We (the Four Country Gals) have entered a contest called “She Can Pitch” sponsored by Grow America. We have 15 days to garner the most “votes” via social media platforms to win $10,000. We’re absolutely, positively, sure you and your friends and families will propel us to the top of the votes.
We plan to use the winnings for the Cajeta project. While we are personally funding the goats, and all the research, development, product testing, and licensing, we are seeking funds to assist with building the commercial kitchen.
The commercial kitchen will be housed in a 20 ft shipping container. That will help keep it clean and sanitary here on our windy, sandy desert. It will have electricity, and water, as well as an electric stove, refrigerator, all the required sinks (3 compartment, hand washing, and mop sink), and suitable product and supply storage.
So what is cajeta?
It’s that incredibly delectable concoction made from fresh goat milk, sugar, Mexican Vanilla, and backing soda. The very long (a little over 2 hours) cooking and stirring process create a silky caramel that melts on your tongue, and makes you want more, more, more.
You can use it for most any desert application, from a filling to a topping. Use it on pancakes or waffles. Add it to your coffee. When no one’s looking… eat it straight from the jar!
We’re fortunate to have the goats. I am willing to milk them. All we have to add is the cane sugar, Mexican Vanilla from Blue Cattle Truck (a Utah company) and baking soda. After that, we load it into jars, label it, and sell it at our local Farmer’s Market, as well as in local gift shops, and via the Internet.
Here’s how you can help us. Go to Grow America each day and vote. Be sure to post to twitter that you have voted and encourage others to vote. Post to your Facebook page and do the same. Do this every day from April 15 through April 30. We’ll appreciate it for sure.
We’re done with kidding for this year. Our goats did exceptionally well, with our only losses incurred by the Pygmy goats.
Annie, the “matriarch”,actually the same age as Posey, but more dominant gave us twin boys. We’re keeping one as our herd buck, not being sure the little Nigerian Dwarf guy is really what we want. The buck we’re keeping is named “Thor”. He’s mostly Nubian, with about 1/4 Boer. He has beautiful markings and a wonderful, stocky build, as does his twin, who is awaiting delivery to his new home.
Posey, the ding-a-ling, presented us with quads, a real surprise. More of a surprise was that she had them way early in the morning, before we were “out and about”. This year, she cleaned each of them. Last year, she dropped each twin and walked away. We’re still working with her on feeding her kids. We gave away the one boy, keeping the three little doelings. All I have to do now, is go into the yard and hold her head lightly, while the girls fight over two teats.
Abby, our newest addition presented us with a huge buck yesterday. He weighed in at 10 lbs, twice the weight of the quads. We’ll sell him, as we never keep bucks who are singles. For breeding purposes, bucks who are from twins or better tend to contribute to multiples in their offspring. It will be a day or two before pics are up.
Zena, the Alpine, had twin girls very early in the season. Her girls are part Alpine, and part Nubian/Boer. After milking Zena one time, we’ve chosen to keep her little girls. She is for sale and can leave here anytime after the end of April. She’ll still be “in milk” and should produce for maybe another 8 months or so. I have no plans to milk her, as the stanchion isn’t built for horned animals. She is an excellent mother, and will be a steal at $125, picked up here.
Our Pygmy goats were a bit of a disappointment. Susy, the matriarch, had one live boy. She also had one stillborn which Cindy had to pull. Honey had one stillborn baby, so she’s being milked right now. Honey is for sale at $100. She should remain in milk for several months to come.
We’re picking up two little Nubian doelings who were orphaned and bottle raised by a neighbor.
That means we’ll have 10 does available for breeding and milking next year. That advances the Cajeta project considerably. I don’t mind milking two or three does, but 10 could take quite a while. Now I need to add a milking system to my plans.
One thing we are considering, is the possibility of taking half the chicken coop (the original part) and converting it to a milking room. It has water adjacent, electric, a concrete floor, and is 8 x 8, large enough for a couple of stanchions, a sink, the milking equipment, two goats, and the milker. It also has a fenced holding yard, which would be nice for finished does.
For the rest of this year, I’m milking four does (three once they’ve weaned their kids), and Honey. It looks like I’ll get to make Cajeta for testing my USU in May. I can hardly wait. Once I get through the testing, and can get the go-ahead to produce commercially, I’ll launch the Kickstarter program for the final funding push.
We should be in production (limited in early spring) by next years major market season.
Finally, kidding season is underway. Our oldest doe, Annie, blessed us with two little buck-lings Saturday afternoon while Bev and I were gone to the Year ‘Round Farmer’s Market in Cedar City.
