It has been about a week since we had our first inspection on the house and what a tense waiting game it's been. I don't know if you've ever had an inspection done but the inspector is like a house detective/doctor, trying to find anything and everything that might be wrong with the house. It was a very intense process and after four hours I wasn't quite sure if the house had 'passed' or 'failed.' There were plumbing issues (think black irrigation pipe used for residential plumbing), drainage issues (moisture in the crawl space), electrical issues (no grounded outlets), and cosmetic issues (weird sinks, outdated windows). But the inspector, even after identifying all these problems, said that for a 1950s farmhouse he thought the place was in great shape! Whew! What a relief! I hate to admit it but I'm already in love with the place and have spent a ridiculous amount of time fantasizing about 'my new home'. Even though the house was deemed in great shape we decided to get some estimates for the work that needed to be done. This meant hours spent on the phone calling drainage contractors, chimney contractors and plumbers, scheduling estimates and biting my fingernails hoping that we're not looking at thousands of dollars in repairs.
On a more positive note I've also been spending a huge amount of time thinking/dreaming and alternately trying to not think about spring and this property and all the things I want to do...(think goat, bees, huge garden, chickens, ducks, guinea hogs, etc). In fact (and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this) I've already placed my seed orders and put down payments on two goats! Yes that's right I finally dusted off the old seed catalogs, updated my current inventory and placed my orders, all while eating ice cream and drinking tea (Ayurveda philosophy would not approve of this dietary choice but hey I love them both!) I decided to buy as much as I could from four local seed companies: Wild Garden Seeds, Uprising Seeds, Siskiyou Seeds and Adaptive Seeds. Smaller seed companies don't always have the most uniform germination, and/or genetics and their varieties are often more suited to gardens opposed to production farms. For this reason some people tend to shy away from them but I also know that all these companies are run by small diversified organic farmers (just like me!) so hopefully they're selecting for traits that will be strengths in my growing situation.
When planning this years market garden its a relief to know that John and I have a great community of friends in Portland who already buy our eggs and meat and many of them have verbally committed to being part of a CSA next season. Our CSA would offer veggies, pasture raised protein, eggs, and raw goats milk. As I mentioned above I put down payments on two goats (I know it probably seems a bit premature but if you want a good goat you've got to act fast). The first doe is named Perilla and she's an Alpine bred to a Boer buck so her kids (that's right baby goats are called kids!) will be great for meat. She's coming from Greene Herb Dairy outside of Eugene and is due to kid March 14th! The other doe is a La Mancha from Alder Rose Farm, in Corvallis who will have already kidded. Two does = lots of milk = lots of cheese!
I attended the North West Oregon Dairy Goat Association Conference yesterday and took a class from the owner of Greene Herb Dairy all about kidding. The class was a bit intimidating. I've never had a pregnant Doe before, so this is all new to me and there are many different perspectives about the best way to kid. I want to be raising my goats without antibiotics, or synthetic medications (I don't use these things so why should my goats?) Goats are very receptive to herbal/natural remedies but when you're new to something it can definitely be tempting to go the route that most people in show goat/dairy production use (which is vaccinating kids the day they're born and bottle raising them.) I don't want to vaccinate and I want the kids to be on their mom for the first two months so that they will have healthy little rumens and strong immune systems. Breast-feeding in humans is so important for immunity and bonding so it's hard for me to imagine denying my goats this oh-so-natural process. It was also recommended in the workshop that I begin milking the day Perilla kids. This is because she's so productive (over a gallon a day) and there will be way more milk then her kids can drink. I'm not sure how milking twice daily starting March 14th fits into my early morning/late evening Yoga Teacher Training Schedule? I guess I'll finally have to teach John how to milk (ed. note: John claims to know how to milk, just not very confidently)!
I also attended an amazing workshop on aromatherapy and goats taught by Katherine Drovdahl, of Fir Meadows Farm. Her approach is so in line with my thinking around husbandry practices. I bought her book and can't wait to start developing recipes of my own. It seems like you can pretty much replace any 'conventional' drug or supplement with herbs, you can even feed most of these products to your pigs and chickens and even your cats and dogs. Some of the tips I picked up from her workshop were her top three Essential Oils for Goats: Lavender, Eucalyptus and Lemon. For many applications you are not using orally but dermally diluted in olive oil (1 drop per 20lbs) rubbed right on the skin or as a spritz. She also had a lot of great advice about nutrition in her book. Specifically I'm interested in the use of kelp, flax, nettle and nutritional yeast as supplements. I grow a lot of flax and will be planting nettle, anything that can be grown on the farm is always something I'm interested in trying! Another great resource for those new to (and even experienced in) goat husbandry is Fiasco Farms. This website is a treasure trove of information and even includes recipes for cheese making. There's also a ton of info on the use of herbal based supplements and dewormers. Well as you can see I've been a busy little bee these past few weeks! Hopefully the next post will be written from our new home....
'til next time, LT