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Cheesemakers, Camaraderie, “Competition”, and Confusion

When you are a cheesemaker, a goat milker, or a woman of agriculture in any capacity-you have a pretty small peer group.  As a general rule this is perfectly fine because those you do have in your circle are such awesome folks, you can’t imagine your life being much richer.  We all thrive on the quality we produce, the community we feed, the animals we love, and our supportive customers who prop us up in so many ways.

Recently I was interviewed at length by a WSU accounting student for her final project.  She was amazed at my attitude of not seeing my local cheesemakers as competition but as as enhancements to our overall community and food system.  She was just sure I might see them as “threats”, but I don’t.  I know I am not able to feed everyone-heck-none of us can.  I think it is awesome we can offer so many LOCAL choices here to our eaters.  We are all unique, we all work hard, we all do our best.

There is the rare occasion of someone with a very different outlook and approach to mine.  They tend to make it ugly and unattractive.  Thankfully they are the rarity.

To ALL of my fellow cheesemakers-God Bless Us All!  We, along with our animals, give our all to feed you the most delicious, nutritious, responsibly produced food we know how to do.

Thank You for your loyalty and continued support.

Giant Marshmallows

June 2011

We finally got the chance to cut the hay field for the first time this season!!! JUNE!!!  It has been such a late year with too much rain and too cold weather.  We fortunately got 55 giant marshmallows (aka haylage) in this cutting (about 18 acres).  This will go to feed beef cattle locally.

Had the field man out from agronomy center today making recommendations and assessing the grass.  It is generally healthy, just needs a little nourishment. And some HEAT would be good.  We have not yet hit 70 degrees here this year.

Last year we we had too little rain on the new seed but it did grow anyway.  The weed load was heavy in spots, but we were able to eradicate them with frequent mowing.  No pesticides and no herbicides.

We work with local farmers on projects like this.  We do not have the skill or equipment for planting or haying, but gladly work with those who do.  We have the land. Our “hay guy” Charlie, is so good to work with over the years now.  Our way of supporting a young farmer and also feeding our goats and his cattle.  Love win:win.  This way of life has a way of bringing really good people into our lives.

Milk Test Preliminary Results

Just added up the amounts milked from today’s test.  We won’t have the fat and protein counts until the end of the day.

Most milk-Topaz with 14.1 lbs of milk.  First timer Zippy (9 days fresh) 7.5 pounds (despite being stressed at having her babies taken off her).

We are milking 16 right now. Our herd average is 10.70 lbs. which includes first timers and the one milking through.  Most of our older girls are at 10-13 lbs. A gallon of milk weighs about 8.4 lbs. We won’t win the top awards in the LaMancha world, but I think we do dang good for a small commercial herd.  I am proud of them, of their vigor, of their daily willingness to work, and for their companionship.

OK, off to do OB checks on Eliza and Joe Zell.

Test Day Diversions

Our goats are on DHIA milk test through the American Dairy Goat Association and the USDA.  We milk monthly, measure the amount, and then the fat and protein content of the milk is measured.  This all gets recorded and goes into the great computer in the sky. What it does for us personally is tell us objectively who our most productive does are.  I use this information in my cheesemaking, my breeding, and my culling decisions.  I love test day, not because it is more work, but because I actually use the numbers.

Last night test was made particularly exciting as Allie decided to deliver during test.  I had one eye on the  delivering goat and the other on the milking goat.  Thank goodness Debbie was here too!  Allie delivered 2 bucks (first freshener).  One was large/normal and the other just a little squeak of a thing.  He must weigh about 1.5-2 lbs.  Had him in the house all night but he is out with Mom and brother this morning.  I am bottle feeding him colostrum every few hours (a whopping 2 oz. per feeding!).  He is not preemie, just small.  He sucks, walks around, and has good temperature control.  They do so much better outside and at least in with Mom and brother.  I will be out in the barn most of today anyway-more new ones coming soon to a stall near me.

One More Coming

Then, after all this excitement, Debbie and I were eager for some supper.  We decided to put WaMaPa in a birthing pen while we went in.  Deb got her and said-Oops, we have feet.  So, WaMaPa subsequently also delivered 2 vigorous bucks.  We got supper about 10:30 pm, then back out to the barn for the other bottle babies who got missed at 7pm.  All is well, all are fed, and are OK.

Today Eliza looks imminent. For her sake, I sure hope so!

Very Pregnant Eliza

Farmers Market Relief Help Wanted

We find ourselves busier by the year!  This is a good thing. We are in need of a person to work markets on a relief basis.  This will involve Saturdays (mostly) and maybe an occasional Sunday and/or Thursday evening.  Must have reliable transportation. Prior market experience a plus. MUST love great cheese.  Must have excellent customer service attitude and skills.

Position is seasonal and runs from May-September/October.

If interested, contact Rhonda at 360-202-2436 or

Zip’s Trips

Zip before delivery

 Zippy, a  13 month old first freshener, had triplets this morning starting at 4:30 AM. I missed the first one (even though I was sleeping on the couch in my clothes with the barn cam on!). She of course knew what to do and was doing a fine job. The second one was breech, which she also handled quite well. The third came nose and toes and we hoped that was going to be her final count! She has plenty of milk, plenty of maternal capabilities and plenty of instinct. We love easy kidders, good maternal instincts, and great dispositions.  This doe has it all! Final count 1 doe, 2 bucks.

Debbie and Newborn Care

 Debbie and I have such a good routine worked out this season.  She is very good with animals.  She has gotten quite proficient at newborn care.  She is one of the great assets of this farm.  Thanks Debbie! Here she is drying them with the hair dryer. 

Such a Good Mom Awaiting #3

 And, since I anticipated a 5:00 AM delivery last night, bless Sarah for coming in at 6:00AM to get the cheddar out of the press and get that all cleaned up.  I’m telling you all, I have the BEST employees anyone could EVER imagine! 

Successful Spring births and the promise of new life always starts the day with a good attitude.

Debbie and FAX

And the Work Goes On…

Part-Time Goat Milker Needed

We have an opening for a part-time goat milker here on the farm.  This person will be required to milk every Saturday, both morning and evening milkings.  Other shifts will be available, to be decided among milking crew, once established. Prefer experience, but will consider training the right person. The position is seasonal and starts late March or early April, and ends somewhere around the end of September-October.

This is a great opportunity to participate in a small, personal, Grade A Goat Dairy.  Must be at least 18 and speak fluent English. 

Contact:  Rhonda 360-202-2436