laying again after their winter break.  Some people get rid of their hens after a year or two, because production goes down as they age.  But we're only in it for family eggs and to give away to visitors so we keep our chickens for several years beyond what is recommended.  As you can see, their eggs are still lovely and we get LOTS of them.  So, eating seasonally, we eat lots of them too!  Here's one of our spring favorites.

Serves 2-4
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • any seasonal veggies you want to add (including leftovers)
  • 5 - 10 eggs
  • milk as needed, added to eggs
  •  6 oz crumbled Feta
  • 1 tablespoon good quality oil
  • salt and pepper (very little or no salt needed, the feta is salty)
  • 4 oz water
  • In large, flat pan, saute spinach, onion, seasonal veggies in oil. Medium heat. Remove from pan and set aside. (Keep a bit of fresh chopped spinach aside to use as a garnish).  
     Pour egg/milk mixture into same pan, turning heat to lowest setting.  As eggs begin to cook, gently lift edges and drizzle water so that it goes under the cooking egg.  Do this around entire perimeter of the omelette.  It will bubble and lift eggs a bit, keeping the surface of the eggs from browning.  
     Add cooked veggies and 3 oz crumbled Feta down the middle of the cooking eggs. Gently fold sides of omelette over the veggies and cheese.  Advanced skills:  turn the entire thing over for an additional 30 seconds before dividing and sliding servings onto serving plates.  
    Garnish with finely chopped fresh spinach and remaining crumbled Feta.   
    Enjoy with toasted fresh bread and jam.  Since we don't go to town to shop when we don't have to, we have homemade bread alot topped with a variety of jams that we make and preserve.  This is simple but different each time you make it and oh so good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pooties Get FIXED!!!!

Photos by David Lygren

As long as we've had this farm, we've had litters of kittens magically appear in our hay lofts.  All the houses up and down the road have feral cats and our barns are the biggest kitty magnets on the entire road.  It's where I would want to have my secret litter of pooties in privacy and safety so I can see why they choose it, but still, it's always made me feel very guilty.  We try to catch the ones we can, give them a home or find them a home, get them used to humans and get them fixed.  David moved a ton of hay this winter to find one crying Pootie.  It was totally black.  We had fun with it in the house for a month and then gave it to David's Mother for Christmas.  It's name is Diablo and he's fixed.

But sometimes the moms will move them and we never see them again.  We suspect that owls get many of the babies and that coyotes get many of the juveniles.  The survivors will sometimes become the next generation of feral cats.  Left behind tiny kitties will sometimes sense that we are their lifeline and will make their way over to the milking parlor, attracted by hunger, the smell of milk and the hum of activity.  Abandoned kitties do really well on goats milk and we've saved and found homes for quite a few that way.

When we can catch them, we get them fixed.  We were on top of it for awhile, but we missed one.  And it was a she.  And so on... now David was feeding four of them every day and only two could be handled and only one of those was fixed.  The wild female was one of the four. 

The County Animal Control Officer drove out to Alsea to post a notice last week.  The Humane Society was having a Snip and Spay clinic.  I drove into town, spoke with them and rented a trap.  I wasn't sure at all that I could catch the wild ones and was pretty sure I would catch the tame ones over and over again.  However, the one that's fixed and tame hasn't been seen in a week or so.  The other tame one (in the photo above with Peaches the dog) let me scoop him up and take him to the house for a day.  And with the help of some very lovely sardines, I caught both the other two within minutes of setting out the trap.  In anticipation of this event, David hadn't fed them in a few days and the sardines were irresistable!

Getting the wild cats from the live trap into a large pet crate was fun.  They did not like ME at all!  We kept them in the crate with food, water and a litter pan, signed up all three online and for good measure, signed up last years loft kitty that my son had living with him.  It came from our barn after all, so we felt responsible.

Now they are all done. DONE DONE DONE!  No fertile cats living in our barn!  None!  WooHoo!!!  Thank you Humane Society.  Thank you Animal Control Officer.  Thank you David for helping me with all the really hard parts of this adventure.  The vets did say these were some of the healthiest feral cats they had seen.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"What do you do with the baby goats?" and the start of milking chores

One of the FAQ at the markets:  "What do you do with the baby goats?"

