Splat, Part 2.

We decided we should just let him go, and for a minute I agreed.

But then my heart took over.

I couldn’t do it.  Knowing mama was right there with her udder full, nursing her other two boys, I just couldn’t let him go.  Not yet at least.  I held Splat up to Willow, gently squeezing her teat toward his mouth.

When I attempt to get a baby to latch on, the right hand holds him under the armpits and any extra fingers grow longer to extend neckward, holding his head toward the flow of milk.  The left thumb and index finger tenderly squeeze the teat while the ring, pinky finger and associated side of the palm slightly cup under the teat to cradle the newborn’s chin.  The left middle finger assists wherever needed, sometimes with milking, sometimes with chin cradling, sometimes with flicking away a curious farm dog.

In Splat’s case, he did not latch on.  Despite milk being squirted toward his mouth and misfired up his nose, he did not have the gumption to do what his brothers had instinctively done.  Instead, the milk dribbled into my cupped palm where he slurped up a tiny dose of energy.  I laid him back down in the straw.

Twenty minutes later, training resumed.  His rubberlegs still did not support him in anything except prone snow angel pose, so I lifted him again to Willow.  A few more slurps from the hand, and the appearance of a bit more energy, it was a successful experience, but his future was still uncertain.

I had decided I would not commit to every four hours bottle feeding him, but would support him in eating from his mama during my waking hours.  I would let nature decide at night.

And, as it does every day, night rolled around.  At bedtime, our 13-year-old and I checked that the five other new bucklings were indeed latching on and eating from their mamas.  We gave Splat a drink, noticing that he was able to extend his front legs in a standing posture but the back legs were still uncooperative.  He was also trying to suckle.  He got more collostrum before bedtime than he had all day.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that he was at risk of one of the goats sleeping on him, stepping on him or just getting too cold.  We curled him up by his brothers and hoped for the best.

The next morning, I found it hard to wait for my 5:50am alarm to go off.  Splat had been on my mind all night.  It was a school morning, so there were breakfasts and lunches to make and children to drag out of bed and caffeine to ingest.  It wasn’t until the teenager was on the bus and the 9-year-old had eaten that he and I went out to determine what the night had decided.

Splat was alive!  He still wasn’t standing but had made it throught the night so I taught him how to drink from a bottle.  He drank willingly and later that day, stood under his own power.

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Every day on our farm brings new experiences, new decisions to be made and new approaches to implement.  We have to decide how much to nature and how much to nurture.  Now, two weeks later, it warms my heart to see Splat walk, run, jump, nurse and play just like his brothers. He’s still a miniature version of them, but he made it!

– The Goat Cheese Lady and Splat

P.S. As I mentioned in Splat, Part 1, we don’t keep the boys.  Of the six that were born on Splat’s birthday, we’ve sold two.  At the time of this writing, more have been born and are for sale, including Splat.  They are $75 each.  Let us know if you want a weed eater, a horse companion or a herd sire. These boys qualify for any of those jobs!  You can call me directly if you are interested or have more questions.  719-651-9819.

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Posted in Farm Life, For Sale, goats, Kidding | Tagged | 3 Comments

Splat.

There are always surprises on a farm.  The day Splat was born was full of surprises, six of them, actually.

We were expecting the first 3 goats of the season to kid on Tuesday, or thereabouts. In my mind, “thereabouts” could mean anytime Tuesday or after, when I would be ready to launch into a month’s worth of kidding season and commence twice daily milking. I anticipated numerous chai teas in the barn, waiting through each goat’s birthing process with Erma Bombeck on hand for literary entertainment, where I would be ready to leap to the aid of a struggling goat with my recently equipped medical supply box.

Tuesday or after, the collection of empty plastic water bottles residing on the back corner of the kitchen counter would be complete, eagerly waiting to be capped with black nipples and used as baby bottles at a moment’s notice.

On Tuesday, or thereabouts.

But on the Sunday preceding the aforementioned Tuesday, I’m sure you can understand our surprise when we returned from our final foray to the city as free farmers.  Upon noticing a white goat missing from the pasture, we headed to the barn anticipating Willow in the early stages of labor, seeing as she hadn’t been in any stages of labor that morning.  Suffice it to say, we were shocked when we saw 4 baby goats scattered around the pen, two piled like miniature snow drifts, the other two resembling long legged skunks.  After a feeble cry from the barn, we discovered a 5th, also dressed like an Oreo.

