This is a special blog sharing information on a last minute and very urgent san clemente island goat transport. Myself and a group of san clemente island goat breeders are helping a fellow breeder in MN as he has fallen upon hard times. He currently owns a herd of 150 SCI goats and 30 British Soay sheep, the sheep are also critically endangered. With a recent SCI goat census letting us know there are about 1000 SCI goats currently in the US and Canada, this breeder owns about 15% of the population. He also has some rare lines and genetics that truly need to be saved.
A friend is coming with me this weekend to the breeders farm. There we will the health check of the goats, treat each goat accordingly and tag all the animals to prepare them for transport. It will be a LOOOOONG Saturday, but this is the first step to get the animals ready to go to Virginia.
Another breeder has donated a farm space and shelter for this group. She is also organizing a group of volunteers and veterinarians to help out during the 30 day quarantine period. After animals are deemed healthy they will be re-homed for a small donation.
There are a lot of moving part in all of this, and a lot of unknowns. We need to find transport for the goats for a reasonable fee. Before they are moved I'm putting in their scrapie tags, but we also need to have a veterinarian come out and give a certificate of health to legally transport the group. Though we are looking into options to work with the USDA veterinarian to see if we can get a special pass on this group of animals.
After the animals are at their new location, there will be the cost of hay, feed , minerals and other medical costs and bills.
The cost of this will add up quickly, and we are looking at spending over $20,000 to pay for all of this. Never mind all of the volunteer work put into this.
While there isn't quiet an official breed association made, it's really close to being finalized. working with a core group of other breeders to make this happen is our first real project with this breed association. And it's a HUGE project , but we are all handling it well with our passion for this breed driving us.
Here is a link to the gofundme page for this project. Any monetary or donation help would be incredible. Other people in this group are creating a website that will have a list of items you can donate and where to send them, including gift cards for that regions farm and feed stores.
I'll keep folks posted on my business f.b page with updates. And thank you so much to all of you that have helped out already, we appreciate it! And if you can, please share the gofundme link as much as you can. It seems like there are a lot of causes out there, and a lot of farmers have been and are falling upon hard times. It's so great we can help each other out through thick and thin!
Thank you for the support!
I mean, I only missed writing in August by three days. Not that bad given it's such a busy month.
Recently I was teasing about some "life changes" on my EB Ranch page. I was planning on writing a blog later that day, but hey things happen. While it's nothing really THAT life changing, I am taking on more of an initiative to build the EB Ranch farm business. I have multiple enterprises that are strong and have what it takes to grow into ventures that will be profitable. This blog is mainly about those ventures and what I hope to do with them in the future. You may be surprised about some things EB Ranch offers!
#1-Goat milk soap!! This is currently my bread and butter. My big plan is to try and attend a lot more fall and winter craft shows and farmers markets. Even perhaps making it out to Minneapolis. But, did you know I offer monthly goat milk soap subscriptions, party favors, and wholesale prices? All of these can be wonderful gifts for other or just for yourself and family. In addition to online sales and farmers markets, I have a decent list of retail stores you can find EB Ranch goat milk soap from. I recently was asked by Grace Fitzpatrick to sell soap at a lovely hair salon called Touch Studio, located in Kentucky. So holy cats, EB Ranch will be in Kentucky really soon! I have goals of getting goat milk soap into at least 4 more retail locations in the next year.
#2-EB Ranch pasture raised meat. Well, a big new venture in the past month was finally selling san clemente island goat meat to retail stores. You can now find goat meat from EB Ranch at Just Local in Eau Claire and the Menomonie Market Food Co-op in Menomonie! As always, you can buy whole goat or chicken shares directly from EB Ranch. Another big change next year will that I will hopefully get back to raising turkeys. Wow your friends and family at your next cookout by roasting a whole goat, or having some delicious farm raised chickens. Nothing beats meat on the grill!!
#3-Garlic Gals, the garlic share. My friend Bretton and I launched are first garlic share last year. Sadly, a gopher(s) decimated well over 90% of the crop. You could find they where tunneling under each row and stealing garlic. My partner Bob later found some buried 20 feet away and 4 feet into the ground when he was digging trenches for his solar project. So we probably have garlic hidden in tunnels all over on EB Ranch. This year, Bretton and I will decide how to be proactive about varmints. We still want to offer garlic shares, but would also possibly include herbs and mushrooms. We grow a variety of shitakkes, as well as oyster, and lion's mane mushrooms. More will be decided about Garlic Gals in the near future.
#4-Two Farm Ladies Podcast-Khaiti and I have been recording a farming podcast for well over a year. After a hiatus, we decided to record once a month. The episodes have been a hoot to record, and we both feel that sharing our stories are not only entertaining but possibly helpful to people that can learn from our mistakes or successes. Khaiti and I are deciding to "polish" up the podcast, and the first step is taking some professional pictures. As events line up, I randomly received a message from a woman named Holly that wanted to take some farm pictures. It was for a photo project she was working on that including women in ag. So she popped over, and got to meet Holly and she took some wonderful pictures. She offered to come out for a photo shoot as a thank you. In two weeks Khaiti and I will get "glammed" up and put our best dirty feet forward for this photo shoot. I personally also hope to look into better ways to promote the podcast as well as dipping into some social networking. Check out her photography business, Blue Moon Studio LV.