Well, we raise most of the females as replacement milkers.  This is David's pet project.  He's so watchful of them and so proud of how nice they look as they grow and mature.  He spends time inventing and perfecting feeders, mineral stations, accessible clean water containers.  When they are all thriving he takes so much pleasure in it.  Hes the source of their grain too so it's so funny to look out the window at skinny, 6'4" David, decked out in his Carharts and boots, getting their grain pans ready and walking out with them raised over his head, swiftly dropping them in multiple locations so that they don't mob the first pan and trample the smaller, weaker kids.  In David's universe, they ALL get grain, even the little ones.  In THEIR world, he's the source of their bliss and they stand in a group at the fence, all intently watching his every move.  Often, when they are eating grain, he'll sit close by on an upturned bucket and rub them, scratch them, stroke their necks and backs, getting them used to touch.  A little goat massage and they LOVE it. 

Starting out with 20 doe kids, we might lose a few at various stages, we might decide to reduce the numbers (cull) at various stages, selling the least thrifty, one or two might not breed or might have temperaments not suited to milking, and even the ones that breed don't give much the first season... so starting out with 20 doe kids, we might end up with three or four really good 2nd fresheners that are great producers by the time they are two, and a few more by the time they are three.  That's a lot of time to put into them before we know how good they are...

If we have an abundance of doe kids, we sell a few of them in the spring, mostly because at that point we REALLY need the cash.  This year we had mostly buck kids so we are keeping every girl.  We always sell the boys..... neutered.... within a few weeks of birth.  People buy them and bottle raise them.  They become pets, or pack goats, or grazers for hire, or meat animals.  We could keep them for several months and raise them to be meat goats but that's not our prime focus.  Besides, by the time they were big enough to eat, they'd have drunk enough milk to make a thousand dollars worth of cheese.  We do keep the doe kids on the Moms until they are weaned and don't get much milk from any but the biggest producers during that time.  All the work of milking and feeding but not much reward except for beautiful kids.

Even though we raise healthy kids for sale, and even though buyers are screened to make sure they possess the knowledge, facilities and temperaments to raise them with care... the day we sell the goats is one of the worst on the farm.  I feel like Cruella DeVille..... the moms walk around for about a day, looking for their kids, bleating, looking at us with this "Where are they?" look.  That's what's happening this week.  We sold 20 little fixed males to one buyer and gave another eight to families with children wanting to raise pets and learn about goats.  All the buyers are thrilled with the quality and health of the kids and we always include a bottle, a little milk, lots of advice and a phone number to call if they have any questions.  I know we're a dairy/cheese business, not a boy goat business.... still.... my heart breaks for the mamas.  Goats love routines and within two days the routine of twice daily milking and the intake of grain that goes with that, and the chance to graze all day on the best pasture of the year takes over and they seem to be perfectly happy again.

The exodus of the kids means we have lots of new moms with very full udders.  We fired up the milking equipment today and did our first full on milking of thirty six does.  Our milking crew is three great women who divvy up 14 shifts a week and who have all worked here for years and who all LOVE the goats.  Michelle worked for hours the other day scrubbing the mud out of the open sided milk area, knowing that for the next few weeks we will all continue to trudge in MORE mud until things dry out.  Linda, Michelle and I all cleaned and organized, cleaning the winter crud and cobwebs out of the milk room and the cheese kitchen while we got the goats milked on the pipeline for the first time this year.  Rose has been cleaning and scrubbing dormant coolers in prep for starting cheese production and rejuvenating market coolers, tables and plastic trays that have been stored all winter in advance of the start of the markets.  During market season, Rose, Linda and Michelle all work in the kitchen too, getting cheese flavored, packed and labeled for the markets.  Rose is learning to sell cheese at markets too and really likes the interaction.  Linda and Michelle prefer to stay in the Valley, closer to home so they focus on the farm.  I make the cheese and develop the flavors.  I sell at markets, manage all the markets, manage sales to chefs and retail accounts and make sure everyone else has all the supplies they need to do their jobs.  I also do the banking, pay the bills and arrange for repairs.

I'm so tired but it feels so good to get it all going again and so fun to work with these women again.  This morning we were all cooing to the mamas as they came in to be milked.  Thankfully the milking system ran great after the winter repairs.  Another reason there were three of us there instead of the usual one person is that if the milking system HADN'T worked, we would have had to milk all those does by hand.  I was supposed to help Rose with the evening milking but she had it all handled and I fell asleep instead... I had been up and going since 5 am so I guess that's allowed...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trading at the Winter Market

We've always traded for produce at Farmers Markets but the bulk of this is in the spring, summer and fall.  We get the best organic melons, berries, greens, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, everything in it's season.  Bread, seafood, salsa, humus, pastries and chocolate truffles too.  It's limitless.

We've traded at winter markets also but it seemed that the choices were more limited.  As the popularity of winter markets grow, farmers are planting more crops to harvest in winter and our choices are really increasing.  This season we enjoyed brussel sprouts for several weeks, along with wonderful roasted parsnips, carrots, and shallots layered over goat cheese flavored garlic mashed potatoes.  Every week what's available evolves into a furtherance of the season.  Next week there might be strawberries.  Oregon strawberries!

