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!
Born and raised in a small town, then moved back to the same small town. Jill of many trades and happy to be so.