Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall is in full swing at the Farmers Market. My daughter Roan is displaying that emblem of fall harvest: a pumpkin. As a family, we are anticipating Halloween, ordering wood for winter, and inviting a handsome buck to come and visit the "girls." We are also in transition, with our house for sale, thinking about moving into town (and yes, the goats will come with), and planning for a new future, while honoring our past 13 years here in Glorieta.

My new business plans are coming along great! Soon, customers will be able to buy my custom-soaps with sweet and pleasing designs including a heart with baby goats, a sunflower & bee, a new kind of cat soap, and more. Can't wait to share these with my loyal customers and new friends!

Happy Fall, all, and Happy Harvest!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Goat Had Her Portrait Painted!

Painter Miranda Gray came out to my little farm earlier this summer and took some photos for her lovely Farm Project--and made a gorgeous portrait of my goat Sula! Here is an excerpt of a recent article about this project, from Edible Santa Fe:

"One of the tenants of permaculture is that everything is connected. Six years ago, Miranda Gray moved with her husband into a small adobe house in the middle of an aging orchard in the Pojoaque Valley. She knew nothing of permaculture, or fruit trees, and only had an inkling of an idea about what her art making was going to be like in her new home. This chapter in her life started with the need to find a painting medium that was free of toxic fumes and plastics, safe to use in her small living room/studio. She also needed some way to figure out what to do with all those trees. Through the trees she found local teachers and community. Through her painting constraints, she discovered the relatively obscure technique of egg tempera, which is one of the oldest painting mediums there is. It uses ground, powdered pigments mixed with water and the yolk of chicken eggs.

"But egg tempera is somewhat persnickety. Commercial eggs fall apart when one tries to separate out the yolk from the egg. This led Miranda to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market where the eggs she found made her very happy. The yolks were bright in color and stood up to being handled. For a while, as she learned her new craft, she painted portraits of things and people she loved. She painted her dogs, her childhood toys, and her friends. But she was running out of toys to paint. And who would want to buy portraits of dogs they didn’t know? She’d painted a couple of paintings about the bee crisis, but she didn’t feel that she could sustain the idea to a third painting. One evening last Autumn, while she was reading through the Fall issue of this magazine, she came across a beautiful photograph of two young farmers, brothers Kosma and Teague, with their hands dirtied holding huge arm loads of just picked carrots. She said, 'I had an epiphany looking at that picture. I could see a series of paintings that could go on and on for years. I had to paint the farmers! I found something that I loved, that I could paint about. And I found a topic that I believe in, local farming and sustainability. I found a way to blend my art and my politics. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep that night, thinking about all the possibilities, all the connections.'

"The first painting Miranda did was of another neighbor of hers, Natasya Gundersen of Mr.G’s Organic Farm. She road her bicycle down the road and found Gary and Natasya in their field picking white turnips for the market the next day. The morning light was exquisite, and Natasya’s hands were beautiful, with the requisite dirt that Miranda was looking for. From there Miranda went on to photograph Stanley Crawford on his garlic farm in Dixon, on the morning of his first garlic harvest. She helped bring in the harvest, which thrilled her to no end. She visited Daven Lee and her "girls,” goats who supply her with the milk she makes her soap from. She spent one morning tromping around Pollo Real with Tom Delehanty, while he showed her his operation, and talked with her of sustainability. He pointed out plants in his field that in her yard, had seemed like weeds, but now she knew to be nitrogen fixers and chicken food. Not only was she finding subject matter for her work, but also she was seeing first hand where her food was coming from. She was learning from the farmers, hearing their stories, and loving even more her own work.

"Miranda says that she still feels the voyeur. She is not the farmer, like Phil, who stood on his portal this spring and watched while a ten-minute hailstorm ruined his lettuce crop. She doesn’t have to get up before dawn, and put the sleepy kids in the car to drive two hours to market like Tom and Tracy do each week. She is hoping that her paintings will work as prayers for these farmers; that through the hours she sits painting, thinking of them and the good they bring, that somehow she can work a bit of magic into this amazing life, as these farmers do.

Miranda Gray’s paintings may be viewed at Selby Fleetwood Gallery, 600 Canyon Road, Santa Fe. 505-992-8877. Her show opens on Friday October 3rd from 5:00 to 7:30,and Saturday October 4th from 1:00 to 5:00. This time on Saturday was chosen so that the farmers may attend the opening after their Saturday market.