In the past, we might have supplemented winter produce with trips to the grocery store.  Due to the economy, we are getting all of our produce at the market now, because it's virtually free for us.  Our cheese is in big demand so we end up with nice mushrooms and all the produce we can eat for the week.  With maybe a pretzel or two thrown in there.  And those producers get the cheese for their weekly menus. 

Trades are usually straight retail for straight retail.  That way its fair.  As for the strawberries, I'll wait to see how many they bring.  If it's limited and they might actually sell out, I'll wait.  Anything that can be sold for cash should be so that the farm makes money.  But the last minute trading is fast and furious.  Anything not sold is converted into something special to take home to the fam damily.

Today I brought home black truffles, hedgehog mushrooms, spinach, greens, pastries, beets and purple onions.

For a list of the farmers markets we attend, check our website

Monday, March 21, 2011


With a herd the size of ours and the amount of work required to support and milk each goat, we have to focus on devoting limited resources to healthy, productive animals:  robust, sleek, active and alert with a healthy appetite and no bad habits like opening gates, jumping fences or kicking off the milk inflations.  Then there's Goatie.

Goatie had a rough start.   Goatie's mom died at her birth.  She was older and health stressed after the winter and kidding is hard.  Some do die.  We were gob smacked with work, in the middle of a storm of births, and kids, and the start up of milking chores.  After tube feeding the weak and dehydrated newborn kid, we tried to save a little time on bottle feeding by just taking Goatie into the milking parlor and letting her drink off of any doe that was full and willing.  Goatie had a really strong feeding instinct and took to this right off.  She had her favorite teats, not really having the one on one connection between mom and kid that is normal.  This went on for about a week with Goatie being kept with the bottle babies between milkings.

Then she got so strong that we decided to put her in with the moms and kids.  For a few more days, Goatie continued to come on the milk stand with the does and drink her fill, sneaking thru the legs of the big does waiting to come in.   Then we realized Goatie wasn't coming up all that often and we started looking out for her in the barn.  What we saw was Goatie eating off of basically any mom that would stand still for it, going from one to the other.  Finally, a doe in the peak of her health, who's boy kid had been sold, decided that Goatie was ok and she fed and raised her from that time forward.

She's a three year old and she's little, little, little.  Kinda scrappy looking.  So little that when my grandson was four, he would go out with Grandpa to do the chores and he'd stand in the goat pen kind of staring at the mountains in the distance and Goatie would come stand right next to him and only come up to about his waist.  She'd put her head directly under his hand and move her head to be stroked.  They would stand there together quietly for minutes and if Makai moved, Goatie went too.  Makai named her Goatie.  Goatie never bred. Goatie never milked.  Goatie wasn't robust or sleek, though she was active and alert with a healthy appetite.  Bad habits?  She had a few.  But she was basically no trouble and she was always available for a good interaction if we had visitors new to goats.  She is sweet.  Tiny and black with white spots.  Goatie has a home for life though it took awhile for David come around.  Everytime we were making decisions about culling, he'd wisely suggest Goatie who met all the criteria and I would say "No, not Goatie."  He'd say, "why not?" He tries to be pragmatic but once he was reminded each time that Makai really liked Goatie, and he saw that it was fruitless to move me on it, he embraced the idea.  Now Goatie is his little special pet too.

Goatie was the first to kid this year, having bred to a really small Nigerian Dwarf buck.  We had assumed that she would never be sexually mature in a normal way but she was in with all the yearlings. She was two, she was still one of the smallest ones.  We raise the kids during their first year with a Nigerian Dwarf buck kid so that any younger animals that become sexually mature will mate to a small buck and have minature kids and an easy birth rather than accidentally being bred by the large buck.  (As good as your fences and gates are, stuff happens and they can be pretty determined when in that frame of mind.) She wasn't a dwarf, she had just been malnourished as a kid and had to compete so hard as the smallest goat.  Being genetically a full sized Alpine,  even with the small buck, Goatie had a pretty big boy kid.  As they will often do, she kidded near dawn,  I'm sure it was a long, hard birth, hard on the kid and when we found it it was dead and looked as if it had never even moved.  Hers was the first birth so even though we had been waiting, it was still a surprise.  We brought her in and gave her grain, warm water and some nutritional supplement with minerals.  I gently washed her and milked off her colostrum, petted her and then David put her in a warm, private stall with fresh bedding and the finest stemmed, best hay.  She's doing great.  She loves the milking routine of coming up the ramp in line, just like she did when she was little, and trotting right down to the correct stanchion, putting her head in and chowing down.  Goatie is no trouble though I can only milk her with two fingers on her tiny little teats.  She gives quite a bit and it will be very high in butterfat.

I don't have a picture of her.  We take photos of the moms and kids for ID purposes.  In later years sometimes its hard to remember who came from who and records become words on a page.  But a picture!  It seems Goatie was the orphan stepchild that year and wasn't ever photographed.  When I mentioned to David that I was writing this, he reminded me that he never took her picture because he never thought we'd be  keeping her.  I'll take one tomorrow or the next day and post it on the blog.  It's 3 am now or I would just go out there with my Droid and take one.  Manana.

Friday, March 18, 2011

As promised, baby goat...

Photos taken by David Lygren
 We have a housegoat. Third born in triplets, just too weak and floppy to even get to the teat let alone compete with two bigger, stronger siblings, so she's in the house in a laundry basket by the stove, getting stronger by the hour. She could stand but not walk last night, now she walks. Took 4 oz warm colostrum this morning. She's a sweetie. The weakest one of triplets being rejected by the mom is quite common. It's usually the little girl too predictably.  Since she never got the whole licking from head to toe treatment by mom, she still had stiff spiky fur from dried birth fluids.  Cody, the border collie, took care of that last night, licking her all over, head to toe and now she's soft and furry.  He's such a kind dog.... he's got crazy eyes because he's kinda..... crazy.... but he is so sweet and kind that on the rare occasions that I cry, he actually tries to lick my tears... who could keep crying after that?
Housegoat update:  by the following day she was hopping on the carpet but slipping like Bambi on the ice on the tile and wood floors.  By the NEXT day, she was hopping all over.  Then we got another bottle baby, a really big girl... so they both moved to a cozy blanket covered small dog crate with hay bedding... on the front porch.  They climbed the woodpile for fun between naps and the bigger one hopped up onto the buckets of sunflower seeds under the window to the house, looking in at us like, "Hey you two, wanna come out and play?"  They were happy together so we sold them together and they are doing great.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nuthatch and Chickadee

Squalls, bright sunshine followed by more driving rain and then a rainbow.  Three more kids born today.  The kids are so flashy this year.  I promise, the next post will be photos of kids... it just wasn't nice enough to take pictures today.

David is not just a great photographer, he's a wonderful Goatmeister too.  He tells market customers all about how we have to be practical and dispassionately focus on the production and worth of the animals... when in reality he's so careful and caring of them.  I go out to the barn in bad weather and see that every goat has a warm dry place out of the rain, every goat has dry places to cozy down and paths to walk out of the mud on straw he lays down for them.  All the water barrels are scrubbed and full of fresh, clean water.  There is hay in every feeder which he hardly ever lets get low unless he's trying to get them to be less finnicky about the picked over stuff at the bottom of the feeder.  The middle stall, converted to grain and tool storage, pretty well organized except for the bags and bags full of baling twine he collects.  All the feed pans emptied and stacked after each little group gets their grain, minerals and salt... clean and ready for the next day.... Even the barn kitties get fed every day, each in their own bowl, separated so they don't have to compete...  the gates made from stock panels might look like Pa Kettle made them, but every latch has a snap clip that has had it's innards sprayed with WD40 before use, and every gate swings freely and closes securely.  I make sure he has the bales of hay, the grain, the cat food, the stock panels, the clips and the WD40, but he's the one that makes it all work.  The goats are happy.

In his free time, David likes to photograph the birds at the feeders he keeps full.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quinoa Kale Goat Cheese Pilaf

New life into a familiar classic. Both the quinoa and the hearty strips of kale crunch lightly between your teeth, and the lemon juice and zest keep the quinoa from being bland. Fresh goat cheese and walnut oil just barely coat the warm pilaf, giving it a creamy, tangy finish, and toasted pine nuts lend some crunch. We love the technique of layering the quinoa and the kale and cooking it all in one pot. 
This satisfies the eternal resolution to eat healthy, teaming complete-protein quinoa with antioxidant-rich kale. And it's one-pot easy, making it a simple way to incorporate healthy eating into a worknight rotation.
Serves 2-4
  • 2 cups salted water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped into 1" lengths
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 4 oz crumbled or creamy goat cheese
  • salt and pepper

  • Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes. 

  • While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, walnut oil (you can substitute olive oil if you desire), pine nuts, and goat cheese.

  • Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed -- the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam a bit longer (adding more water if needed). When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed.

