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.