Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's So Great About Goats?

Last Wednesday Ken and I went to Everett (30 minutes up the freeway) to a farmer to farmer presentation sponsored by Washington State University on dairying and selling raw goat milk to local co-ops. The presenters (John and Marsha St. John of the St. John Creamery) had upwards of 150 Oberhasli goats of which 17 were billy goats, about 40 does with kids and the rest does without kids. They milked 60 – 70 goats morning and evening with one early and one late employee. They did all the marketing and all of the milk deliveries themselves. The goats were mid-sized but with fairly high milk production. They were a beautiful chocolate color and they pointed out which ones had had their copper for the season already and it made quite a difference in the depth of the color. Most of the talk was near the kids so we got to watch them play. The presentation itself seemed about right for us knowing nothing but I think there was quite a bit that went over our heads because there were other goat people there asking questions about everything from size and restrictions of the milking facility to county to county farm management. Marsha said she had so many billy goats because the boys of this breed have the sweeter dispositions. We didn’t actually get anywhere near the boys so we had to take her word for it. I think another reason for so many boys is that up to this point they have mostly been breeding and selling the kids and have only recently started selling the milk. She is still selling kids for $25 or with papers for $100. That seems pretty reasonable to me; they leave the kids with the does for eight weeks, I think they said. We resisted bringing two home for Sambo and Juniper to learn to take care of but they were sooo cute.

After the farm part of the presentation we were supposed to go to the Everett co-op and listen to a short presentation by their buyers but we got lost on the way and missed the presentation. It was a very well stocked co-op, though, and we were pleased to get some sorghum molasses which we haven’t been able to find anywhere since we’ve been here. We also got a $16 gallon of the raw milk produced at the creamery to see if we would like goat’s milk. It tastes pretty good although I haven’t really drunk milk straight for quite a few years so I am a little more interested in learning to make cheese. We seem to be adjusting to using it on our cereal but it cleaned us all out pretty thoroughly. We met some other people at the presentation who raise goats (Nubians) mainly to make a little cheese and asked if we could visit their farm also, so that will be a fun thing to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cob Owner Builder Workshop

I decided to post the pictures here: so that my thoughts about the workshop wouldn't be quite so public but the pictures would be available. I learned a little about building cob houses but found the learning procedure very trying most of the time. I think that in attempting to make people feel comfortable designing their own little homes, they didn't want to give answers to our questions that could be construed as "THE answer." But the answer given most often was, "It depends," and unless the factors that an answer depends on are clearly spelled out, along with the range of possibilities, that's not an answer at all.

The weather was atrocious and contributed to my getting quite sick along with a number of other people. I had Ken come to get me at the end of the second week and it took several days at home to get back to normal.

The jury is still out about whether I would attempt to build cob anything, but I do think I would try something more managable than a house the first time out.