All posts by gothbergfarms

2013: The Farm Year in Review

It’s been a good year on the farm.  Nothing too dramatic in any direction.  We like that.  It is nice to settle in a bit sometimes and work to enjoy the somewhat familiar and pleasantly hectic pace of life.

Goats:  We milked 20 goats through the year.  We have determined this to be our ‘sweet spot’ as far as how well we can know each one, manage the herd, maintain the quality we demand, and also enjoy what we do.  We had 69 goat kids born here.  That’s a LOT of cuteness, but also a whole lot of work.  Those long, cold, sleepless nights in the barn are even predictable now.  We have learned as long as we are fed good food, we can keep going.  It’s the key to everything so it seems.

Goat Midwives
Milk Happens

All the does are now bred for the Spring kidding season, which we are anticipating in a few weeks.  The Season’s of Life are so apparent on a farm.

Piles of Cuteness

Farm:  This year we added an aging room onto the actual cheese room.  Oh Glory Day!!!!!  This made life so much easier!!!!  Spane Buildings did the shell, and Roy finished it off.  Beautiful AND functional.

We had the best garden ever.  It was productive and fed quite a few of us.  In fact, we are still eating from it, even here, in the Winter.  This was a shared project this year with an expert growing friend of ours,  Julianne.  We shared food for food—oh what a fulfilling and satisfying system that is!

We had another good hay year.  We got 4 cuttings on our un-irrigated land.  Lucky goats!  Plus we fed some neighbor’s cattle and sheep too.  Our grass has been of excellent quality-and quantity.  We are so grateful for this outcome.  It’s a huge part of food security for us.

Our Grass Hay

Over the years, we have had so many requests for a farm store.  There is no way to make this economically possible.  So, we tried something new-an Honor Box.  Yep, that’s right.  You come on your own, select your cheeses, and leave the money in a jar.  There is a tin of change you make for yourself.  We come talk to you if we see you and we can, but otherwise there is a cooler of cheese and a few simple instructions on the table.  Thank you all for supporting this!  This money is being saved separately for an outdoor pizza oven-which we will share with all of you in the form of private parties.  Ask me about this sometimes.

Farm Stand Honor Box

Cheese:  We stepped up the pace a bit and participated in 4 (!!!) farmers markets.  In Anacortes, this was our 10th (!!!) season!  Oh my!  We continued with Bellingham and Everett, and added Edmonds. Thank you all for such awesome support.

On Farm Cheese Tasting

We entered a cheese very last minute in the American Dairy Goat competition.  Our Chic Choc Cheddar won 1st place in category.  This is a cheese I made on a bit of whim a couple of years ago trying to incorporate chicory-a bit of home food from my past.  It has a vein of chicory in the middle, and a coating of Chocolate on the outside.  We thought it was a hit, and it was nice to have that confirmed by the judges.

And there are not words for the Thanks and Gratefulness we feel for so many of you for the continued support and encouragement.  Truly we could not be here without you.  Chefs, restaurant owners,. market shoppers, cheese shops stores, honor box….it takes every last bit of it to keep us going.  Thank You.

Grateful for Where We Live

Employees:  Our beloved Debbie is still here.  She keeps us going with hope, hard work, commitment, and friendship.  Jenna graduated college and moved on in the world.  We miss her as one of our own and wish her every success.  Julia continued to be our weekend milker and leaves us funny and insightful sayings on white boards.  Sarah, the 3rd leg of our 3 legged stool, came back on a partial basis for cheesemaking and baking.  This was a Hallalujah moment.  It was great having her back, even for a bit.  Others came and went, each bringing their own strengths and colorful personalities along the way.  We are eternally grateful for each and every one who crosses our path here.

Shared Sisterhood on Graduation Day

Big Event:  Our biggest event was participating in TEDx Bellingham as a speaker.  Having a woman, in ag, as a part of a community so much greater than any individual could ever be was mind blowing awesome!  Available on You Tube.

For the Love of Goats

Economy:  Like each of you, this is till a struggle many days.  Overall we had a decent year. We still struggle to balance those daily price increases we incur against how efficiently we can operate to continue to bring you Delicious, Nutritious, and Sustainable goat cheese.  Some days are just a challenge and then the passion takes over……and we cross the threshold of hope and begin another year.

Thank you all for continuing on our journey with us.  It is the partnerships of our community that sustain us.  Together we should never go hungry.