5 Babies!  All Alive!  From One Mama!  It Was A Record!

Now, let’s back up a second.  Upon arriving home, our sporatically devoted farm boys took up residence in front of their iPads and the TV, all screens blazing at the same time. When I arrived at the back door to notify them that their presence was desired in the barnyard but divulging no details, and after putting a fair amount of thought toward the offer, they obliged anticipating a birthing session.  (Besides soccer practice, that is the one thing that can compete with Clash of Clans, NCIS and YouTube.)

The newly minted teenager made it out first, feet a-shufflin’, head a-waggin’, all cool, calm and collected.  Immediately, and quite brilliantly, he exclaimed, “Those aren’t ALL Willow’s babies, the black and white ones are PEARL’S!!”  (Who, by the way, was out in the pasture, contentedly chomping away, acting like she hadn’t just popped out three furballs on stilts.)  And, to add to his ballooning IQ, he discovered a sixth pile of white hair and bones in the barn: Splat.

Splat, on the far left of the above video, must have been the runt of Willow’s three. For brief periods, he weakly kept his head off the ground but couldn’t stand on any of his rubberlegs, and certainly hadn’t eaten like his energetic brothers apparently had (yes, you counted right, 3 boys).  Pearl’s 3 boys (you read that right, too) had figured out how to prop their bodies upright on their precariously wobbling legs and appeared rather adjusted to their new life outside the pond.

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However, in his splay legged state of life clinging, Splat became the subject of a real, honest to goodness, farm conversation: We now have 6 bucklings.  Do we let him go? (He’s just a boy, anyway.  A girl and we wouldn’t even ask the question.  A girl grows into a milk producing member of our herd, but multiple boy goats are the least valuable asset on our dairy goat farm.)  If he were out in nature, he would fall asleep forever.  He would quietly pass on.

Or, do we hold him to mama’s teat and gently coax life giving collostrum into his drooling mouth, feeling to see if he’s swallowing?  If that doesn’t help, do we bottle feed him, thus dedicating time and energy to a buckling that we will sell or eat?  And, all the while hoping that if that’s the path we choose, the energizing boost of collostrum will not just be a brief glimpse of life that will cause him to suffer more in the end should he die anyway?

We decided.

To be continued.

– The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Farm Life | 2 Comments

Two Cows and a Car

You can dress me up as a country girl, but it isn’t always a sure bet you can take me out.  Case in point, the other night.

Here are the facts:

  1. I had 20 minutes to get to the feed store before it closed.  I had just found out the chicks were out of food and they were peeping loudly in protest.
  2. The speed limit on County Road 123 increases drastically just past the turn to Brush Hollow, therefore, I was accelerating.
  3. In the late dusk, quite past twilight but before pitch black, the sky absorbed the light from the brights of my car.
  4. I didn’t hit the cows.  Or the cowboys.

On a dark country road, it is always a good idea to have the brights on, just to extend your sight distance.  But, at late dusk with the aforementioned issue of headlight absorption, the frantically arm pumping horseback rider complete with herding dog off to the left side of the road showed up in my line of sight at about the time I passed her. I slowed down immediately, surmising the cowgirl was angry that I was driving past her at 50 miles an hour while she was out riding at night.

In the same instant, I noticed erratically moving headlights too narrow for a car in a vacant field south of the road.  Probably just harebrained teenagers on their 4 wheeler plunging through the brush and prairie dog holes.  It wasn’t until the two cattle jumped the sagging wire fence immediately to my left, aiming for my car that I realized the true nature of the situation.

The cowgirl was urgently signaling me to slow down because of the stampeding duo. They must have escaped from their field on the north side of the road, the entrance to which I was now blocking, having slammed on my brakes at the pretense of having my driver’s side door be gored by wild-eyed, horned cattle.  Just after they leapt in my direction, a cuss word slinging cowboy careened through an opening in the fence on a 4 wheeler, trailing the bovines at close range.  Through my closed window, I could hear his string of expletives mostly involving F’s and A’s and holes, no doubt the cows and I being the intended recipients.

