All posts by gothbergfarms

Topaz “The Crown Jewel”

As we end the DHIA year, there is one more little LaMancha dairy goat who deserves recognition.  Our little Topaz.  She is another remarkable attribute to the herd here.  Her year ending records are:

DIM  327 days (she was milked once a day for the past couple of months)
3640 # milk
Butterfat 3.76
Protein  2.99

At 305 days she had milked 3580 lbs. of milk.

Sorry I don’t have a current photo.  I’ll have to rectify that.  And yes, we kept her daughter this year.  Her name is Jewels.

Our Goat “Ditto”

Ditto in her Sweatshirt

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Ditto the Milky Way LaMancha.  
This doe just got dried off after milking through for 3 seasons!!!  OMG what is not to love?  She is personality plus, not afraid of much, loves spoiling and pampering, and demands special treats!  Well, she earns it!  She would have kept going, I am convinced.  She got dried off for owner convenience really.  Milking one goat once a day lost its’ appeal in the snowstorm last week.  I will come to regret this in a day or so when I have to resort to store milk for my coffee.  For 3 seasons now, she has milked twice a day in the peak season, and once a day during the winter.  She was not bred of course.  When the others came back up on the stand for twice a day, so did she.
DHIA records show:
661 days in milk
5060 lbs. of milk                                
3.61 Butterfat
3.24 Protein

Ditto is almost 6 years old finishing her third season, and has not had a dry year.  She was initially milked through because she has so much milk she was having trouble keeping her body condition.  We thought a break might do her good.  Well, it did.  She looks great.  Who knows how long she could have milked?  Right now she is pretty upset with me for not bringing her up!

Hugs Mandatory aAfter Milking

This is a doe who carries a genetic trait for affection.  She will not exit the milk stand with out her daily hug!  This is not a joke.  And she will not hug new milkers until she trusts them.  Always trust the instincts of a goat!  Her mother, my all time favorite goat, Same As (daughter of Paradigm) did the same thing.  Hugs!  Sadly Same As passed away a few years ago. I still miss her.

Same As-The Goat

Luckily we get to choose who we keep here.  Yes, milk is important, as is health and vigor.  But we have a solid base there (thankfully).  So often those who’s kids get kept are based somewhat on personality traits.  The Same As line is powerful here.  And with many good reasons.  The heritage from Lucky Star goats is strong, admired, healthy, and milky.

Same As-the Grand Dam
Carbon Copy “Lounging” on the Wall

And the line continues.  Another herd favorite is Carbon Copy and her twin sister FAX (beginning to see how we name here?).  They are personality plus and their daughters keep the traits too.  It is this kind of almost silly stuff to many folks that keeps us going here.  Every goat here is known by their personality and individual traits. We simply would not have it any other way.

Finale Friday (With Wine)

It has been a semi-eventful few days.  Weather has been the focus around here.  Snow, the first of the season, more than we are used to, more challenging, and then Ice Storms across much of our region to wreak havoc with us Pacific Ocean proximity dwellers.  We only got about 8 inches here at the farm, but for some reason it just was not met with the usual exuberance.  This kind of weather event, this time of year, for us, is really more of an inconvenience than anything, the truth be told.  Goat chores take 2-3 times as long to accomplish, the “commute” to the barn can be a challenge (remember the fake hip of a few years ago?).  But not to be forgotten, we are NOT in active kidding season yet, so hey, Thank the Snow Gods.  Bring it on now, and how about we just skip February altogether???  That is slated to be a very prolific kidding time frame.

For tonight we have chosen to repeat a wine from a previous post.  The wine is “Weather Report” from Peter’s Cellars in Mattawa, WA.  This is an ’08 Cab.  Not quite as fully developed as we might hope, but perfectly enjoyable and a really good accompaniment to the cheese/meat/bread selections for the evening.

Gothberg Farms Goat Cheese, Salumi Meats, Breadfarm Bread

The meat is from Salumi Cured Meats in Seattle.  This is the current favorite.  It is made with mole, chocolate, cinnamon, ancho and chipotle peppers, and of course, The Pig.  OK, so to a Native Texan, what’s not to love???  The cheeses chosen are our own, Gothberg Farms Woman of LaMancha and Caprino Romano, both raw milk cheeses aged over one year.  The Woman is our ‘strongest’ cheese.  The beautiful rind is an olive oil/smoked paprika cured delight.  The Caprino Romano is pure flavor and a season favorite.  It is fabulous as a table cheese and also works quite well for cooking or enhancing your favorite foods.  The flavors tend to explode when heated, so you should try it if you are lucky enough to be able to find some.  Then there is the bread, yes, the bread.  The choice is the Miche from the Breadfarm.  This is a favorite with pretty much anything but for this meat/cheese/wine board it was perfect!  Just the right amount of everything to enhance but not overpower any flavors.

