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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Helping your dog’s upset tummy

As the vet coordinator for Rocky Mt. Great Dane rescue, one of the first calls I usually get from a new foster family is for help with their new rescue dog’s diarrhea/vomiting/nonappetite. Some of our clients also comment occasionally when they bring their dogs in that they’ve been having issues in that direction, as well.  So, I thought I might share a recent article I cobbled together from Pet Wellness magazine for our foster homes on things that might help your dog’s upset digestive system.

Many new dog fosters and owners have witnessed how disconcerting and disorienting being moved to a strange home can be for your new family memeber.  Just about every dog which comes into rescue brings some kind of baggage with him or her.  Stress, poor quality of food, too many changes in a short period of time.  This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.  There are several soothing and nutritious ways to help your foster dog straighten out their digestive system and get it back on track.

Pumpkin

This is a well known remedy that works as a great stool softener for constipation, yet due to the high fiber, can also cure diarrhea.  Just a couple of teaspoons in your dog’s food should do the trick.  Be sure to use pure cooked pumpkin if you buy the cans at your grocery, and not the sweetened pumpkin pie filler. Also, sprinkling pumpkin seeds can help destroy intestinal worms, too.

Rice

Rice Congee is a Chinese porridge made from whole grains. It is very easily digested and can be used as a tonic to incorporate other special ingredients.  To make it, combine 1 cup of rice with 3 cups filtered or distilled water. Bring to a boil, giving it a quick stir, then turn the heat down to a low simmer, letting the rice absorb the water.

Add pumpkin to the congee to perk up weak malnourished dogs.  Pumpkin’s pectin content helps regulate the rate of gastric absorption of food.  For chronic diarrhea, make a congee and add 2 ounces of finely grated Chinese yam to the mix.  Simmer for an hour, then turn off the heat and add an egg yolk.  This acts as a tonic for the whole body, fed in mini-meals throughout the day.

Carob

Carob packs a lot of punch.  It is rich in natural sugars and contains all the principal minerals and vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, magnesium and iron.  Mix a teaspoon of carob powder with a bit of honey and filtered water to feed your dog, or just sprinkle the powder on their food or mix it with  yogurt.

Locals around the kennel can find carob at the Menomonie co-op.

Cinnamon

Ancient Chinese medicine sources site cinnamon as a treatment for nausea, fever and diarrhea.  The oil found in cinnamon has an antifungal and antibacterial property. It also has an anti-gas affect.  Like carob, sprinkle cinnamon on your dog’s food. Just a couple of shakes a day to the diet can make a difference.

Cabbage

Cabbage is actually one of the world’s healthiest foods.  Research shows that cabbage juice helps heals stomach ulcers and recent studies show a positive impact on the whole digestive system.  It has been proven to be both antibacterial and antiviral and its lactic acid helps settle gastritis.

To make simple cabbage juice, chop up a handful of purple cabbage, put it in a pot, add a cup or more of filtered water and heat gently, just until the water is a nice purple color.  Remove from heat and cool.

Slippery Elm

This is one of the best remedies for digestive disorders and should be in every pet owner’s medicine chest.  When the bark is mixed with goat milk or goat milk yogurt, it lines the gut and intestines, protecting the mucous membranes from irritation.  It also has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Gruels containing slippery elm and honey are a true internal salve.

To make a simple slippery elm gruel, combine these ingredients to make a powder. Slippery elm bark and marshmallow can also be found at your local health food or co-op store that carries supplements.

1 cup slippery elm  bark
½ cup oat flakes
½ barley flakes
¼ arrowroot
1 T. marshmallow
1 T. wheat germ
1 tsp. dill weed

Add the resulting powder to 1 tsp. of honey. Whisk in a little warm water, then add 1 cup of goat milk yogurt (with cultures) or more filtered water.

Dosages:  young puppies – 1 teaspoon to each meal, adults – 5 teaspoons added to each meal.

* Recipes from Pet Wellness magazine.

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