Gothberg Girls

My Experience as a TEDx Speaker

The highlight of 2013 was my experience at being selected as a speaker for TEDx Bellingham.  The big event was held November 12, 2013.  But it began W-A-Y before that.  Interviews were held in July and August.  We were notified of our selection status in early September.  At that time, we were given some parameters we had to meet.  This included being assigned to a speaker coach, the commitment to attend an all day speakers training session, and a little more legalese to be signed off.

First, I met with my assigned speaker coach.  She is a local Toastmasters member.  She was very helpful as I wrote and re-wrote many renditions of the draft.  She helped so much with condensing of the idea.  I mean really, could you tell your life story in 12 minutes?  This is what I was asked to do.  And I did it!!!!!!

The training meeting was a glimpse of what was to come.  Here we met with the very awesome event organizers, fellow speakers, coaches, theatre folks, past speakers, tech folks….oh my.  I began to understand just how fabulous this group of local folks is!  We began to form a sort of family group.  I know this sounds impossible, but it is very true.  The power of the lives of these people left me in awe.  I feel humbled to be among them.

Then, we began to meet up on our own in various locations to practice, critique, suggest, cry,  and encourage each other.  We began to know we would be life long friends, forever bonded.   Speaker coaches continued to help us find our best.  I worked with 3 coaches.

Then, we all began to give our talks to anyone who would listen!  Seriously, I gave it to college classes, the employees, the goats, the women at the bank…I mean anyone who would be kind enough to listen.  With TED, you don’t get to use cue cards or prompts.  It is your talk, you know it, you own it!

The time rushed by to November 12.  The big day was here.  The experience was mostly surreal.  As I listened to the other speakers, I had admiration, awe, and respect flowing the entire time.  In fact, I still do.  I’m wishing I hadn’t had an echo of tech problems in mine, but I did.  So if I talk a little slow, and a little Texan, that’s mainly why.  Well, that and probably some nerves at work.  You’ll never know the 3 critical lines I left out…unintentionally.  I hope if you choose to listen to this, you will hear my message to you-Be Curious, Be Willing, Be Brave!!!

Rhonda’s TEDxBellingham talk
 link here.

Because in the end, this entire experience rates right up there with birthing my children, marriage, and college graduations.  An eternal smile of awe, humility, and gratitude.

Special thanks to our photographer:  Kaila Williams

Texas Tea Cakes: Best Cookie Recipe–EVER!

This recipe has been in my family for as far back as the generations can remember on my Mom’s side.  She got it from Nan Naw Zell who got it from Nan Naw Harkey.  I know it has been modified to include margarine instead of butter or even shortening—-I use Butter.  And I use lemon extract, not flavoring.  This is the same card I still use, written in my young girlish hand (1970’s).  Get as creative as you want on the decorating-or not at all.  Just the BEST!

Texas Tea Cakes  

Family Tradition Christmas A.M. Breakfast

Eggs, Sausage, Green Chile = Winner!

 These “Baked Eggs” have been my family tradition for many, many years now.  Of course, I have done various renditions, depending on my vegetarian years, and my tolerance for various ingredients. But no matter the ‘adjustment’, they are guaranteed GOOD!

1 lb. sausage (we use a friends home raised pork but veggie sausage works well too)
6 eggs
1 cup Bisquick (which I no longer use:  make your own, recipe at bottom here)
2 cups milk (whole goats’ milk here)
1 cup grated cheese (Gothberg Farms bits & pieces or any melting cheese)
Generous hunk of hot New Mexico roasted Green Chiles

Brown sausage and drain well.  Place in 1 quart casserole dish ( I use the iron skillet I browned the sausage in).  Top with cheese and chile.  Beat eggs until fluffy and add bisquick mix and milk.  Beat together well.  Pour over sausage and cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and edges are bubbly.

Don’t fuss too much about the order of adding things.  I just threw it all in the skillet and stirred it around and it was fantastic.

Delightful served with cranberry muffins and mimosas on the more motivated years.

Bisquick sub:
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 T. butter (which I omitted-enough fat to carry it I think!)

Honestly, this is super easy and really good.  Leftovers hold up well too.  Just be sure to get them out of the iron skillet to store them so they don’t taste like the iron.