#5-The San Clemente Island Goat Herd. I created a Meet the Herd and Sale page a while back. It still needs to be finished but it's a good start. I started offering breeding stock of these critically endangered goats. While this whole venture is going to take a while for it to be reliable, I'm glad to finally be able to offer goats that are for sale. I cannot and will not go into much detail, but it's been a struggle finding out the individual history or pedigree on many of these goats. Over the years some breeders stopped keeping good breeding or sales records. So there has been a lot of mystery solving put to the herd I have. Thankfully, many mysteries where solved, or at least partially. I have been working with and getting to know other breeders around the nation. We are all dedicated to these goats, and working together to problem solve is VERY important. These goats are unique and valuable, and the blood sweat and tears that have gone into them is well worth it.
The wrap up!! So really the HOPEFUL big change next year are these items. I have been working with the local NRCS to get cost sharing done on a grazing management plan, that if approved the NRCS will not only pay for that plan but also the implementation of that plan. This probably means perimeter fencing, above ground water lines for the summer, and an appropriate winter water set up. As well as more electric net fence to help keep animals OUT of areas but also for better and more rotational grazing. I want to keep ALL my poultry under the orchard. I want to keep my goats more safe and secure with perimeter fencing. I want to not have to worry about winter watering. If these systems are approved they will be implemented next year. I hope to get a head start on this and begin set up in early spring. Bob will be home to help, and I may hire a relative to help with fencing. Part of this plan will also involve seeding in a better variety of forbes and grasses for the goats. Plants with high tannins will help combat parasites and other plants will be more nutritious to goats.
Another piece of this is that I'm also going to be applying for grants left and right. There are many aspects of this farm that could use some financial help. The biggest part is buying in a used livestock trailer to use as my goat shelter in pasture rotation. I would find a decent trailer that has a closed off room at the front to put my milk stanchion. There I can have a covered area to milk and store supplies in. I can also more easily do on pasture health checks and hoof trimming. In the past I would always have to herd the group back to the winter shelters and do health checks. I usually do monthly health checks, bu this hot, wet, humid summer proved to me that I need to do weekly check ins starting in mid July. Parasites turned out to be a HUGE issue this year, and they came on fast and strong. I really need to reflect and change my management plan for next year. Other financial help mainly includes testing revolving around the San Clemente Island goats. Not a lot of data has been recorded or shared, so things like mundane milk tests and weights as well as other recorded observations are important to take and share.
Well, this is a long wrap up. To conclude, I'll be sharing through social media the line up of events EB Ranch will be attending. I hope to see you there. Plus one more little thing. I am also taking on the initiative to be more inclusive of members and people that support the farm. That will be through working with a small group of people to come up with ways to help engage the community, but also remind people that because of you this farm can exist. So thank you, and I'll keep everyone in the loop about this aspect of planning and organizing.
Off to make some goat milk soap. And I hope to stop telling everyone all the time that I'm trying to catch up on making soap. This is a part of the business I NEED to stay on top of, and I can do this by better prioritizing my life. So take that, soap!!
Thank you all for the support!
Hello EB Ranch supporters and Two Farm Ladies Podcast fans!
This is a blog update about 2FLP. As the title says, it's the summer crazies!! Both Khaiti and I are treading water during this busy time of year farming. While I can't totally speak for Khaiti, I know she is in full market garden mode with her partner Ben. They are frequenting multiple farmers markets a week selling beautiful delicious garden produce and canned goods.
Myself, it's just busy on the other veggie CSA farm I work for not to mention it being busy on my own farm. I'm horrendously behind on my goat milk soap making. I'm spending the weekend trimming goat hooves , doing goat health checks and giving each of my 47 goats copper bolus. That's getting a capsule of copper down each goats throat.
So on and so forth, this blog is letting folks know that 2FLP won't be putting out a July podcast. We still hope for an August release, but there is always a chance that may not happen either. But we will keep chipping away at this podcast. We are having fun doing it, and we both do have the hope to make a bit of money doing this at some point down the line.
To wrap this up, I want to acknowledge some farms that are in rough shape in the area. There was a pretty devastating storm and tornado that tore up areas north of here. Thankfully there where no human casualties. Though there where plenty of trees down and lots of property damage. We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature, but farm in particular suffer greatly. As always, try and support a local farm or farms and they in turn will support you and the community with their products and food.
Thank you, and enjoy this cute picture of a soon to be new member of EB Ranch. Meet Anders the rough collie puppy. He will be joining EB Ranch in mid August. I have high hopes for him being an all around good farm dog. With correct training he can help me herd and move goats as well as keeping varmint such as gophers and rabbits at bay.
Thanks so much for the support, and I hope y'all will hear from us soon!!
PS-This is my lovely niece Lydia posing with Anders!
