Hello Fall! – uncut

I look out at the leaves changing color on the trees, and give thanks that fall is here and winter is coming.  It’s the beginning of the farm’s down time.  I used to resist the first freeze of the fall, hating to see the tender summer annuals so vibrant the day before dead as a doornail the next morning.  I used to dread fall and winter, looking upon them as seasons of darkness, as 7 months of tolerating life before finally seeing the first leaf buds again.

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As the busyness of summer gardening, milking, cheese making, canning, and classes slows down, we can slow down with it.  It’s part of living seasonally.  It’s part of bringing all of your energy in, preparing to curl up for winter and rest so that in the spring, you are rejuvenated and ready to burst forth and flower again.

Now, I yearn for the fall and winter.  They are the seasons when we can relax a bit.  We can watch YouTube and learn more about forest gardening, greenhouse growing, soil building, and cheese making.

It gives us time to ponder why every last one of the 25 cucumber seedlings I planted in May kicked the bucket before even reaching ankle height, be thankful the tomatoes and beets were so prolific and notice that completely shaving the caterpillar eaten leaves off of the kohlrabi plants DID serve the purpose of eliminating caterpillar habitat, but it also stunted their growth to kohlrabi peanuts.  We think back to the spring kidding season, when we had the most births ever (12), and also the most deaths (6).  We saw a bobcat down in the ravine for the first time in 4 years.  We saw no bears for the first time in 5.  We put 40 chickens in the freezer and contemplated eating rattlesnake for supper.

It’s the time of year when twice a day milking dwindles to once a day milking and once a day milking slows to no milking.  The goats are bred (recall Mr. Stinky?), the days are shorter and their energy goes to keeping themselves warm and fed for the winter.  Our goats are all around 6 years old, slightly past peak milking age and although not ready to head for the geriatric ward yet, their bodies realize they have no more babies to feed over the winter and their biological clock slows down sooner than when they were 3 and 4 year olds.

All in all, no milking means our carpal tunnel stricken hands can get a rest.  They can leave the repetitive, index to pinky finger-drumming milking motion in our memories and join in the debate of whether or not to buy a mechanical milker next season. And so can we.  We’ve actually had two enforced “sleep in” days in the past few weeks.  Almost unheard of at our house.

The slow season is also when I get caught up on all of the books I want to read.  I’ll read books about whatever suites my fancy.  Cookbooks, cheese making books, historical fiction books, whatever I want.  I get to curl up in my big leather chair with a cup of coffee and a good book and read.  I learn all kinds of things over the fall and winter.  Two years ago, I read the whole American Bicentennial Series by John Jakes, a much more interesting way to learn history than the textbooks in high school.  Last year, it was Clan of the Cave Bear and Anne of Green Gables.  This winter, who knows, maybe I’ll write my own book!

Last year at this time, and again this year, we realized, although we love where we live, we want a smaller house and more land.  There is no time to think such thoughts in Spring and Summer, but fall and winter provide a clean slate on which to write all the ideas for the future.  Some will take hold, some won’t.

But, come kidding season next spring, we’ll be in a smaller house and we’ll have more land.  Perhaps we’ll open a creamery.  Perhaps not.  But whatever we do and decide over winter, we’ll be ready to go, full steam ahead, when the first goat kid arrives and the first spring garden seed gets planted.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  This, in its edited version, first ran on the IndyBlog Sunday, September 28, 2014.  You can read it here.

 

Posted in Farm Life, goats, Kidding, Milking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

She Puked In The Car.

Flash, that is.

And because I know she gets carsick, and because she’s a crazy, hyper 10 month old Australian Shepard, I put her in her kennel.  In back of the car with the seats folded down next to the strewn out piles of Goodwill stuff waiting to adorn someone else’s house.

I talked to her in calming, soothing voices the entire way to the vet but didn’t even mention that she was going there to get her rabies shot.  I thought that might really make her nervous.

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But, true to form, the simple fact that she was riding in the car made her sufficiently nervous to upchuck her entire breakfast, a sprig of grass and a rock.  Yep.  A rock.  Those farm dogs…you just never know what they’re going to eat.  It was sweet of her to deposit it right in the corner of her kennel 17 minutes into the ride and 3 minutes before we arrived at our destination.

Three  minutes till we got there.  She almost made it.

I whined at her, taking after a 7-year-old boy who lives under my roof and shall remain nameless…”Flash, seriously?  You couldn’t make it all the way?”

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But, just like any young’un, after she was through, she was happy as a clam.  Nearly yanked my arm off trying to get to all the new dog friends who needed immediate sniffing.

And, after the rabies shot, she made it all the way home without incident.

I guess that’s what happens when there’s nothing left in your stomach.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

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Do You Want To Come Sniff Paint Fumes With Me?

Because that’s exactly what I’ll be doing today.  Not necessarily on purpose, but as a by product of painting our newly dry walled basement bathroom.  It’s not that it’s absolutely necessary, I mean the previous owner’s choice in wallpaper border half covered by dry wall compound is attractive [not], but I think a potential buyer might be more inclined to the less dramatic.

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That’s where the paint fumes come in.  Unless I can find my old gas mask.

Which I’ll be looking for.

OK, it’s really an old paint mask but I like to call it a gas mask because it looks like I’m going in to detonate a bomb or something.  Which means it should really be called an old bomb mask.

I don’t anticipate any bombs, but I do anticipate lots of white paint on the walls in a bathroom with no windows and lots of paint fumes.

And did I mention we looked at a house for sale yesterday that must be inhabited by smokers who attempted to cover up the smoke with air freshener, which, when combined inside closed doors creates a toxic kind of killer non-air that definitely requires a gas mask?  Or a bomb mask.  Or a paint mask.  Except we had no warning.  The listing agent did not put on the showing remarks:  please tell your clients to wear gas masks upon entry.

They should be required to do that.  Warn people to bring gas masks.  Or a hazmat team.

I almost died.

Literally.

And today, I’m going to subject myself to a similar situation again.  But this time I’ll come armed.

I’ll let you know how today’s fumes turn out.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

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We’re The Nearing The End Of The Milk

It’s about that time of year again, although about a month ahead of schedule, that the does stop producing milk until they kid again in the spring.  I’m anticipating that we’ll have jars of the white liquid in our refrigerator through the end of October, but the girls are getting ready to call it quits.  They are ready to throw in the towel for the season.

I’m not.

I miss the milk like crazy when they’re dry.  I crave it.  I HAVE to have it.  I survive until spring kidding season, at least that has been the case historically, but it’s rough.

Here’s my plan:  I’m going to drop to the floor and throw a temper tantrum.  Full out bang my arms and legs on the ground, screaming.  It’s the only thing I haven’t tried to convince them…at least ONE of them…to keep up the flow of milk.

But wait.  I just remembered.  We have one glimmer of hope.

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Our one glimmer of hope for  milk over the winter is Chispita.  Do you remember her?  The only one of five that survived when her mom, Dottie, struggled through her labor?  Well, Chispita – Little Spark in Spanish- is prego.  She’s 1 1/2 years old now and she’s due to kid anytime from last month till December.  (The Animal Whisperer knows for sure, but he’s not here right now to confirm a more specific date.)

My role in the whole thing is first, to go talk nice to her, begging her to PLEASE have her babies soon.  When that doesn’t work, I talk in a more direct tone:  “Chispita, come on.  It’s time you had your BABIES!”  There are, embarrassingly, times when I flat out yell at her in a Three Stooges tone of voice while reminding her that she doesn’t GET any sweet feed until she gives us MILK, which means she has to have her BABIES!  Only I don’t knock her on the head and she doesn’t knock me either.

That would make goatherding more challenging.  If we knocked each other on the head all the time.  In fact, their skulls are much thicker than mine – I know you may argue that Dad – but they are.  I wouldn’t survive many Three Stooges with Goats retakes.

