For the Love of Cheese Boards

I love old, seasoned cutting boards.  To me, they tell a story all their own.  Stories of meals prepared, foods shared, times gone by.  I have a pretty nice collection of them now and will do a post on them some day.

The Starting Lumber

For today, I want to show you what I made myself!!  We have a unique little shop in Edison called the Lucky Dumpster that always has something to surprise me.  A couple of weeks ago I discovered they had old, used lumber.  Now that gets a girls’ attention like no other!!  I’ve been looking for some ‘just right’ pieces for a while now.  So, I found some pieces to try to work with.  This is old rough sawn lumber, nails to pull, and the rough bark edge still intact.

I wagged home my choices.  My Husband scratched his head but said little.  He ran some pieces through the planer for me.  I chose the perfect one.  Husband then ran the router around the edges for me.  Me and power tools have a story-for another time.  He kept wanting to cut it perfectly square, but NOOOO, not what I want!

One day while sitting in the cold barn aisle watching over an imminent doe to give birth, I sanded it to my desired level, and then rubbed in a finish of food grade mineral oil and beeswax.

So, now, tonight as friends come over to share a bit of post-kidding marathon bubbly and some really great goat cheese (I have connections on this one) I will get to serve our food to our friends from the board I made.

Both Sides Equally Nice

Now, for my board to begin its’ journey of stories………

Kidding Starts at the Goat Dairy

Need This for Attitude Adjustments

Clean Pens/Sanitized Walls

Quasar Welcomes Cassiopeia

The calendar says February 13, 2012. But the sky, the temperature, the pace of life all say Spring is coming.  While we are enjoying the warmest kidding season ever, there is still a lot of work to do.  Just the behind the scenes prep work takes weeks.  We have been fixing, sanding, repairing, painting, installing, revamping….oh..and then the usual clean up, spiff up, sanitize, and get ready for long days and sleepless nights.  It has become somewhat predictable now at about 10 years into it (neophytes still).  An air of eager anticipation seems to take over us and onward we go.

Eliza-due 2/20/2012

Labor & Delivery Supplies & Clean Towels Galore
Grain Feeders Clean & Ready

The older I get, the more important this becomes.

SHADOW!!!!!!  Brief moment of SUN!

Remembering to Enjoy the Life

Cheese Saturday (and Sunday!)

Snow Geese-Across from us at @ Sunset Rd.

Cheese Weekend!!  WooHoo!  We do love that.  We will open here at the Farm Stand BOTH Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm (our first try at longer hours).  If it works out, we will consider keeping them.  Remember, it is Bird Festival in Edison-so lots going on in our little town.

We will also be at the Anacortes Farmers Market, inside, at the Depot Arts Center at 7th St. & R Ave. from 9am-2pm.  Stop by and meet our newest employee, Jenna.  She is fun & spunky and loves cheese!  The rest of us will be minding the pregnant goats back at the farm.

Happy Cheese!

Weekend Goat Cheese & Bird Festival

“Resident” Bald Eagle taking flight from our tree!

You see me write about the the amazing birds we have in our area.  We are really the lucky ones to live here & experience them on a daily basis.  Some great minds decided to share the experiences with you!!!  We are having an “Edison Bird Festival” this weekend!!  First ever.  Woodland Park Zoo even coming for demos & education.  Fun featured events scheduled as well.  So, make your plans now.

We know you will find tons of great food and experiences here.  To meet your goat cheese cravings & serious needs, we will be open here at the Farm Stand both days!!!!  There may even be a baby goat to show you (we can’t control this one you know).

So mark your calendars, program your phones, and come on out!

Business Challenges of a Small Farmer

It’s that time of year again to fill out forms and pay fees for participating in our local farmers markets.  This is never an easy task, hitting in the early months of the year when we don’t have much income to ‘spare’.  But as I negotiate the various fees, I am once again shocked at the fee increases.

