SOLD.

Chapter 1 of my life as The Goat Cheese Lady has closed…with a happy, incredible ending.  Chapter 2 is now set to begin.

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Here are the details:

As you know, we announced we were moving in August, but we officially put our house and farm on the market – for sale by owner – in October.  On a Saturday in early October, the day we had made plans to attend the Lewis Palmer High School football game to support the most incredible football coach this side of the Mississippi – my cousin Dave Jones – The Animal Whisperer announced that he was not going to go….”I have a HOUSE to sell!”  Four hours later, within a three mile radius of our house, there were five, strategically placed sunshine yellow corrugated plastic signs shouting “For Sale, farm, 1.6 acres, greenhouse, orchard, barn, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom” with white vinyl stick on letters accented with red marker, super thick black sharpie and copious amounts of duct tape.  Even our cars got adorned with the marketing, and still have duct tape adhesive on the windows to prove it.

Although after approximately 1.5 hours and no sale, I admittedly lost faith in the whole For Sale By Owner approach, The Animal Whisperer maintained confidence and strength, not giving in to my plea to list the house with a realtor.  Every day, we cleaned out and Craigslisted and  Goodwilled and recycled and gifted the majority of our belongings, both inside and out.  We received calls and had first showings and second showings and lookie-loos and tire kickers, but he was right.

Two weeks after putting the signs out, the house was under contract with a spectacular couple who, for some miraculous reason, decided to return for a second showing despite the fact that a gigantic rat jumped out of the greenhouse compost pile on their first showing.  Seriously.  A rat.

On Monday, our Zippy Shell pulled away with our remaining belongings and, yesterday, we sold it to them. Everything:  The house, the farm, the original 1960’s rose patterned basement carpet, the orchard, the fruit tree share program, the garden and the greenhouse – minus the rat.  At a future time, I’ll let you know how the rat met its demise, but suffice it to say, it is no longer in residence in the greenhouse.

Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:

Are you selling the goats?  No.  We did sell one doe and two bucks.  We still have five does.

What will happen to the goats?  They will continue to live with the new owners until we move to our new farm have a space ready for them.

Will you still teach classes?  I’m not sure yet.  I hope so.  I think so.  But I can’t be sure until we move and get a feel for the new set up.

What will happen to the fruit trees?  The new owners are taking over the fruit tree share program!  The people who bought trees through the share program will get fruit from their trees as planned when they eventually bear fruit!

What will happen to the dogs?  Montana, our livestock guardian dog, will stay with the goats.  Flash, our Australian Shepard, will stay at a loving foster home until we move.

What will happen to the chickens?  We donated them to our friend Monycka.  She teaches the neighborhood kids how to process chickens and lets them take the food home to feed their families.  She’s awesome.

What will happen to the rabbits?  The meat rabbits went to Monycka’s too.  The two pet rabbits are in loving foster homes until we can move them to our new farm.

What about all the work you did there?  Aren’t you sad to leave it?  No.  We are thrilled actually.  Yes, we did do a lot of work there.  Yes, we did become The Goat Cheese Lady and The Animal Whisperer there.  Yes, our kids spent 5 1/2 years of their young lives there.  But, we are ready to move on to a bigger farm and less debt.  We created amazing things there, and we will create amazing things again.  The land is better for us living there and we are better for living there.  Although, when you sell a house, you can’t decide what the future owner will do with the land, or if they’ll even care about it, we are thankful the farm’s new owners love what we love.  They will continue, in their own way, what we started.

Are you sad to leave Pleasant Valley?  No.  We have made friends and our kids have made friends in our neighborhood (Pleasant Valley – for me, the name conjures up visions of a Stepfordy wife type of situation or conveys the real truth – that it actually is a Pleasant place in a quiet Valley against the Garden of the Gods) and they will always be our friends, no matter where we go.

Are your kids changing schools?  Yes.  They’ll go to school in the town where we move.

WHERE ARE YOU MOVING?  Shhh!  Not telling yet!  That’s announcement’s coming soon to a website near you.

Finally,  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!  You have supported us faithfully through this first chapter of our lives as Mrs. and Mr. Goat Cheese Lady and for that, we are grateful.  We look forward to you being part of our lives as we continue the next chapter.  We’ll let you know what’s next!!

