The Year of the Farm - A Recap of 2012

Our most popular Facebook photo, little Joplin!

2012 was an incredible year for us. One blog post can't do the whole thing justice, but I'll take a stab at a quick summary.

Clearly, the biggest event was MOVING TO THE FARM! Leaving NYC in a 26 ft. Penske truck seems like it happened years ago. Hard to imagine it was only 10 months ago.

We packed up all our stuff and the day before we left we got our first animal. Sophie! One of our farmer friends gave her to us and she has since turned into a wonderful livestock guardian dog.

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Nevat, Our Newest Adopted Baby Animal

Nevat, following us to round up the milkers on a particularly windy day

Following the tradition of adopting small, white, baby animals, this past week we welcomed Nevat to Little Seed Farm. Our neighbors found Nevat a couple miles down the road in the forest. She was howling in the woods like a coyote and was far too cute to leave to fend for herself. Despite an unhealthy coat full of fleas and ticks our neighbors knew a beautiful puppy lay beneath. They also knew she could find a happy home with us.

As our herd expands next year and we experiment with running the milkers and the kids separately, Sophie will get promoted to full-time goat protection instead of her current perimeter job. That means we’ll need another dog to run with Sheba on the perimeter. Sheba alone would have a hard time managing the 50+ acres of fields. By April Nevat will be ready to join the patrol team. Hard to believe she'll be so big so fast.

Nevat after her bath time

We think she’s a Great Pyrennes somewhere in the 5-8 week range, but we’ll know better once she visits the vet this week. She has double-dew claws, which is a Great Pyr trait. Full white coat that’s very thick and fluffy.

The name Nevat comes from a Spanish (bloomy rind) cheese, available in both sheep's milk and goat's milk versions. It resembles a meringue and is one of Sweetbread's favorite cheeses. The word "Nevat" translates to "snowy" from Catalan, which is fitting for both the cheese and our little white fluffball. We took the picture below while in the caves at Murray's Cheese in NYC. 

Always fun to have a joyful little animal running around. Maybe one day we'll have a little one to name after our own bloomy rind.

Full-time Farming

Our plan when we moved to the farm was to start construction on a licensed creamery for making cheese. We postponed those plans as we settled in. It was clear that we needed a full season to focus on growing our herd and continuing to develop our cheesemaking and animal husbandry skills. Given that I was working remotely there wasn’t as much of a rush.

A big hurdle has been getting our goats adapted to our grazing system and living in the outdoors again. Goats’ adaptation into our grazing system took longer than originally anticipated. We've found that it takes about 2-4 months before a goat adapts and their milk “gets better”. We judge the goat’s health based on body condition and the quality of their milk (SCC counts, Fecals, FAMACHA, and other stats). It takes 2-4 months for a newly introduced animal to achieve our existing herd’s levels (an attribution to pasturing animals instead of keeping them in a barn). It’s also strangely consistent with their smell. Goats smell different when they live in a barn. It literally takes months before that smell goes away, and it happens to coincide with when the milk gets better too.

Anyway, I had been working with this company for the past 4 years. When we first made an offer on the farm last October it seemed that the firm I worked for was going to be in operation for a long time to come. As we moved to the farm the following March the future of my employer came into question. So we delayed investing our life-savings in a licensed creamery. It was a 50/50 proposition that I’d still have a job by the end of 2012. Hanging on to some savings in the event that we were both unemployed turned out to be a smart move.

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