Conway Feed: A Vital Link in our Local Food Chain

Conway Feed in Conway WA

Are you lucky enough to have your “own” feed mill right in your town?  One that is locally owned by a super great local farming family?  I sure hope so.  We have just that right here.

Here’s the scoop on them in their own words:
Conway Feed is a pioneer animal feed manufacturing plant located in Conway, Washington. Since 1919 the facility at Conway has supplied grains and assisted farmers with their crops. Scott and Kelly McKnight are now the owners and the feed mill produces animal feeds for dairy, poultry, horse, goat, sheep, rabbit, alpaca, emu/ostrich and others. Feeds made Fresh…. naturally. Stop by.

I have had the pleasure of working with and knowing the owners and employees here for about a dozen years now.  Wow!  How did that go by so fast?  They have been a great resource to me and many others I know as we try to provide the absolute best we can to our animals.  And I have always loved knowing our dollars are staying as local as they can with our feed bills.  We have watched each others kids, livestock, & lives evolve over the years with a personal and professional touch.  This matters.

Yes, they provide all kinds of feed for all kinds of animals in all kinds of quantities.  From the 50 lb sack, to the tote, to the truck load—they do it.  Some days the chaff is all over the parking lot.  Some days it smells like cereal cooking.  Some days every pair of legs and every loader is busy filling, loading, and providing.  I love seeing and being a small part of this.  I feel like I and my animals are important to them-all of them.  The owner, the office staff, the mill guys, the baggers, the loaders, the truck drivers, the consultants-all of them make me feel like our little farm matters.  This is a treasure to us.  

All of our goat grain comes from them.  Has for years.  Our mix is a custom mix I formulated from a back yarders recipe, then consulted with my vet for appropriateness for our goats.  Once the vet approved it, it went on to a PhD Animal Nutritionist who also approved it.  This was a learning curve here, no doubt.  This was about 10 years ago.  Conway Feed agreed to custom mix it for us.  I am told it is one of their more complicated mixes and I’ve even heard tell the office person makes the guys brownies to ‘entice’ them a bit on make day.  What started out as a 1 ton mix is now 4 tons at a time.  Now, anyone can buy it.  No, I don’t get any royalties or kick backs.  That was never my goal.  My goal is good feed responsibly produced.  That’s what we get-faithfully & reliably.  To this ration, we add our own grass hay & alfalfa from eastern WA and Voila!  The absolute BEST La Mancha goat milk ever.

Gothberg Goat Feed Tag

Thank you Conway Feed for being a vital link in our local food chain.  I know our food security is enhanced by having you here with us.  

Goat Cheese Lasagna Day at Gothberg Farms

Our goat cheese lasagna has become a local favorite.  What started as great food for our family has morphed into a certified, inspected product we can share with YOU!

It starts with the cheese-of course!!  We use 5+ of our cheeses in this beauty.  There is always Chevre, Ricotta, and goat Parmesan, then we start adding.  This year that included Feta, Caerphilly, & two kinds of Gouda.  Oh MY!  And yes, you really can taste the various flavors within the finished delight.

Debbie & the Kitchen Aid

A Mountain of Cheesey Goodness
Fabulous Cheese Choices

And then, there is the red sauce.  This is my homemade sauce recipe I use in the house.  Italian tomatoes, onion, thyme, and carrots (as a sweetener) from my garden, garlic from the farmers market, olive oil, salt, & pepper.  That’s IT!  All real food.  No mystery products.

A Lot of Red Sauce

Garden Additions

Once we get the prep done, we set up a modified assembly line-Debbie & I are the conveyor belts here.  All hand done, of course.  Once assembled, they are covered and frozen.

We take pre-orders for farm pick up.  We can bring them to the Bellingham Farmers Market by pre-arrangement.  They sell out quickly so call if you want one reserved.  Rhonda 360-202-2436  cell/text

3 Sizes Available

Our Cheese is a Winner!

Chic Choc Cheddar

Meet Chic Choc Cheddar.  Our goat’s milk Cheddar, with a vein of Chicory in the middle, then hand rubbed with Chocolate!!!