-  The Soon-To-Be-Chapter-2 Goat Cheese Lady

 

 

 

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Cold Weather Goats

When the temperatures dip into the single and negative digits, the goats get chilly.  Although they, and our chickens and rabbits, are tolerant of the cold (a few years ago, when it was -14, they all came through just fine), it is important to take extra precautions to keep them as warm as possible.  According to my husband, who is the animal husbandry expert in our family, it is important to do the following when the days get extra cold:

1.  Give all the animals extra food.  This gives them energy to keep their bodies warmer.

2.  Give them extra, dry bedding every day.  He adds a couple of bags of leaves we’ve collected from the neighbors to the goat pen inside of the barn each day…they eat half of them (they love dried leaves!) and cuddle up on the rest.

3.  Make sure they have water that is not frozen.  Use a water heater/de-icer in your animal’s water.  It’s a plug in contraption that you put in the water tank/bowl that keeps the water temperature just above freezing.  There are also pet food bowls that plug in and serve the same purpose.  Don’t use metal bowls…remember when you were little and you licked the ice on a cold metal pole?  Yep…same thing can happen to your animals.

4.  Check on them multiple times throughout the day.  You want to make sure someone didn’t get their head stuck in the feeder (which happens to goats from time to time, but can be more dangerous on a cold day), or that one of the chickens didn’t get stranded outside the fence and can’t find her way in to roost with her warm bodied buddies.

5.  Make sure they have shelter where they are protected from the wind and snow.  At our house, they sleep in the barn.  When they get up their guts to brave the cold and go to the main outside feeder, they tenderfootedly tiptoe as quickly as possible, grab a few bites and head back in.

6.  Let the goats all sleep together.  Usually, we separate the young goats and the male goats from the females, but on cold days and nights, we let them all bunk together.  More body heat means more warmth.

7.  Our rabbits have pens outside, protected from the wind and weather, but my husband moves them inside the barn to keep warmer.  If they’ve never lived in the same cage with other rabbits, I DON’T RECOMMEND letting them live together (as we do with the goats) to stay warm.  Rabbits can attack and seriously injure or kill rabbits they don’t normally pen with.

8.  Keep a heat lamp on for the chickens?  This is a question we often are asked.  Many people choose to because they are concerned the chickens will get too cold.  We don’t heat the chicken coop and our chickens are fine.

9.  Keep the dogs inside.  Usually, our dogs live outside.  The main job of our Anatolian Shepard/St. Bernard mix is to protect the animals, so he spends his time around and in the goat pen. Our one year old Australian Shepard puppy was born outside and has lived her whole life outside, but in frigid temperatures, we bring them both in, and typically, they put up no arguments.

So there you have it in a 9 step nutshell.  Please take the same precautions with your animals so you can be sure they make it safely through the winter cold spells.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  The edited version of this post first appeared on the IndyBlog on November 15, 2014.

P.P.S.  Also check out the article Bill Radford wrote in The Gazette on December 2, 2014 about Animals in the Cold!

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Garage Sale HERE Tomorrow!

Huge Garage Sale at The Goat Cheese Lady Farm, 919 Lonesome Road, Colorado Springs, CO, 80904, Saturday, November 22, from 9-3.

Our move is almost official (knock on wood) and we’ve got the garage and part of the driveway filled with things for sale!  Furniture, matching antique couch and chair, home décor, kids toys, an awesome bunk/trundle bed with built in dresser and desk, power tools (cordless and hand held), gardening and farming supplies, greenhouse glazing, a beautiful black and cherry desk with matching file cabinet, homesteading supplies, antique brass bed frame, antique wood spindle bed frame, wheel barrow, dining table and chairs, dishes, 2 Bred Nubian Does (will kid in February and March), 1 1/2 year old Nubian Herd Sire (all Nubians are registered but will sell for a discount without papers), 2 show quality Mini-Rex bunnies (1 Doe, 1 Buck, never bred before), rain barrels, rabbit cages, Goat Milk Soap (great for Christmas gifts!!) and lots more!!

PLEASE DON’T EMAIL, as we won’t be able to reply due to the big Garage Sale Tomorrow!!!

Saturday, Nov. 22, 9-3pm.  919 Lonesome Road, Colorado Springs, 80904

We’ll see you tomorrow!

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

 

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The Leaves Are Falling!

If I could, I’d have all of the leaves fall directly from the trees onto the barn floor.  They make good bedding for the goats.  Or, maybe they could all just blow into my garden.  Next year’s soil would be black and rich and full of earthworms!  But, you know what bugs me?  Seeing bags of leaves set out for the trash man to take to the dump.  So, today, I’m going to make some strong suggestions about how you can use them, thus sparing the dump of yet another plastic bag.