This blog is getting written on my breaks between shoveling out the goat sheds and working on fencing. It's funny to be sweating so much without being hot, it's so dang humid out right now! The goat sheds are well overdue for a clean out, honestly they should have gotten shoveled out way back in late April. Oh well, what can you do?
So far, it's been another typical summer on EB Ranch. We have WAY more San Clemente Island goats, around 60 versus last year at this time where I only had about 16. Pasture rotation is going GREAT! I have the boys and girls on separate pastures with minimal issue. There are of course the few times where there has been a great escape, or a single animal has gotten out. But I can handle that no problem!
This coming Monday EB Ranch is hosting a Women Caring for the Land field day event. So I'll need to mow the lawn later and get some odds and ends cleaned up and organized. I'm pretty excited that the farm can host this event, it's so important for women to have time together and talk about ourselves and our hopes and dreams. Plus sharing stories and useful advice and resources. You can find all information at this link. https://www.facebook.com/pheasantsforeverwisconsin/photos/a.903777996300961/2530205150324896/?type=3&theater
Some exciting news, my high school friend Lori Minor stopped by the farm last month and took some beautiful professional photos of the farm!! This was not only needed to update pictures on the website, but also in preparation for an article that will come out this fall in The Goat Journal. There is even a chance that a picture will grace the FRONT COVER! How exciting!! I'll post a slideshow below of some of her pictures. You can contact her at Lori Minor Photography.
One more little piece of exciting news, after a year of talk and consideration Bob and I decided to take on a puppy in about a month!! We currently have two companion dogs named Freyja and Hilde. While they are wonderful buddies they are not good farm dogs. They both need to either be on leashes or contained in a solid fence. Freyja likes to chase deer and not come back, and Hilde just goes along for the ride. It's not Freyja's fault, I adopted her YEARS ago and she is part hound dog. Anyway, this new puppy is a male rough collie that was born down the road at a farm not far from here. I honestly LOVE rough collies and had one as a teenager. I'm looking for a dog that already has those basic herding and farm oriented instincts. I am a fairly decent dog trainer and hope to have a dog that will be with me when I do chores and maybe even help get rogue goats back to where they need to be. Plus perhaps having a dog outside to keep predators like raccoons away from our chickens and birds. I just need a good basic working farm dog that will be focused on ME and still be friendly toward others. Again, I know a lot has to do with training, but those instincts are already their for dogs like this. Anyway, I'm getting prepared for puppy land again. I adopted Hilde about 8 years ago when she was a 10 week old pup. It's intensive, but that hard work pays off. Hilde is a great dog, just heavily influenced boy Freyja's "bad" behaviour. I plan on keeping this dog by my side as much as possible. He will obviously still be buddies with my existing dogs, but will be getting more one on one outside attention. Here is a picture of the litter from a few weeks ago. They have their eyes open now and are in super chub mode.
Now for the last little piece. I do apologize if this is getting redundant but I do run a farm business, and my business needs more business! I currently have San Clemente Island Goat breeding stock for sale, as well as whole goat meat shares and whole chickens shares as well as goat milk soap and goat milk soap shares. All animals are pasture raised and only given grain if in milk production. I currently have over 200 bales of hay paid up for to get through the winter. But, it's time to really start pushing what EB Ranch has to offer! Please consider supporting me and the farm by purchasing some of these amazing products! I love doing what I'm doing, and I hope that shows through to my customers.
Thank you again, and enjoy the slide show of pictures by Lori Minor!
It's that time of season where I delegate computer time to rainy days or days I'm sick. With a raging head cold and my inability to not be "productive" I'm finally getting around to writing this blog. Though I promise to take a nap, drink lots of fluids and fruits to get over this sickness.
A project I'm finally done working on is getting a real price per pound figured out for my pastured goat meat shares. I'm going to try and work with a new processor that has a flat processing fee and an additional hanging weight fee. That hanging weight fee makes it manageable for me to process some of my smallest goats while still making a bit of a profit.
Raising these San Clememente Island goats is wonderful but also brings about challenges. With most heritage breed livestock and poultry, these goats tend to grow more slowly and not as big as other production livestock. In turn these goats are pretty self reliant and hardy. All of my female goats and kids are currently out on rotating pastures. I need to let the grass grow a bit more before I put my boys out. I plan on having two separate groups of goats so I don't have accidental breeding over the summer.
But hey!! I got the price per pound figured out for whole goats, and that's $5.00 a pound with a $40 processing fee! I am also able to offer a variety of weights, from as little as 10 pounds on up to 50! Though cuts may vary with small animals, you may not get good chops but you could get extra ground meat. OR get a yourself a whole goat for a cook out! Small animals mean you may be able to get a whole goat in a small freezer! I also offer specialty sausages for extra. You can see all the information HERE!
Starting now EB Ranch is offering sign ups for pastured chicken shares. Deposits need to be in by August 3rd. This is on farm pick up only with butchering scheduled for the first weekend of October. You can read more HERE!
