Proposition 105

To Label or Not to Label.  That is the question.

What are we voting on labeling, you ask?

Whether or not foods containing GMO’s (genetically modified organisms)  should be labeled in Colorado.

What do you think?  Will you vote Yes or No?  Please share your opinion on our Facebook page, here.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!!!

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Farm Life, Opinion | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Freeze – uncut

If it hasn’t happened yet in your neck of the woods, The Freeze is looming.  It’s the bane of the end of summer, or the benefit of the end of summer, I go back and forth depending on the year.  But in my most recent gardening years, I have come to firmly believe it is the benefit of the end of summer.  It is when, after a no rest marathon beginning with starting seeds inside in February, planting seedlings and cold weather seeds in March and April, finally setting out leggy tomatoes and peppers in May (because in the depths of winter and your craving for spring, you started the seeds too early), harvesting and weeding and mulching and canning in June, July, August and September, you can finally anticipate a rest with The first Freeze.

tomato harvest 2014

When my garden was smaller, my husband and I religiously covered everything if the weatherman predicted even the slightest possibility of The Freeze.  We couldn’t stand the thought of losing our hard-earned crops in one mid-September freeze only to be followed with 3 weeks of warm weather and sunshine.  However, I learned something by dragging out all those towels and sheets and old curtains:  It Wasn’t Worth It.

In my experience, three more weeks of sunshine and warm weather at the end of September and beginning of October – before we finally gave into nature and let The Freeze kill off the garden – produced approximately 1.7 more ripe tomatoes and not much else.  It was more work than it was worth.

Over time, as our garden morphed into the oversized produce department that it is today, I wisened up.  Or gave in.  I prefer to think I became one with nature, accepted and began to understand the benefits of living seasonally and allowed The Freeze to happen while leaving my prolific Cherokee Purple and Sun Gold tomato plants unprotected.

Contrary to my previously distraught emotional state upon viewing the garden out the window the morning after The Freeze, I now relish the rest that will follow.  No more tending to the garden means no more fresh produce…except for the kale that will keep producing until November…but it means a break.

A break AFTER the canning is finished.  At this point, you should be semi-convinced that The Freeze should actually be celebrated.  That is good.  You are transitioning into appreciating the cycles of nature.  However, the day before The Freeze, assuming you know it is coming, you scramble around in the garden picking every last vegetable, ripe and unripe.  Although your plants will perish, and although you are now beginning to look forward to The Freeze, you will not dare let all of your marathon gardening be consumed by Mother Nature.  Let her have the plants…not the fruits.

After you finish the back-breaking work of the final harvest (and give thanks for the hands that spend all day every day picking the produce you buy in the grocery store) you have every basket and bowl you own overrun with vegetables.  You have to tip toe around errant summer squash and tomatillos that have rolled out of their assigned containers that take up most of the floor space in your kitchen.  Over the next few days, you let some of the unripe vegetables ripen, you savor some of the fresh and ready-to-be-eaten, but the rest must be dealt with…and quick…unless you want a household full of fruit flies happy to help with the breakdown of your summer’s bounty.

Can it, dry it, freeze it, cook it, enjoy it.  In January, when you pull out a jar of homemade tomato sauce, you will be thankful you worked to put everything up in the few days after The Freeze.

Here are a couple of tips:

1.  If you’re not ready to use your tomatoes now, wash them and freeze them whole.  When you are ready to use them, thaw them: the skins will come right off and the pulp will separate easily from the seeds.

2.  Grate all of your zucchini and freeze it in 1-3 cup portions (depending on how much your favorite recipe calls for).  Over the winter, thaw it batch by batch to make zucchini bread, soup, fritters, or pancakes.

3.  Leave all of your green tomatoes out on the counter in a basket.  Over the next few weeks, most of them will ripen.

-  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  The edited version of this post ran first on the IndyBlog here on October 5, 2014.

 

Posted in Farm Life, gardening, How To... | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

012

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.

001

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?”

006

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

Posted in Dogs, Farm Life | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

011

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

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

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.

042

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?

145

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!

146

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.

147

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.

148

Who knew a rototiller could be so romantic?

149

You know you need it.

145

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