We are in markets in three counties: Skagit, Snohomish, & Whatcom.  Each health department administers their own programs, with their own fee structures.  Here’s what we pay for  ‘low risk’ food category:
Skagit  $125
Snohomish  $200
Whatcom  $150

We are the same state inspected cheese, sold by the same folks, with the same set ups at all markets.  If we happen to want to participate in an additional event in the respective counties, there is a second set of fees.  These fees cover only one location.  This has restricted our business.  Snohomish wants an additional $100 PER event-so guess who has to say “NO” to any special farm events?  We surely do not have $100 in ‘profit’ for the extra expense.

Goat Cheese at the Farmers Market

Then each farmers market has their own fee structure.  For our three markets we do in the above counties, our fees to them are $2485.00 for the year, excluding any special events.

With $2960.00 coming right off the top, before any cheese is made or any employees are paid, it is painful. For now, this is just the way of life we have to play by the rules of.  I am writing this not so much to complain (well, yes I guess sort of I am), but mostly I think it is important to expose the challenges placed on us small production farmers.

Let’s not even get started on all the state and federal employment taxes we have to pay.  I sure wish that could go to the employees health care fund.

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

CAE Results Jan. 2012

We are pleased to share with you our results of the whole herd CAE testing for 2012.  This is our 7th year of NEGATIVE!  It is always nice to have this confirmation right before kidding begins.  We test this time of year, every year.

CAE is a disease of goats that can be very debilitating on several fronts.  The most commonly seen effects are arthritis and hard udder.  Click the links below for a full explanation of this preventable, but transmissible, disease.  We fully recognize that not all positive goats exhibit symptoms.  It is however, a disease you do not want in your herd.  When purchasing animals, demand testing!!!

Our first goats had this virus.  It was not disclosed.  It was not until we had let our kids nurse that we found out.  This was heartbreaking and devastating news.  It took us a couple of years to break the cycle for prevention and eradication in our herd.  Many tears were shed.  Many dollars were spent.  Many sleepless nights were spent in the barn.  My next post will be to describe our method of prevention & eradication.

Tara-Still Miss Her

Tara’s Udder at age 5 or 6

Foxey-Beatufiul & Milky

Here are two of the original does we had to cull.  I do have their genetics in my offspring however.

Baby Goats……Arriving Soon!!

Eliza-due soon

It’s that season again-Spring kidding.  Our kidding calendar is posted, supplies are procured, barns will be cleaned & sanitized this week, then let the birthing begin.  We will start out with a frenzy of baby goat cuteness.  It is a busy season, short on sleep, short on good meals, and largely unpredictable.

Joe Zell’s Triplets

It is also a time of baby goat cuteness, the miracle of birth, and a time for all of us to pull together around here.  Our does give birth as naturally as possible. While we do attend almost every delivery, the doe does it all on her own if all is normal.  If not, she will be assisted as necessary.  On rare occasion, we even have to call the vet.  Trust me, we know how lucky we are to have large animal vets who make farm calls.

A Little Extra Warmth

 We let the kids nurse their dams for the initial newborn period.  This promotes bonding, lets the kids feed on demand for the life sustaining colostrum and warm milk.  It also helps promote the natural hormones for the Mom which are important to her well-being after delivery.

After the initial newborn period, the kids are bottle fed, then graduated to the “bucket”. This is a group feeder for up to 10 kids at a time.  It is really cute seeing their little wagging tails as they feed so vigorously.

Sofie Helps Babysit & Shares Toys!

A Warm Ride
Baby Goats Feeding

Each kid and each doe gets individualized attention here. Our goal is Healthy Mom, Healthy Babies. We have a really good track record, and aim to continue that.

We are still accepting pre-orders for kids.  We sell doelings, bucklings(must have paid deposit), and wethers.  We provide education, instruction, and moral support for the duration of your goading life.  So give us a call!  We would love to help you in choosing a “just right” baby goat for you and your lifestyle.
CAE Free herd.  All tested Jan. 2012.