Monday, September 17, 2012

Goat Husbandry Class in the hills of West Virginia

This past weekend I had the opportunity and privelege to teach a goat husbandry class at the Chickens In the Road retreat held at Camp Sheppard.  For those of you that don't know, Chickens in the Road (CITR) is a hugely successful blog run from Sassafras Farm located in southern Roane County. Farmer and author Suzanne, has built a virtual community that gathers annually in the fall to learn country-living skills such as soap-making, bread baking, canning and preserving and much more.  To get a glimpse of what this years workshops were all about go here.  As the week progresses there will be a lot of updates and photos regarding the 2012 retreat at the Chickens in the Road site in case you'd like to see what the retreat is all about. 

During the days leading up to the retreat I was gettting a bit nervous but as soon as the class started, folks were so interested in learning about goats that I was immediately put at ease by this wonderful assemblage of  goat enthusiasts.  A few had goats already, many were goat-owners to-be and some were just interested in learning to see if goats might be for them someday.  My goat class had 14 participants from all over the country including California, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Missouri and Pennsylvania.  For three hours we talked about how to choose a goat, health issues, goat conformation and then we did some practical things such as giving shots, trimming feet and learning to milk.  By the end, of class folks that wanted to, had tried their hand at foot trimming and milking.  I had a wonderful time and I hope all the participants did too.

Here are a few pictures Don managed to take while running around helping me.  I will refer you to the CITR site to see more of the activities.

Our classroom.

A kiss fron Lulu my Mini LaMancha helps put me at ease before class.

A student learning to milk on my Nigerian Dwarf Tenacious. 

Me demonstrating how to trim a kid's hoof.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The running of the goats

This time of year seems to be very busy so yesterday we just took a short time out to enjoy this year's goat kids.  I hope you enjoy them too.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Veggie Garden

It is hard to believe that August has come and gone.  Life gets so busy this time of year it seems.  There is hay to buy and stash in the barn and it seems that August is our busiest garden month, at least for harvesting and preserving.  As I think I mentioned before we tend to stick to the basics and this month tomatoes, peppers, beans and cucumbers were abundant.  Don was very diligent about succession planting this year so we have had a continuing supply of beans and cucumbers.  Despite the very dry weather this month we have probably had our best garden ever and attribute it to all the goat manure and mulch that we have been adding for a few years now.  One of the most prolific vegetables in our garden this year is peppers.  Some years our peppers sit in the cool clay soil and mock us until late in the season. We love sweet peppers, both the bell type and the long Italian type and prefer to let them ripen a bit so they develop more flavor.  We're freezing peppers, drying peppers and putting peppers in salsa.  They will make a great addition to our winter meals this year (and probably into subsequent years as well).

Wonderful yellow-striped heirloom tomato.

Old cucumber vines on the way out.  Never fear there are new ones starting to bear.

Second planting of white half runner pole beans.

Our okra was slow to come on but it is starting to bear now.

One of the tomato blights is starting to take its toll but later plantings are still doing well.

A day's harvest that needs to be put by.

Peppers loaded in the dehydrator.

A sampling of the fruits (and veggies) of our labor.