Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seasons and Times and Goat's Milk and A Little Understanding.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said it only too well...."to everything there is a season"....and many of us Westerners mindset is foreign to that reality.

Until you grow food, becoming a goat farmer or live in Europe it's difficult to experience that truth.

Food - good food is seasonal. For example - those wonderful sweet onions we've been providing from Crooked Sky Farms are just about done. They are finished growing here. The season is over.

Tomatoes - good - real tomatoes that most love - just don't grow in the cold weather season - unless you have the right climate and growing situations. Carl Seacat of Seacat Gardens has figured out a way to do so.

Another thing that is seasonal are the cycles of livestock. Remember, recently, how our hens sorta - just about quit producing (so did everyone else's) - well - hens produce seasonally - the little hen bodies need a break - they need to release old feathers that don't protect as much and make new ones - so they molt. When they grow new feathers - it takes all the calcium they have to grow them....THUS they don't lay eggs. It's seasonal. It's a cycle.

Goat's milk and cow's milk too (is seasonal - unless you pump your animal up with all sorts of hormone stuff to get production going - YUCK - think about drinking that or worse yet....feeding it to your babies!).

Dairy goats have a season. They have a cycle. They also have a lactation cycle. (More about that on another post.)

When dairy goats kid - they produce a good amount of milk and initially - most of us goat farmers use that good milk for those needy/growing babies. You'd want us to do that, right? As those kids get older - they start eating alfalfa and a bit of oat grain - but they still need milk. So, that makes milk not so freely available for the goat milk drinking consumer.  It's one of the reasons why Crow's Dairy Goat Milk does NOT always fill every shelf at our market and the others.  It's seasonal and it has a cycle.

Come time about August - another cycle happens. That cycle depends on weather and it's the weather that triggers this seasonal cycle - called breeding.

So, breeding takes place and that doe begins to produce less and less milk until two months before she kids (delivers her babies) she dries up (good goat farmers want her to have all that energy to go to those developing kids).

The doe dries up - and once again - the delicious Crow's Dairy Goats milk does NOT fill all the shelves.  Now granted - most goat farmers stagger breeding - to try to provide milk as much as possible - but it doesn't always work out.

What's needed from us Westerners who want what we want when we want it --- is a new mindset. . . an attitude of understanding.

I DO recognize that many of our farm members FEED their children and babies goat's milk and we, like Wendell and Rhonda at Crow's Dairy wish the supply would accommodate the need/want - but in reality - it's the tension we live in . . .  because it's seasonal and it has a cycle.

I know not everyone can own two goats - I know many of our moms work outside the home - but those that can - find a way to altar the lifestyle - slow down a bit - refocus and think about the "what if we..."

....and build a raised bed - start growing herbs then grow other in season vegetables.

....get involved and change your HOA R&R and allow for backyard hens - build a small hen house (check city code too) and start with 4 hens.  We here some HOA's are starting to get with the program.

...buy two dairy goats. Rebecca Kidwell of Farmyard - got hooked and started out with two Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats - in her BACKYARD. She and Troy have joined the ranks of MANY who are doing this. She's already experienced two breeding seasons and if you talk to her....you'll hear all about her little herd.  I have other friends who share a goat.  Each of the families in this group take turns having the doe (she's in milk) go to each others home for a stint of time. It might not be the greatest for the doe - but she acclimates to all three homes. I think it's a great idea.  FYI - you need two - to have a happy goat - she needs a friend....they're HERD animals. Like chickens are in a FLOCK.

....think about partnering with your neighbors in growing food FOR each other.  A few years ago, I was profoundly influenced by this vendor at the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market. His neighborhood joined together and each family grows different things and then they simply share with the other ones their herbs, avocados, lettuces, root vegetables, etc.  Just think what would happen if we in the PHOENIX valley became a much more deeper caring community - got to know each other and started little growing groups and began to give and share to each other.

...if all this seems overwhelming - be assured many who grow food, are dairy goat farmers - don't mind at all encouraging people to jump in and just DO IT.



It was November, 2009 that we started growing food and becoming goat dairy farmers and now we wear the hat of confectioners - Michael was 57 - now almost 61 and I'm 2 years behind him . . . if WE can do IT - YOU can too!

Your thoughts and ideas mean the world to us - feel free to leave comments here on the blog.


2 comments:

virginia robertson said...

I have been for the longest time in want of having goats and chickens, unfortunatly I won't be able to delve into the enjoyment for another three or four years ... But post and blog as wonderful as yours keep my hope and interest alive... Thanks.
Tangent Gardens

mandi said...

I follow you on IG, and have come over here for the first time. I am so inspired by what you are doing! We raise a garden and chickens, and are looking into goats. To think of supporting other families through our little backyard is exciting! Thanks for sharing your story!
Mandi@herbanhomestead