Saturday, July 31, 2010

A farm education in Oregon

My husband I recently spent some time exploring Southern Oregon while staying with the owners of the Applegate Valley Artisan Breads who are the parents of a college friend of ours.  On the drive north I was reading the Dairy Goat Journal and flipped to an article on start-up costs for dairy businesses. The author also wrote a lengthy book on the same subject and lives in Rogue River, Oregon. I asked our hosts if they knew her and they said that they knew of her and would inquire about the farm when they delivered breads to a creamery that a carries her cheeses. As luck would have it, the owners of the farm agreed to give me a "quick and dirty" farm tour. Excitement underestimates my feelings as we drove up to the farm.

The owners of Pholia Farm, were gracious and open. Gianaclis Caldwell is the author of The Farmstead Creamery Advisor which is a delightful, if painfully honest, account of small scale creameries. She showed me the barn, milking parlor, milkhouse and make room. She also invited me to join her on the "goat run" (a 3/4 mile walk through the forest with her 38 Nigerian dwarf goats). I ended my visit at the farm by buying a signed copy of the book and berating her with tons of questions which she graciously and patiently answered.

Big Dreams

For the past few months I have toyed with the idea of getting licensed and becoming a legitimate dairy farm and creamery. Yes, I realize this idea is more than slightly premature (my does are only 4 1/2 months old) but it is worth considering at such an early point. However here are some very serious disadvantages:
Cost: Start up costs range anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 with averages around $80,000.
Location: If your goats and creamery are not located on your residential property you have lots of time wasted through travel to and from.
Time: Owning and working on a commercial creamery is very time consuming and laborious often working 12 to 14 hour days for months.
Regulations: Trying to wade through the horrors of the CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rain rain go away...

I read somewhere in January that goats hate water. Well, they drink water but they supposedly don't like being wet.  Now, I didn't think this was all that true since Francis has frequently run through a sprinkler and played with a hose on multiple occasions. However, during a unexplained downpour this morning (what the heck is a desert monsoon?), they proved the old saying totally correct. When my father and I walked up to the pen we could hear them but we couldn't see any part of them.  As we got closer they got louder and finally when I was at their gate three little heads poked out of the wooden box. Even when I entered the pen with a bunch of alfalfa hay, nobody greeted me. I ended up soaked and placed the hay on the floor of the box. Apparently their discerning attitude regarding eating anything off a floor doesn't apply when it's raining and/or they're hungry.