An update on Garlic Gals is needed. There are always pros and cons to farming, and you are at the mercy of the elements. Growing garlic isn't any different and sadly 95% of the garlic crop was lost due to mole activity. You can dig down just a little bit to break into a tunnel that runs below every row of garlic. This is the FIRST time anything like this has EVER happened to me. I have been saving garlic sees for over 8 years and am saddened and frustrated by this loss. Thankfully, both Bretton and I are very positive people and decided to do a spring planting of garlic with our own stash of garlic cloves. We have a handful of garlic shares to fulfill but had to stop taking sign-ups early on. We will have to re-invest in seed this fall, but Garlic Gals will be offering garlic shares again next year. I plan on taking measures to prevent mole damage from occurring again.
Now for a bit of the real deal, an aspect of my personal life I think that is important to share. I will remain vague in some respects, but am happy to talk to you in person in regards to this story. Recently, an issue reared it's head out of the blue. While the issue itself is actually pretty minor, people have decided to turn it into something much bigger within the community. Everything will eventually be fine, but for the last almost two months I have been an emotional whirlwind.
I have recently figured out I get nocturnal panic attacks. I have dealt with this since my late teens but had NO idea what it was. I thought I had sleep apnea or something. Well, will the onslaught of stress I was having sometimes two panic attacks at night and on an almost nightly basis. I would also have to say I'm depressed. I have had little to no will to initiate or care about my day to day life, people or business. This issue has left me lacking extra willpower to go about my usual daily life. And I got this head cold to boot! I haven't been sick with a cold in YEARS, and I'm sure stress was a factor in this.
As always, I keep plugging forward. Just expressing how I feel to my partner, family and friends is a huge help. I feel the depression shaking off and am getting back to feeling excited about my day to day life again! Co-hosting for the Two Farm Ladies Podcast is also another great way to "just get shit off my chest!"
Dealing with this issue has given me the reality slap of what it can be like when you become more deeply involved in community and local politics. I thinks it's EXTREMELY important for people to be involved in both . I also wish older folks where it bit more encouraging and supportive in opening up this world for the next generation and others to come. (And yes I know that people do but I think MORE need to as well!) With all of this, it makes me think about how I can pave the path for younger generations behind me to be involved. And as always, it's important to find solutions to problems, not just always pointing out problems. While I have some very firm beliefs in particular politics, it won't stop me from listening and engaging in civil discussion. We need to learn and grow from each other, not put up barriers . We can always agree to disagree in a civil manner.
I know there is more to share, there is ALWAYS more but I"ll wrap it up for now. Thank you as always for the constant, consistent, and new support from folks for EB Ranch and all that Bob and I do both on the farm and in the community.
EB Ranch has officially been around since 2010, though Bob and I started our more homesteading lifestyle in 2008. And of course I got chickens and goats the following year and life just snowballed into being an actual farmer.
For the last week or two I have been chugging along hard at a myriad of different projects, a main project was another website update. I changed the format a bit plus got all the farm share offerings up and ready for you to easily click and pay on any share choices. The share offerings this year are:
There has been goats giving birth, my second wave of does started kidding a week ago, and they have the next 30 days to kid. So I have been extra time to just observe everybody and make sure everyone is in good health. On Friday I spent the day trimming the hooves of all the does, as well as putting on some more ear tattoos and getting a couple doelings ready to be picked up this coming week. This will be the last two does I sell for a while, though I do have a couple good breeding bucklings and a wethered buckling for sale. I do plan on having at least two more doelings ready for sale later on this summer. These two sales hinge on some parental DNA testing, as I acquired a bunch of adult does that gave birth a month ago, but the owner doesn't know who the sire is for sure, and it could be 1 of any 10 bucks he had that got loose. So after I find out who the sire is, I can get a pedigree written up and confidently sell these two little doelings.
Which brings me to all the extra projects I have been working on. Which is working with other San Clemente Island Goat breeders across the nation to help establish a real breed association. With that are projects we need to work on, one of which is an actual DNA purity test as well as a census and figuring out A LOT of odds and ends. Another project I'm working on with with my friend and fellow SCI goat breeder Jerry. Most of my herd has originated from his, and he just needs a little extra help organizing pedigrees and records of everyone. So I'll help with his herd, do some blood draws, and help him get breeding groups up for sale this summer! With that is community and farmers union organizing and involvement and moving forward once again with the Two Farm Ladies Podcast. Podcasting itself is fun, but it was a steep learning curve on setting things up and learning how to edit and promote. Khaiti has taken on a huge chunk of the promotion side and it looks like we have an interview getting set up for a regional farming paper!
Now, to be a bit more personal I want to say I have been kind of struggling with where I'm going with farming. Not that I don't want to do it, I'm as enthusiastic as ever. But I'm struggling with what I consider to be food crazes and trendy labeling. I feel frustrated knowing that foods are labeled a certain way can be very deceptive to consumers. I'm even more frustrated seeing some producers take advantage of that label to get consumers to pay even more money for a product that is literally the same as any other conventional food product on the shelf. This is of course not super common, and I don't want this to come off as some kind of scare tactic. But an example is organic food coming in from China, that looks to be not up to organic standards, what the heck? So you are paying more money for something that's not what it claims to be.
