March carries the last weight of winter and the early reprieves of spring. We could have several big snow storms, or sunny, melting days all in the span of a week. As for the end of March, the snow is melting and while we are happy to see the dormant grass, it does mean that there are some pretty muddy areas around the farm. We are trying to be careful to not tear up the soft ground too much with the heavy tractor when dropping a hay bale to the cows.
March also brings kidding season, where new spring babies start to arrive. Jovie, who is one of our Alpines, gave birth to two does, named Freyja and Helga. Freyja was the absolute sweetest baby, and I got attached to her pretty quickly. We also added a new buckling from an outside herd to be the new sire in our herd. He’s a strong, brave little brute and so his name is now Ragnar, which is very fitting considering his loving yet wild personality.
Because our goats are exposed to fencing, it increases the risk that they could get caught in it if they had horns, leading to potential accidental death for the goat. For the safety of the goat, we disbud the horns on baby goats, which is cauterizing the area where the horn would grow to prevent it from growing. It’s also not safe if one goat in a herd has horns because when it head butts other goats to establish the hierarchy or play, it could seriously hurt the one without horns.
Freyja’s life was short lived-on March 20th, she died of unknown causes. I was devastated, because in the two weeks of her life, I had grown incredibly attached to her. If there is any place that you could learn all about the circle of life, visit a farm. Shortly after Freyja’s death, a spring lamb was born just a few hours later.
Jovie freshened wonderfully, and we are reaping the benefits of fresh and delicious goats milk. Since her milk came in, I’ve started making chèvre, ricotta, and cajeta. If you haven’t had cajeta yet, please do yourself a favor and go find some! Cajeta is the beautiful love child of a cross between dulce de leche and caramel sauce. To make it, you combine goats milk, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, salt and cinnamon sticks, and then reduce the mixture until it’s a beautiful caramel color at your desired consistency. Making cajeta also doubles as a work out, because you’ll be at the stove stirring your big pot of cajeta for at least 3 hours. What’s coming out of my farm kitchen next? Goat’s milk mozzarella, goat’s milk yogurt, and goat’s milk salted caramel candies.
I’ve also been busy batching a lot of goat’s milk soaps. My soaps are made with goats milk, essential oils, and nourishing oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil. Right now I am working on batches for summer with blends such as citronella oil and tea tree oil which are natural deterrents against mosquitoes and ticks. Once these have cured, these will be available for purchase in our online farm store.
As always, we are busy with the “now” and preparing for the future. Seedlings for our garden have been started in a mini greenhouse. It looks like this year won’t be quite as wet as 2019, so we are hopeful for a bountiful growing season. Also, Paul built several new stalls in the barn to separate our three pregnant Berkshire sows. We anticipate they will give birth in the coming weeks, so getting them into separate stalls was an important step to prepare for them.
That’s our update from the Hill for March! We hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have been impacted with food shortages and are searching for quality meats, eggs, and dairy products, check in with your local farm extension to get connected with a local farm.
Paul and Courtney