The wine and meats were from our beloved Slough Food in Edison, WA.  We love absolutely everything about John and his shop.

So next time the Weather Report is challenging you, come see us in Edison for this fine Friday Finale Supper.  We are pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Making a Pound of Goats’ Cheese

 You Need a Barn/Dairy

Any rough ideas what it takes to make a pound of goats’ cheese?  I get this question quite often.  Here are some very general responses, all of which would have to be seriously adjusted for your operation size, scope, scale, location, minimum wage, etc.

1.   Must have Drive, Passion, Ambition, Determination, and a love of good food.

2.  You need a ship load of cash (&/or credit) because a boat load simply is not enough.

3.  You will need a barn/dairy, and dairy goats
(start with at least $100,000 here)

4.  You will need a way to milk the goats

Yep, Twice a Day

(start with $2000 here-will depend on the system/size/etc.  Can go over $50,000 too.)

5.  A way to store/cool/refrigerate the milk ($500 and up, WAY up depending on volume)

6.  Feed for the goats (this is about $2 per goat per day and climbing by the week)

7.  Labor to make it all happen.  This will depend on your area, how many employees, & minimum wage reference for your state.  We average about $20/hour here when all the government taxes get added.  I sure wish all of that could go to the employees.

8.  Add in licenses, inspections, registrations, regulations……

This will get you goat’s milk.  Current cost of production is about $15 per gallon of milk collected.  OK, we do feed quite well and pay our employees well, but we think they all deserve it and are well worth it.

OH, you wanted to make CHEESE!!!  Well then………For starters, it takes about 1 gallon of milk to make one pound of cheese. Ready, Set, GO!

9.  Add in your dairy facility and equipment ($50,000 ++++.  Depends on your volume and scale)

10.  Cheesemaking supplies (about $4000+++ per year-volume dependent)

11.  Cheesemaker Labor (yep, $20/hr, area dependent)

Creative Storage

12.  Places to store and age the cheese (easily $5000)3

OH, you wanted to SELL the cheese!!!!!!!

13.  More regulators, farmers markets, fees, tolls, taxes–hefty bills here.

Love Our Market Customers

14.  A vehicle to deliver and go to markets in.  Add in fuel, insurance, etc.

15.  Employee labor (yep, back to that $20/hr)

16.  Farmers markets tent, coolers, table props ($400 minimally)

Even if you are doing the chores and markets yourself, aren’t you worth at least what you pay your employees?  You are!  But sadly, we don’t (aka generally can’t) pay it that way.

So why do we keep coming back year after year?  See Item #1.  It is a lifestyle choice we just feel compelled to do.

Goats’ Milk Cheeses

 So now, you tell me…What is that Pound of Goats’ Cheese Worth??

Labor & Delivery Farm Style

Essential Delivery Supplies

Every Labor and Delivery nurse knows you must have your most needed supplies at hand as you anticipate a delivery.  It is no different here on the farm.

Here are the “Frequently Used Items” I keep with me at all times.  The clean red feed pail is loaded with these items and hooked over the fence of the pen I am working in.  I never have to go far to find what I need.  Additionally, my pockets are loaded with both kinds of gloves at all times.  I use the short gloves for whatever I may need to do but never go further than about a finger length into the goat.  Anytime I go in for any reason, I put a little Betadine scrub on the glove first. The longer gloves are used much less often, but are required anytime you go beyond the cervix.  A clean glove is ALWAYS used!  Some like J-lube or another variety of lube.  Use what you like.  I’ve had excellent outcomes with this.  The short (about 18 inches) double snap lead is also essential.  I keep one of these in my other pocket.  I am frequently alone at kidding (it happens in the middle of the night in rotten weather, right?).  With this snap I can quickly secure the doe to a fence if I need her cooperation and she feels otherwise.  All does here wear dog-type collars so ‘Snap’ is pretty easily accomplished.

