By Andre Entermann originally posted 5/19/15 on sunnyfieldonlopez.com
We have been graced with the chance to move in some old ways. My son Weston, Elizabeth, or I get to be goatherds, which in sheep would be a shepherd. Taking the goats from the farm up the road to the Lopez Hill area feels like medicine to my spirit. I dream of having each of our land mates choose a day a week to take the goats up the hill to get their medicinal forages of choice: the wild varieties that we miss with the plow and mower. They browse on wild roses, ocean spray, willow, hardback, alder, thumble berry, you name it, they love it, and the deep roots pull up the minerals goats need. More minerals than sheep and cattle need.
This year the goats kidded fine – with no assistance, but it seems hard to keep them gaining weight and in good health coming through the first couple of weeks of lactation. After some health issues with the goats and my own stress from all the dairy related work, I received a message in my thoughts to go up the “mountain”. This is not just a walk, it is several hours up there so the goats can relax and eat and move and eat and move and lie down. And for me to read and watch and think and lie down, and eat too. I think how lucky I am to be able to maybe make this part of my livelihood and I fight my mind saying it’s not productive. I know that goat health is everything if my business is wholesome cheese and milk.
Weston is more excited about that long stick than herding goats, never the less he is getting good at it. The other day he lay down next to me during the DAY in the field with the goats on one of our “walks” longer then I’ve ever seen him be still. I think it was 2 minutes. He has been coming to the Quaker meeting so maybe that’s given him some practice in stillness. Of course I dream of him being more a part of the dairy. He liked bottle feeding some of the doelings we bought.
One of the most beautiful parts of this dairy farming is managing the goats in a way that gives them the freedom to forage and gather what turns into milk and then I collect it. If those goats eat what was intended for them the milk is so nutritious and good. They spend all day eating and converting the forage that we cannot make use of into milk. Then I manage the milk in a controlled manner to change it to cheese using some old ways again. Grass and the other plants they eat do not taste good to me, but chèvre does!
I don’t want to give the idea that I go relaxing up in the little wild patches of Lopez on a daily basis. For the most part I move electric fence out in our 35 acre pasture, fix or build this or that, and feed hay in the winter, but I would like to move with the goats more. I gain such clarity, aside from my allergies, when I go. I have joked about taking my laptop to do some office work, off-line.
Well, please come out to see us at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. We are talking about a Wednesday market too, which we thought would appeal to locals wanting a more peaceful shopping scene. Maybe you’ll get some chèvre that was from milk made from snowberry leaves, which I guess is essentially sunlight.
This is a heartening entry and the photos are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.
Lucky me as I saw you and Weston taking the goats forward to Lopez Hill. Great as you guys saw me and visa versa. Perfect timing! Blessings from Karleen