Winter Fancy Food Show: Survived!

We made it!  Three full days on our feet chatting about goats, caramel, and whether my dad actually lets me drive that tractor I’m sitting on in the background photo. (He doesn’t.)  This was our first big show, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I thought it went really well. Tim and I, at least, had a blast.

At the Winter Fancy Food Show

It’s day 2 of the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, and we’re excited for another busy day of caramel sampling and great conversation.  Day 1 was a huge success, noted by the very few number of times we actually left our booth.  We had a blast, and we’re gearing up for an equally busy and fun second day.  This show represents the culmination of several months of planning, re-designing marketing materials and refreshing our website.  Our booth design attempts to bring a bit of Vermont to a gigantic conference center in downtown SF.  Many thanks go to a slew of friends in the Bay Area for helping construct the booth and for providing wonderful additions from their own homes and farms.  Here are a few pictures of booth #548, and if you happen to be at the show today or tomorrow, please stop by!

Good Morning, it’s 20 Below.

By Judith

So here’s how it goes. I get up around 6am, check the thermometer. Ooops, -20. Make the energy-giving mug of cocoa – this is usually made with our goat’s milk, Equal Exchange baking cocoa and left over dribs and drabs of caramel, but, since our goats have been dried off during their final two months of pregnancy, we are using the lovely raw cow’s milk from Turkey Hill Farm.

Next, get the layers of clothes on – long underwear, lined jeans, turtleneck, sweatshirt and fleece vest, plus a really awesome neck warmer made by my sister-in-law. Add some socks and muck boots, the “really cold” version of hand covering, and headband and off I go. It’s almost always clear when it’s this cold, so the sky is beautiful, the sun is working on rising and possibly I saw the moon this morning but I’m not sure. The snow is definitely squeaky.

At the top of the hill, I say good morning to the bucks who are already up and out and eating.  Calories– good things to have during this weather. Going into the big greenhouse, which is where all the “girls” live, I check the temp there. It’s 8 – not bad. Some of the does are up, some aren’t, but as soon as they see me, the little girls, who get grain, eagerly come out and go into the holding pen where they are fed.  Meanwhile, the other goats and I get busy. My job is to fluff the hay in the mangers, add 3 new bales and spread bedding hay all over the floor. Their job is to reluctantly decide to get up, stretch and get at the business of eating.

There is evidence of how cold it is. Their little whiskers are frost covered. There are “frost spots” on the hay on the floor where they have been breathing during the night. Some have frost on their backs, probably where another goat has been curled up with them and breathing on them. They like to sleep in family groups and, maybe, on these cold nights, with friends.

The sun is now up. It makes it feel warmer. I fill the water tank with a hose that is hooked up to an inside faucet and that has been left inside all night. Otherwise, it would be frozen solid. I fill a bucket with water for the bucks and head up the hill to take care of them. Obi, the little one, gets to come out of the pen and eat grain from a bucket (with Poppy, our Icelandic sheepdog, “helping” him). Thunder gets some grain, from a hand held bucket, and Mr. Buckley also gets to work hard for a few grains from my hand (he’s a tad overweight, so he doesn’t really need these extra calories – it’s more for diversion so that he doesn’t harass Thunder and get unceremoniously butted away). I make sure they have a good hay bed to curl up on in their little houses and fill their hay mangers. Then it’s off to the chickens and back in the house. The day is fully underway, it’s 8 a.m. – and still -20.

Old Trees and Old Goats

Farmer Katie's Christmas Tree Gets Recycled

When you’ve fed your tree to the goats, you can rest assured that the holidays are over and the new year has begun.   Fun fact: Conifers are chock-a-block full of Vitamin C, and goats find them delicious, too.  The only trouble here might be that “sharing” is not in goat vocabulary.  Hopefully Noni (brown, on left) won’t eat all the tender little branch ends before Patti and Sky (center and right) get a fair shake.

I went out the day after this photo to find a COMPLETELY DENUDED tree.  Not a needle on it anywhere.  A few goats lingered and chewed on the bark.  They really know how to defoliate.

In other big news, a few of our oldest does are gearing up to retire this spring, and we’d love to find some goat lovers who’d like landscaping assistance.  These old girls really deserve the best after years of hard work.   If you’re in Vermont and have some livestock experience,  get in touch!

…and of course the count down to the Fancy Food Show continues – four days and counting!