This is not to pit farmer against farmer, or one has a better product than the other scenario. This is me and EB Ranch doing incredibly unique and important things that don't fit into typical labels so much. I pasture raise my animals, I use rotational grazing, I am working with the NRCS to improve my grazing habits/land improvement I'm constantly educating myself. But the goats I raise are particularly special, and not in the rare and endangered special, but that they have unique genetics that are still getting figured out. I'm trying VERY hard to find a market for these goats, not only so that I can make a living, but to find needs for these goats and help them gain popularity. They might not be the BEST milkers, or the most MEATY goats, but they are a little bit of everything with a hardy and independent disposition thus being labeled as multi-purpose. I find VALUE in my goats and the work I do. These goats are an incredibly valuable asset to keeping diverse and healthy genetics in our food chain. I'm not against crossbreeding animals what so ever, farmers NEED to make a living, but my personal focus is to not crossbreed these goats with another goat. We need to find purpose for purebred livestock that are considered heritage or endangered, and that means for me personally, purebred SCI goats for meat and breeding stock are what I'll offer her on EB Ranch. It's always great to know your farmer, but I KNOW it's not always feasible and people rely on labels a lot when making food purchases. So my "label" is VALUABLE.
We all have something of value to offer the community, and lets not forget it. I will always be honest and as straightforward as possible with my farm management plans. Ask me anything about my farm, and I'll answer honestly. I'm here to not only farm but educate members and and supporters as well. YOU all are helping me make this unique and valuable farm happen.
Happy mid February to you all. I hope everyone is dealing with the many aspects winter has recently thrown at us, especially to folks in the upper states. Western WI just got over two feet of snow in the past couple of days. I think we all have been getting quite the work out from shoveling snow!
On a farm, not only is there the typical shoveling around the house, but in many cases there needs to be paths shoveled out to sheds, barns, and other areas to get to the livestock to do chores. We also had to shovel along the sides of our hoop house to allow more snow to fall off the top and accumulate on the sides. If we don't do this there is a good chance our hoop house would cave in. I also shovel paths for the geese and for to goats to use in their pasture area. I still want to feed the goats outside as much as possible, and I don't foresee the goats plowing through the deep snow for any reason, even for hay!
Just a few days ago the group of adult San Clemente Island Goats I acquired late this fall started kidding. I have two mothers with one mother that should kid really an any point, and at least a forth doe that could possibly kid. These where all accidental pregnancies, so I have no idea when does are due. But I'm ready to deal with it, and that means getting up to do checks through the night to make sure the would be mothers are doing o.k. This will be my third night of getting up every few hours to check. It's not efficient, I should have a camera installed but this is just how it is right now! I do have my own goats due to kid in March. But I think from now on I'm going to shoot for late April babies. Kidding in potentially very cold weather is just too stressful on me and on the animals.
I have to insist that I'm not complaining one bit. I knew this was going to be happening, and I'm excited and happy to change my schedule around to make sure everything goes well for these goats. I'm their caretaker, it's my privilege and responsibility to do the best I can for them. It's also something I really love to do. This is my job, and I feel ever so fortunate I can actually do something I LOVE to do, and hopefully make a living doing it. The challenges that farming throws at you are challenges I face and solve with relish. I need to brainstorm, have cat like reflexes in the face of chaos, I get to network and ultimately build community to find solutions, I get to McGuyver and use duct tape like a real farming pro! Every day is a new and different day and it's enriching to me and I couldn't and wouldn't ask for a different life.
Coming back to finish the blog after a couple of days to finish this up. My brain and body are tired. I'm not sure if it's residual lymes that has taken it's toll or just getting older? But the first group of does have kidded and are all settled, I have the next few months planned out in terms of events and projects. The next group of goats are due to kid around March 13th, so in less than a month! There is another big snow storm coming in tomorrow, 2/20. I am thankful for another day I have to spend in the house. I recently got a soap order for a wedding!! My first ever, and I'm helping modify the soap to make them into small wedding favors. I'm selling some goats, I'm hopefully going to get back on the train of starting a non-profit/breed association for the SCI goats. There are many other folks on board for this, and it's exciting to see other people excited to help out to make this happen.
There was also a Farmers Union meeting for my chapter in terms of event planning for the year. There will be a Women Caring for the Land event here on EB Ranch in July, there will be a Farmers Union potluck here in late spring as well. Planning is happening to have a showing of The Little Pink House, a film about eminent domain. Working with organizations at events, and just participating and interacting within the community. All of it is a breath of fresh air, especially when many of us feel frustrated and maybe helpless with all the political chaos. Remember, participation in community is so important and can help you feel more connected and less frustrated.
I'll make a more highlighted announcement in another blog post, but there are now some different farm share available. First off, you can now sign up for chicken and turkey meat shares. All details are on the store page. Garlic Gals has a new logo, and Bretton put together some fliers and brochures to start passing out. Consider signing up for are Garlic CSA this year! I'm getting information together about proper licensing to sell goat meat both direct to consumer but also to restaurants and grocery stores. I don't think I'll have goat meat shares available until later on this summer. I want them to be on pasture before going off to slaughter. I have a list of first come first serve customers, if you want to be on that list please contact me through my contact page. Whole goats will cost in the ballpark range of $250-$275.