Just after they stormed past my headlights and I inched forward again, a second horseback cowboy came into view in the middle of the road 20 feet ahead.  I gingerly arced around him and his horse then departed the chaos.  I never saw the end of the story, having skedaddled out of there as soon as safely possible, but can only assume that the cattle made it back safely and the cowfolks headed home because on my return trip from the feed store, there was no activity in the total darkness of the corral.

And now, I have a few recommendations:

  1.  If you’re going on a nighttime horseback ride, you need reflectors.  Granted, when the cows escape, there might not be time to think about the fact that cars cannot see you at night.  Your first thought may be only of getting the cows wrangled back into the corral.  It is for that reason, just like a bike, your saddle or your stirrups should have reflectors.  That way, even when you are in a non-thinking-about-your-own-safety state of mind, you will be safer in spite of yourself.
  2. If you’re a driver caught in this state of affairs, take no offense to the words hurled in your direction.  Undoubtedly, the 4 wheeler cowboy was under a huge amount of stress, just forgive him.
  3. Don’t be in a hurry when driving on a dark country road at night.  You never know what you’ll encounter.

All you drivers and cowpeople, be safe out there.

– The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  Our boys, 9 and 12 years old, have been raising the chicks that caused this whole incident.  Their goal is to sell all 42 of them to earn some money.  At the time of this writing, the Dominiques are 3 1/2 weeks old and cost $6 each.  The Delawares are 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 weeks old and cost $7 each.  Each week they feed them, the price goes up.  Call their answering service (me) at 719-651-9819 if you want some!

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Dominique (photo taken when she was 2 1/2 weeks old). Good brown egg layers, heritage breed.

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Delaware (photo taken when she was 3 1/2 weeks old). Good brown egg layers, heritage breed.

Posted in Farm Life | Tagged | 4 Comments

Fence Posts

It’s been over two years since we moved here to 3rd Street in Penrose.  At that time, there were seven fence posts wearing boots, all in a line, marching up the hill after 3rd Street turns to County Road 123 heading west toward Canon City.  As a city girl, I hadn’t ever seen fence posts wearing boots and was quite entertained by it.  Every run into town for groceries or soccer practice or basketball games, I glance left to gander at the newcomers.

The first of the new additions was a pair of white sneakers, slung over the top of the post to hang by the conjoined shoelaces.  A thoughtfully descriptive sign was tacked just below and hand written in black sharpie on computer paper.  The creative donor even had the forethought to place the caption in a waterproof ziploc bag so it’s message would survive the elements proclaiming, “I can’t help it, I’m from Wisconsin.”  I got a chuckle out of that one, either the donor was a city guy from Wisconsin and didn’t own any boots, or he was here on vacation and left his boots at home.

Shortly thereafter, an inverted laceless hiking boot with the tongue pulled way down and adorned with a black marker face showed up on the scene.  It was wearing sunglasses just where the eyes would be.  (If it were an upside down hiking boot with a real face.)  That one was creative too.

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Wrong.

Then, over the past year, it all went to pot.  The quaint line of cowboy boots, Wisconsonian white sneakers and incognito hiking boot now extends westward for at least 20 more posts with each wearing something that the Goodwill shoe department threw up.  There’s a flip flop, a 1970’s strappy white high heel, two adjacent posts wearing ski boots, wannabe Birkenstocks and a leopard print slipper.

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Yikes.

I’ve got to be honest here.  I don’t like the new additions.  Not one bit.  Especially not the slipper.  It’s beginning to look more like trash than a cute statement that you’re on a back country road.  When I first wrote about this, I was enlightened by a country reader that people adorn their wooden fence posts with items that will protect their tops of from rotting.  Although I’m not a fan of the looks of tires or feed bags atop the posts, I now understand their functionality.  Metal T-Posts, however, do not rot.  The slipper is hanging on a T-Post.  The 70’s heels are dangling from the side of a wooden post, post top fully exposed to the rotting rain and snow. If we were in snowy mountain country, I might be more open to the ski boots, but really, they’re out of place here in the high desert.

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The proper footwear for an old cedar fence post.

In my two years driving past the shoe department, I’ve had time to develop my opinion on the situation, and here it is: In the country, if fence posts are going to wear footwear at all, they should be wearing cowboy boots.

Thanks for listening,

The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Farm Life, Opinion | 2 Comments

It’s too cold outside.

