Friday, February 29, 2008

They like it, they really like it!

Anyone reading this blog is probably a friend or family member so you already know about my little side project - those that don't KNOW me, I'll explain.

I have dairy goats. These cute, fun, lovable creatures. I discovered them back in 2003 I think when I travelled to some conference with some other agriculturally oriented co-workers. I was lamenting that I'd never really had any productions animals - pigs were too messy, cows too big and I didn't have enough land, equipment or desire to raise a herd or flock of anything for slaughter.

I'd love to have a milking cow, but cows are huge and do you know how much a cow produces? The record for a Jersey cow is "Joy" from Lynden, WA coming in at 44,930 lbs of milk in a 365 day lactation. Now what the heck am I gonna do with almost 45,000 pounds of milk. Seriously.

Then a co-worker says - "what about dairy goats?" I had never heard of such a creature - tell me more! I took the damn dairy elective with my Animal Science major at Colorado State University, a VERY well known Ag school.

There was never any mention, not even a sentence or picture of a dairy goat in that class.

My friend gave me the name and number of a local goat vet near me. I called the vet and went to her house to see her milking does. It was amazing! These small animals, (small compared to a cow anyway) with great udders producing milk! I just knew that this was something I had to research because I was so enamoured with the idea of having my own production animal and these animals were just so COOL to me.

My sweet husband and I went on a little goat adventure each weekend - we milked goats, bottle fed goats, watched goats shown at goat shows... we toured large goat dairies where they make cheese, we ate goat cheese, we drank goat milk... each weekend we tried something different and researched the heck out of housing, care, vaccinations, kidding etc.

We became used to terms for udders, we examined udders, we looked at conformation, top lines, legs, shoulders, ribs, pins, escutcheons, you name it and we looked at it and talked about it.

(this pix is not my dairy herd - I just wanted to show all you city folk some nice lookin' udders/milkers, these Alpine does come from Olentangy Alpines and they were the first farm I came across on the internet with a picture for you)

Goats are so manageable - I suppose you could find a way to get hurt by a goat but I showed a Holstein dairy heifer for extra credit while in college and that thing nearly kicked my fool head off! A cow kick to the head could be a life altering event. Dairy goats don't really seem to do that kind of thing.

Well now we have five goats - four does and one buck. We have these goats and I get such a kick out of everything involving them but they cost money. Each mouth equals more hay, more grain, and vet bills. I've been trying to think of a way they could earn their keep ever since we bought them.

We sell the kids (babies) each spring and that certainly helps but the babies don't bring in a lot because I don't do the goat showing circuit. They are "unproven" I guess even tho' thier sires and dams come from show herds and I have nice, quality animals. People don't want to spend money on something that isn't proven I guess.

It seemed there had to be more I could do. I can't sell milk or cheese to the public for drinking or eating unless I'm a grade A dairy and becoming a grade A dairy is MUCH more than I'm willing to take on. I still have a day job.

I don't spend a lot of time promoting my does at shows. I want to spend my weekends at home riding my horses, playing with my husband, working on projects around the house... the show world just isn't my "thing".

Well I attended the American Dairy Goat Assoc. convention this past summer. It was held right here in Ft. Collins and why not go when it's in my own backyard? I learned a lot about soap and lotion making. I've been making soaps and giving them as gifts at Christmas but I learned more about that process and I learned how to make lotion. For whatever reason, a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought - why can't I sell these things? I went to a craft fair in November to test the waters. My products were really well recieved. I sold out of my lotions.

Christmas was CRAZY getting orders out and I do have people coming back for more but for the most part things have slowed way down. That is o.k. because I plan on working with a graphic designer to really tighten up and professionalize my packaging. I don't want to go promote the heck out of something and then have it change appearance. Consistancy is the name of the game with branding and people recognizing YOUR product.

Once I have my branding down, I'm going to take it to some stores and pitch it. Who knows what will happen? Worst thing I figure is that they laugh and say no right?

I took my product to Sally Ann to try - she runs a styling salon and I figure she is a professional, she's in this business, she comes across beauty products all day long, every day. She said she'd try it. She called me up and told me how incredible my lotion is! Said it is a REALLY nice product and she'd carry it in her store.

