Sunday, May 24, 2015

Monsoon season on the farm

Posted By on Sun, May 24, 2015 at 8:05 AM

We have begun construction on the Ark. Although we won't be loading animals two by two, we will be loading 14 goats, nine rabbits, 17 chickens, four turkeys, two dogs, two piglets, two children and ourselves. That is, we will unless our house floats away while we are sleeping first.

Though the weather has not — knock on wood — involved the extreme hail that shut down I-25 in the Springs, the rains here in Penrose have been like none of the locals have ever seen before! 

click to enlarge LINDSEY APARICIO
  • Lindsey Aparicio
Creeks that haven't run in 43 years, according to one local rancher, are rolling. Basements are flooding and ground water is rising, but — hallelujah! — THE PASTURES ARE GROWING! And by gosh, our goats love the pasture.

click to enlarge LINDSEY APARICIO
  • Lindsey Aparicio
This is the first time our goats have grazed on fresh pasture grasses and alfalfa in our five years as goat herders. Previously, in the foothills of Colorado Springs, they only had access to dry bales of grass and alfalfa hay, and the patches of scrub oak and ground cover that dotted our previous farm.

We wondered if the fresh greens would noticeably alter the flavor of their milk, as the feasts of scrub oak certainly did. But much to our surprise, it isn't the flavor of the milk that's changed, but the quantity produced. The flavor has remained as sweet and delicious as always, but when they eat in the pasture, their udders nearly explode with milk.

We don't have shelter in the pasture for the goats, yet, so during the monsoonal weather they have to stay in the pen where they have access to the barn. (Goats don't like the rain, or the mud.) Days spent in the pen means dry hay (and often rain and muck) and about a cup less milk per milking, per goat.

Right now, we're milking four goats, twice a day, and each goat is giving us between five and 10 cups per milking, depending on the goat. Do the math, and one cup less per milking equates to a 10 to 20 percent reduction when they're eating dry hay versus scarfing up fresh pasture greens! 

click to enlarge LINDSEY APARICIO
  • Lindsey Aparicio

Along with the greater milk production, what’s more mesmerizing than watching herbivorous animals munch on a lush, verdant salad bar under the azure Colorado sky? It’s idyllic, I tell you.

So we'll take the rains, the puddles of mosquito eggs and algae in the driveway, and the moss growing out of our ears. Goat-gourmet greens are growing at a rapid pace in the back pasture, begging to be turned into milk.

Lindsey is a city girl turned urban farm girl. She and her family are the proud stewards of a few milking goats, a lot of working chickens, a growing farm and soon-to-be creamery in southern Colorado. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website (thegoatcheeselady.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at: thegoatcheeselady@gmail.com.

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