Living on the farm I've done and learned so much. I've experienced the joy of scooping up a brand new baby goat as it struggles to clear it's lungs and nose in the middle of January. I've also felt the heartache as a poor little one died in my arms.
Charlie Browns's momma died when he was only ten days old. I volunteered to bottle fed he and his brother Buster twice a day. Taking a jug of milk home after the evening milking, I rose at 5am, heated the milk, poured it into two glass soda bottles with nipples attached (we eventually got proper milk bottles) and headed to the barn. I still remember how much fun it was to watch as they kneeled before me with their tails switching back and forth with happiness at being fed. Boy, could they suck down a bottle of milk fast!
Lucy became the third wheel and joined the boys but wasn't bottle fed. She had been rejected by her momma, and was being put on other nans at milkng time to get her meals. Since she had nothing better to do while I had both hands full with bottles, she delighted sneaking bites of my hair - taking full advantage of the situation.
One day I came home from work and Randel had built a pen for those three little goats up by my house. For most of the summer the trio lived in that pen and I thoroughly loved having them so close to me.
Soon a new goat named Peppermint Patty joined the group and Buster went to his forever home. The kids, my old dog Taz and I went for long walks every day. It was simply amazing to go for a walk with goats! They would follow me wherever I went and paid no attention to Taz - of course she was no threat to them whatsoever. I always knew when their tummies were full because they'd get into trouble. One day they were all eating grass in my yard like little angels, but I had to go inside for a minute to answer the phone or something. When I came back out they had vanished!. I finally found them "tap dancing" on the neighbors deck. They were high stepping and making all kinds of racket on that deck, it was so obvious that they were enjoying it quite a bit. It took lots of coaxing and finally a bucket of grain to get them off that deck... it was just too much fun!
This post would be two miles long if I tried to mention all of the fun times I've had here... so I'll leave it at that. It's time for me to pursue different adventures, but I will miss this special place. If you ever get the chance to live on or stay at a farm for a time, I highly recommend it!
With much love and gratitude to Terry and Randel,
Summers are busy in Alaska and seem especially so on the farm... Maybe it's because of those 17 hour days of sunlight! There are always things that need doing, many things that MUST get done like processing milk into cheese, yogurt, chevre and sour cream. The milk simply won't wait until someone has time to work with it. It's either do it or loose the valuable resource to the pigs.
Other summer chores are tending the garden, feeding & watering the rabbits, chickens, turkeys and pigs, collecting/washing/cartoning eggs and cleaning the barn. The goats need to be milked twice a day - every day. Rhubarb needs to be cut/washed and bagged for the freezer as do raspberries and strawberries. The veggies need to be weeded or picked and processed. Greens for Salad Bags picked and washed. Whew! Luckily Kackle Berry Farm has been blessed with lots of farm help this year in the form of Woofers.
Meghan arrived (from Ohio) first and we all cried when she left... not really but we all missed her enthusiasm and "get er' done" attitude. Next came Delphine and Quentin from Belgium... what a complete delight these two handsome people were to have around! Right on the heels of the Belgians arrival was Jasmin from Austria - who is still with us. How we ever got along without Jasmin, no one knows. At only 21 years of age, she is a prime example of someone who has her ducks in a row! She has milked twice a day since she arrived with rare exceptions; kept the barn immaculate and loves the goats with all her heart. Aldo (Miami) and Isis (Tasmania) arrived on the same day - but not together. They arrived as haying was beginning and Randel put them both right to work hauling bales to the barn from the field. Talk about an initiation! We all wished that Isis could have stayed longer.as she fit the farm life like a glove. Aldo was here for about a month and built a worm-box and a big picnic table. Qee (China) was here briefly - coming to Homer specifically to see a moose, but never did. She was not into farming too much, but was a nice gal and we hope she enjoyed her brief visit. Suza from Germany arrived late one night last week - surprising all of us, but it was a great surprise as she blended into farm life like she had been here all along. We have not had a chance to capture a picture of her yet, but will post one soon.
The farm would not be what it is today without these young people making the journey to Homer Alaska to learn how to milk goats, plant potatoes and make cheese. Thank you all for your hard work and endless energy.
More Woofers will be arriving over the next few months... so more to come!
Summer is in full swing here on the farm. The chicken chicks have been moved to their outside pen, though not allowed completely outside just yet - not until they learn to go back inside at night on their own. The turkey chicks are enjoying their freedom in the great wide open... well, being in their grassy pen anyways. They make the most lovely chirping sound and race to the fence whenever anyone walks by... pretty cute!
The pigs are growing like weeds and are especially entertaining. They are very curious and enjoy visiting with people through the fence. They'll even sniff your hand or fingers if you'll let them. Have you every touched a pig snout? It's quite the experience! Kind of wet and rubbery. :-) Just like the pigs from last year, these two like to run "relay races" in the evening. The game begins with both pigs waiting inside their sleeping area and then one of them shoots out and runs as fast as he can across the pen and then jumping back into the sleeping area. The other one immediately does the same routine while the other waits. It's just the funniest thing to watch, but you have to be sneaky because if they suspect they are being watched, the stop immediately!