Anyway, I’ll keep you in the loop.  If and When she kids, you’ll be the 4th to know.  (Animal Whisperer 1st, Son 2nd, other Son 3rd, YOU 4th.)

It’s pretty close to 1st, so don’t get your feelings hurt.

Thanks.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

 

 

Posted in Farm Life, goats, Kidding, Milking | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moving Sale: Rototiller

I know you’ve been thinking about getting a rototiller, right?

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Just in time to dress it up like a scarecrow for Halloween?  Or, maybe you could decorate it with hay bales and pumpkins right after you till all of your raked up leaves and compost into the garden to break down over the winter.  Think of all the black plastic garbage bags you’ll keep from going to the dump!

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You might even decide some Sunday before football that you’ll go surprise your elderly neighbor and till his garden too.  And, you’ll decide it’s so much fun that you’ll just keep tilling down the street, garden by garden, until your neighbors make you dinner and send you home.  It’ll only be then that you’ll realize you were out doing so many good deeds that you actually missed watching football.

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Which is no problem, because one your of single, cute, football loving neighbors recorded it and invited you over for dinner tomorrow night to watch the one you missed.  And then she asked you out on a date.

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Who knew a rototiller could be so romantic?

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You know you need it.

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You know you want it.

It’s only $200.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady, 719-651-9819

P.S.   92% of the proceeds go toward our move.  The other 8% is for administrative costs (i.e. goat feed).

 

Posted in Farm Life, For Sale, gardening | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Where (Near Colorado Springs) Should We Move?

Any opinions?

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Mountains?  Plains?  City?  Country?  5 acres?  205 acres?

That’s about how clear we are on the whole thing.  Mostly, we’re not sure.  We’ve had some promising showings on our house, which is still for sale…but nothing’s final till we sign the paperwork at the closing table…so until then, we’re de-cluttering, getting excess ready to sell at a garage sale (we’ll let you know when it is), giving things to Goodwill and looking at properties online.

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We’ve been debating…should we both get “real” jobs?  Should we open a creamery like we’ve talked about?  Should we buy land and build a house and barn?  Should we buy land with a house and barn already built?  Should we pitch a tent in a vacant field?

I’m drawn to opening a creamery, but I have to be sure I’m ready for the REAL amount of work entailed.  And, since I already know I’m not, we have to be sure we can make enough money to pay a part time employee so we can actually have some time off.

Yesterday, I talked to two creamery owners…Jim from Hi Plains Dairy in Calhan, Colorado, and Christian at Blue Heron Farm in Field Store, Texas.  Both agree that it is ALOT of work.  Both have a huge demand for their product.  In fact, a couple of days ago, Jim sold out of his skyr in 1 1/2 hours.  We know there is a market for locally made artisan cheeses, and they are difficult to make from a tent pitched in a field.  Hard to comply with regulations that way.  Hmmm.022 (2)

We’ll keep you updated on what we decide, and you can join us on our roller coaster decision making process if you’d like.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  Please give us any feedback you’ve got.  Please.  Please.

 

Posted in Cheese Making, Farm Life, For Sale, Opinion | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Video: Supplies You Need To Make Cheese At Home

Now, I’m not going to say this is the highest quality film making, but heck…it’s my first one.  Just because my Great Aunt Ramona and my Grandfather worked at Alexander Film Company 272 years ago does not mean I inherited anything from what might have rubbed off on them there.

But, I managed to get’er done. It’s not even available publicly on YouTube, so consider yourself extremely special to have found yourself here.  Today.  You get to have your own private viewing of the first ever video written, produced, edited, funded, choreographed, directed and created by me.

Yours truly.

(It’s always so WEIRD to hear your own voice, don’t you think???)

Anyway, enjoy, and let me know what you think the next one should be.

Thanks!

- The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in classes, Farm Life, How To..., videos | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments