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!
Hello all you great folk!
Welcome to another overdue EB Ranch Blog. Of course, summer is busy for all of us and I am no exception. It's been another fantastic summer of working on my own farm and business, but also having my second year working at another veggie CSA farm called Spring Hill Community Farm. It's been a great fit to work just 7 miles down the road with great people doing what I enjoy.
A really exciting announcement is that EB Ranch was awarded a farm grant through the Menomonie Market Food Co-op. This is called Fund Our Food Shed. I used the grant to expand living areas for the San Clemente Island Goats I raise. The hoop house is getting converted into living quarters, and part of that is getting new livestock appropriate plastic and using cattle panels to create birthing stalls, corridors and a community pen inside the hoop house. This grant also went toward permanent fencing around all the goat structures with a hot or electric line on top of the fence. This hot line will allow me to run electric net fence from it and create paddocks around these permanent fenced in areas. I am also getting expandable water hose for the winter. Bob and I put in a new frost free hydrant. I will use the expandable hose to run water out to the animals in the winter. I can then coil up the hose and bring it in the house to keep from freezing. I have been carrying buckets from the kitchen sink all the way out to the animals for the past 8 years, it's time to finally be a bit more efficient in that arena!
There was a lot of thought that went into this expansion process. All of this will help me grow the population of these critically endangered goats. Thus making more breeding stock available and being able to move forward with my goat meat CSA business plan. Not to mention growing my goat milk soap business.
There are SO MANY other plans that needed to be made and acted out to make this expansion happen. We received a new/used garden shed from my parents. It was quite the undertaking to get it here on a trailer, move the trailer to put it into place. THEN, have our neighbor come over with a crane to drop the shed onto a foundation. The garden shed is much closer to all of the livestock areas. I plan on storing even more hay in that shed as well as feed. All of this had to be done before we started working on fencing for the bigger paddock. Before all of this I worked hard on possible set ups for the paddocks, what made sense? I had my friends Lauren and Caleb from Blue Ox help me figure this out. The gave me a book by Temple Grandin called Humane Livestock Handling. This book came in very handy, thank you to these two folks!
My field fence was bought used from my friend Khaiti at LTD Farm. All of my other supplies where bought from my local cooperative hardware store. I tried hard to keep this money flowing in the local economy.
Bob and I are in the middle of fencing as we speak. The plastic for the hoop house still hasn't been shipped out yet, but we can't put it up anyway until we harvest all of our tomatoes and peppers from the hoop house. The buck pen has been expanded, and boy where they kicking up the heels in excitement!
I'm also in the process of buying a new computer with the latestes microsoft business program. It's time to up my game in this realm, it's time to tackle that social media, get my website up to date and beautiful, and not be frustrated by a slooooowwww computer. There was also an investment into a nice microscope so I can take fecal samples from my goat. One very important thing in keeping goats is checking for parasites. Some parasites are sneaky and the goat only shows signs of illness until it's almost too late. I hope to get on a monthly fecal check schedule and stay on top of the health of this herd.
There is a great feeling of life events lining up nicely. It is all due to hard work, level headed planning, and SO MUCH HELP from my friends, family and community. This is heartening and another great example of working together to make ideas happen. I have really want to emphisize this in light of an underlining feeling of general unrest and uncertainty. Farmers are in crisis mode, folks are feeling frustrated and split after the 2016 election. Now more than ever we need to find commonality and practice civil discussion. We can work together, we can find common grounds, we are neighbors, friends, family and community.
Thank you for the support!!
Hello everyone, and welcome to the last day of May!
As it goes this time of year, blog writing and social media interaction in general significantly drops due to being busy outside. There was a crazy snowstorm at the beginning of April then a long period of no rain until very recently. I think we skipped spring and went right into 90+ degree temperatures, but hopefully things will cool down again in the next few days.
Crazy weather means keeping an extra close eye on the animals. Making sure everyone has plenty of water and shade and shelter. The gardens are mostly planted and a fine crop of lambs quarters has emerged. Weeding has been mostly ignored for the time being. Though after this heavy rain there has been an emergence of golden oyster mushrooms in the mushroom forest. Sadly some winter birds ate much of the spawn in the lions mane mushroom logs. That will be re-spawned this weekend and hope there will still be success in growing these beautiful mushrooms.
This season feels a little less hectic then most. Perhaps I'm finally getting a better sense of how long projects really take so I don't overwhelm myself? Maybe it's realizing that getting frantic doesn't help situations? And maybe a better balance is finally happening? Most likely it's all of these things. Bob and I moved to this new location less then 3 years ago, but we are quickly catching the rhythm and routine of this new place.
Some projects have been put on the back burner. One of which is the Two Farm Ladies Podcast. The biggest thing is that I don't have time to mix and edit the recordings. Khaiti and I have recording stockpiled, and I hope to release a new episode either this Saturday or the first Saturday of June. I also decided to not participate every weekend with the local Farmers Markets. I LOVE the Farmers Markets around here, it was just overkill for me last year to handle markets, farming, and my off farm job working at a wonder CSA farm just a few miles from here. I still hope to jump on board later on this fall and this coming winter!
There have been other events happening and planed for this summer. Bob and I hosted a Farmers Union potluck not too long ago. It was a great success and fun to meet new people! This Saturday, June 2nd I'll be at Stockholm giving out free goat milk soap samples. Then June 23rd I am working with my friend Sara Norman to have a yoga on the farm event!
I'm VERY excited to share that the local Menomonie Market Food Co-op decided to give EB Ranch a grant for some much needed infrastructure! This money will go toward refurbishing our hoop house into goat shelter as well as putting up better perimeter fencing around the permanent building. Plus investing in some different water hoses to help me run lines in the winter rather then carrying buckets for all the animals! All of these things will help me provide the space needed to increase my herd of San Clemente Island Goats. That in turn will make breeding stock more available and maybe having goat meat shares available in the future.
Having this community support is incredible! Being able to move forward with this business and fine tune what I really want to be doing here on EB Ranch is an incredible gift. Thank you to you all!
So now, I'm off to pack up some goat milk soap shares and see what soap I have to make today!! Plus move some fences and get my brain a little more organized as June will be a busy month.
Thanks for the support!
Howdy to you all!
EB Ranch is still feeling the chill of winter, but we all know spring is on the way. Winter gave me time to organize, plan, and put plans into motion. As always, I feel like I didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted, but I feel pretty confident and excited for what this season has to offer.
EB Ranch has offered poultry meat shares in the past and plan on doing it again this spring and fall. Sign up for either cornish cross chickens(faster growing meat birds), slower growing heritage meat birds, or turkey. Details are located at each product site. You need to sign up by April 1st!!!!
Please send me a message if you have any interest in signing up or getting more details for goat meat or goose shares in the future. You can also get a hold of me if you have interest in coming to the farm to pick up goose and or duck eggs.
So, a few great changes will be happening on EB Ranch this year.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty good. I'll start my wonderful off farm job mid April. I work at Spring Hill Community Farm just a few miles away from here. I have learned so much from my employer, and I'm glad to work for them again this year!
Oh, and of course, baby goats should be arriving in about week! I may have up to THREE does kid for me. That's a few more san clemente island goats in the world, and a few more goats for me to milk.
Speaking of milk, goat milk soap is still going strong. EB Ranch Goat Milk Soap has made it to a few more stores and online sales are up and more consistent then last year. Don't hesitate, get your goat milk soap today or order a goat milk soap share!
Onward as always, I have love and excitement in my brain and heart. I'll leave you all with a little farm life slide show. Enjoy, and as always, thank you for your support!
EB Ranch is on the tail end of a cold spell. An average of -20 degrees at night with high temperatures maybe at zero, more often -11. Thankfully it's been mostly sunny for the last two weeks. Bob and I have kept our wood stove almost constantly burning this whole time. We do heat the house exclusively with the wood stove. Thankfully the critters are doing pretty good. I lost a few 10 year old hens due to the flip of extreme cold.
On December 7th one of my san clemente island goat does had a female kid I named Magga! Magga was born 11 inches at the shoulder weighing in at 4 pounds. She's a tiny little being, but that's about average for a sci goat. A week after Magga was born I noticed she was in a "hunched up" position and wasn't wanting to nurse from her mom. I took her to the vet the next morning and found out she had pneumonia as well as being dehydrated. When I got her home I followed the vet's plan to keep her inside the house overnight but she could nurse from her mom all day. This has been working great, and hopefully on Saturday Magga and start staying overnight with her mom in the goat shed. The temps are supposed to ease up a bit and we should be expecting temps in the mid 20's for at least a week.
Being able to not work an outside job in the winter time has been such a good decision. Especially in the severe cold weather I have needed to go out and check on the animals several times a day. I still fill up 10 gallon buckets of water from the kitchen sink and haul water by hand to everyone. Doing this takes time, and I need to make sure all the animals have water to drink at all times. Bob has always helped me in the past, but it's empowering to be able to do this on my own.
Plus I needed to focus on my kickstarter, make a BUNCH of soap, and keep on with building up the business. Right now I'm sending cover letters out to cooperative grocery stores in the Midwest. I hope to start being a vendor at enough stores so I don't have to spend so much time and energy attending farmers markets in 2018. I LOVE going to markets, it can just be a burn out. Especially since I will work at my outside job again this spring in summer at Spring Hill Community Farm! I really enjoy working for Patty and Mike and I don't want to burn myself out working my on farm job, and outside farm job, plus building my soap business and traipsing off to farmers markets every Saturday. So, if you know of any stores you think EB Ranch Goat Milk Soap would be a hit at, let me know!
Planning for this year of 2018 is a big chore I have started tackling. I need to look over my business plan and adjust numbers as needed. Taking inventory to see what my best soap sellers where and my not so good ones. Also figuring out meat CSA shares. I hope to offer early spring goose and duck meat shares in limited supply. Plus, delving into possibly offering goat meat shares at some point. If you are interested in any of these, please let me know and I can give you more details before I make it known on my website.
There are many other ideas brewing in my head. As always, I need to remember to reign myself back from taking on too much. That was one of my 2018 new year goals. I need to focus on what I have going and how I can improve and make a living from what I do. How I can get more people interested in these San Clemente Island goats, how I can improve this beautiful and Bob and I live on!
There where some major challenges in 2017. I ended up loosing 3 goats due to various reasons, one of which was an expected old age reason. I also am super unhappy with the loose minerals I have been feeding my goats. There is obviously something "off" as their fur coats are looking shabby and patchy. It's not a parasite issue, just a poor mineral mix. I have some new minerals picked out, they just need to get here so I can make the transition. It's stuff like this I need to problem solve and fix to continue to have healthy animals and land. It can be incredibly hard to loose animals due to things beyond your control, but it's part of being steward to animals, to live is to die. It's a sad thing, but also a natural and beautiful cycle of life.
Moving and learning from that, I have a pretty fantastic herd of goats. Most of the does will be due to kid in either mid March or mid April. I have a new grazing plan I want to implement. Plus I might be milking up to FIVE goats in a few months, yikes! I'm excited to grow this herd of sci goats and keep moving forward!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, as always let me know if you have any comments or questions. I have a slideshow at the bottom of this blog quite a few pictures, enjoy!
Thank you for your support!
Even though I haven't worked my outside farm job at Spring Hill CSA for a few weeks, I haven't really been that attentive to you typical house upkeep. I have had clean laundry sitting in clothes baskets for at least a week, I have small piles of garbage and recycling on my office/art room floor, and the dirty dishes get out of control quickly. Obviously my attentions are elsewhere right now. Plus, I might be easily distracted by our FIVE adorable house cats....
I'm in organizational mode in other ways, getting all of my goat milk soap rewards made to those who backed the EB Ranch San Clemente Goat Milk Soap Expansion Campaign. I have been making soap like a maniac, placing much needed orders for extra shelving and soap making supplies, and organizing who gets what and making sure all the packages make it to their new homes without any issues. A good chunk of soaps will be mailed out on Monday with others to follow through the fist part of December.
With that there is making other business choices and constantly educating myself so I can make thoughtful and educated decisions. I feel such a huge community and friend support in this arena. Other friends are in their own stages of their own businesses, thinking about expanding, fine tuning, or even perhaps moving on to a new chapter in their lives. These discussions I have had with friends are very much valued. Especially getting into the realm of woman owned and run businesses, and perhaps businesses that don't need to be so monetized. Don't get me wrong, I want to make a living with my business, I'm just not out to rule the world with it. I have a limit on how much I want to expand and it's pretty humble in the grand scheme of things.
Something else I will always try and be is open and honest when it comes to my farm and business. I'm not going to spout some ideals that I don't personally practice but tell you how YOU should be running you business or making choices in your life. I'm off on a bit of a different subject, but I have read a lot of great farming blogs, articles, and books. And I can usually tell when people have honest stories, they are the ones filled with triumphs as well as failures. I have also read complete and utter bullshit stories. I have read the half truths and how they tell you how YOU should really be taking care of your land or animals. When I know for a fact that they failed miserably at those same practices they are preaching to you. I have known some of these people on some social level. It leaves me frustrated but it leaves me wanting even more to be honest. I also don't want to be fear mongering either, but I encourage having healthy skepticism and even getting to know farmers in your area and actually have face to face talks with them about their own growing practices. We should learn from each others mistakes, not keep propagating our own mistakes as successes.
After all of that, I have to say this business expansion has been hard in many ways. I have to get over my phone phobias and actually talk to people, I have to put myself out there, be ready for rejection when promoting the business or trying to be a vendor at other stores. I have had terrible goat issues, dealing with accidental livestock death and super old animals is stressful beyond words. Getting ready for a December kidding and hoping everything is set up well enough for next year's kiddings. Having a dog run off during deer hunting season and hoping she doesn't chase deer and piss off a hunter who in turn will shoot her. Freyja came back safely 10 minutes later FYI. Writing business plans, wondering if you will even financially make it?!, creating farm plans for next year, what can I afford, what is a priority?, how can I manage my goat herd better?
All of this makes me excited and thankful for coffee and FRIENDS! Not to mention how awesome Bob has been as well as family. Plus there are a lot of organizations out there that can and will help me, both organizationally and financially. A huge thing I have learned over the years, with almost every issue or hurdle I have, there are tools out there to help me through.
I'll end on the note of local involvement. I know I get my fingers into too many projects. I have whittled down what I do over the years so I don't overextend myself. Right now being on the board for the Hay River Review has been fantastic. Plus it makes me excited about some writing projects in the future. I'm also excited to becoming more involved in the Dunn Co. chapter of the Farmers Union. I WANT to get to know my neighbors more, I want to hear what people have to say about their farm successes and failures. Perhaps we can work together to minimize the issues? Food, water, shelter, health care and clothing are the basic necessities we humans need. They are also some of the most corrupt industries and endangered resources. We can work together to make these essential resources available to everyone and to create a sustainable way of life to those who provide those services.
Now to move on to FINALLY putting my clothes away, cleaning the house, doing some baking and packaging up more reward soaps. We have been reaping the fruits of our hard work from the gardens over the summer. I have pictured below all the food we grew to make a hearty pasta dish. All from the farm except the noodles. Utilizing frozen, canned, and dehydrated food and stored produce. Plus I have been geeking out on the Great British Baking Show and it's inspired me to make some awesome sour dough bread and fancy deserts! Wish me luck and enjoy the smattering of farm pictures.
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.