Monday, September 8, 2008

We're in our new home!

Here we are inside our gorgeous new, spacious, light, clean, and LEED Certified Farmers Market Pavillion! I can't tell you how palpable the excitement was as we opened the market in our new location this week. Now, I am inside (and happy to be there), but there is a full and bustling market outside as well--so festive. There was a sense of deep ownership, both from the venders and farmers, as well as from our local, regular customers: This is OUR Farmers Market. The grand opening events for the entire Railyard will be this coming weekend, 9-5 both Saturday and Sunday. I will be away, sadly, at an ice skating competition in Colorado, but Jackie and Maya will be running my booth. And by the way, my booth will be getting more and more spruced up, now that I have a permanent spot, and am indoors, not having to brave the elements. Look for festive lights, beautiful cabinets for storage, new pictures and signage. . . Yipee!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tranquility in the Bee Yard

Beekeeping has become so popular--it is a special way to be a part of nature's vital cycles of reproduction, food growing, and of course results in this incredible liquid gold called honey--that cannot be reproduced artificially by humans, no matter how hard we try. Beehives can be kept within city limits, in small back yards, so it is a simple, pleasing way to bring wildness, agriculture, and nature into almost any living space (roof gardens in NY have beehives, too). And, let's face it, it's incredibly cool to be able to tolerate large clusters of buzzing, flying, stinging insects with tranquility--or at least pretending to tolerate them with tranquility--as opposed to running, screaming, as far away as possible at the mere site of one on a close-by flower.

I have to say, up until this year (I guess this is my fourth season beekeeping), I got very tense out at the apiary. These stinging insects made me mighty nervous. As I would work deeper into the hive, their buzzing would increase in volume--obviously a bad sign, and the guard bees (yes, that's really their job, and yes, they are female too, like the workers), would start buzzing in front of my face (veiled), trying to find a way in. Every once in a while I would feel an intense vibration on my hand, through my gloves, and I would look down to see a bee curling its body tightly trying to sting me. I had to take frequent calm-down breaks, walking several yards away, farther if necessary, until the last guard bee took off. Then back in. Yikes, they made me nervous. The bars full of comb and bees were heavy, and if it was hot out (and it always was--you harvest in summer, of course), trying to get the bees off the combs (great fun--they love it too--you brush them with a special brush, causing them to swarm all around your head and buzz louder), and get the comb, clean, over a bowl to cut off the comb, BEFORE IT BROKE OFF, was mighty stressful. There's nothing so aggravating as having a comb full of honey and watching it suddenly break off the bar, and fall, oozing honey and covered with bees, to the ground. Damn. Then there's trying to progress through the hive, manipulating the bars, and discovering that some combs are formed all crazy--vertically across a couple of bars, or attached at the bottom, so that as you gently try to shift one bar, it suddenly rips off, and, again, an entire comb full of honey and/or brood, and covered in bees, collapses to the bottom of the hive--AND I HAVE TO SCOOP OUT HONEY AND SQUISHED BEES RIGHT FROM THE HIVE, WHERE ALL THE BEES ARE JUST GOING CRAZY. Whew.

Well the point of all this is to say that this year, I have been all business in the hive. Sure, they started buzzing around me, I had some clean up to do, I had to brush bees off to clean the combs, but I just ignored the bees--I just didn't even notice their buzzing, or their kamikaze missions around my head. Now it's not that I'm some kind of mean giant who just comes through and bullies her way through the hive. I just was able to stay focused and calm, and get the work done. I even got half a bee sting--and this did not phase me. Yay!

So what you see in this picture from early in the season, is myself and 13 year old Maya. Maya, who helps her grandmother Jackie in my booth, has become enamored of bees. In preparation for getting her own hive (at this writing, the bees have already been established at her home), I gave her a tour of mine. Such fun.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Honey Honey Honey

Is there anything more emblematic of the abundance and sensuality of summer, than a hive overflowing with honey?