It’s not miserable, don’t get me wrong or anything.  But this morning when I walked out the door, on schedule to be on time for an appointment, only to become late when I couldn’t physically scrape the ice skating rink off front windshield and had to wait for it to defrost into peepholes, I decided it was too cold.  There are a few things that happen when it’s too cold outside:

  1. I drink lots of hot chai.  Chai concentrate with, at this time of year, (just pretend I didn’t actually say this) store bought cow’s milk.  Bleh.  Well, the goats are dry right now which is a good thing, because my sore elbows and my complaining boys needed a break.  But it means for a lot of inferior chai.
  2. The heater comes on.  We have a strict rule that my husband and I established that the heater is to be turned up to no more than 70.  That is specifically to thwart the stealthy index finger of my older son from “accidentally” turning it up to 75 or 80, a quality he inherited from his mother.  Yes.  I admit it.  I, as a girl, used to go down the dark, knotty pine hallway, which happened to house the whole-house thermostat and move the red thingy way to the right, proceed to my bedroom and cozy up for a nap next to the heater.  When the house reached a temperature of broiling, I would announce to my parents when asked, “I don’t know how it got there!”  My son and I both LOVE to curl up by the heater and let it blast out hot air until our skin is on fire.  It’s an addiction. However, as an adult and as half of the adults in the household that have to pay for the gas to power the heater, I mostly stick to the 70 degree rule. Except for today.  Cold days when my heat addicted son is at school are an exception.  I can break the rules and he won’t know it.  Right now, the heater is set at 73ish.
  3. I read.  I read to myself, and today for a little bit, I read to my husband since he’s inside thawing out his fingers from working in his heaterless workshop. Right now, I’m reading a hysterical, laugh out loud book called: 022 On cold days I, of course, read by the heater.  That is a concious decision though, because I know that the moment I accept the urge to read by the heater, I will also, soon enough, accept the urge to lie down by the heater, convincing myself that I deserve a nap.  Once reclined, I grab the closest blanket, determine it’s too small and reach for a larger one, cover up just right so that the heater is included in the whole tent-like situation, wait for my coccoon to fill up with hot air and read until my eyelids feel pokey, put the book down, breathe a sigh of gratitude and close my eyes, hoping the fact that the heater is at 73, not 70, will mean it will stay on a while longer.  However, after 3 times of the heat turning off (dang it!) and turning back on (yesssssss!) I give in to the fact than I’m 41, not 14, and both hips are aching and so’s my bad shoulder.  I’ll just go get in bed.  I still deserve a nap and since I haven’t sunk into the state of sleep I expected, I’ll just have to get some cushion for my bones.
  4. I take a nap.  Well, that’s what’s supposed to happen.  But, instead, I’m thinking I should write about this and tell you what real life on this goat farm looks like.  It’s not all goats all the time.  It’s napping (or not napping) sometimes too.  I snuggle in deeper to my covers and think about the chai I’ll have upon awaking and that’s when I’ll write.  But, alas, no sleep.  No chai.  Just the creative urge to write, which I’m sure is a good thing.  So, here I am writing.  And the heater just kicked back on.

Now that you know the goings on around here, I’m going to get my chai.

– The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  I have a Valentine’s Day Goat Milk Soap, Lotion and Lip Balm Sale going on!  If you need some or if you need someone to get you some, grab it.  Just click here.

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It’s National Plan Your Vacation Day!

And we sure hope you’ll plan to spend some of your vacation with us!

Join us for a one of a kind experience…The Goat Cheese Making Class at our 5 acre farm in Penrose, Colorado (45 minutes south of Colorado Springs).  Since 2010, we’ve taught over 1200 people to milk goats and make cheese!

Click Here For The Schedule of All Classes or read on to learn more…

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Wonder what it’s about?  Well, grab a cup of coffee and settle in.  I’ll tell you:

Your class includes more than just making goat cheese…When you arrive at our farm, you’ll relax in your car until I come out and wave at you, that’s your cue to come in!  We’ll take a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea around the table and get to know each other, then together we’ll make honey whole wheat bread from scratch.

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While it’s rising, we’ll head outside and take a farm tour to meet all of the animals, collect eggs from the chickens, and we’ll teach you to milk the goats!  (Even though you came here to learn to make goat cheese, milking the goats seems to be everyone’s favorite part!)  Milking is an art, don’t worry, we won’t be too hard on you for squirting a few drips outside the pot, and if you squirt me, that’s extra credit.

