Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saturday Cheese at the Farm

Beginning Saturday October 23, 2010 at:

15203 Sunset Road
Bow WA 98232

Accessed by either Farm to Market Road or Chuckanut Drive.

We will trial being open from 10am-2pm on Saturdays for you to stop in for cheese selections.  Nothing fancy here. No formal tours. We have had so many requests for cheese now that markets are ending, we decided to try this and see if you like it. 

Would love your feedback as we give this a try.  Hope to see many of you on Saturday now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Growing Marshmallows!

1st Haylage
Well, maybe not really, but this is what our Grandson thought last year when saw these in a field.  We are VERY excited to have gotten to this point this year.  It has been an odd year for grass here, cold, wet, unpredictable.  Remember when we first planted this (late) on July 2nd, as it had rained almost every day up to that point?  Then when it did not rain for over a month?  Then we had weed pressure which we controlled with mowing?  This says a LOT for the skill of the farmers we work with and also for the general health/growing suitability of our land.  Anyway, now this 18 acres is not looking too shabby!



One of the Marshmallow Stacks
 The goats are infinitely curious and entertained by anything happening in "their" yard.  We won't feed any of this to our goats, it is all going for cow food.  We don't feed silage feeds.  Mostly just thrilled it will go to a good use to feed livestock!  Rough count is about 50 of these large bales.  Now if all goes well, next year this will help feed our goats.






Hey Gals-Come Look!

They all had to come out and look at what I was doing walking on the side of the road with camera in hand!

Love, Love, Love....their curiosity.  They followed up by coming out to the fence to greet me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1st Cutting of NEW Pasture!!

 Sound the bugles!  Pop the cork!  It is a beautiful day on the farm!



Our Field and Mt. Baker

Remember on July 2nd when we planted the 18 acres of new grass, then had .01 in of rainfall for that month?  Remember how prolific the weeds were?  Well, with good advice (Thanks Dave and others) and diligence, we have the first cutting done!!!  We mowed the weeds a few times and the grass took over, just as we had hoped for.  No spray, just diesel for the mowing.


This first cutting will go as cow food in the form of the giant marshmallows.  I will try to post updated pictures in a couple of days.





Yippee!!




I am just so excited to see the progress.  My learning curve has been steep, but I have trusted the right people.


Thanks Charlie!


The Magnificient Males

It is Fall.  And in this season, the breeding for Spring milk happens.  There are several ways to accomplish a milk supply.  We choose to own, breed, milk, and nurture our own goats, producing all our own milk for our cheeses.   We breed the does every year, resulting in a kidding season each Spring. 

Smelling a Doe


Goats are seasonal breeders at our latitude.  The does "heat" cycles are triggered by decreasing day length.  The bucks know this is their one season of "work" each year.  This is why we keep them, love them, and plan oh so carefully all about them.  A goats' gestation period (length of pregnancy) is about 5 months, or 145-150 days from breeding.  We have all LaManchas and ours tend to kid (have goat babies) closer to the 145 day mark. 

A good dairy consists of good dairy animal stock.  There is probably no absolutely perfect goat out there.  We know what traits are desirable to us, so we plan and breed to enhance those traits that have worked well for us.  All of our goats are registered with the American Dairy Goat Association.  With that they have a program whereby we can put in the registration numbers of each animal, and it will give us a % inbred profile, and also list the common ancestors that Planned Breeding will share.  Pretty slick, eh?  This is one of the tools used to plan who gets the honeymoon suite with who in the goat yard.




Samson

 We don't put the bucks in with the does for extended periods of time.  We know our goats quite well, and we detect their heats (trust me, the bucks know WAYYYY before we do).  When a doe is determined to be in an amorous mood, the pre-selected buck is let out of his usual pasture and put in a seldom used one.  This is no small task here.  We run our bucks as a group, and they know what pulling them means, and they all push the gate trying to be the chosen one.  We just can't get them to read the breed list!   When the doe is bred,  she is taken back to her pen and the buck is returned to his.  Again, great gate pushing ensues.  Year after year, we use the same technique.  To get the bucks distracted from the gate to accomplish the return, a doe is walked down the buck fence line.  Year after year, they fall for this and all follow the does down the fence line.  This makes the return so easy!  For obvious reasons, this is a task better suited to two humans, but can be done by one.




Waylon & Willie, Zydeco hanging back


We have never noticed any off flavors in our milk based on buck encounters.  I think our clothing probably harbors more smells than the does seem to.  Bucks do have a distinctive smell in the "rut".  They urinate on their own faces, drink the urine of their pen mates, do some head butting, and generally become a different species.  Our guys are tame, generally pretty easy to handle, and are loved.  Even in this season, I put on gloves and still give them head pats and scratches, etc.  They almost stop eating this time of year.  Truly a one track mind!  They then spend the rest of the year eating, looking good, and not causing much trouble.



Waylon

And these guys are big!  We estimate them at about 300 pounds.  They could easily pull me into the next county if they wanted to, but they don't.  Disposition is one of my mandatory traits!  Now you see why.


So Much to Learn!