Hello faithful reader(s?). You’re in for a real treat today as we’ll be liveblogging all the insanely interesting activities that go on at the farm today. So grab a bite to eat, something warm to drink, snuggle up to a loved one and keep hitting that refresh button boys and girls!
6:30 AM – According to the internets it was 24 degrees when Susan and I were heading up the road to milk this morning and according to ye olde green house thermometer the low in this neck of the woods was 21 degrees over night – either way you shake it that’s cold for both two legged and four legged creatures. We got five half gallons from the ladies this morning who were pretty happy to come stand inside for a bit . . .
I noticed that the local HEB is now selling goats milk – pasteurized of course, for $3.50 a quart, and lets face it undoubtedly from goats of a dubious nature. Whereas our milk comes from goats that are wholesome, good and kind, will only cost you $4.50 for a half gallon – that’s TWO quarts, Dale – and on top of that you get all the crazy cool benefits of drinking raw milk – none of that pasteurization hocus pocus for us my friends. (Goat picture courtesy of Will “The Size of My Sunglasses Suggests There is Something Wrong with My Retina” Summers)
8:00 AM – Brrrr – it was cold out there last night – lots of frozen water dishes and hoses this morning but all the animals seemed to have been tucked in nice and cozy and were up moving around this morning just fine. After milking we got the cows fed, let the chickens out, fed and watered the rabbits and put the dry goats – i.e., a goat that is not being milked but in this case a catch all phrase for actual dry goats, wethers, a few kids and one lonely jenny – out in the back pasture, the twenty or so acres of our farm that strictly speaking aren’t under cultivation – bada boom, bada bing – time for breakfast. (Animal photos courtesy of Will “The Thrill” Summers)
10:00 AM – The village store and farm stand are open for business so if you’re in the neighborhood stop by for some fresh carrots, swiss chard, free-range eggs, fair trade coffee, and crazy good times.
10:20 AM – Susan and I just ran up to the garden to take the row cover off of the lettuce and swiss chard that had been covered up by Kris, Jessica and company yesterday to guard against the hard freeze we got. These crops are pretty winter hardy but these are some fairly new beds that are still getting established so we want to be extra careful with them. Here are your before and after shots:
11:45 AM – Let us speak of composting toilets my friends. Nay, do not turn away, do not avert your eyes, nor turn up your nose but let us be frank about the disposal of our poop. I bring the subject up on this fine winters morning because I just performed the ritual peak-knocking, not to be confused with privy-tipping, in our composting toilet here in the Carl F. Ryther Education Building and as is often the case when this deed is done the pros vs. cons of the composting toilet system were on my mind. And as usual despite the unseemly task of knocking the peak and the almost quarterly task of emptying the toilet reservoir (and believe me we are not blind to the complications of the composting toilet system) it is still hard to justify our conventional method of waste disposal which essentially boils down to using potable water to move our poop from one spot over to another spot – especially in light of the fact that almost 45% of residential water usage is tied up in this process while we live in a world where almost 2 billion people do not have access to potable water. (Photos omitted at the suggestion of my wife.)
12:30 PM – Lunch time for woman, man and beast alike. The dairy goats have been confined to the barn for the past few weeks eating some of the hay that we baled earlier this summer – its good stuff, nice sorghum sudan grass hay – but its no comparison to grazing on fresh pasture. Ideally we would like to have a seamless transition from summer to winter pasture so that our dairy goats are on a constant diet of fresh forage – remember boys and girls the better your pasture the better your animal the better your milk, the better your meat, the better your ________ (fill in the blank here). Unfortunately the weather conspired against us this year so that we had a few weeks there where we didn’t have any fresh pasture for grazing – not ideal but a good reminder for us that there are some things you just can’t manipulate, or rather farming as we do there are some things you choose not to manipulate. Those in the livestock business like to think that they are raising animals but in reality they are growing grass and those who produce the best products are the ones who put the most energy into growing the best forage. So, all that to say that our goats were extremely happy this week to get back out onto fresh pasture – even if it is only for half a day at the moment. So, here they are standing in a beautiful field of winter oats, clover and rye />- delicious, I, on the other hand, plan on enjoying an equally delicious plate of leftover pasta – a little cream, fresh parmesan, white wine and mushroom sauce – that’s just the way we roll Saturday’s here at the farm – Bon appétit! (that’s from Susan)
2:00 PM – Speaking of Susan, she’s been hard at work this afternoon setting the Village Store to rights – checking inventory, balancing the books, seeing how the rest of us have messed things up in the short period of time in which she was away visiting family, you know, the usual.
2:45 PM – FYI – we have a lot of eggs for sale at the moment. Many of our usual customers are out and about visiting family so our usually bare egg cupboard is relatively full at the moment; which means you should come on by and pick up a dozen or two of our farm fresh, free-range eggs – they are only $3 a dozen. If you’ve never tried farm fresh, free-range eggs and your go-to egg is in fact a run of the mill supermarket egg then I weep for you my friend, I put my face in my hands and I quietly weep for you. There is no comparison. None. If you don’t believe me come on down, buy a dozen and try them out. Many is the person who has recently eloquently opined on the virtues of these little oval globes of culinary delight but here are a few sentences from Michael Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemna in which he talks to Joel Salatin about his eggs:
As it is, artisanal producers like Joel compete on quality, which, oddly enough, is still a somewhat novel idea when it comes to food. “When someone drives up to the farm in a BMW and asks me why our eggs cost more, well, first I try not to get mad,” said Joel. “Frankly, any city person who doesn’t think I deserve a white-collar salary as a farmer doesn’t deserve my special food. Let them eat E. coli. But I don’t say that. Instead I take him outside and point at his car. ‘Sir, you clearly understand quality and are willing to pay for it. Well, food is no different: You get what you pay for.’
“Why is it that we exempt food, of all things, from that rule? Industrial agriculture, because it depends on standardization, has bombarded us with the message that all pork is pork, all chicken is chicken, eggs eggs, even though we all know that can’t really be true. But it’s downright un-American to suggest that one egg might be nutritionally superior to another.” Joel recited the slogan of his local supermarket chain: “‘We pile it high and sell it cheap.’ What other business would ever sell its products that way?”
Try ‘em you’ll like ‘em
4:15 PM – About time to head up the road for the afternoon milking. Should be good times. We’ll get the ladies milked, tuck in all the rest of the animals and head back down for a nice bowl of fresh tomato soup that we’ve been promised. They better not be toying with us – soup is a serious matter.
5:50 PM – Those shadows you see there are the hallmark of another day coming to a close here at the farm. We got another four bottles of milk – once again, loyal readers, good pasture = good product. The crops are covered again as we may get another freeze tonight and all the friendly beasts have a little extra food to tide them over through the chill of the night. There’s somebody in the kitchen making soup and somebody else is making biscuits – you can get a lot done during the day if you know fresh soup and biscuits are waiting for you at the end. We’ll sit around and eat a little supper and then play a little Ninja Burger, that’s right I said Ninja Burger – and then get up in the morning and do it all over again. Night friends.