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Babies on the farm April-June.

After spending about an hour outside, we’ll take the milk inside and strain it while discussing the benefits of raw goat milk and the rationale behind pasteurization. You’ll even have the opportunity to taste it!  Remember our rising bread dough? Now, we need to take a quick break to form it into loaves to let it rise one more time before baking.

And, finally, we’ll start to make cheese.  First, we’ll make a simple, soft herbed goat cheese.  It’s the best place to start when you’re new to cheesemaking.  After your astounding success with your goat cheese, we’ll move onto something more difficult…goat milk mozarella. About mid-way through making the mozarella, we’ll start baking the bread and ooooohhh, does it start to smell good!

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After a full morning, and with our stomachs yearning for a bite fresh bread, we’ll scramble the farm fresh eggs we collected in the morning, slice the just baked and still warm bread, open up a jar of our favorite preserves, toss together a salad of organic greens with our farmstead feta and homemade dressing and to top it all off, we’ll indulge in our famous White Milkshakes for dessert – formally reserved just for kids, but added to the menu after enough adults begged!

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As you’re wrapping up your meal, I’ll package up the remaining morsels of cheeses you made (that didn’t get eaten) so you can take them home.  And finally, just before leaving, you’ll choose the (all made on our farm) 4 oz bottle of Goat Milk Lotion, bar of Goat Milk Soap and tube of Goat Milk Lip Balm that you want to take home with you!

All the recipes for everything we make are included with the class…even the White Milkshake recipe!  You just have to get the goat!

The Goat Cheese Making Class is held at our farm in Penrose, Colorado (45 minutes south of Colorado Springs), starts at 8:15, ends at 1:15ish, costs $100 per person and is limited to 4 people per class. (If a family, friend or work group is larger than 4 people, we may be able to increase the size of the group, just ask!)  To Schedule A Class, Call 719-651-9819.  Click Here For The Schedule of All Classes

We sure hope to see you in 2017!

– The Plan Your Vacation Today Goat Cheese Lady

 

Posted in Bread Making, Cheese Making, classes, Farm Life, gifts, goats, Milking, Recipes, Soap and Lotion | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

My Writing Buddies

I have the opportunity, every Wednesday, to attend Sherry Johns’ writing group in her Skye Blue Yoga studio here in our sweet little town of Penrose, Colorado.  We are all at some stage of wanting to write or of actively writing…something.  Each session, our little group convenes to read what we’ve been working on in the past week.  Then, we each randomly choose from a blue swan vase full of hundreds of cut up index cards adorned with hand written prompts, write for 10 minutes about that prompt (fiction, non-fiction, poetry…really just anything that comes to mind…typically without much editing) and read it aloud if we so choose.

Right now, I’ve decided I’ll read it to you.

But first, the prompt I drew was…“Write about the number 49.”

So, here goes:

I’m 41.  Or 42?  I think I’m 41.  Yes.  42 in May.  Born May 19, 1975, the math indicates I’ll be 42 in May.  So what about when I’m 49?  What will have happened? Where will I be?  In 7 years, my baby will be 16 – driving.  In 7 years, my first born will be 19 – college.  

And here I thought this would be an unemotional topic.

In 7 years, Herbert will have a booming home remodeling business.  His gray hairs from the past 10 years will become black again – if only in his reduced stress level.

In 7 years, I will have worked out all the kinks in The Goat Cheese Lady Creamery.  Routine and learning and finances and good cheese will allow for an employee or two so we can go on vacation…for the 6th year in a row.  The European Cheese Tour – with a stop in Barcelona for a soccer game – looks good at 49! 

And that’s it.

What my brain rambled out after reading “Write about the number 49.”  Sherry says writing for 10 minutes about a prompt is an exercise to “get the juices flowing.”  I’m counting on my juices flowing all the way through the end of my book.

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Having never written a book before, I’ll take Sherry’s advice on how to get started, she’s written 4…work on the introduction first.

My writing group buddies are my accountability partners.  Each week, I tell them what I’m going to work on.  My commitments to them have caused me to blog more and this week, I will work on the introduction to my book.

– The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  Thanks Sherry and Claire!

Posted in book, Farm Life, good people to know | Tagged | 4 Comments