The goat kids are now spending their nights out with their moms and the rest of the herd. Mornings find them bouncing around in the corral, head butting and playing king of the mountain with each other. Happy as can be!
The garden is coming along and the greenhouse is exploding with green goodness as well as lots of beautiful flowers. This year we are experimenting with planting some vegetables directly into the ground, rather than using the planter boxes like last year. We'll use the boxes for onions, salad mix, kale and some other things, but want to plant cauliflower, broccoli and carrots directly in the ground. Farming is a lot like playing the lottery... you just never know if it's going to pay off!
Kathy Sarns and her "Little", Sonja Blackmon were two of our first official farm visitors this past Saturday. Kathy is Sonja's Big Sister and they both are part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Homer. Finding things to do that a sixteen year old will enjoy is difficult sometimes, says Kathy, but Sonja really enjoyed her time here, especially the animals.
We began the tour with a trip to the farms newest structure on the farm... our gorgeous outhouse! It really is a treasure and so nice to have... thank you Randel and son Kevin!
After saying a quick hi to Terry and admiring the eight pounds of cheese she and her student/farm share owner "Gloria Wild Mountain Joy" had made, we headed down towards the barn for some serious baby goat time!
Before leaving the goat barn Peppermint Pattie obliged and let us all milk her. Good girl Pattie! Billy Bob enjoyed everyone's attention, especially all of the handfuls of grass!
Of course, no visit to the farm is compete without a "Walk with the Goats". We guarantee this is one of the most unique and special things visitors can do. It's just an amazing thing to walk with a herd of goats!
We loved having Kathy, Sonja and Gloria visit and look forward to all the visitors who will make Kackle Berry Farms part of their summer!
Part of the cheese making process is the seasoning we add after the curds are removed from the kettle. Seasonings like garlic, sea salt, dill, caraway and cumin are mixed into the curds which are then squeezed in cheese cloth to remove the excess whey. This liquid is reserved and sold as Soup Stock and it is a delicious start to a savory dinner!
Here's a recipe for stew made using one quart of stock. Enjoy!
Soup Stock Stew
1 quart Soup Stock
4-5 quartered potatoes
1 bunch Kale or beet greens
3 carrots sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 purple or green cabbage, chopped
Any variety of cooked meat (chicken breast, stew meat, hamburger...)
Enough water for consistency
Season to taste
Simmer all ingredients until potatoes are cooked and serve.
***we used red cabbage, beet greens and carrots from the garden - blanched & frozen last fall***
You might think this is silly but we at the farm put a high value on our jars. When you buy milk, whey, yogurt or caramel from us, it comes to you in a jar. We need those jars back in order to keep bringing you product each week. When we don't get our jars back... well, we need to go to Ulmer's and buy more. It's that simple. So please, pretty please, return your jars each week on delivery days. It makes our lives so much easier.
Now onto some pictures of making yogurt on Saturday. Yogurt is fickle. Most of the time it sets up and we end up with beautiful product that we can sell to our farm share owners. But then there are times when dang it! For whatever reason, such as: it was to early in the day; it was to late in the day; it was to dry in the house; it was to warm; it was too cold... well, you get the idea. We never really know why yogurt doesn't set sometimes, but it's always nice when it does. :-)
If you would like to learn how to make yogurt (or cheese) let us know. We offer classes throughout the year and would love to teach you how!
Goats are special creatures and if you've ever had one, you know this to be true. They are intelligent, curious, loving and affectionate. Our goats are like members of the family and we bristle when we hear statements like "it's just a goat" when one of the babies die or a Nan is ill. To us a life, any life, has value and is a blessing.
This has been a tough year for birthing and today was no different. Betty went into labor around 4am but showed no water bag, and was not having much in the way of contractions. Finally around 2pm Randel pulled the first kid, a big buckling, who's legs were backwards in the birthing canal - making the delivery very difficult. Betty would not have been able to give birth on her own. We cheered with joy that he was alive!
Heartache came just a short while later when it became obvious that Betty had another kid to birth, but it wasn't coming out on it's own either. Again Randel pulled it, (another buckling), but it was very small and already dead. Joys and heartaches... Joys and heartaches...
Betty seems to be doing fine all things considered, but we'll keep a close eye on her for a couple days to make sure. Her buckling is strong, healthy and eating. Although we lost a life today, we are thankful for the one that made it.
What better way to celebrate the First Day of Spring (one day early), then to send three does home with their new family! Three delightful children, all excited to hold their goats! It's always sad to say goodbye to the little ones, but it's also a banner day when they go home with a family we know will love and care for them every day of their lives!
Here is Lucy... (formerly known as Pistol). She was our first born kid of 2016!
This pure white doeling has been named Ethel... don't you just love that? (she is the spitting image of OUR Lucy!)
And last but not least, "Yet to be Named"... the youngest daughter is still mulling over the perfect name for her goat!