  • Monday, February 28, 2011

    Talk about Cabin Fever

    David spent most of the day taking pictures of birds from inside the window of the warm living room. This is a Varied Thrush.  Typical winter/spring bird for our area.  David has Black Oil Sunflower seeds in the feeder.  He put the feeder on this stump about six feet from the window, took out the screen and sits quietly by the open window until he gets his shot.

    I actually spent time trying on hats.  I collect hats.  I love them.  I don't think I look good in them at all but I wear them anyway.  My head is really tiny and I can wear the same denim ballcap that my 8 year old grandson wears.  My hair is really really short right now, a silver mohawk actually, shaved along both sides and the back, longish along a 4" wide section of the top.  All my hats look different on me now.  Point is, who normally has two hours to try on hats???? It's a rainy, cold, winter day.  Cooking, eating, watching the rain and the birds, trying on hats.

    Expecting guests so we made ribs, a dark meat turkey roast, cake, cinnamon rolls, homemade foccaccia bread with creamy goats cheese, cornbread, salad with Feta.  Enough food I may not have to cook at all for a few days.

    Photo of Varied Thrush taken by David Lygren

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    The first step in making GREAT cheese...

    Is having happy goats.  These girls took advantage of some recent sunshine to come out of the barn and enjoy a little fresh air.  So "herd health management" is our current focus.

    Most of these girls are pregnant (we hope they ALL are) and due to begin kidding in the next few weeks.  Today we have a work party scheduled.  The entryway into the milking area hasn't been used in a few months and has two inches of mud (actually worse than mud, liquified goat poop) accumulated.  We will scrape down to the gravel underneath and take wheelbarrow loads of muck back to the greenhouse beds.  Next month I'll rototill this into the soil after it's dried out a bit.  After the walkway is cleaned up, we'll begin bringing in the goats for prebirthing worming, yearly vaccinations, hoof attention and a shot of BO-SE.

    We vaccinate within a few weeks of kidding so that the kids born will gain some benefit from the vaccine as well and then will require only two shots (at 2 weeks of age and then a month later) instead of the three shots normally required.  This vaccination is for enterotoxemia or "overeating disease" and basically helps regulate the naturally occurring flora in their rumens, and tetanus, an organism that will enter any open wound.  The worming is something we do four times a year.  Doing it now will also give the kids an advantage of early protection.  And the BO-SE is Selenium.  Selenium is a vitally required nutrient that normally comes from the soil through the vegetation they eat but our western soils are deficient so we must provide it for them in other ways.  David regularly gives them a mineral salt with selenium in it but we give them a little added boost via subcutaneous injections right around breeding time and again right before kidding.  It helps in the in uetero development of healthy kids and helps newborn kids have good muscle tone.  "Floppy kid syndrome", where a newborn kid just doesn't have the strength or muscle tone to stand, find mom and find the teat to nurse, can usually be traced back to selenium deficiency.

    So, the first step in wonderful cheese, is literally, shoveling out the goat poop later today.  At least the cold will keep it from being too mucky.  Spring time on the farm!

    Photographer, David Lygren, points out the male Maremma Abruzzi guard dog, Vito, in the back of the pasture, watching everything and guarding his goats.  David says he's back by the barn because he doesn't like the camera.  He's so wonderful.  lol David or Vito?  both.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    We are so excited to be in the new Corvallis Market of Choice.  It's amazing how much of our cheese they are selling.  We normally try to concentrate on selling at Farmers Markets because that way we can hand out samples, talk to people and answer their questions.  But after 16 years of vending at the Corvallis Farmers Markets we've handed out tens of thousands of samples.  That has paid off in our being requested ALOT at the new Market of Choice in their wonderful cheese department.

    We'll be giving samples out at Market of Choice in Corvallis from 2pm to 5 pm on Saturday, March 5th.  Come see us there and taste the freshness of spring chevre.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Vito and "his" kids

    Hi, this is my first post...

    Over the years I've toyed with the idea of doing a newsletter, something to let our customers learn more about what actually goes on at the farm.  Unfortunately, what goes on at the farm is sometimes so overwhelming that I didn't have time to put this great idea into a real life readable form.  Updating to new smartphones, learning a bit about Facebook and working on a new webpage are this winter's to do items.  As I was doing that, my webmaster suggested a blog to be linked to the website...

    I could do that!  I could manage that!  I could log in and take five minutes every few days to tell you about the baby goats born that day, or the new flavors we are trying in the cheese kitchen, recipes with seasonal ingredients.....  Add a few pictures.... dogs, goats, sunsets,  oh what fun!  Hope you all enjoy this.  If you are reading the blog, please mention it at the farmers market.... and please check out our website: