Thanksgiving at Fat Toad Farm

One thing about having a farm is that you rarely get to go away on holidays – which means your family and friends always get to come to you.  We had a relatively calm Thanksgiving Day with only seven people here.  That seems pretty low key because we usually have 5-7 for dinner every night what with our wonderful interns and Josey and Calley stopping by occasionally.  We had such a relaxing time we forgot to feed the animals at noon.  They were none too impressed with our self-centeredness.  They have recovered, however.

The day after Thanksgiving, we were scheduled to host our first tour bus group.  After making sure we had impressed on the tour operators the nature of our road and driveway roughly 100 times, the owner had stopped by the day before Thanksgiving and felt confident his Premier Coach would make it.

What he hadn’t really accounted for, nor had we, was that freezing rain started pelting down around 3 a.m. that day and by 8 a.m. you could barely make it from the house to the farm store without incident.  We had a confab on the phone and decided that was hardly what the 35 elderly passengers had in mind for a farm visit.  So, although we had a fun filled 2 hours planned for them, they headed north to Cold Hollow Cider instead.  Good idea.

Once all this excitement was out of the way, we jumped into non-stop caramel making.  We have lots of holiday orders and need to focus ourselves and our milk on making sure we can fill all of them.  Oh yes, and we pasteurized milk today in the middle of caramel making because tomorrow is cheese production day.

Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend finds us doing such things as finishing up “hulling” the dried beans (Virginia is sitting in front of the stove doing that now), packaging up 19 cases of caramel that need to go out tomorrow a.m. ( that would be Allie),  milking the goats (that would be Steve), recounting tales of an unsuccessful hunting season (that would be Calley), thinking about making dinner (that would be me), and finishing chores (that would be Siena).

Ready to launch into December.

The First White Morning

Guess we weren’t listening to Eye on the Sky last night when they warned us that it was going to snow before dawn. So we all woke up to an unexpected white morning! Our interns, Allie, Siena and Virginia, were a lot like little kids, whooping it up and being very excited about the whole thing. Our chickens were less pleased. They didn’t really want to go out peck peck pecking in the grass and gardens with an inch of snow to freeze their little feet. Virginia had to give them their cracked corn under their cabin. The goats were also not impressed. In general, they don’t like to get their beautiful soft coats all damp. Nor do they like to dirty their precious little hooves in the mud. They aren’t at all like horses or sheep or cows that are quite content to be out in all sorts of weather. But despite that, we’ll take them out for their daily browse walk later today. By then the snow will have melted enough for them to see the dry leaves and ferns, which they love to eat. And they can still get at the small scrub trees whose bark they are diligently peeling off. It’s getting close to a full moon and they are very frisky when we take them out. Lots of running and jumping off of granite outcroppings. Lots of head butting and ramming and jamming. As the only human out there, you have to really keep your wits about you so you don’t just happen to be the final recipient of the energy of a two-goat collision. That is how Steve broke his leg this summer. There will be no more of that nonsense around here. The other important thing about browse walks at this point is watching carefully what Thunder, our young buck, is up to. He’s the only buck that has been left with the herd in case any does were missed during the early breeding adventures. Pregnancy is the critical precursor to having kids and therefore giving milk. And to get pregnant…well, I don’t need to say anymore. Thunder did indeed seem ardently interested in Eden and Jupiter. They were marginally attracted yesterday, but this morning they seemed to have been won over a bit. We may move one of them up with Evan, our older and wiser and definitely more aggressive buck, just to make sure. The white morning means we are inexorably moving towards real winter. We in fact have only six more weeks of milking before we dry all the does off so they can put all their energy into growing big healthy kids. And another year draws to a close.