My dear friend and former coworker, Darren used to keep this excellent book – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – at his desk in case of emergencies. …emergencies like yesterday at FTF where we could do nothing right and disaster (and a fair dose of stupidity) plagued us until our lack of luck became downright comical. It was our very first day back in the caramel-making saddle after a 3 month hiatus, so a certain amount of calamity was almost guaranteed, but by the end of the day we were all a little stunned by the depth and breadth of it. I didn’t dare write about it last night in case this post became Fat Toad Farm and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad WEEK, but we were able to turn things around today and I hope I can report out on our ridiculous day without tempting fate to smite us again tomorrow.
First, I woke up with gum in my hair.
That’s a total lie, but we did celebrate the beginning of the caramel season by burning the ever loving bejesus our of two copper caramel pots. Whether it was the goat’s milk itself – which is forever changing depending on where the goats are in their lactation and what they’ve been eating – too much heat, or not enough stirring, we’re still not sure, but the pots burned SPECTACULARLY and we were eventually forced to call the manufacturer to ask for cleaning advice. “Yeah, hi. Let’s say, hypothetically you burned your copper kettle beyond all recognition, what would you do? Hypothetically.” All tolled, we’ve (mostly Judith and Christine) collectively invested 9 hours of elbow grease into those pots and the bottoms still look like this. Luckily, the other two pots and their caramel content survived unscathed, so the day was not a total loss.
Somehow our little buck Obe managed to escape his pen, not once, not twice, but three times before we identified his crafty escape route and shut it down. I suppose from his perspective he had a lovely day yesterday exploring the apple orchards.
And finally, my dad, Steve, proclaimed yesterday evening’s milking to be the biggest FAIL in the history of milking at Fat Toad Farm – which represents roughly 1,500 milkings – so that’s saying something.
Part A: When my dad cleaned the milk holding tank earlier in the day he forgot to close the release valve at the bottom, and later, when I went to dump 40 pounds of milk into the tank I forgot to double check to make sure it was closed. Halfway through pouring I was distracted by the sound of all my milk gushing out of the bottom of the tank onto the floor and down the drain. I yelled things that you’re not allowed to repeat in a blog and slammed the valve closed, but not before 20 pounds of fresh milk got away.
I’m moving to Australia.
Whatever, it happens. My dad and I trade apologies, each of us valiantly trying to take credit for that incredible act of stupidity, and we move on to the next group of goats. …which included the goat formerly known as Amber, now known simply as “I HATE YOU”.
Part P: In the middle of everything Amber decides she has just GOT to pee. So she does. It’s rare that a goat will decide to let loose in the milking parlor, but it happens occasionally and it is annoying and gross. Usually, however, it doesn’t stop the entire show. Amber’s height, aim, and placement on the platform uniquely positioned her to pee all over the clean milking can and equipment. Like, seriously everywhere. My dad and I, too stunned to intervene, just stared as Amber finished up, wagged her tail a few times and went back to eating her dinner. After we recovered enough to think, we realized we had two options: either we stop and rewash all the milking equipment – rinse, scrub & sanitize, tacking an additional hour on to the job, or we continue milking with our nasty equipment and donate the rest of the night’s take to the pigs. Tired and discouraged, we go for option #2 and lock in the best dinner our pigs have EVER had – a brimming bucket of prime goat’s milk and a pot’s worth of extremely burned caramel.
Yesterday was definitely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.
So I ate THIS for dinner to make myself feel better 🙂