We’ve been faithfully making nightly checks (ever 3 to 5 hours) as well as daily checks every 3 to 4 hours since February 11, the earliest date we could expect goats to have their babies. You may remember, back on September 15, last year, we had a very horny doe break out of a pen, and tease the buck until he was out of his mind. He broke out of his pen, and well… now we’re having February babies, not part of our plan.
After a week of trudging out to one shelter after another, day and night, with either sunshine (but really cold), or biting north or easterly winds (sending the windchill near 0 degrees), or days warm enough to thaw the frozen ground creating a slick layer of mud, the first fruits of our labor have paid off.
Now, Cindy had made the early morning check about 6 AM. There were no signs of labor, so Bev and I finished loading the truck and took off to Cedar City, about a one hour drive into the early morning sun.
We all agreed that since none of the goats had shown any signs of labor, Bev and I would go to market on Saturday. We’re a major sponsor of that market and had yet to attend this year. Mom had a healthy collection of Farm Fresh Eggs, so off we went.
Sometime close to 9:30 (our normal morning chore time), we got a page from Cindy. Annie had gone into labor. Funny thing… she wasn’t the first-bred doe! Oh well, you take them as the come.
With the two of us gone, Cindy had a backup plan. We keep a couple of neighbors on speed dial in these cases. That speed dial is reciprocal, as we are backup to a sheep rancher and to our goat mentor. These neighbors are inexperienced, but this is the best way to learn. It’s also how we learned.
Wayne and Debbie hurried over and got here just in time. Annie was showing her bubble and about to have the first kid. Within an hour, the first little boy was on the ground. Shortly after, she began laboring without success. Finally, one back foot was showing and it soon broke her water bag. That’s not normal. You usually get the two front feet and head. Something wasn’t right.
This is where our past few years of training have paid off. Cindy had to enter the doe’s birth canal, and reposition the little kid. He was coming our breech (one of two normal positions), and one leg had bent back and was lodged next to the pelvic bone. Kudos to Cindy for getting the job done. She said Wayne was pretty speechless, and Debbie was wiping tears, instead of taking pictures.
Because of the time it had taken for the second baby, the first little guy was pretty well dried off by the humans, a normal process. Annie, the mama, had helped clean the first little guy, but she was licking in all the wrong spots.
The second little buck fared much better. As soon as she dropped him on his butt, she began licking and caring for him, moving to his head very quickly.
Bev and I hurried home as fast as we could, once the market had ended. What little cuties!
They were still in the straw house, and were quite dry, so we moved them to the sunshine for a couple hours. They were nursing a bit, although Mama started playing favorites. For whatever reason, she began pushing her first-born away. If she could see him coming for food or love, she would butt him with her head. The last-born is her true love. That little guy can eat when he wants. She’s more than willing to lick his little butt.
Not fully trusting Mama to care for the little boys through the very cold night, we decide to move them to our bathroom, where it’s nice and warm, and we can feed them when they’re hungry. Cindy and I carried the little guys into the house, placing them into a large cardboard box, lined with shredded newspaper.
Then we went out to milk Annie.
Now, I milked her last year, but she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. We have moved the milking stanchion to the back barn, and switched sides. She wasn’t impressed. The change of sides didn’t set well with her at all. Cindy and I carefully lifted her onto the stanchion only to have her deliver a swift uppercut with her head, and send me reeling. Note to self… remove any sharp edges from around the milking area. I fell backwards across a pallet, imprinting the edge of it on my butt. Yeah, it left a mark!
Annie, decided she didn’t like the stanchion. One more attempt, this time with me on the back end, and Cindy on the front. Success, even if Annie wasn’t real happy. I had to get that first milk, called colostrum, so the babies would get a natural protection to diseases and lots of additional nutrients available only in that first milk. It’s real thick and golden colored, as opposed to the milk, which is white.
I got about 2/3 of a cup. That was plenty, as the little boys had been nursing in the afternoon, even if only a few nips at a time.
Just before bedtime, we fed them the colostrum, fully prepared to hear them hollering in the middle of the night. We couldn’t believe it the next morning. They had slept through the night, and so had we. Good thing no one else decided to spit kids.
I went out and milked Annie from the ground. Got a decent two cups of rich milk. I took it in, gave it a quick strain, poured it into two bottles, and the boys had breakfast.
Shortly after, we returned the little guys to Mama for the day.
Since we still weren’t sure she would reliably care for her babies during the night, and knowing it was going to be cold (less than 20 degrees with a 10mph east wind) again we set up a large dog crate in the garage with plenty of straw. They spent a quiet, warm night in the garage, before coming into the house one last time for some more people love. They’re just so darned snuggle-y and cute. We could play with them all day, but there are chores to be done, so we all play “Auntie” and return them to mama Annie.
Tonight, they’ll spend the night in the straw enclosure with their mama and two other expectant does. The family is reunited!
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