I'll wrap this up as I am starting to wander. We have a nice group of seven new San Clemente Island goat kids on EB Ranch. Enjoy the pictures, and fasten your seat belts for another potential Wisconsin snow storm!
Thank you for the support!
Hey! It's the first week of February, and we just got done with the polar vortex of DOOM! Seeing negative forty on my thermometer is a bit frightening. Thankfully these cold temps didn't last for long, and all the farm critters where tucked away and did just fine. The geese even opted to sleep outside on hay piles during this cold snap. They are such hardy little critters!
I am currently sitting at a motel in the Dells for the Grassworks Conference. Two fellow farmers and friends, Lauren and Caleb of Blue Ox Farm (order delicious lamb from them FYI!) have been encouraging me to attend this as well as the WI Farmers Union Convention for a few years now. I FINALLY ventured out with them to participate in the two events, and it's been a very good experience. It's important and rewarding to meet new folks that are part of the farming world. And I have been soaking up A LOT of information. Plus I am happy to see "hard" topics being presented specifically at the Farmers Union Convention, namely addressing mental health in rural areas.
With all of this, I feel very confident in what I have been and currently am doing in regards to farming and marketing. We all doubt ourselves from time to time, and recently I had been going through a lot of self doubt. After many years of working toward a handful of goals, I have finally accomplished some of these goals. Namely being able to have a number of goats for sale for meat and breeding stock, but also being able to look and act upon financial farm numbers from previous years to start budgeting for 2019 and years to come. I need to find a financial living monetary balance between my goat milk soap, goat meat, goat breeding stock as well as selling goat skulls and hides. Not to mention my first year delving into a garlic CSA I'm working on with my friend Bretton called Garlic Girls.
I'm concerned about producing products that people won't buy, I'm concerned with the market for goat meat and soap becoming saturated. Goat meat is supposed to be a "hot trend" for 2019. While that's pretty neat, I don't want foods to be just "trends". I want my food that I grow for people to be a life long staple, dependable and sustainable. I want to be able to branch out into a restaurant or two as well as selling meat direct to consumer, and perhaps offer goat meat at the local co-op. Nothing huge, but it's always nerve racking to dip a foot rather than just a toe into the farming world. I have been growing for the past NINE years to where I am now. I decided to not go into debt during this growth period, thus the slow nine plus year process.
I'm excited to announce being able to move forward with a grazing plan and perhaps fencing over the next two years working with the NRCS. I'm in the process of getting the right licensing to sell goat meat and finding good resources to possibly sell hides and skulls to. Thank you Leslie for some great tips and lots of support! Check out Leslie's farm Cylon Rolling Acres here!
This is the last day of the Grassworks Conference, I met a lot of other grazing folks and have had good times and learned some new things about grazing and soil health. I can't wait to get home and digest all the information. Our soil is so complex, and keeping it healthy should be one of our top priorities, in the same league as water and air quality.
Hanging out with Lauren over this weekend and participating in both of these events have given me a sense of seeing folks doing something, being proactive and working together and actively listening to each other about issues. It has given me a sense of belonging and (good) power. It has made me analyze and scrutinize what I want OUR community to be. I want people in our community to be supportive but also not turn blind eyes to issues. I want our community to take initiative and BE inclusive of ALL people. I have been part of communities before where tough issues didn't want to be addressed, politics did not want to be discussed, not to mention turning a blind eye toward the hard topics like mental health and domestic abuse. I understand these are tricky issues to deal with, but we ALL really need to keep moving forward, be the brave person or people to step up and start finding ways to address and find solutions which usually evolves from discussion.
To wrap things up, I'll be focusing on tidying up some of my enterprises and start offering turkey and chicken meat shares as I have done in previous years. I'll start offering goat meat shares as soon as I get my licensing figured out. Garlic Gals-Garlic CSA is available NOW to sign up for. I have ordered the first round of Pre-Order EB Ranch shirts and totes and plan on making a second order sometime this week. I need to catch up on a BUNCH of soap making when I get home as well. I can't wait to hunker down again and work on and work out kinks with the farm business.
I appreciate the constant and growing support. Another discussion that has been had in different groups of people is the "I want to do it all concept or attitude." I recently have left the shackles of that concept. I moved up north on a farm to homestead, and by golly I needed to grow EVERYTHING and make EVERYTHING from scratch. While this is empowering I have found myself steadily burning out over the years. I was reminded that the farm I work for grows veggies and I can ALWAYS get veggies from them. There are a couple fabulous homestead cheese makers in the area, while I like making cheese I can always buy THEIR cheese when I need some. I don't have to grow my own pigs as their are plenty of might fine pig farmer friends in the area. The list goes on and on. Remember to support producers that ALREADY EXIST! We need to support each other to have a healthy thriving community, and it helps us not burn out from trying to do everything ourselves. I'm not saying that you shouldn't homestead and be independent, please do so. Just DON"T burn yourself out from taking on too much and think about supporting a producer.
