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