Is it time to rest yet?

Winter is just around the corner for us and we are probably as prepared for it the best we’ve ever been so far.  My biggest challenge so far is getting these darned girls bred.  Two of them show interest in the buck rag to the point of swooning, Every Damn Day.  The rest could care less about it at all.  The one I could definitely tell was ready is of course, the one I’m not breeding this year.  I have faced the sad fact that I will have to break down and keep a buck on the property next year.  I’ve managed so far to just take the does over to Green Gables Mini Nubians each fall and get them bred, but with six in line, I’m smacking my forehead every day. So, today I’m going to ask my neighbor if I can borrow her buck to put in the permanently fenced paddock we have up the hill from the barn. I’m hoping the girls will go stand at the fence by him when they’re ready and I can then drive them over to Green Gables to be matched with my choice of buck for each one.

The orders keep coming in weekly from both the Menomonie Market Food Coop and Just Local Food, the two retailers I sell to. Tomorrow is the final farmers market so I’m hoping to have more product on hand for farm sales.  And MMFC surprised me with this poster of a picture their photographer took when they were out here interviewing me.  It’s pretty weird seeing my face up over their cheese counter everytime I go in.

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The great goat roller coaster ride of Summer ’16

My web savvy, SEO expert friends tell me that now that I have a very active business, I should be posting on here more. And that was my intent. But have you ever built (literally) a company, started producing a product and found you couldn’t make it fast enough for demand, all the while taking care of 17 furry souls bleating at you for hay night and day?  All within four months?  I didn’t think so. And that’s why you  haven’t heard from me recently.

make-roomAnd boyo, has it felt like the proverbial roller coaster. The highs and lows have been extreme and frequent, and I gather that is just the way it is when you raise animals (which some would say is a full time job in itself) and create a product from what they give you, willingly I might add.

First the low, just to get it out of the way.  The little doeling, Cheese Geek (or CG for short), who was struggling after a particularly aggressive attack of Barber Pole worms, did not make it.  She went down hard and fast and by the time I was addressing the parasite issue, she had become so anemic that she never fully recovered. I thought we were so close to having them whipped, as she was beginning to show her normal perkiness and eating and pooping normally (you have no idea how important it is to see those little berries being popped out), then one day she just stopped living. I could see it in her eyes the day before she passed. We don’t know what it was, but in her weakened condition, a stiff wind could have come along and she would have succumbed to pneumonia. It is by far the hardest and most dreaded part of livestock farming to me.  I hate it! I love these guys like they were my dogs in the house and anyone who knows me realizes just how much that is. They rely on me to keep them happy and healthy and I take that responsibility very very seriously. I let her down, but life goes on and we’re now moving into full-blown breeding season for Spring kids!  But, that’s another post.

Now the highs. Wow. Just wow. When I decided to pursue this adventure wholeheartedly, I still wondered in the back of my mind, what if I can’t sell all the cheese I’m making? What will I do with it. The food pantry will sure get a treat!  Well, I guess I didn’t have to worry so much about that. From day one, I have sold every single thing that’s I’ve produced and I love my retailers to death!! They have really done so much to get the word out about our cheeses and as a result, there seems to be a small but devoted following for our Chevre, Salzkase and yogurt cheese. And now that fall is here, people are discovering the glory of Cajeta!!  A hearty thank you to Erin at Menomonie Market Food Cooperative and Jordan at Just Local Food in Eau Claire!!

And what a joy the Menomonie Farmer’s Market has turned out to be!! That decision was one of the best. I alternate Saturdays with Sandy Horner of Horner’s Corner who has the BEST maple syrup!  So every two weeks I get to go do a dog and pony show and best of all is watching the expression on people’s faces when they taste my cheese for the very first time.  I keep threatening to take pictures and make a huge collage out of it. I love love love when someone will come along with their partner, who is a devout goat cheese enthusiast, but they had a bad experience once and don’t want to taste. We invariably convince them to give Bifrost Farms a try and they turn into a convert right there on the spot. It’s pure bliss and happiness all around! Just two more markets now until end of season and I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Tonight I go to Just Local Foods for their 2016 Fall Harvest festival and get to hand out more samples and watch more happy faces.  Not a bad deal at all.

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