For real wrapping it up. This has been another blog that went kind of all over the place!
Thank you again for the support!!
Howdy folks, and a happy new year to you all!
This will be a simple re-cap of 2018 farm life on EB Ranch. I'm sure I'll miss some events as it's been a fairly action packed year.
April brought in a gross blizard that put me in the ditch while driving home from recording music just 25 miles south of the farm. Earlier that morning a wonderful male san clemente island goat was born that I named Koselig. Koselig basically means cozy in Norwegian.
I started up my off farm job at my other farm job at Spring Hill Community Farm. We had a great season, even though there was a drought and strange weather patterns. The whole spring, summer and fall where pretty flawless with rotating the goats on pasture. It was my first year I didn't end up having a swearing tantrum at naughty goats. Though the house garden got a little out of control. Weeds prevailed in 2018!
The goat milk soap business is slowly but steadily building and growing. I'm opting for either online sales or retail sales with a sprinkling of specialty markets specifically around the winter holiday season. As much as I LOVE farmers markets, it was a burn out for me to work a job, work my farm job, then go sell soap early every Saturday morning. While I enjoy having one on one conversations with amazing customers, I'm glad to have one less place to be during the busy summer months. I expect to keep growing in 2019 and want to spread out to a few more retail locations as well as work on improving online sales.
Late in the summer I was fortunate to be part of the Menomonie Market Food Co-op Farmer Grant. The grant that was awarded to me helped fund perimeter fencing around my winter housing for goats. Plus it paid for new white poly-plastic for the hoop house that is specifically for livestock. AND, it paid for many lengths of bungee hose to help me with winter watering. No more carrying buckets back and forth, woohoo!!
During this time I also got an old hand me down garden shed from my parents. It's probably 70 years old, but has recently been resided. This extra structure was put near the hoop house as another storage area for hay and other misc. items. The moving of the shed was a bit of an ordeal. My Dad had a flat bed trailer and hauled it to our house. It sat there for a few weeks until our neighbor, Jack volunteered to use his crane to actually drop the shed into place. Jack as a crane built into one of his trucks as his business is in wells and plumbing. But it went well, even if I was a bit stressed having a small building just hanging a few feet off the ground!
With new fence and refurbished buildings I was ready to let my goat population really take off! But then I got an amazing crazy phone call from an acquaintance. This gentlemen that also raised San Clemente Island Goats wanted to GIVE ME a bunch of his in exchange for letting some of his adults stay here for the winter! I ended up getting 32 goats in early winter. That brought me up to a total of 44 San Clemente Island Goats.
I had A LOT of great advice from other local farmers that raised goats on a larger scale. I was overwhelmed by the possibility of this unique opportunity. But specifically two lovely ladies walked me through the whole process and where incredibly encouraging.
Currently all the goats are doing just fine. I had a bout of pneumonia to deal with, but that was to be expected. So now I'm working on pedigrees, ear tagging and tattooing, and getting some younger goats ready for sale and moved off to new homes. This opportunity is also allowing me to move into my goat meat business much more quickly.
I'll be putting together some direct to consumer sales shortly for goat meat shares. Stay tuned for more updates in the second week of January. I'll be selling young goat as cabrito that is under one year old. All goats have been pasture and hay fed. One of these goats might be 20 pounds worth of meat, so you could get a whole one to easily fit into your freezer. Or have for a barbecue or smoking!
I guess I'm starting to move off into the future of EB Ranch right now. 2019 holds many many things. I'll be working with A LOT more goats with my pasture rotation. That means keeping all they boys separate from the girls while still rotating both groups of goats. I have a game plan that I'll share if it's successful! Working with the NRCS is also in the future. I will be working with them to form a grazing plan. This may including getting financial help with seeds for pasture and perimeter fence. I'm also looking into more browse and "leaf hay" options for the goats.
In 2019 I also want to see the goats actually starting to pay for themselves. Right now all soap sales are going to either buying more soap ingredients or goats and goat related things like food, fencing and all the other odds and ends. I hope to offer goat shares at least once a year if not twice. Not to mention having more breeding stock available for people interested in raising these rare goats.
I need to learn more about managing rare/endangered livestock. I need to learn more about breed associations. I need to learn more about land management. I just plain and simple need to keep on learning! I believe that is what 2019 will bring, keep learning and keep growing!
Thank you for everyone's consistent and constant support of EB Ranch. As always, thank you to Bob who has been nothing but supportive of these major changes at our place. He has been a rock and amazing at tackling these crazy projects with me!
Cycles of the season, life and death, learning from mistakes or not. It's all part of life. Some folks may be more in tune than others, and some HAVE to be more in tune than others. Being a homesteader to small time farmer has taught me so much respect for all the cycles our world has to offer. Weather, growing older, harvesting, dying.
