(If you want to find a local source where you can get your own goat milk, cow milk, eggs, honey, fruits, vegetables, or herbs, go to http://www.localharvest.org and http://www.realmilk.com. You can also register at http://www.farmmatch.com. The more people and farms they get registered on there, the easier it will be for people and farms to match up things needed with the location of food and supplies. The farm featured in this post is found at: http://www.localharvest.org/lime-foods-M58349)
We visited a honey and goat farm recently. It’s actually the farm where we get our goat milk. We also buy honey and eggs from them.
It was a fabulous visit. We arrived as Valerie was finishing cleaning the eggs. She basically just took us around as she did the farm chores for the morning. We got to watch the goats be milked (Sweet Pea and Ariella), we visited the chickens, learned how the honey was processed and prepared for selling, and watched the antics of the pigs.
I was amazed at the detail of her management. She cleaned, washed, and dried each egg. She filtered the goat milk a total of 4 or 5 times. She checked for problems with the goat milk and eggs (mostly watching out for eggs with too-thin shells and mastitis problems in the goats). She thoroughly cleaned and washed everything (she probably washed her hand 20 times or more). She was so good with her animals (good animal stewardship is something that seems to have been lost these days!). And on top of all that, she was so efficient. She’d obviously had a lot of practice doing things and had it all down to a routine.
We also talked with J.R. about the honey. Valerie does more with the animals, J.R. handles more of the honey stuff. His hives are situated on an old tennis court a few dozen yards from the house. He walked us through the honey collecting and bottling process. It was fascinating, really. It is sad to hear about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). He said he used to be able to just set out hives and come back in the fall and there would be honey and the hive would be doing well. Now he has to manage them at least once a week or so, or they’ll just disappear.
We’ll say the rest with the pictures and videos… they’re the funnest bit anyway. (Uploaded videos in HD takes FOREVER. So some of them are still being processed by YouTube, and may not be ready for a few minutes or a couple of hours. We decided to go ahead and publish this anyway. Hopefully the videos will be ready soon!)
(Their links: http://www.limefoods.com, http://www.loganslakehoney.com, http://www.localharvest.org/lime-foods-M58349)
The Honey House
There is so much info in this video, so I’ll give you the best bits of things that J.R. told us. Where they have their hives, there are a lot of cotton fields around, and apparently the cotton nectar produces a honey that crystallizes more easily. Some people don’t like that, and I guess honey is supposed to be free-flowing and beautiful. But the honey we’ve purchased from them hasn’t crystallized yet, and it is so rich-tasting. I love it!
The beehives around wildflower areas produce as much as 5 or 6 times the amount that hives by agricultural fields do!
His honey partner, Mike, has been keeping bees for 14 years, and he primarily uses wild bee swarms that he captures. They seem to have held up against CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) better than the typical honeybee.
When they first bring the honey in, after harvesting it, it’s a solid as a brick. So they have to put the pail of honey in a tank of warm water (no water gets into the honey) and slowly heat it. It takes a full day to warm it gently. They don’t want it to go above 130 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise it loses the raw honey qualities (by killing the good bacteria). So they heat it slowly and gently. Then they pump it up through a pipe, which drops it into a big tank covered with a mesh screen to filter the honey. When it’s warmed it flows like water and goes straight through the screen.
Milking the Goats
Things I learned from the goat milking process… 1) Goats are harder to milk than cows. If I’d just started off, I might’ve thought that I was doing something wrong. But they really are more difficult to milk than cows. 2) Wash and dry the udder well. 3) Discard the first few squirts of milk, just to keep things sanitary. 4) Patience.
Entertainment from the Pigs
The female pigs had been mated a few days before, and they were likely pregnant…. because they didn’t want to have anything to do with that big boar. (If you don’t want your kids to see the mating process between animals, don’t watch this video with them around.) It’s a natural part of life.
The Chicken House
Things I learned…. 1) Personality of the chickens does matter. Even if they’re good layers, if they’re grumpy and pecky all the time, they’re no fun. And different breeds of chickens do have different personalities. 2) Chickens don’t like to lay eggs when it’s cloudy or the weather is cold and no fun. 3) Chickens are so, so, so much happier when they’re allowed to range free! Oh how I despise the factory farming practices we see so much of (or hear so much about) these days. It’s not right!
We absolutely LOVE to visit other people’s farms, gardens, vineyards, orchards, etc. It is so neat to see what other people are doing, and even if we think we’ve learned a lot about any one thing, we find we can always learn more from another farmer or gardener.
Now it’s your turn to add to the 4th edition of The Garden Hop. We have changed the start day from Monday to Friday… it seemed more fitting (we can all dig in to gardening on the weekend!) And since I don’t do any business or blogging on Sunday, it was a little more convenient. So the Garden Hop will start on Friday and end the following Thursday. I hope you join us each week!
As more and more gardeners share their links, you’ll be able to hop from garden to garden, through the blogging world. It’s exciting to see what others are doing and learn from each other.
Go ahead and get started… submit your post! Need some topic ideas? How about–
- What’s going on in your garden right now (Found worms under the snow? Trying to keep birds off your seedlings? Sowing seeds in a greenhouse?)
- What projects you want to take on this year (Beekeeping, raising chickens, bringing in goats to clear brush, going to a permaculture workshop, etc.)
- What kind of vegetables you’ll be growing in your garden and why (Discovered a new vegetable variety that grows particularly well in your area? Found a great cucumber for turning into pickles?)
- Fun tips and DIYs (Are you making your own harvesting baskets from scavenged materials? Found a way to keep ants out of your garden?)
- What you learned recently (Watched a gardening video? Found a new gardening book?)
- Visited a new place recently? (Gardens in Italy? Apple orchard in Maine? Chicken farm in Australia? Bee farm in Florida?)
- The sky’s the limit, really… get creative!
We have a few simple guidelines:
1. The Garden Hop is a place to share gardening-related ideas, tips, and encouragement. Permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and land rehabilitation information would definitely be included in that too. In order to keep the weekly round-up clutter free, links which are not specifically related to gardening or any of the other mentioned topics will be deleted. This includes giveaways, contests, carnivals, etc. Let’s share with each other, not spam each other.
2. This is a family-friendly link up. Any pictures or posts linked to the hop which aren’t appropriate for children and families to view or read will be deleted immediately. And just as a caution… we are pretty conservative. Keep it G rated.
3. Make sure you link to the specific post that you’re submitting and not to your blog’s main page. Don’t make your guests search. You want them to go straight to what they’re looking for.
4. Please link back to the TBG Garden Hop in the post that you share! Grabbing the Garden Hop Banner is probably the easiest way to do it. (Click on the picture then copy/paste the text in the box that you’ll find.) And it easily lets others know you’re part of the Garden Hop community of bloggers! Or you could just use a hyperlink… easy peasy.
5. We occasionally experience problems posting due to glitches in the internet or the Linky Tools. If you have difficulties posting and it does not show up immediately, please wait moment or two and try re-posting (this helps avoid double posting). We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but we do not have absolute control over the internet. Thank you for your patience and understanding! (You’re most likely to experience troubles in Safari… try Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer if you get stuck. And if it’s still not working for you, please feel free to email us and we’ll add it for you!)
Ready, set, go…!
This hop is finished, but head on over here to find the most recent one where you can submit your post!