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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So this is what it’s like

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Early morning fence moving.

 

I think I’ve lived a year in the past month.  We just thought all the stress and a million and one things to do were because the creamery wasn’t open yet and once licensed and producing we could breathe. Oh, the universe must be laughing up a storm at me right now.  Frankly, I’m in awe of myself.  Every week since we opened there has been something to fix, repair, move, add to the list of stuff to do, all while hand milking my goats and making cheese and running a boarding kennel in the middle of summer vacation for everyone.  Oh, and let’s not forget the twisted knee from not moving my feet as I stood turning back and forth weighing and packaging the cheese, and a mysterious toothache that three dentists have not been able to identify the cause of. I’ve only cried once, when the tooth was so painful I couldn’t eat a delicious dinner of salmon and pasta salad that I’d made.  I’ve learned what has somehow eluded me in 58 years of life. It gets done because there is no one else to do it. This is my baby. This is what I wanted and it’s up to me to keep it going. So I do it. And I don’t even mind.

Perhaps it has something to do with loving what you’re doing. Even when a doeling has scours and I’m having to force drench GI Soother herbs down her throat. Even when my new doeling arrives with mastitis and almost looses her udder, or even when the temperature probe goes out in the middle of a vat of cheese and I have to dump the whole thing and have a part overnighted. Even when the humidity is already 80% at 6am and I have to move the fencing for a fresh pasture. I just do it. And that’s pretty cool.

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