As a young person I was raised just a few miles from where set my bones these days. I grew up in a rural, 246 population town in western Wisconsin. I grew up with farms and family all around me. My uncle kept his heifers and calves in barns that where right next to my parents property. He farmed the fields behind my home, I played in the woods and cricks all around me. My neighbors had a farm with beef cows and HUGE draft horses, plus a mule or two as well as a pond with ducks and the occasional goose. I spent my summers fishing, catching frogs, making forts and going on adventures all day. I dreaded going back to school every fall. I was never much of a school gal, I learned a bit differently and have a hard time applying myself to just words or things I didn't care about, I need to have hands on experiences to learn or an actual need and want to learn. I'm sure it's not that much different from many folks out there.
I'm sharing this because, even s a youngster I was aware of season changes, how they made me feel. Even today my memories trigger a wide gambit of emotions in me. Nostalgia, sadness, happiness, longing, wanting to go back to the "old days". Yet I know it's important to embrace change, to ride with it, to keep learning and creating new experiences along the way. To strive for what I want, to take action. I'm fortunate and privileged enough to be able to try and grasp at my dreams. I also work hard and have good community support. All of these things put me where I am today and help me to keep moving forward and reach goals.
Yesterday was a chicken butchering and processing day, the second one of the year on EB Ranch. My friend and constant chicken share member, Arthur, showed up to help Bob and I process our 30 chickens. It took less than three hours, we have done this many time before and have created a good system. Some years we have many other friends come and help, this year many friends where busy with other commitments. I miss seeing them, as we always have food and a cocktail or two after butchering. But things change, and I'll see my friends again elsewhere. The three of us still induldged in food, a cocktail, and a warm wood stove. As well as engaging in good conversation.
A major cycle is in the works, these beautiful free ranging chickens are no longer alive. But they will sustain Arthur and Melissa, as well as myself and Bob. These chickens will be gifts for other people. On top of that, these chickens where used to help clean up our dead garden, to spread their manure around. To scratch up the earth and eat grubs and other bugs. Their manure and all the other critters' manure on EB Ranch help fertilize our gardens so we can grow amazing veggies. Not to mentions some hellaciously delicious garlic!
Now, this morning we have snow on the ground. I think it's stuff that might actually stick for the winter season? Maybe not? Bob and I still have some outside tasks to get done before hard winter closes in. Mainly getting a shelter finished up for the ducks and geese. There are also a large group of San Clemente Island goats coming this way in a week! I need to put up some last minute fence and structures for them for their 30 day quarantine. Thankfully I got all of our water hoses put away, plus random extension cords and weird bits and pieces laying around. I now get to use my new watering system. Which is a bungie hose I can use outside in the winter. I can keep the hose inside to keep from freezing when not in use. Bob got our garage filled long ago with wood for our wood stove. We heat exclusively with wood, so that is VERY important to have. I feel pretty set up and ready for this new season change, this new winter cycle.
The freezers are full and could be more full in the near future with the promise of venison. I have a lot of potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage in storage. There are a multitude of projects I'm going to tackle this winter. Including taking on a more active role in writing for the local Hay River Review newspaper, being part of growing the local chapter of Farmers Union, taking on organizing roles in upcoming events and perhaps being part of a local food hub co-operative? Not to mention GROWING MY OWN BUSINESS!! Getting ready for the holidays and making sure I have enough goat milk soap back stock. Getting ready to assess these new goats coming in, selling of some breeding stock and goat meat shares. All of this takes time to market both online and through word of mouth, and having a presence in public.
I'm wrapping up the season with my off farm job at another veggie CSA farm called Spring Hill Community Farm. I have off this week, and will come back to work a few more days the following week for their last winter share of the season. This seasonal work has worked out well for me, I can take the winter to keep making soap, take care of the animals, and keep chipping away and building my business. I have three books I need to tackle, one sooner rather than later. That first one is "When the Hills are Gone" by Thomas W. Pearson. It's about frac sand mining in small communities. The next two are all about wrapping my head around the EB Ranch business. The first one is "Fearless Farm Finances", I have been doing my own bookkeeping by the seat of my pants, this book will help me find out how to ACTUALLY do bookkeeping, but also tackle other aspects of a farming business. Last but not least, I'm excited to read more of "Managing Breeds for a secure Future" :Strategies for Breeders and Breed Associations. This is all about how best to work with rare and heritage breeds, specifically livestock. This will help me formulate a better breeding plan for the rare San Clemente Island Goats that I raise.
Thrown in the mix of course is some down time. I decided to start playing video games again. I have a Wii system with some RPG games and plan on getting a few more multiplayer games to invite folks over and be silly with. Not to mention working on art, and just having extra time with my partner Bob and all the critters on the farm. That's 5 cats, 2 dogs, and a multitude of goats, geese, ducks and chickens. Little side note, my little sister and her family just adopted a new puppy in addition to their older bully breed dogs. I think it pulled at Bob's heart strings as well as mine. So we might be looking to get a future farm dog this time next year? We have been seriously talking about blue heeler pups as more of a farm dog. We LOVE our two dogs, but they need to be kept in an electric net fence so they don't run off after deer. They are more companions than working animals.
Bring on my Hello Kitty onsie footie pajamas, bring on the winter layers and snow adventures. I'm ready, are you?
Thank you for the support!
Born and raised in a small town, then moved back to the same small town. Jill of many trades and happy to be so.