Sunday, December 22, 2013

Diminishing Returns to Empty

So, the girls are finally dried up after +9 months of twice-per-day milking.  It's always interesting to see who finishes last and with the most milk, because those are the keepers.  My favorite girl, Titanium, who is also a first-freshener proved her worth and outpaced the older goats at the end of the season.  I will be building my new herd from her foundation.            
Here's a photo of the final milking.  The top 60% is pure rich cream, while the smidge at the bottom is milk.  This is the raw product we've been drinking and making into candy.  It's decadent.  My oldest child is forever complaining that her drinking milk is too fatty.  Well, we are working on a solution to that "crisis".  Since goat's milk is naturally homogenized, it takes about one week for the cream to partition in the refrigerator, which is much too long for an impatient person like myself.  With a cream separator, I can have a goat's milk cream with which to use immediately and also convert into butter.  I hope to produce and "All Goat" caramel next summer made from our whole goat's milk, goat's cream and goat's butter to offer at our farmer's market and to local customers.  We will also have several kinds of goat's milk soap for sale!!  So, I have my winter work in order and look forward to having fresh milk again.  We'll be back in the candy business for Easter next April!!  I hope to see you then.                                                                               

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Just in Time...

Just in time for the holidays and only during the next few weeks before the girls are dried off for the winter, we are introducing Capsand Creamery Confections, including sea salt goat's milk caramels (plain or chocolate-dipped) and chocolate fudge.  Milk produced late in lactation is especially rich and creamy, which makes for exceptional desserts.  We use the finest quality ingredients and seek local sources when available.  

These treats make wonderful gifts at dinner parties and ship well to far-flung loved ones.  We debuted at the Champlain Islands Winter Farmer's Market in South Hero, VT with promising success and will also attend the December 7 event, as a season finale.  Serving our local community, I will hand deliver within a 15 mile radius of South Hero, VT.  We do not currently ship our products.

Fresh warm caramel is amazing!

Our new products in their packages.  I hand make the recyclable boxes from cardstock paper.

These are fantastic with your morning coffee.

Traditional chocolate goat's milk fudge is available in 1/4 lb chunks

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Will

With any luck and much relief, breeding season has ended here at Capsand Creamery.  For months, I look forward to its beginning as the days shorten and weather becomes crisp.  I record every girls' heat cycle and contemplate their pairing with the most suitable suitor.  However, once the girls start screaming and bucks begin their fierce charade, a quiet and quick finale is all I can hope for.

Breedings are concentrated into a small window for simplicities sake of breeding, kidding, disbudding, tattooing, vaccinating everyone as a group and then sending kids in pairs to new happy homes.  This all must occur before the major chores of gardening season begin in May, otherwise I am overloaded.

The seriousness with which the goats take their annual frolic is not to be understated.  It is rather common to see everyone harmonious one morning only to walk in the next day presented with a bloody face.  "Rocky" broke a very large scur trying to hold his own against the old man of the group, Bandito.  Blood Stop powder on his head every morning as they eat a hearty ration has been my routine.  Since then, my best, most favored and efficient man has been timid and ritually bullied.  While the girls are penned so close to the boys, I must weigh each day which group or both should be allowed to enjoy the outside.  If a doe is in heat, the boys will blubber, fuss and fight all day, which I am sure the neighbors must appreciate.  So on days when no one is in heat, we resume our normal gentility, everyone is happy and enjoys the waning sunlight of autumn.

The fastest way to make heat cycles disappear and calm the masses is to breed every doe within a short period of time.  There are two things that make this most difficult: an unsettled doe and an ongoing breeding service to others.  The stud service helps offset the cost of keeping bucks for me while providing other small homesteads with an easy cheap option to high quality dairy offspring.  Long after we are finished breeding in October, customers appear as late as January with their does in heat, which means an extended rut for my boys.

I tolerate this breeding service for financial reasons.  A particular unsettled doe is, however, most irritating.  For two years, I have attempted and failed at one specific pairing.  I own a doe, who will come into screaming heat and then demand her favorite man.  Despite her hormonal predicament she will not stand to breed anyone else.  I have failed on two rounds of heat to breed her to my choice buck.  While she flags and cries at her boyfriend, she scrambles into a corner with a tucked tail when I introduce the buck of my choosing.  I've read about free will in goat's breeding, but was still shocked (and in awe, of course) by her behavior.  Who am I to tell her how things will go down?  I firmly believe there is great intelligence behind the silly goat grin.  I am still listening and she had her pick, again.     