This past week I went into the hive for the first time in a month. In June I was going in pretty much every week, and there was very little progress on the honey-making, although everyone seemed very busy and happy in the hive. But we have gotten so much rain in July, everything is just growing like crazy. I saw the bees buzzing at the top of my golden rain tree, among the yellow flowers there, on the sunflowers, in the clover--just everywhere. Sure enough when I went to open the hive, they had filled every bar with comb--the hive was bursting at the seams! I had some messes to clean up--combs formed slightly diagonally between two bars, or one comb that had a little hole in the top, and the neighboring comb had a little extension that fit right into that hole, like an architectural puzzle. Very pleasing. I cut off enough honey-filled comb to fill three large bowls on the counter of my kitchen--luscious, light-colored and warm, straight from the hive. Hopefully I've given the bees some more space to make more comb and honey, and this time, I'll check in on them sooner!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Spabox and More

Whooo, it's been some time since I've updated my blog. One reason, well, Mercury retrograde. This is a very Santa Fe "excuse"--and it goes something like this: When Mercury is in retrograde, the lore goes, mechanical, technical stuff just goes all wrong. Normally I ignore this and think nothing of it. But here is what happened to me, and now I am a true believer.

1) I decided to clean my beautiful, 1-year-old, just-paid-off Macbook. I lovingly did so, and thereafter three or four different keys on the keyboard stopped working. Stopped working. That's like a $200 repair job now. But my keyboard is really really clean.

2) Turned on the toaster oven, and all the lights in our house suddenly dimmed. Then they came back up again. Then they dimmed again. And so on. Called the electric company. No, of course it wasn't happening on their end. So now we are renting a Ditch-witch, digging a new trench and laying an entirely new electrical line (250 ft) from the pole to our house. Yeehaw.

3) Well, I'm going to be a single woman again. This is hard, but actually good news, as my husband and I go off to fully pursue our life and dreams while still staying a family with our sweet and perfect children.
Oh and it was a full moon, and the solstice. . .

Ok, back to soap stuff.

One of the great things to come out of the great publicity from the Localflavor article is several wonderful women-run businesses around New Mexico are going to be carrying my products.

The first one is Spabox Organic Apothecary, owned by Cherilyn Swenson. Those of you out in cyberspace can experience her lovely gift-oriented, luxurious store through her website,, or if you're lucky enough to live in Santa Fe, visit her cozy little boutique downtown at at 211 Galisteo St. See the photos for a glimpse of her shop.

Gaia Garments in Corrales, NM is in the process of placing their first order with me. Founders Pamela Bauer and Darci Knobel have just opened this organic/sustainable clothing and shoe store and I’m excited to be a part of it. I’ve never been to Corrales, so this may be my motivation to go!

In the meantime, the bees are making honey, and the goats are always hungry.
I was comparing beekeeping notes with my nextdoor neighbor who has a hive as well, and he agreed that the bees seem much calmer this season than last. Maybe they’re looking forward to having presumptive-President Obama at the helm, looking out for their interests with some serious action on alternative energy and environmental protections. . .

Till next time. . .

Thursday, May 8, 2008

How Green Are We?

Left: view of our home from the goats’ perspective.

There was a story on NPR last night about LEED Certification—a high standard of environment-friendly features for buildings ranging from solar cells to water catchment. Different levels of LEED certification are determined through a point system—certain points for certain features, which then add up to a score, which then determines the level of certification. Anyhow, our new Farmers Market building will comply with the highest LEED Certification. While we were listening to the NPR story, my daughter asked me what the heck they were talking about. I started describing the point system, and used our own home as an example. Then it occurred to me that you all, my customers and those interested in my business, might like to know that when they support my business, they are also supporting an operation that is working on being as “green” as can be—and this might inspire some of you to make some changes to your own home and work place as well. So, although I don’t know how many points I’d accumulate under LEED standards, here are some of the green practices in place at Milk and Honey:
• Our home is passive solar. This means it is angled and designed via large windows, to gain heat when the winter sun is low in the sky, and avoid the sun in summer, when it is higher—this means certain roof angles, windows, and materials that either capture and hold the heat (winter), or maintain cool temperatures in summer. Basically in winter, we hardly heat our home during a sunny day time.
• Straw bale construction. We built a straw bale addition to our home several years ago. Our straw bale addition provides super-insulation—read more about this as a building method if you don’t know about it.
• We employ permaculture principles in our landscaping. This includes “berms and swales” to help capture water where our plants need it, and slows erosion. We pair plants together so they can provide mutual benefit—in the picture you can see the green comfrey starting to come up around the base of our fruit trees. Comfrey is a “living mulch” that keeps the tree roots cool and retains moisture, it feeds the soil with by fixing nitrogen, and it is a medicinal herb for people. This leads to another key principle of permaculture design that we try to employ—which is to choose plantings that have multiple purposes. Our plantings are watered using a drip irrigation system, as well as--
• Use of grey water irrigation. Our shower and washing machine empty into our yard—cuts down on a little long-shower guilt.
• Water catchment—horse troughs at the gutters.
• Keeping bees, is, of course, good for our environment, especially now that commercial bees are disappearing mysteriously. Bees pollinate not only food for us, but food for birds, bats, etc—they are a major part of our food chain.
• Various efficient appliances: front-loading washing machine (and a clothes line when it’s warm), low-flow toilet (actually we have a very cool toilet with two buttons to choose your water flow depending on your “deposit”), dish washer, compact fluorescent light bulbs, etc
• Low-impact, sustainably-manufactured kitchen cabinets, natural flooring (cork, Pergo, wool berber).
• In winter we heat with a charming woodstove (again, only using it in the evenings or on overcast days), and have quilted window shades on many of our windows.
• And, on order, a new Prius, hybrid car to cut down on our carbon emissions and fuel consumption as we commute to Santa Fe almost every day.

Now, there are many, many more improvements we would love to make, solar cells on the roof, and a windmill out back being just a few. We have stretched to make most of the above happen, despite the increased expense that many of these choices costs up front (the Prius being the biggest so far!!!). But of course, we feel it has been worth it. One of the biggest lifestyle/quality of life issues we are currently struggling with is our distance from Santa Fe, our time spent in the car, and the incredible waste this is creating—both in terms of time, as well as fuel. This summer we are seriously exploring a move back into Santa Fe—back to town life, where we can bike places again, and take advantage of the green benefits of living in a congested area. Goats in the city limits? I know of some goats already living there, and certainly many chickens. . . stay tuned!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Cover Girl!

EEEEEE! I’m on the COVER of the May issue of Localflavor (! Wow—they said such nice things about me (Editor’s Letter, p 7), featured a cute picture of goat Sula (contents page, p4), and just did an incredible spread (“Land of Milk and Honey” p10-12). Although I would dispute that my life really is a “romantic tapestry”, I’m very flattered anyway. Gail Snyder, the author of the article did a great job describing my childhood influences on my present-day lifestyle. I think I’ll elaborate and pay tribute to those mentioned in passing in the article.

Without a doubt, the most influential experience of my childhood was growing up living at the Exchange Place, in Kingsport, Tennessee—see picture postcard, above ( --hurrah for the web!). Gail very accurately described it as a “living museum” of 1850’s life—log cabins, barns, a sweet pasture behind the homestead with a creek running through it and magical woods. My mother was (still is) a craftsperson; back then she was weaving and spinning and designing textiles. (As an adult, I now completely appreciate my early exposure to fiber arts through my knitting—I knit the wool sweater in that cover shot.) Sheep were a big part of growing up, although we didn’t have any living with us back then. (Now the Exchange place has a very sweet flock.) I was surrounded by people making things by hand—some who did it for historical reasons, to learn traditional methods (coverlet weaving, quilting, tool-making, etc—think the “Foxfire” books), and some who did it for artistic reasons, learning the traditional skills in order to enhance their modern artistic visions. Vegetable-dyeing wool, spinning, basket weaving, woodworking and pottery were constantly in my surroundings and practiced by my mother’s artist friends. As an only child, I spent a lot of time hanging out with the various adults who came to work at the Exchange Place, including Jim and Tom, builders who specialized in restorative construction, rebuilding, after extensive research (in this case), the old log cabins, by using the traditional building methods and materials.

Not only did I get to know so many interesting and creative people, but I developed a deep appreciation of things created by hand—things that were made for everyday use, and yet were works of art by highly skilled people. I learned to value the old way of doing things—not only do you make something by hand, but you gather or raise or grow the materials it is made from, and you process it by hand—in weaving terms, “from sheep to shawl.” Animals are often involved, giving the end product the history of a sweet personality, and creating things in this vein connects you not only to local history, but to the history of humans creating things out of necessity and love and artistic impulse all over the world.

Oh, and to top it all off? My little hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee, is about 45 minutes (if I remember right) from The Carter Family Fold ( --wow, the web), also known as the home of the legendary Carter Family, only those very folks credited with “giving birth to country music.” Talk about tradition! So I was also steeped in old-timey mountain music—I mean it was everywhere, and I grew up loving it.

So there’s a little of my history, and although I never raised goats (had one only briefly as a child), and never made soap (kind of surprising), there is no doubt that what I do now can be traced right back to these beginnings. Obviously the “sheep to shawl” concept, as well as looking back to traditional lifestyles, has given way to the Farmers Market movement of local, sustainable, organic—doing things the old way, it turns out, has a lot of wisdom to it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today was the first day of the outdoor market—the official beginning of the 2008 Farmers Market season! We are at a very interesting temporary location that actually feels like a little European street fair to me—see picture. It is not big enough to accommodate our full market, nor all the parking needed for our customers, but it is great for one more week until we move to the parking lot by the PERA building across from the state capitol. This will be an ideal location for our visitors, and is actually a pretty parking lot with big trees and very spacious. That will be our last temporary home until we move into our beautiful new location, where we will stay for the next 80 years (at least).

It was so great to see my regular customers again, and meet so many new ones. There is such excitement when people enter my booth—I always forget how this fuels me. One customer bought enough Mother and Baby soaps in gift bags to give as favors at a baby shower—it’s such an honor to be part of a new baby/new mama celebration that way.

And, starting this week, I am rolling out a new feature to my blog: CELEBRITY CUSTOMER/CITING OF THE WEEK. Hopefully it will always be celebrity CUSTOMER of the week, but alas, sometimes those famous folks in Santa Fe don’t come into my booth. Past celebrities who have been my customers include the actors Marsha Mason and Alan Arkin (both locals), and a citing of the modern dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones.

This week’s CELEBRITY CUSTOMER OF THE WEEK IS . . . (drum roll please): Democracy NOW host Amy Goodman!

She is in town with her brother David, promoting their new book, “Standing Up to the Madness.” You can learn more about her at Thanks for coming by, Amy, and enjoy your lotion bars and soap!

Jackie Higginson, my saleswoman, was star-struck, as were her granddaughters. Her granddaughters readily told Amy that they were fans, but then when asked what they liked about her show said, “Ummmmmmm.” Very cute. I missed her, sadly. Wish I had a picture of her in my booth to share.

I also have to say that Jackie’s homeschooled granddaughters were working away with her in the booth today. Her eldest, Maya, was our right-hand woman, beautifully arranging my soaps and lotions, keeping the table stocked, sticking labels on bags and tins, and taking good care of customers. She’s a welcome addition to my business.

Come see us next weekend at the Market!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Getting Ready for Market

It's that time of year--Spring in Santa Fe. Warm and sunny one day, harshly windy the next, freezing and snowy the day after that. Yes, freezing and snowy. Poor daffodils. Luckily for me, in Glorieta our trees haven't even started blooming yet. But I'm busily getting ready for market. Packing up beautiful soaps, making new signs for my baskets, shopping for a new tent. The Market has had some difficulty finding an outdoor home for this season before our building is done, but wherever the Market is, people will come. And I've been amazed at how the Market can transform a mall parking lot into an inviting, warm festival. I look forward to seeing everyone again starting next Saturday.

And my new-business plans continue! It's so fun to meet with different folks, share my ideas, and then catch their enthusiasm. They start to think about my business too, and it just multiplies the energy--it's a great feeling to inspire others, and to be inspired by their creativity as well.

More soon. . .

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cradle to Cradle

Ah Spring. Isn't it wonderful? Suddenly the light changes, the chickens start laying, buds appear on the fruit trees, and new ideas for my business start to emerge. In almost any business that markets a product, there is great pressure for constant innovation. I feel this acutely, especially every April at the first day of the Farmers Market when my loyal customers greet me with "Anything new?" This is always a little terrifying to me. Where are all the new ideas? Yikes!

Well, I've made a big discovery. Fellow small business owners, here comes my big piece of sage advice, the latest lesson I've learned going into my fourth year in business (Gee, I think I’ll even try to generalize): Follow your passion in your business, even as it changes! Interest in business has a flow, like a liquid—it starts in one area, then it flows to another, then sloshes to another, bringing new life to different areas of the business. And it’s your job to follow the flow—oh, “go with the flow”!

Ok, let me elaborate (I'll have to refine the language if I'm going to write a bestseller).

