Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ADGA Convention

I am delighted to announce that I will be presenting a full day Farmstead Small Goat Dairy workshop on Monday, October 18.  This will be occurring at the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) Convention in Tuscon, Arizona.  


My workshop will cover all aspects of owning and managing a small, farmstead goat dairy. We will take the concept from idea to reality. We will cover the animals, the farm, the cheese, the employees, and finally ideas for marketing and distribution of the cheese.  This is the story of Gothberg Farms.  We will discuss what has worked well and also areas for enhancement.  Come with lots of questions. We will have a great day together. 


I look forward to meeting my fellow cheesemakers and small dairy enthusiasts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cheese Lovers Package

We are offering a variety of our cheeses as a package. These are our most popular choices. Prices are "at the farm or farmers market" picked up prices.  Shipping is available at extra cost to purchaser. We need a 2 week lead time(preferred anyway until Memorial Day) on orders.

Enjoy!

**Note:  This is a sampling of our cheeses.  Not all are featured in this promotion.

Package Includes:
Chevre (1 pound)  packaged in appx. 1/3 lb. rounds
Feta (1.5 pound) packaged in smaller sizes in individual vacuum pouches
Gouda (1.5 pound) may choose up to 2 varieties:
     Plain
     Cinco de Mayo (red pepper/garlic),
     Nettle
     Cumin Seed
Cheddar or Caerphilly (1 pound) 


Plus: 
Cheese Companions - 1 package of each:
Cinco de Mayo Crackers with our own Cinco de Mayo blend
Lemon-Ricotta Cookies  with our own whole milk ricotta
Chevre/Cranberry/Walnut Biscuits  with our own chevre
The above companions are our own custom recipes that are baked at the The Breadfarm in Edison, WA.

$150.00 for all of this:
5 cheeses and 3 custom companions!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Year in the Life of a Gothberg Goat

Here's an overview of how we raise goats here, on our farm, using methods that work for us. It is only "one of many" ways to do things. You should do what works best for you and your herd. The most important thing is to have happy, healthy animals. happy herdsmen and herdswomen, and have FUN!

Birth

Our kidding pens are a spacious 6 ft. x 12 ft. The doe is moved to the kidding pen at the time of her due date, or with signs of impending labor. Ideally, each birth is attended but not assisted unless needed. Most of our does deliver by themselves. As the kid is born they are towel dried and licked dry by Mom. We also use a hair dryer if it really cold in the barn. Umbilical (navel) cords are dipped in iodine to prevent infection. Mom's teats are squirted to be sure they are open and kids are up to nurse colostrum within minutes usually. We assist as needed. All kids get full and adequate colostrum within 2 hours.


Birth-3 Days
During this time does and kids are left together 24 hrs/day to nurse and bond freely. Mom is milked out as needed (some of ours have way more milk than their babies can consume).


At about day 3, Moms generally get "Cabin Fever" and are ready for the next phase.





3 Days-2 Weeks

The kids are moved to a group kid pen in the same barn. Mom's go back in with their herd group. Then 4 times/day, does and kids are reconnected for nursing. They spend some time exploring the barn aisle together and are then put back into their respective pens until the next feeding. Note: Disbudding and castration takes place within this first week of life.


2 Weeks-2 Months

The kids "move up" to the nursery barn. This is a series of pens constructed in the old milking parlor that came with the property. Kids are then put on the bottle 2-3 times/day as needed. Once they are strong on the bottle (2-3 days) they progress to "the bucket". This is a 10 nipple caprine feeder that works great. They can have all they want. I'd like to add they are all offered fresh hay from day 1, and water from about week 1. At about 3 weeks we begin to introduce a small amount of grain (Gothberg Goat from Conway Feed, Conway WA). They begin getting controlled access to the outside for play and pasture. We have to keep a careful watch here for predator birds-eagles and ravens. During this time, the kids are being sold and movuing to their new homes too.


2 Months-8/9 Months

Now they are growing, eating, playing, and generally being goats. For this period they are back into the main barn. This tends to be our keeper group. They are fed hay, fresh water, pasture (24/7) and some grain. All of our does are fed pea hay and alfalfa and all have 24/7 pasture access.


8/9 Months-12/13 Months
During this time they are bred (as size, age, and condition warrant). Our general rule of thumb for breeding is minimum 8 months, and 80 pounds (which they always exceed). Now they begin to grow their pregnancies.

13 Months

Ideal time (for us) for them to have thier first kids and thus begins the cycle again.







This is of course a much simplified version, more of an overview. We love the new kids. They are fun and entertaining. Fortunately, we have very few problems or complications.

With 50-60 new kids a year, we obvioulsly cannot keep them all. Contact Rhonda if interested in any!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Seasonal Farmstead Goat Dairying

Spring is in the air and the requests for our fresh chevre are mounting rapidly. We thank you all for that. I know it comes as no surprise to any of you that we do not simply "turn on the milk tap" to magically have the milk here to make into cheese. We are a true farmstead goat dairy, and that means every drop of milk you get in our cheese was bred here, born here, birthed here, and milked here by our caring hands. We do not buy milk from an outside source. There is nothing "wrong" with that, it is just not our style or preference.
So why don't we have year-round milk like the cow dairies? Or even some of the goat dairies? I will try to summarize that choice here.

Goats by nature are seasonal breeders at our latitude. They come into active heat cycles as the days get shorter in the fall. It is light driven as much as anything. Cows apparently do not have this same sensitivity to day length. Goats can have year-round milk in several ways. One way is to do what is called "milking through", which means some goats are well suited to just keep milking without having to freshen (have babies) again. We have not gone too far with this, but may try it on a limited scale in the future. Another way is to manipulate heat cycles with artificial lighting to induce heats at other times of the year. We will not be trying this one. There are some hormonal manipulations that can be used as well, but that will not be practiced here either. We have chosen to let the goats breed and birth with their natural cycles. We have had good success with the health of our animals and goat kids with this routine. And with this routine comes an added bonus for the milker crew. We get 2-3 months off the milking chores when the weather is the least pleasant outside here in the Pacific Northwest. This allows us some much needed time "off" for a little goofing off of our choosing. Animal chores never end, but the load is lighter in the Winter. We have found when it is cold, blowing sideways rain, the goats do not want get up and be milked any more than we want to be there to milk them. We all win with this routine.

A brief description of our year:

December/January
Goats are basically "dry" (not milking). They are busy resting and growing their pregnancies. We are busy with organizing, cleaning out the nursery barn, planning, and wrapping up the farmers market seasons. If we hope to travel anywhere, this is the time.

February/March/April
Babies begin arriving and the barn comes to full life. All births are attended if possible. Assistance is given as needed. Lots of late night barn checks and all day kidding activities abound.

May through October
This is peak milk season. Cheese is being made regularly, volumes are increasing, and life is really busy: literally 12-18 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are at farmers markets, community events, and delivering to our local customers, who we are ever so grateful for.

September through November
Milk volumes begin to decrease. Goats begin coming into active heats, and the selected matings are completed. We begin to look forward to the seasonal changes.

The gestation for a goat is 145-150 days. They tend to have multiple births here (great nutrition). Triplets are more our "norm" and we get a few quads-not by choice. The babies are weaned from the milk at 8-10 weeks of age. It is still an amazement to me how many of us depend on this beautiful milk from these magnificent animals.

We milk about 20 in the peak time. This gives us about 40-45 gallons of milk to make into cheese every 2-2.5 days. As a comparison, right now in early March, I am making the fresh chevre with only 13 gallons. So thanks for your patience and understanding as we begin anew. We look forward to seeing all of you again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

World's Cutest Cowgirl

This is my granddaughter. She is as natural with animals as she is with breathing. This video was taken at the Ft. Worth Stock Show by TCU students in a FOX scholarship competition. I give them lots of credit for excellent taste in subject choices as well an overall job well done. I am so proud of my whole family here. Great job you guys!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Farmer/Fisher/Chef Seattle 3/1/2010















What a great day I just had connecting with chefs, farmers of all sorts, wild fishers, writers, suppport structure folks.......my oh my. I found every one of them to be interesting and engaging. It was such a great feeling spending an informative day among 400+ like-minded eaters who ALL cared passionately about their food!

The first part of the day was panel discussions on newly emerging Internet connection methods for producers and buyers. This is fairly new to most of us, but seems to be an idea worth investigating. I am a founding member of our local one http://www.psfn.org/ and was introduced to another one called http://www.food-hub.com/. Food-hub covers a little broader area, based out of Portland OR.

Another "new to me" is http://www.foodista.com/. This is the Wikipedia for just food. Can't wait to explore that one. And for you iphone users, there is an app called "locavore" which will tell you what is in season in your area and where to find it. Wow! Guess I have more learning curve out there. Just wish some days it was a little flatter curve. Oh well, Iam pleased to learn of these. Foodista is the creation of an ex-Amazon techie exec, if I understood him right.

There were break out sections on good topics. And then there was lunch. And oh what a "lunch" it was. Local food prepared by Herban Feast. Desserts were prepared by other chefs, one of whom I met from a place called "Hot Cakes". We had lots of beans, a sun choke gratin, lamb dishes, seafood dishes, cerviche, rabbit pasta, I can't even remember all of it to include. It was really pretty fantastic.

After lunch, we had a "speed dating" format for buyers and producers to connect. This was fun and productive.















The location at Herban Feast was pretty neat too. It is in an old not too over restored industrial machine building in SoDo. Much is left to respect and honor its past. It is fantastic. For me, the Woman of Historic Preservation, it was near perfect. Now finding the place was a challenge. The directions were a bit sketchy and I was by myself and I am not so good at city driving anyway. You have to keep in mind our town does not even have a 4-way stop, let alone even one traffic light. I took the W. Seattle Bridge as directed, but failed to see the exit I needed. Ended up in Alki before I could turn around, then ended up on Beacon Hill, followed by Chinatown, followed by Pioneer Square. Eventually I found it and-ahem-No Parking to be found. I pulled into a paper store called Xpedex and they were gracious enough to allow me to park there. I did find some really cool paper there btw. God Bless the kindness of strangers.

I also had the pleasure of re-connecting with Julia Wayne. She is an amazing and talented, young, enthusiastic writer, eater, friend, and community member. She loves anything about any good cheese. Well, she loves any good food in general. She is a fun person to call my friend. Thank you Julia for the company, the introductions, and your help. Look for her cheese column in Edible Seattle.

The day wrapped up with a food tasting/sampling. As you can correctly envision, the choices were fabulous. I could not leave my station, but Julia was thoughtful and brought me some pretty incredible tastes. There was food, beer, wine, and who really knows what else. The attendees seemed to be really enjoying it. I sure loved meeting each of them and also re-connecting with some introductions from the past.

A huge thank you to Zachary, Chef Connection, Herban Feast and all the other folks who made this happen. I am so pleased you finally scheduled it to fit in with my kidding schedule so I could be there. I look forward to next year.