What’s not to love here?  
This cheese was inspired by my Bayou Country roots in deep East Texas, where chicory was the poor man’s coffee when I was a child.  Yes, my family drank the stuff, but us kids were not allowed any.  Oh well, it always sounded good.
We decided on a very last minute, rushed out the door kind of decision, to enter this cheese in the American Dairy Goat Association’s annual Cheese Competition which was held this year in Asheville, NC.  
Well, Imagine our elation when I received this text message from a fellow goat friend attending the convention!!!  We won First Place in the Flavored Hard Cheese category!!!  And it was even sweeter when our compadres in the category were a fellow Texan and goat friend and also a WA cheesemaker who has part of her foundation herd from our goats!  We are all so connected out here!  I just love that!
Here’s the selected cheese–out for the convention attendees to sample.  Gee, what did we do before instant technology feedback?  We waited days and weeks for this info.  Thanks to Lacia for the help.
The cheese judges were Max McCallum and Neville Mc Naughton.  Both well-known in the field and highly respected.  Now I’m anxious to receive their evaluation notes-another benefit of entering.

“Honor Box” Farm Stand Open

If the Sign is Out, We Are Open

We are trying something we have talked about for years.  There is now an Honor Box here at the farm where you can stop in for your favorite cheeses!   OK, so it’s not fancy, a little Hokey Pokey, but it’s a start.  Maybe this will help with the multiple calls we get each week looking for on farm purchases.  This way we will come assist you if we can, but may not always be able to do so.  Make your own change, round up, or round down, whatever you feel is most appropriate.

This ‘new deal’ does not allow barn, farm, or animal access.  Please be respectful of our wishes on this one.  It’s for the safety of all concerned.

Hours:  Monday-Saturday  10:00am-4:00pm.  

We sincerely Thank You for your continued support in so many ways!  Please give us your feedback and suggestions so we may make this work for all of us.

The Farm Crew

A Simple Start

Cheese Contest Winners!

We have our winners in the Cheese Contest!  We are super excited.  The big computer in the sky picked the winners, so we got as surprised as you.  Looks like some tried-and-true friends won as well as new folks we get to meet real soon here.  This was so much fun.

Prize #1:  Cheese Tasting at the Farm for Up To 4 People

Lisa S. won this.  We have not met Lisa yet, so this will be super special making new cheese lover friends!  Our event is scheduled and our brains are in gear planning a tailored cheese tasting and pairing.  She is coming from Seattle and her special guy from Olympia.  The long(er) arm of our cheese always amazes us. You can be sure in addition to our cheese we will incorporate our special friends like:  Slough Food for charcuterie & many things fabulous, Breadfarm, well we don’t need to say more, and Boundary Bay Brewery because Summer is just better with their beer and we have some excellent pairings with them.

Prize #2:  Cheese Basket Sampler

We practically squealed with delight when we saw who won this one!  Jen at La Conner Flats.  Oh my, yet another hard working farm woman who loves local foods as much as we do.  It was so much fun putting her basket together and proudly delivering it to her.

Prize #3:  Edible Seattle Cookbook

The computer actually picked 2 for this one, so we went with it.

Jan S. of Shaw Island, WA is one of these lucky folks.  Turns out she loves cookbooks as much as I do, so this will be a fun addition to her library.  Jan, her goats, cows, pigs, bees, rabbits, husband , and really fine son live & farm on Shaw Island.  An amazing family.  Jan is an amazing farm woman who literally does it all.

Shaw Is. Hay Day: No Fancy Equipment:  The Hard Way

Judy N. of Redmond also won a cookbook.   Judy & her friends found us years ago while exploring the riches of Skagit.  It is a highlight for us as they include us every year on their Girl’s Day Out foray up here.  Awesome, adventuresome women.

This was our first ever contest.  We will definitely do more in the future.  It gave us a chance to connect in a different way, let us recognize some loyal cheese customers, and gave us an opportunity to meet new friends.  Thanks Contest Domination for helping us along the way.

C A E Negative 2013

We are happy to report our 8th (or is it 9th?) year of negative results for the CAE virus in our goats.  We did have the virus here in our initial goats, so breaking it early on was a heartbreaking experience.  Every day we are glad we made that decision.

Here is a link describing what the virus is & how if affects goats:
C A E Virus in Goats

We have our veterinarian Dr. Peter Brown come here and draw our results.  This is a combined farm visit where we assess any herd health concerns or overall herd management.  There are not words to describe how lucky we are to have quality vet care that makes farm calls 24/7/365.
Here is a link to the vet clinic we use:
Chuckanut Valley Veterinary Clinic

Dr. Peter Brown at Gothberg Farms

Here are our CAE results for 2013: