March: In like a lion, out like a lamb. Right? It seems straightforward enough; when the month starts, it is winter and as it leaves spring has begun; or at least it is supposed to have begun, but today, not so much. It is feeling decidedly lion-y still with a cold white blanket and the only signs of lambie-ness are the real ones that are bouncing around in the snow! Regardless of the weather, however, all the typical ‘spring’ events are happening on the farm, so there is no rest for the wicked. As I was whining to Shaun about how I was ready for spring and how much I despise putting on all these clothes to slog out to the barn, I got a side-long “buck-up, Buttercup” look. He’s right; spring weather is bound to show up sometime soon, but in the meantime, I am holding a little bitterness over having to cancel my special plant shopping day with Mom yesterday because of snow! #pout
The past two months have flown by. As is normal, we started kidding the first of February with our little first time fresheners. It is always such an ‘adventure’ (translation: RODEO) helping them learn how to be milk goats. We are just now hitting our stride with them and gearing up for the second wave of kidding to being next week. Lots of big uncomfortable Mama’s in the barn.
As many of you know, keeping the number of does that we have to a manageable number can be a challenge, so our current method of managing that is to breed a large percentage of our beautiful Nubians to a meat buck and when those babies are born, they go to our friends at K2Farm to be raised as meat and companion animals. We would love to keep every kid that hits the ground, but our farm land base and labor resource pool is just too limited for that, so we choose carefully how many does will have Nubian kids and keep only those doe babies that will be replacements. We typically like to breed the for Nubian babies through artificial insemination (AI), which can prove to be a bit challenging with our work schedules, so we always shoot for a lot and hope for a few! We’ll keep you posted on how our breeding plan comes out this year. We are anxious about some pretty exciting breedings and hoping for some lovely babies. We are actually trying to scale down by a few does, so fewer replacements wouldn’t be a bad thing, but we hope for at least a few!
In the meantime, we have been busy with lambing. It has not been without its heart-ache. Shaun takes full responsibility for the heart-ache. You see, we were at a Celebration of Life for a long-time goat friend of ours and I overheard Shaun talking to someone about the ewes starting to lamb. This was a goat friend he was talking to and he said, “In all the years we have had the sheep, we have only ever had to help a handful of times and it wasn’t ever a big deal.” He told me later, as soon as the words started to tumble out of his mouth, he tried to stop them but it was too late. We both know that once you say something like that, you are almost guaranteed an issue. Never, NEVER say never! Sure enough, two days later, our lovely ewe Lola presented us with an opportunity to ‘help’, but unfortunately her situation was too complicated for help; improper positioning of the lambs meant she did not dilate fully and resulted in a badly torn uterus. Although we grieved the loss of euthanizing Lola and the loss of her first lamb, we were grateful for a beautiful little ewe lamb that we named Molly. With no goat babies or lamb babies as buddies, Molly has taken to our dog June Bug, and us. Imprinting is real friends! Don’t ever think otherwise. She has been my daily delight and I suspect she will hold a place of honor at the farm for a very long time. I even had a random thought this morning as I was feeding her that maybe Molly, because she will be so friendly, should become our first milking sheep…but don’t tell Shaun I had that thought….
In other farm news, we have been working all winter on plans for the Farm Stand. Nothing major, but as we see growth in our Fern Prairie area, it feels logical that more people might want to be able to find farm produced artisan foods from their local farmers. We decided to partner with several other local farms and producers to offer a larger variety of items at our farm stand. We will be carrying honey from Half Moon Farm, a wonderful assortment of culinary herb blends from Garden Delights Herb Farm, handmade goat milk soap from Secret Springs Farms as well as our own farm produced soaps (Secret Springs makes fancy soaps—ours are purely utilitarian), farm produced jams and Girl Meets Dirt preserves for cheese pairings to name a few. We are pleased to have our woolen blankets produced by MacAuslunds Woolen Mills back in stock in some of our favorite earth tone natural blends, as well as all of our beautiful woolen yarns. Over the years, we have been reluctant to really promote our farm stand much, but after years of successful self-serve operation, we have decided to embrace the concept of Honor Store Marketing and actually advertise and encourage more on-farm sales. Like the Luke Bryan song says, “I believe most people are good…” We want people to have access to good food and we believe that the people that will come to our farm are trust-worthy, so we are planning on expanding our farm store hours and advertising more. We hope that this positive change will create more opportunities for people to visit the farm stand to pick up some delicious ice cream or eggs or whatever they need at their convenience. Although we will never be ‘one-stop-shopping’ you will never be able to find fresher, higher quality or more carefully produced local artisan items than those that we have in our farm stand. We are working on a new page for our website about the honor stand and hope to have the stand completely stocked soon—although, my goal was April 1st and I can clearly see that isn’t going to happen! But like everything on the farm, hope springs eternal, so we will keep moving in the direction of done and hope that someday we get there.
Until next time, wishing you the best springtime thoughts!
S & L