Monday, February 15, 2010

Milk Price

I began selling goat's milk back in 1982, in Colorado. It was (and still is) illegal to sell raw milk from the farm in that state. But people come to you and beg and plead and it really helps to pay the feed bills. And I truly believe it is one of the healthiest, best foods on this planet.
At the time, I sold milk for a dollar a quart. An astronomical price - after all milk at the store was $1.25 a gallon, at the time.
I worked with the group in Colorado who got legislation passed to make it legal to offer goat shares in Colorado. You could sell a share of a goat to someone and they got the milk from "their" goat on your farm. It was fun, but our farm was out in the boonies and we had too many people who wanted milk delivery 150 miles away, and the paperwork was a real pain. So, when we were looking to move someplace where water actually fell from the sky, we also wanted some place it was legal to sell goat milk.
Now I sell a little bit of goat milk from my farm in the Arkansas Ozarks. It is legal. And that is a real mind soother. I've been selling it for $1.00 a quart. That's what I've always sold milk for... after all, that's an outrageous $4.00 a gallon.
Last week, a friend who sells quite a bit more milk than I do and makes fantastic cheeses, called to see if he could buy a bit of milk to tide them over until their does freshen. I love my goat milk so much that I try to stagger my breeding so that I always have at least one doe milking. It doesn't always work as I had planned, but this year (knock on wood and cross my fingers) it is working. Right now Yampa and Bea (in the picture) are still milking a bit. So I said sure.  When he came to get his two quarts, he asked how much?
Dollar a quart, I said.
He was adamant that I should not be selling it that cheap. He gets $2.00 a quart and feels that is very reasonable.
So, I checked milk prices at Walmart. I'm sure you know that cow's milk is now $4.29 a gallon, but that shocked the heck out of me!
And the processed, icky tasting goat's milk in the store is $3.49 a quart!
So I spent 3 days stressing about what to do about my milk price. Part of the recent move to Havencroft was so we could sell more of our products from the farm easily.
And then, I went to get fuel for the truck. Now, when I started selling goat's milk, gas had recently spiked to an outrageous $1.25 a gallon. We didn't know how long these ridiculous prices were going to last, after all, we were used to paying 50-75 cents a gallon.
Last night I paid $2.77 a gallon for gas - and it's been right around that same price for many years.

So, I guess Gus is right - my milk price just went up to $2.00 a quart.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Many of you are familiar with our naming system for sheep and goats. When I started out with livestock in the early 1980's,  I just named the new babies whatever came to mind. As the years went on, I started having themes for each year's names - for the cheese year we had Brie, Gouda, Edam... Beatles year was Ruby Tuesday, Rita and Lucy... herbs year was a big one with Pennyroyal, Cowslip, Marjoram still being the grand-dams of our flock. We tried a Lord of the Rings year and discovered there were no where near enough female characters in that series! We had a water year after the drought and still have Yampa and Erie.
But after 20 years of naming 20-30-40 babies a year, the themes dried up. So we started with the alphabet. Now it's pretty easy. We know Bea and Bramble were born in the same year. Abracadabra is a year older than Be-Be and two years older than Cappucino. This year is an "F" year.
We thought we were expecting our first lambs and kids mid-March and figured that would give us enough time to haul shavings, chip wood and make some dry clean places. However, Dapper Dan the ram has amazed us. He only weighs about 75 pounds and is our shortest sheep. He is purebred jacob and very typey - he just never grew. We didn't think there was any way he could reach our bigger crossbred and Icelandic ewes to breed them.
Well.. last Sunday, the gorgeous, sunny day between snowstorms, Cocoa, one of our crossbred jacob/corridale ewes presented us with a beautiful spotted, frosted, big, energetic ewe lamb. I was leaning towards Farli for a name when Lena pointed out that her name was obvious - meet "First."
First is the first lamb Cocoa has ever had, First is Dapper Dan's first progeny. First is the first lamb born on Havencroft and the first lamb of 2010. It's a good thing this is an F year, 'cause I don't think she could be named anything else!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Job description

One of our projects for this winter at the Ozark Folk Center is for each of us to write out our job duties to be compiled in a Job Book, both to let new people get up and running more easily and to be able to justify our jobs to the "higher-ups".
I've been trying to write up my job since November and am finding it to be one of the toughest things I've ever written. Just today, my job ranges from doing budget analysis in Excel; to coordinating with maintenance crews about frozen pipes; to scrubbing the gunk off the floor in the General Store so we can coat it with boiled linseed oil; to finishing a press release about upcoming Folk School classes; to contracting with a cowboy poet for performing on our Cowboy weekend.
My job is to make sure that everything is arranged behind the scenes and to make sure that everybody has what they need so that our visitors can play and have fun... why can't I just write that?

Because my job is the details. sigh :-)