The Tuck’s pads are a comfort measure if there is any tearing or excessive swelling.  Use one per doe and be sure to wipe from the inside outward.

Immediate Newborn Supplies/Gothberg Farms

Almost every delivery here is attended.  Not all are assisted, but most are witnessed.  We do not hesitate to assist if the need arises.  Not shown here is a clean feed sack.  We cut them open and kids are delivered onto the inside of a clean feed sack whenever possible.  When the kid is on the ground, the face/nostrils are quickly wiped with the clean, dry towel.  This is to remove birthing secretions we don’t want inhaled.  A quick pass is made in the mouth with a finger too.  This is probably not necessary, but old habits are hard to break.  They are towel dried a bit,  navels are dipped with Iodine, then they are placed up by Mom.   For dipping navels, we use a 35mm film canister.  I’ve recently heard of using the outer plastic coverings from some syringes.  This is an excellent idea. Since we have multiple births as a rule here, the doe is generally still down starting to push out the next one (remember we had quintuplets last year!). When she has licked them a bit, we turn the hair dryer on low, let the does sniff it for approval, then crank it up and dry the kid.  It takes about 2-3 towels per kid here.  Wet towels get cold very fast!  Kidding almost always takes place in crummy weather in nw WA.  The kid is then placed back up by the doe for more bonding.  As soon as the kid is up and the doe is up and looking for her treats, nursing commences.  We test annually for CAE here and have been negative for 6 years.  Kids would never be allowed to nurse without recent testing results.

The shirt is a newborn sized shirt from the thrift store.  If a kid is cold stressed at all, they get a clean shirt to  help hold in some heat.  This year we are also going to try some small dog blanket coats,  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Be vigilant with the shirts on!  The bucks get wet underneath from urine and need frequent changes.  Usually a few hours is all that’s needed, it at all.

See the box of multi-colored ID bands?  We use these with a Sharpie-type marker to note dam name on each kid AT BIRTH.  Our kids come out on the big side so we use the longer ones and cut to fit.  The color coding by family group really helps.

The dental floss is here just in case we had a navel cord bleeder.  Have never needed it, but faithfully keep it in the Labor and Delivery box every year.

Newborn Assistance Feeding

The kids nurse their dam for the immediate newborn period.  The does teat is cleared of the protective plug and kids are assisted to the teat as needed.  All kids get colostrum within about an hour or less.  The printed standard is within 6 hours, so be vigilant.  This is a MUST DO!  If the kid is too weak to nurse, too many kids, etc. colostrum can be milked directly into the bottle and nippled to the kid.  If they cannot suck, we have our ways!  The fresh warm colostrum is tubed into them.  Tubing can be harmful!  Be sure you know how to do this before attempting it yourself.

This is an example of the bottles we prefer and the simple tubing set up.

In addition to this we do a few more things:
1.  Each doe gets a bucket of warm water right after kidding along with a handful of raisins & peanuts, and a ration of grain.

2.  We keep oral CMPK on hand at all times.  We do not hesitate to use it during labor or in the immediate postpartum period if anything is “off” for any reason.

Goat Midwife Attire

Then comes the kidding attire for the midwife.  I’m sure you’ve begun to understand that kidding is a winter activity.  You have probably already understood somewhere along the way I am a Texan, born and bred.  We don’t do cold climates very well.  I have evolved a kidding wardrobe like no other!  If I am out there sleeping on a straw bale with the cat and a goat, I need all the help I can find!  Which leads to a few favorites.  The first one is the quilted Roper overalls.  I love these and own them in three colors because they are warm, last a long time, and they are long enough for a 6 ft. Texas woman.  Another great find is Bogs boots.  These are the warmest, most comfortable, cutest boots I have found in a long time.  Add to this a full assortment of long underwear of varying degrees of tolerance, a favorite coat with the pockets in the right place, and gloves & hats, you are SET.

Indispensable iPhone

Another useful tool is the iPhone.  It serves so many purposes!  In addition to the vets office and cell number (OK the MOST useful function), you can surf the web, post to your blog, twitter, Facebook, look up baby names. etc while you wait for babies.  Who would have EVER known this?

Joe Zell and kids

Opal & Her Quints

It usually turns out just fine.  Be prepared.  Do your homework.  Talk with experienced goat folks.  Feel free to ask questions.  We love your comments too.  There are so many good ways of doing things.  Please share your great finds and techniques if you wish.  We love hearing from all of you.

