I have quite a bit of time to sit back and let my mind wander while I am working alone building fence paddocks and enjoying the sounds of the animals around me. There is not a lot of 2 way conversation going on when you start talking to the pigs or the goats.
The goats have a routine that they follow due to the over grown size of their udders once milking time is upon us. They start congregating near the gate to let them on the porch so that they can hop up on the milk stand impatiently waiting to be milked. A goat waits for no one. They are incredibly stubborn creatures and when they want something they will vocally let you know. They hop right up onto the milk stand and start eating. That’s when they get cleaned down and the milk machine gets hooked up to them pumping the milk out into a glass jar. This is a very clean method that does not allow the milk to come into contact with the outside environment reducing the possibility of contamination. Once their udder shrivels up into an object that closely resembles a raisin they get cleaned up again and sent back out to forage for the day. This routine happens every 12 hours of every day, rain or shine.
Goats are very affectionate creatures. As I wait for a goat to finish eating I’ll get visited by the little tiny goat babies. They want you to give them attention. They come up and jump up with their front legs leaning on you requesting to have their necks scratched. They are like dogs, starting to fall asleep when you scratch their necks. I have wasted countless minutes just sitting there playing with the baby goats. I am always telling Alicia, “Ok we are definitely going to keep this one, she is such a sweetie.” Alicia gives me this look of concern stating that if we kept every goat baby we would have over a hundred goats in a few years’ time. The thought does not concern me, but the money flow would definitely be concerning! Goats are much less expensive then dogs in the sense that they graze for most of their food, and only need a small amount of purchased hay. However, the goats that produce milk have to eat 4 times as much to maintain production.
I talk like owning goats are the most wonderful thing, but I’ll have to be honest and say that they can be a pain in the ass. I have one goat that is relentless when it comes to messing with the porch furniture. We have chairs that we set out for people to sit on, and she is adamant about wanting to wear these chairs as a hat. She will walk up to the chair and duck her head under it attempting to get it stuck on her head somehow. Once it is good and stuck she will walk around with this chair attached to her head like she is the queen of England. it is legitimately one of the strangest things I have ever seen a goat do. They also know their own names. I can call out a goat name and that goat will respond with a “Mah!” They each have their own unique quirky personalities. One of our younger does, Bonnie, will come up to you and tug on your shirt until you start petting her/scratching her neck. If you stop she will nudge you repeatedly and eventually tug on your shirt some more until you begin scratching her again. They need a lot of attention! One customer of ours came out to the farm and sat down on the ground in the driveway and Blackberry walked right over to him and put her head in his lap wanting to be scratched.
If you thought goat babies were cute, you should check out piglets. I go in to feed the sows and I can see the piglets running all over the place outside of the penned in area. Their little chubby butts can squeeze through the fencing allowing them free access to the pasture. They always come back to their mommas, but I sometimes worry that a fox could easily lurk outside the fence waiting to snatch up a little slice of bacon. The mommas come right up to me looking for the food I brought them. They are not shy at all. The babies however will just look at you and start sprinting. NEVER try and pick up a piglet while momma is nearby…she will legitimately try and kill you. Pig mommas can be very protective, and it is a good sign if they are good mothers.
As you can see in this picture, Bo likes to bite down on the water hose in order to make a nice little pool of mud!
I work in the evening until dark and I come inside to take a cold shower to unwind. This is my daily routine. Shower and get ready for bed so that I can hopefully get to sleep by 9:30. The routine starts in another 8 hours and sleep is precious. I sometimes look at how I used to get home from work, and I would have no responsibilities and nothing demanding my time, and I’ll admit that it looks appetizing at times. I know that if I live like this for a few days I would get extremely bored. I would miss the quirky little dances that the baby goats would do on the porch in the morning. I would miss being greeted by a goat army in the morning. I would also miss the little snorting conversations I have with my piggies. It is no wonder that I have such a short attention span and that endless bouts of eclectic ideas fuel my daily tasks. I just don’t see myself living any differently. I would get thrown out of a subdivision HOA faster than you can say “Goat Mower”. Not to mention I would never sign such a silly restrictive document.
If you haven’t seen all the posts about our blackberries than you are missing out! We planted Triple Crown Blackberries in October of 2012. I started with about 50 saplings, and now the patch is so huge that it is tough to navigate through. Triple Crown blackberries are thorn less and can produce a heavy amount of blackberries once they are fully matured (5 years). The patch is around 2500 square feet and can put out a large amount of berries. It would be nice to one day have it better organized, which is definitely on the list of things to do. Speaking of things getting over grown! Our greenhouse is so overgrown with tomatoes and peppers that we are going to need to get somebody in there to harvest and organize it. Anyone that wants to sort through it all and help maintain the jungle can pick as much as they want! I would rather someone be able to use the produce instead of it being lost to the mysterious beyond. The purpose of growing the produce is to help draw the nitrogen out of the soil so that when winter comes it is ready to support chickens and other animals. We knew going in that we would barely have time to mess with it.
We have an open invite to anyone who wants to come out every Saturday and we have gotten to know a lot of repeat customers over the years. We enjoy the conversation with customers about each other’s plans and new adventures. This sort of connection with people is something that I feel is lacking when you go to the grocery store. You are there to get in and get out as quickly as possible after purchasing all your food that comes from who-knows-where. The grocery store is supposed make it easier for the human to have access to food. It puts up a barrier between the producers and the consumer. The producer never looks the customer in the eye and says to himself, “I hope this food is healthy for you and your family”. I want to make sure that you are getting the best quality you can have for your family’s health and happiness. Over half of the world’s tilapia is produced in China; do you think they care whether or not they are providing a healthy product for you and me? Of course not, they are in the business of making money not food. When you bring people to the farm where their food grows they can see for themselves whether they are getting a healthy animal. They can see that the cow is eating grass on a nice open pasture full of forage. They can see the pig digging up tasty treats in the pasture. There is no smoke and mirrors, and there is no marketing strategy to get you to buy the product by labeling it “Fresh” or “Farm Grown” or “Natural”. There is nothing “natural” about a chicken nugget or pizza rolls. We need this level of accountability in a world that is moving farther and farther away from real life interaction.
I want you to enjoy the food we produce and I want it to be healthy. That is a mission statement I can stand by. There are many other farms out there that stand by that same statement. Support them, and you will see a food revolution like no other. We are out here to make a living just like everyone else, and we have the most to lose when a product does not meet perfect standards. Listeria outbreaks in commercial ice-cream or E. Coli outbreaks in commercial beef operations are common due to these large businesses not being able to maintain their ability to function on such a large scale. We need smaller businesses to come in and help these guys out. Take away the burden of providing for the masses. Farms popping up in local suburbs that help to supply the local area with food and reducing the amount of fuel burned to transport. This is something that needs to happen in order to maintain that level of accountability and safety.
You have just read a super long rant, and I applaud you for sticking around for it. July is a tough month because of the heat for animals and humans alike!
To wrap up this blog post, I suggest that you all come out to our farm! J Or go to a farm close to you and check out what they have growing!
Here is a silly photo of a lazy farm cat: