Goatlets and a trip to Vermont

Goatlets and a trip to Vermont



Here at BOTL Farm, we love babies. To be clear, human babies terrify and mystify us, but we love working with animals and their babies. All of our goat moms gave birth this month, making it the earliest kidding season we’ve ever had. The moms are all doing a fine job of mothering and keeping track of which kids are theirs. This is not as simple as it may sound since we keep all the moms and kids together in one big social group on pasture, even as they’re birthing. When it’s her time to give birth, each doe will find a spot away from the main group and seclude herself into a protected area, often amidst a bunch of downed trees or shrubs. But as soon as the kids are a few days old, they roam around in packs, getting into all sorts of scrapes and exploring the world together, so the moms identify their kids by a combination of smell and sight. 

We were delighted that our goat matriarch gave birth to triplets this year! We raise a superhero-like breed of goats called Kikos. The breed is known for hardiness but also for being able to successfully carry and nurse triplets, but we had never seen it before in our herd. Luckily, our matriarch has an extremely calm and friendly disposition, so she’s been doing amazing things like standing stock-still for 10 full minutes while her smallest kid figured out which end of her to nurse from and generally negotiating the logistics of feeding three kids with two teats. 

If you stop by our farm store, you can see the goat kids from the driveway, so plan to spend an extra few minutes soaking up the ridiculous cuteness and watching them climb all over each other. 

sow pig in snow

Injuries and farmers

When we decided to start farming full time, one of the (many) things our families worried about was how physical of a job it is: someone needs to be outside, in all weather, performing physical labor, twice a day minimum, for as long as it takes to get the daily chores done. We thought that sounded invigorating and healthy. But, we’ve heard from other people that the prospect of injury or illness would be detrimental to daily operations of the farm and the whole thing sounds threatening. Sometimes families worry too much and sometimes they’re on the right track and it’s hard to tell which is which. 

So, recently, Nick got injured and Danielle has been doing more of the daily physical labor that keeps everyone fed, watered, bedded, and healthy. Nick had a fairly traumatic elbow and wrist injury when he was in his teens and fell off a wall while mountain biking, which has lately acted up again. He’s mostly not been using his dominant arm since Thanksgiving, so if you thought he was just being cheeky and keeping a hand in his pocket recently, this is why. This is obviously a problem for Nick, but Danielle is really focusing on it as an opportunity to get into ship-farm-shape (which simply means an ability to carry heavy objects for long distances). 

We’re happy to report that Nick is on the mend and his occupational therapist recently cleared him to carry tiny, tiny buckets of feed. Adorbs.

sheep skins on rack

Sheep and goat skins (and skulls)

Sheep and goat skins are some of the nicest products we make from parts that, on a lot of farms, get thrown away. Like many things these days, there’s an industrial way of tanning and an older, slower, more expensive, natural way. The first uses caustic chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, while the second uses tannins from tree bark. We’re happy to have paired with Vermont Natural Sheepskins (VNS), located (unsurprisingly) in Vermont.

We get the skins back from the slaughterhouse, add salt to dry and preserve them, pick out plant parts and burrs, and then they’re ready to be transferred to a professional tannery (we haven’t tried tanning at home since the one time we made postage-stamp-sized, scorched rabbit hides).

We’re so pleased with the quality and craftsindividualship that VNS puts into tanning our hides that the extra time and cost associated with them vs. conventional tanning is totally worth it. In addition, they don’t complain when we bring them skins from our Icelandic sheep that are much longer staple length (wool length) than other sheep breeds. They also work with our goat skins. Since relatively few people raise goats for meat in the US and even less of them want their goat hides tanned, it’s relatively rare to find a tannery willing to work with goat hides. Go VNS!

This month we made the yearly trek to Vermont to drop off fresh skins and pick up finished skins. We usually try to make it a “day away from the farm” and stop at some fun places while we are up in Vermont. Turns out we scheduled our trip for a Wednesday this year and everything we normally do was closed. 🙁 Too bad for us, but at least we have new sheep and goat skins back in stock!

On a similar note, we got our ram skulls back from the taxidermist. They are looking great as always.

goats in a pile

Stocking more feeds

It’s getting to be that time of year again, when some of our favorite customers call us up because they just bought chicks and need starter feed that day. Try not to be that person (note that we have been that person in the past but are mostly not doing that anymore). But, this year we are here for you (kind of). 

As we have seen some New Country Organics (NCO) custom order feed items selling more consistently, we have decided to stock those items. Until now, we have only stocked NCO classic layer, NCO corn-free layer, hemp bedding, small bags of grit/oyster shell, grubs, Alfahay, and Redmond salt. We are now stocking small quantities of corn-free starter, corn-free grower, rabbit pellets, and Thorvin kelp. Keep in mind that everything NCO sells is certified organic, non-GMO, and soy-free. Yum! 

As always, we encourage you to order all feed items well in advance of needing them, but we’ve perhaps got your back if you don’t.

pup in snow

Find us this month

On farm store: Tuesdays noon – 2pm, Saturdays 1 – 3pm.  Pre-order. Note: we will be closed Saturday March 9. Find us at the Know Your Farmer Fair in Willimantic instead. 

On farm self pickup: Everyday 8:30am – 8pm. Pre-order only

Ashford winter farmers market: December through April, 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month from 10am – 1pm. We’ll be there each 3rd Sunday. Days we’ll be there in March: March 17. Pre-order

Know Your Farmer Fair: This is a once-a-year event held in the Willimantic Community Center. It is a combination of a farmers market and a “meet your farmer” event. There are tons of farmers in the surrounding communities that will be there and you’re encouraged to ask all sorts of questions. Join us Saturday March 9 from 11am – 2pm. Pre-order

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Page Last Updated on 2024-06-14

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