Texas Prison Rodeo

I came across this post today and boy does it bring back some historical memories!  I attended several of these in the 70’s.  It was an annual event held in October.  That also happened to be the wedding anniversary month for said first marriage.  We would get tickets each year from the local Sears & Roebuck store in old downtown Beaumont for this as a mutual present for a few years. Laughing now as I even remember we wanted Section Q-right above the bull chutes! The riders were more fearless than most rodeos.  No one was ever seriously hurt when we were there.  The announcers were really funny with quips such as “That’s OK Red, you got another 99 years to try!”

Well, the rodeo outlasted the marriage.  Maybe I had another 99 years to try!

Here is post about the rodeo:

Thanks “I Love Texas” for posting this piece!

Veterinary Care on the Farm

If you have animals, you need a working relationship with a vet.  Period.  It is important you establish this relationship before you NEED them in a crisis or emergency.  Yes, they will probably help your animal in any time of need, but the more they know about you, your farm, your management style, your philosophy, etc. the better job they can do for your animal.  This extends to your household or farm pets as well as your livestock.

Dr. Peter Brown at Gothberg Farms

We are lucky here to have Chuckanut Valley Veterinary Clinic, a good sized vet clinic that maintains a large animal component.  They still make farm calls.  In some parts of the country, you are not so lucky.  In that case, you probably need to keep a trailer or at least a truck with a camper shell (if you have an animal small enough to fit in one) for transport in a time of need.  Along this line, you also need a plan for euthanasia should the unfortunate and awful happen on your farm, with no other resource to call upon.

On our farm, we have an annual “Well Goat Check” every January.  Our vet comes out, sees the whole herd, looks at the list we have prepared for questions, evaluates & recommends on feeds, sanitation, medications, assesses for pregnancies, and draws our blood from each animal for CAE testing. (More on CAE in a post coming soon-we have been negative for 6 years now.)  Yes, of course, we could easily draw our own blood and send it off to WSU for testing.  But this is a really good way to see, touch, think about, and evaluate each goat with the vet.   It helps him formulate his best treatments based on our philosophy.  He knows we fall more into “pet” than strictly livestock as a business.  Again, this is good information.  By now, from years of working with us, even the vet knows some of them by name.  He still laughs at some of our chosen names though.  We know every vet in the clinic.  Most are on a first name basis.  They treat us as colleagues, never condescending, always respectful.  We share and discuss research and trends.  The nurse in me loves this part.

Competent, qualified care is not free.  Nor should it be.  But at the end of the year, if I take my total vet expenditures and divide it by the total number of animals I have, the cost is reasonable.  We simply would not go without it.

And with all of this comes the peace of mind that when we need them, they will come.  Period.  If you don’t have this relationship and have an emergency on your farm at 3am on a snowy Christmas eve, would they come for you?  Here, I have every confidence they would be here for us.  I don’t need them often, but when I do, they come.  My animals, my crew, and myself all send a big Thank You to our vets and their staff.

Anacortes Winter Market

This Saturday, January 14, 2012 will be the first Winter market of the season.  We will be at the Depot Arts Center, both inside and out.  Hours are 9am-2pm.  We will have markets monthly until full opening in Spring.

I know for sure produce will be there from Frog Song Farm (I’ve already place a pre-order!) and I know for sure Goat Cheese will be there.  This is a great start.  There will be so much more.

So come on out.  Stock up for the month.  Meet & Greet with your friends. Looking forward to seeing you all.

Cheesemaking Shortcourse in Mt. Vernon, WA


We are so lucky this year to have the Cheesemaking Shortcourse offered in Mt. Vernon WA.  This is an excellent course for those serious about making cheese!  Every topic is relevant, the speakers are extremely knowledgable, and the connections you make within the class will probably be helpful to you for many years to come!

This is where I got my start folks.  So, yes, you ‘can’ attend a short course, add in plenty of passion, hard work, hours and hours of practice and learning-and you too can dedicate your life to cheese!  Not so bad if you ask me.

It is also a great course to take even if your goal is home cheesemaking.  Being more informed, knowing what to do, where to get supplies, learning what to strive for….all are important as a food producer of any kind!

I think miraculously there may be a few seats left, so if you are considering this offering, I would not hesitate long.