When I first started my business, of course I was excited about the soap itself. Then I started selling at the Farmers Market and I was so excited about the Market, and about selling and meeting all my customers. Then I hired Jackie to sell for me, and got excited about the growth of my business and everything involved in having an employee, and maybe in the future, more employees. Then there’s been designing and marketing my website. Etc. Etc. Then I got stuck and felt guilty for not feeling as excited about the things that used to make me excited. Does this mean I've run out of steam on this business, and should just quit? The truth is, I've had some ideas gnawing at me, but kept telling those ideas that they weren't rational for my business--too expensive, too involved, stay simple etc. But then I finally, I gave voice to those ideas, and lo and behold, an entire plan took shape almost instantly and almost in it's entirety! Suddenly my business was exciting again, had a new life! Oh! I get it!

So here is one piece of my new plan, for preview here on the Blog: It’s time to design/create custom packaging for my soap, that will not only convey the greatness and irresistibility of my products, but will also meet my ecological/good person standards in terms of materials, and enable me to wholesale my products all over the planet.

As you know from my website, I want to use my business to make the world a better place—not only by philanthropy, but also in terms of how I run my business and what I market. There is an incredible concept pioneered by William McDonough called “Cradle to Cradle.” I’ll quote from a great article (

“How’s this for an environmental packaging strategy?
• Use more packaging material, not less.
• Instead of designing with the cheapest materials,
design the best package possible, without worrying
about per-package cost.
• “Littering” can help the environment.
Sound politically incorrect, and financially suicidal?
Take a closer look. What if that ice cream wrapper lying
on the side of the road were designed to “melt” into a
biosafe liquid in a matter of hours at ambient temperatures?
What if the foam food container was not only
biodegradable, but incorporated essential nutrients to replenish
the topsoil?”

Great, right? Perfect for Milk and Honey Soap, right?

Ok, stay tuned. I have some more great ideas, but they’re still a secret!

(By the way, go ahead and Google “Cradle to Cradle”—and put these ideas to work!)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spring is Here--Our Building is Growing!

It's funny, but I don't actually pass by the site of our new permanent Farmers Market home very often--so when I have passed by in the last month or so, I've experienced a complete thrill at seeing our beautiful building coming together so quickly! Last year, I was on the Santa Fe Farmers Market building committee for several months. I had the privilege of viewing various blueprints and color renderings of potential designs, and being part of discussions about finish colors, LEED Certification, vendor spaces, and the dreams of the Farmers Market for the next 80 years. Yes, 80 years. The Farmers Market has an 80 year lease with the City of Santa Fe for the land, and we own the building. The commitment of the City, and the prominence of our permanent home in the heart of the growing Railyard District is a moving acknowledgment of the value our community places on our farmers, local fresh food, preserving our land and the family farms that steward it and community.  If the kitchen is the heart of the home--look! Our Farmers Market is the heart of Santa Fe!  Also enriching this area will be the new leg of the Rail Runner train service from Albuquerque.  Our governor who wanted to be president, is doing a pretty good job of realizing the dream of a sustainable, future based on local agriculture, food security, deep community, and public transportation right here in New Mexico!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Winter Day

The farm is pretty quiet at this time of year. My daughter is home sick today, so I kept her brother home, too (we live a bit out of town from where school is). So Simon went out to visit the girls. Moments after I snapped this picture, Hazelnut jumped up on Simon and completely knocked him over backwards! Luckily, we had a good laugh over that--no feelings hurt.

I am in the process of trying to find a buck to romance my girls. Most folks breed their goats in the fall, and I have done that in the past as well, but I'm thinking that summer babies would be a lot easier than babies arriving during the April frosts. I'm planning to breed all four girls. I don't keep a buck here because they tend to be ornery, and they are famously stinky. This stink, while a great turn-on to the does (I guess), affects the taste of the milk, and the reputation of goats in general. Sans buck, my barn smells sweet with hay and earthy with the goats' manure. I like it that way.

Anyhow, it's a little tricky finding a buck close by. Last year, a friend from another farm actually brought his young buck over for a month. That was ideal. He is available again this year, but although it is common practice, I don't want to breed his daughters (Hazelnut and Sula) back with him. So the search continues.

We have a new animal out at the barn. The other day after another snowfall, I noticed paw prints going down our path straight to the barn. Nestled in the hay, I found a little scrappy, skinny, orange and black calico cat. We locked eyes for a few moments, then it took off. I will try to catch a picture of her. There's plenty of good mice-eating out there, so I hope she sticks around. I just wish she was more friendly. . .

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yummy Veggies

What the heck is going on in this picture?? This is a nice way to brighten up winter for the girls. Our local organic coop puts all their veggie scraps from the produce department in a giant trash bag behind the store every day, and about once a month or so (although I need to get into the habit of going more often), I go and grab it and bring it back as a great treat and diet-booster for the goats and the chickens (and for us in their milk and eggs). Yum. Yum.

Ok, Hazelnut, cont. When I left off, we were hand-feeding our little cold, limp goat kid with her mother's colostrum with a syringe. The more we forced into her, the perkier she became. When I went out to feed and milk the goats that evening, I "wore" Hazelnut in the sling. When I put her mother up on the milking stand, she started sniffing me until she found her baby tucked into my sweatshirt . . . and proceeded to "talk" to her, and nuzzle her--! Isn't motherhood amazing? Needless to say, this was heartbreaking, and I promised Mama Taza that her baby would be returned to her as soon as she was able.

That night, Hazelnut slept in a padded laundry basket, heated with a hot water bottle, by the side of my bed. I admit she started out on my belly, under the covers, but I really didn't want to be woken up by goat-kid-pee in my bed in the middle of the night (I remember that warm wet feeling from my babies. . . don't really want to re-live it). Now, goats are diurnal, just like us--they sleep through the night. So she got all quiet and settled in her nest until about 10pm, when she started to make very cute little sounds. I woke up, gave her some more heated colostrum, and actually took her out of her basket to pee. Turns out, like human babies, just after they eat, or after they have been sleeping for some time, they are ready to pee. (My son was "diaper free" as a baby--email me if you want more info about this.) By this time, she was kind of shakily standing up, and I watched her closely (as did our two freaked-out cats), until she squatted (shakily), and I quickly thrust a Tupperware container under her bum and "caught" her pee. ! Too much cuteness. Back she went to sleep. Just before the sun came up I woke up from a bad dream that she was splayed out dead in the laundry basket. I reached down from the bed to touch her, and met her warm little head; she was sitting up, very healthy-goat-like. Wow, I felt like super-goat-woman for saving this kid’s life!

The final chapter of Hazelnut's first week of life next time . . .

Monday, January 7, 2008

Introducing Hazelnut

Dear friends out in cyberspace,

As I’m writing this, I am out at the barn, with goats jumping at my back and standing on the fence. My dear husband is snapping away pics to put on this site—isn’t this so cute?? Ok, so I’m not really planning to write my blog out at the barn every week, but it sure is a good way to start off, don’t you think?

Why are the goats all around me and going a little nuts at the fence? Well, for one thing, it’s dinner time, and they are eagerly/desperately wondering what I am doing and when is the alfalfa going to get deposited in their feeder. . .

Out comes Hazelnut as our model. She was born this past April to our “best goat,” Taza (the black and white smiling goat on my website). Hazelnut had a great first day, then after a freeze that night, I went out to feed in the morning and she was splayed out on the barn floor looking completely dead. Turned out she was still very much alive, but was severely hypothermic. We brought her in the house, put her on a hot water bottle, and started rubbing her down and talking to her. It was a school morning, and although she was responding a little, I was not feeling very hopeful. As we were getting ready to rush out the door to take kids to school, we said our last good-byes to our poor little newborn kid, and she lifted her head, looked at us, and let out a big “baaaaaaah!!” Oh! I called the vet right away, took a big detour out to Pecos (the opposite direction from Santa Fe, where the kids go to school), and took her in for some emergency care. After a day on a heating pad, receiving fluids, and I’m not sure what else (well, and $200), we picked her up in the late afternoon. Her temperature still wasn’t reading on the thermometer, but she had made it through the day. I was given a syringe to feed her with, and told to keep her warm and get some colostrum (the first, highly nutritious and protective milk from Mama) into her. I knew what I had to do. I went home, sewed up a little make-shift sling, and put the little goat in, right on my chest (ok, not skin-to-skin as I did with my babies). I put a sweatshirt on over that and zipped her in. Oooo, was that cozy! Over the course of the evening, with the help of the kids, we put her up on the kitchen counter and got some milk into her. She started to perk up more and more, like a little flower. More about Hazelnut’s story next week . . .