<![CDATA[Willow Valley Farms - Blog]]>Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:37:34 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Big World, Small Circles]]>Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:13:07 GMThttp://blog.willowvalleyfarms.org/1/post/2014/08/big-world-small-circles.html
The universe is a crazy and intimate place sometimes.  My law partner, Steven M. Watson, and I started our law firm, Watson & Carroll, PC, LLO, www.watsoncarroll.com in 2011.  In 2008, Chad and I received our first two goats, Rosemary and Big Red.  Enter Universe Moment One.  Rosemary and Big Red are lesbian goats.  It figures they would end up on a farm with a gay couple.  While I am sure Oregon life was just fine, they rule queens, pardon the pun, on our farm.

Rosemary and Big Red, have been together their entire lives.  When the breeding season comes, every boy goat knows to stay away or Rosemary will kick your butt.  Neither have ever gotten pregnant.  They have zero interest in any of that.  Alas, those two will live their days together on our farm.  Big Red is getting older and starting to lose teeth.  Every night, you will find Rosemary and Big Red sleeping next to each other in the back corner of the barn. Since they were never going to breed, we ended up starting over with young goats that we had flown, trucked, and transported to Nebraska.  As we added goats, it was inevitable that some of them would get sick at some point in time, especially the young ones.

We learned many lessons those first few years, especially with the help with fellow goat people as we like to call them.  Enter Universe Moment Number Two.  Many years ago pneumonia hit some of our goats.  We had never dealt with that issue.  It was a very stressful and sad time as we lost a couple of our girls.  Losing Zucchini was like a punch to the gut.  She was by far the prettiest goat we had and probably the prettiest goat I had ever seen.  Yes, goats are like people.  The notso pretty goats knew that Zucchini was a very pretty goat and would talk behind her back and spread rumors about her.  Or at least, that is what the chickens told me.

Anyway, as we sought treatment advice and such, we reached out to a dairy goat farmer named Diana McCown with Greenglade Goat Dairy.  Diana was kind enough to give me the name of some vets and respond to call for help.  Over the years, I have messaged Diana about one thing or another all the while not realizing that there was only one degree of separation between us.  Enter Universe Moment Three.

Two weeks ago, my law partner, came into my office and asked me whether I knew any other goat people.  I said that I knew of two other dairy goat farmers, Greenglade Goat Dairy and ShadowBrook Farm.  It turns out Diana McCown is Marilyn Watson's First Cousin.  Marilyn Watson is Steve Watson's wife!!  All these years, and somehow none of us made the connection.  Steve and Marilyn went to the Haymarket Farmer's Market in Lincoln, NE.  Diana is there on Saturdays selling various types of cheese.  Steve and Marilyn brought back some of Diana's Mozzarella de Capra cheese.  It is delicious.  The pictures above show Chad and I making a Caprese Salad with Greenglade Mozzarella de Capra cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden.  It was DELICIOUS!!  Please visit Diana's web site or go on down to the Haymarket Farmer's Market and buy local!

Below are pictures of Big Red and Rosemary.  The power goat couple that started this goat journey of ours!
<![CDATA[Kidding Pens...]]>Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:58:22 GMThttp://blog.willowvalleyfarms.org/1/post/2014/08/kidding-pens.html
The kidding pens are almost complete!  Chad had a vision of what he wanted for the girls and their babies.  It looks amazing.  Chad and many of our friends put in a lot of hard work helping Chad and I.  Thanks to Todd, Joe, Vedija and Kemal for helping us on this project (and many others)!  We are so grateful for your friendship and support.

Below are the girls supervising the work and some shots of the project.

<![CDATA[Willow Valley Farms and San Clemente Island Goat Cheese]]>Sun, 23 Feb 2014 20:18:07 GMThttp://blog.willowvalleyfarms.org/1/post/2014/02/willow-valley-farms-and-san-clemente-island-goat-cheese.html
If somehow you have found our blog, Welcome!!  Chad and I will be taking turns blogging about our Willow Valley Farms adventures.  While we may be late to the blogging party, it is our hope that this blog will bring much needed attention to the plight of the critically endangered San Clemente Island Goat as well as chronicle our efforts in turning them into a dairy breed and in turn us into Artisan Goat Cheese makers.

We are in the process of building a Grade A microdairy on our property.  There is a lot of work to be done.  We are doing it for many reasons, but the main one is our way of saving the San Clemente Island Goat from extinction.  There are less than 600 of these beautiful animals left.  For more about their story, please visit our web site, www.willowvalleyfarms.org and www.scigoats.org

In 2008, our San Clemente Island Goats made their first appearance.  There are a number of different versions of how our goats made it here.  Chad will tell you that I may have in passing said something about wanting goats.  Long story short, Chad got about 12 minutes notice that we were about to get goats.  Turns out our first were barren.  They are the only two goats that are barren around here.  We now have over 100 of them running around here.  I have been told that we have the largest herd in the world right here in Nebraska.

I can tell you San Clementes and rabbits have a lot in common.  SCI's, as they are called by those in the know, breed all year round.  Most, if not all, traditional breeds come into season at the same time deer do, in the fall and early winter, which creates a big break in production between October and April.   SCIs are not encumbered by that problem.  They do however have a big hurdle to overcome: supernumerary teats.

That is a fancy way of saying that SCI does have too many teats.  Dairy cows have four teats that are milked.  Goats are supposed to have two.  All of the systems are set up to milk two teats.  Most of the extra teats either do not function properly or if they do, they are in the way of the good teat.  In order to make SCIs a viable dairy breed, the extra teats have to be bred out.

Both males, bucks, and females, does, carry the extra teat gene.  Two teats are the dominant gene in goats, but because the SCIs were on the island for so many years and were inbred, the recessive extra teats became the norm.  We are in the process of flipping that around and at the same time maintaining as much genetic diversity as possible.  We currently have enough two teated does to move forward with our dairy plans.  The question is whether we will have enough SCI milk to make the dairy operation viable. As we identify two teated SCIs in other herds and bring them into our herd, we will be able to balance two important pieces to quality goat cheese making, production and butterfat. 

SCIs naturally have a high butterfat content.  Testing has shown a range between 5-7% butterfat.  That is better than most of the common breeds.  If you want milk production, the Saanens, Alpines, and Nubians of the world are the way to go.   We have been told that if we want sweet creamy cheese, called chèvre, quality versus quantity, is the key.  We believe that the SCIs have a distinct advantage over the big producers, a higher butterfat and they breed all year round.  Which means you can have better milk for cheese through out the year. 

I am very excited about this new journey.  I cannot tell you how this will end, but I can tell you we are ready to do what we can to keep these beautiful goats from going extinct.  It is my belief their salvation is through the dairy world.  Stay tuned!