It has often befuddled me that people will take hours to rake the leaves in their yards into neat piles, then awkwardly shove them into large black plastic trash bags, close them with a twist tie and push, pull, roll or carry them to their temporary new home by the trash can, and anxiously await trash day so this year’s reminder of fall can be hauled off to the dump.  I never cease wondering why people do that!  Leaves are fall’s way of giving us a yearly gift of free mulch and exceptional compost, but for many, they have become the yearly after-your-favorite-football-game chore.  Instead of things of beauty, the trees in our yards have become a nuisance just begging to be chopped down so that we’ll never have to rake again.  They, in our manicured landscapes, are no longer dropping their fall leaves to become a protective blanket for the soil and it’s micro and macro organisms and beginning the yearly process of decomposition to feed the soil, but are dropping them only to be trucked off to improve the soil at the dump.  If things other than plastic bags grew at the dump, I might be in support of the idea, but they don’t.  Nothing grows at the dump, except odor, so keep your leaves at home.

I get it, though.  Depending on the amount of trees in your yard, raking leaves is a time consuming, tiring process – and especially frustrating if you do it when the wind is blowing.  It’s a chore I don’t always look forward to either, but if you’re going to spend so much time and energy cleaning them up, why not keep the bags out of the dump and put the leaves to a good purpose in your yard.

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Rake them all directly into your perennial flower bed.  Step on them so they’ll bed down and have less risk of blowing away.

2.  Leave them under the tree that dropped them.  That’s what happens in nature.

3.  Put them all right on top of your vegetable garden.  Step on them so they’ll bed down as in #1.  In the spring, mix them in with your dirt.

4.  Pile them up in a back corner of your yard.  Cover them with branches so they’ll stay there.  In the spring, remove the branches and spread the broken down leaves around your outdoor plants.

5.  Find a neighbor who wants them.

6.  Stuff a scarecrow with them.

7.  Use them as bedding for your chicken’s nest boxes.

8.  Use them for bedding for your goats!

If you can’t commit to keep ALL of your leaves this year, start small.  Instead of sending 10 bags to the dump, send 8.  Keep the other two bags worth of leaves to use in your yard.  If you’re ready to keep them all, go for it!  Your yard will love you forever.

-The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  The edited version of this post ran on the IndyBlog on October 18, 2014.  You can see it here.

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Book: How To Make Money Homesteading

Oh. My.  Gosh.

Herbert and I are among 17 other amazing homesteaders profiled in a new book by Tim Young called “How To Make Money Homesteading”

…and IT’S OUT ON AMAZON TODAY!!!!!!  Amazing!!!

Here’s the link:  http://www.amazon.com/How-Make-Money-Homesteading-Self-Sufficient/dp/1502786052/

Don’t just think about getting it…Buy It Now!!!!

I’ve already seen the Kindle version and the book is incredible.  If you’ve ever thought you want to be a homesteader, or if you already are, BUY.  THE.  BOOK.  You will get so many more ideas of how you can make money doing what you LOVE!!

Happy Reading!!!

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  Thanks Tim for such a great book!!

Posted in Articles, Book Review, Cheese Making, classes, Farm Life, gifts, goats, good people to know | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cold Weather Flies

The way I see it, there are two distinct fly seasons.  The long, drawn out, hot and often muggy summer fly season where there are zillions of flies that seem to spawn from nowhere and the short but disgusting cold-weather fly season.

Let it  be known that my favorite fly season – if I had to choose between gross and grosser – is the summer fly season.  The sheer fact that there are at least 7 million flies on any given sauna-like afternoon that fill up fly tape within 2 minutes, land on the goats causing them to stomp and nearly step into the milk pail during milking, and irritate the living daylights out of any human being still pales in comparison to the cold-weather fly season.

It is my least favorite of the two fly seasons.  And, it has been happening on a daily basis in by kitchen for the past two weeks.

Let me paint a few pictures for you…in case you’ve never experienced a cold weather fly:

You’re standing at the kitchen sink, gazing out the window as you wash a few dishes.  You are marveling at the deep blue color of the sky and watching the cloud shaped like a lizard change into a guitar then into a wedding cake when a large, lethargic black blob enters your peripheral vision and slams into your cheek.  It maintains contact with your flesh for longer than you care to think about, and the fact that it even collided with your unmoving face is absurd.  Don’t flies have upwards of 1000 eyes?  It should have seen you as an obstruction from at least the dining room table.  From the point of contact, it ricochets off and begins a slow descent to the ground, its wings not able to recover quickly enough to get it to safety.  If you are quick, you can get the dish soap off your hands, grab a dish towel and swat it with ease.  But, if you delay, or if it regains consciousness mid-flight, it zig-zags and lands on the glass spice jars and poses for a picture.  It is temporarily saved because you can’t kill it without risking your Italian seasoning being peppered with shards of glass.

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The worst though, is when you are walking toward the door, in a hurry to get to a meeting.  Your inertia is forward moving and at the time you happen to take your usual breath in through your nose, a cold weather fly comes in from left field.  It is so slow and weak that it can’t fight the pull of the vacuum it suddenly feels drawing it directly toward your right nostril.  A millisecond before you inhale the poop eating insect deep into your nasal cavity, your brain processes the reality of the situation and its impending disaster.  You stop your breath and wave frantically at the base of your nose.  That one got away, but at least you didn’t have to go to the ear nose and throat doctor to have it removed from the depths of your sinuses.

And finally, the one that happened today.  I went to the bathroom sink to wash my hands and lo and behold, encountered a gigantic fly sitting by the drain.  Really.  It was sitting there, still, so still that I could see that its eyes were a rust colored red and its nose greenish.  I had not ever realized that flies have noses.  That fly didn’t even flinch when I came at it with a wad of toilet paper.  No movement whatsoever.  It had already crossed over to the other side.  To fly heaven.  Or, wherever flies go upon death.  And it was still standing up.  It hadn’t even taken the time to fully die and roll over the way you find dead flies on the window sill.

I hope you can now thoroughly understand why I strongly prefer summer fly season.  It is always important to look at the glass half full, right?

Until next time,

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  This is the unedited version of the post that ran in the IndyBlog on Saturday, October 11, 2014.  You can read it here.

 

 

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Goat Milk Creamery: Blue Heron Farm

In attempting to make the decision on whether or not we will open our own creamery,  I have been interviewing the owners of various creameries.  I will highlight them as I go…in the hopes it will help others who are also on our path and as thanks to the creamery owners who took their valuable time to talk to me.

Christian and Lisa Seger own Blue Heron Farm in Field Store, Texas.  He and his wife started their goat dairy in 2007, and if you take a look at their website, you’ll see how much they love their goats.  They make and sell chevre, feta and cajeta.  I spoke with Christian a few weeks ago and he was very kind to answer all of my questions.

According to Christian, he is in charge of the animals, the grass, the fences and the milking.  He milks 28 Nubian goats and raises them on 10.5 acres because their belief is that Nubians produce the best milk and therefore the best cheese. While he dries most of them off for the winter, he milks at least 4-5 through the winter, thus never having a dry period. The goats graze on pasture grasses (during grass season) consisting mostly of common Bermuda grass, which Christian confesses is low in protein and low quality, so he throws some higher protein legume seeds out every so often.  When the pasture is dormant, the goats eat a hay mix containing a Sorghum Sudan hybrid.  During milking, he feeds them a no-corn, no-soy, GMO free oat based feed mix he buys in 50 pound bags for $13.50 from West Feeds in Texas.  The hay is $70 per roll.

Lisa is in charge of making the cheese, marketing the cheese and maintaining their internet presence.  Per gallon of milk, she can make 1.32 pounds of chevre, but, he advised, the weight per gallon can be more or less depending on how much whey you drain…wetter cheese whey’s more.  (You should be laughing now…a wetter cheese whey’s more…I know, it took you a minute.)   She specializes in chevre, feta and cajeta.  The feta and chevre are sold by the 1/2 pound for $10.00 ($20.00 per pound). 

As far as employees for their business, they have none.  They have had the help of woofers over the years, but have determined it is more cost effective and efficient to do the work themselves.  The two of them do everything.  They haven’t had a day off in seven years.

When I asked him if he would change anything about their business, he responded that the main thing he would change would be the age of the goats they started with.  Initially, they bought all 3-year-old goats, with the thought that they would get the highest milk production.  That was true, until they all turned 8.  Milking all 8-year-old goats was challenging because their milk supply dropped significantly (and unexpectedly) due to their age.  He suggests starting with a bell curve of goat ages: heavy on the 4-5 year olds, light on the young and light on the old.  The one other thing he would change is to make their cheeses and cajeta available seasonally so they could have a break from milking and cheese making in the winter, but he and Lisa have established their business without the dry period, so they haven’t wanted to make the change.  

You can find them and their cheese here.

And, you can see them on Tedx Houston here!  They do an exceptional presentation on their journey from “being regular eaters to ethical omnivores.”

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  Thanks to our student, Marcia Bennett for telling me about Blue Heron Farm.

 

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