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall To-Do List in Pictures

1. Dry burdock peelings for winter tea.

                          2. Process acorns for flour.

3. Keep shelling acorns.

               4. Bottle hard cider for sanity.

5. Pressure can more bony pickerel and pike for winter fish sticks.

                          6. Plant garlic bed.

7. Process meat chickens.

                            8. Breed goats.

9. Finish trim on the new barn.

10. Replant sunchokes and try sprouting asparagus from seed.

 11. Encourage a Kindergartener.

12. Relax with a dew filled spider web.

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Digs

girl and her kid

synchronized peeing
We are beginning to get comfortable at our new location.  I think the goats would agree.  While the barn is still unfinished, due a hay loft and windows, here are a few pictures of their new digs.
goat barn on approach through the cherry trees

still missing a window...plenty of light

working girls mowing the lawn

lazy boys enjoying their hay

milking area

girls enjoying their side of the feeder

mom and kid mixing in the common area
creep eating/sleeping area for KIDS ONLY
As an indulgent postscript, my husband and I built this entirely ourselves with one good ladder.  We raised hand-made trusses over our heads until one of us was steady enough to screw in the metal hurricane ties.  It was a humble, yet heroic event that the neighbors commented looked like an Amish barn raising without the community.  In retrospect, it was all quite careless by OSHA standards and I don't think that I would do it again.  I truly hope the need will never arise.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SOS. Kids are wearing me down.

My kids, of the two-legged variety, are taking a large toll on my mental and physical well-being.  The youngest, let's call her E, is 2.5 yrs and just now arriving at the terrible-twos, indicated by her spontaneous hour-long tantrums at a decibel to hurt anyone's ears.  I am waiting for my neighbors to inform the police over the I-want-a-cookie-for-breakfast dispute that ensues daily at our home.  My oldest is 5.5 yrs, which is when kids apparently manipulate, lie and torture their younger siblings and parents, for the purpose of amusement alone.  We have a lively household of unadulterated screaming, spankings, and tantrums of the adult variety.  My foot is bruised from kicking a door yesterday in a rebellious act against the methodical mutiny and rebelliousness of my YOUNG children.  I am trying to find someone to blame for this uprising, which should be considered typical of someone from my X-generation.  File this complaint under "blaming my parents for everything and the school of thought concerning child rearing during the late '70s".   Where did it all go wrong?

The goat kids were a ton of work to raise and have gratefully moved along to their new homes. They were always hungry, pooping everywhere and jumping at me and nibbling like a lot of hooligans, but they think I am "Mom", which is really rewarding.  If I had never been able to have children, which was a reality without drugs, goats could have briefly filled a real emotional void.  As much as I LOVE raising Nigerian Dwarfs for their hardiness, personality and beauty, they are prolific and those kids take quite a bit of care and patience before they are ready to scoot along to another family.  What can I say, besides that I miss them already and may consider trading my human kids for more of the four-legged variety....after we get them through college, of course.   

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trench Foot

Towards the end of last year's kidding season, my feet were in terrible shape.  I've had athlete's foot and peeling feet before, but this was something new.  This was painful swelling and itching on the tips of my toes and at the joints.  They were actually purple when my husband joked that I had gangrene.  I rubbed them down with antifungals, cortisone cream and soaked them in Epsom salts every day, but nothing seemed to help.  I also bought new boots, boiled my socks and limped around like an idiot for a month or two.  Finally, summer came and they gratefully healed. 

We are halfway through our goat births and my feet are purple, again.  The expensive boots I purchased last season have sprung leaks from everyday wear and are constantly wet from trekking through snow and puddles.  My socks are wet, my feet are wet and thus my Trench Foot has returned especially early.  I can't sleep for the throbbing pain and fear of spreading it to my children through our common shower.  Maybe this year I will find a boot that is made for constant use and will keep my feet dry (any suggestions?).  So, I now have a name and remedy for this particular ailment.  Since I can't stay out of the "trenches" when my goats are kidding, I will have to work harder to keep my feet warm and dry between milking and feeding sessions.  Thankfully, kidding should be over by St. Patrick's Day (see a three leaf clover below?).  Back to goat watch.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kidding Commences!

Two first freshening does have already kidded, while we wait and carefully watch for labor in the remaining five.  Sugar Moon Cassiopeia delivered a single buckskin doeling and Capsand Creamery Titanium delivered a single big buckling, unattended during the very early hours of morning.  Both were jumping and playing after their lunch this afternoon.  The new mothers have been extraordinary on the milk stand already, but Titanium is blowing away all of my expectations and outpacing her older compatriot.

Now, if only the kids would all hold still for a picture!  So frustrating and so MUCH better in person.  Back to goat watch.  What a great start to this season!