That is pretty exciting - I can't wait to meet with my graphic designer for the packaging and branding.

Well the sun is shining and it's 55 degrees... my arse is itchin' to hit the leather of my saddle...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heeere kitty, kitty, kitty....

Allrighty - think this blogging thing is going to be addictive!

Furry husband does not like being called "Furry" so much. Dunno what I'll refer to him as? Anyway, he is in Denver tonight for wine meetings, leaving me alone with about 100 bottles of wine....pinots, chards, name it and it's here. I can hear them calling to me.... MMMM

I purchased girl products today. Lately, I've been trying to improve my appearance. Going from frumpy goat farmer to half-way decent member of society.

I had my hair cut yesterday - it is a new short stylish do - received lots o' compliments and two people called my hairdresser, Sally Ann, to make an appointment. I was a good billboard for her - just wait til they all see my hair tomorrow when I've had a shot at styling it!

I don't wear make-up very often. However, when I do, the product I have has been giving me a rash around my eyes for that oh, so attractive, diseased, sickly look. Either the product is old and a bacteria creeped in or there is something in that brand I'm having a reaction to.

I went out on a limb and bought some Arbonne cosmetics today from a fellow horse woman who lives in OK. She knows my trainer, there was a skin care party at my trainer's house involving LOTS of wine, I mean LOTS of wine. Now I've done gone and bought girlie items.

I feel guilty for being a girl and being so 'spensive. I know I shouldn't but I do. I'm always thinking things like - the cost of this shirt is equal to 3 bales of 3rd cutting alfalfa hay or something like that. I only buy at consignment, thrift or discount stores...Ross, TJ Maxx, places like that. And I only get my hair cut maybe 2 or 3 times a year... but still, I am such a friggin' cheap skate and don't like spending the money on myself so much.

The drama of the evening and at our little farm is Split Pea Soup, our tortise shell kitty.

Let me preface. We have SIX cats. They are not barn cats, they are not outdoor cats - they are cuddly, purring, loved felines ranging in age, color and size. I have a soft spot for cats. Yeah, yeah, I know the chances of becoming a crazy cat lady in my 80s only increases with each cat.
Well Split Pea went to the dark side. We brought home one cat too many and she won't live indoors any more - we keep trying but so far have had no luck.

We have a heated outbuilding we use for storage. We put food, water and bedding in there for her - we turn the heat on in the winter and hope she'll be o.k. Figure a short, happy life is better than a long miserable one. For the most part, she sticks close by and follows us all around for our morning and evening chores. She gets a bowl of fresh goat milk when the goats are milking and she seems pretty content.

Well, a big tom saw how good she had it and moved in. He fought with Split Pea a few times before we trapped him and took him in for neutering and vaccinating. Since he is truly a feral cat, we turned him loose again. The neuter didn't help with his aggression toward our little dainty kitty. We discovered a pretty big wound on the inside of her thigh that needed doctoring and stitches.

She is picking at the stitches and opening everything back up - I have her locked inside, much to her dismay. She is hissing and snorting uncontrollably - I think almost to the point of seizures. But I'm not putting her outside to be another cat's bitch - well until she's healed up a bit more.

She isn't happy 'bout being locked up, the rest of the cats are all gathered around the door and between her hissing/snorting/clawing to get out and the other animals interest at what's behind door number 3, I'm guessing I won't be getting much sleep tonight.

Cat needs it's nuts cut and I don't give it another thought. I want some make-up that won't turn my eyes into diseased looking cesspools and I drive myself crazy with guilt. Sheesh!

Breaking my cherry

I've never blogged before - this is my first post so please be kind. Hopefully my quirky, happy little life won't bore the pants off all y'all!

This is one thing my furry husband and I notice - we began talking like backward hicks to be funny to each other cuz neither of us have ever lived rurally. We are true city people who moved to the country and have been a prime source of entertainment for all of our neighbors. It truly is like the old t.v. sitcom - Green Acres.

Now, however, those goofy speech patterns just start flying outta our mouths without warning, which can be a bit horrifying! I think I just said to a co-worker the other day "wait, let me pick up them there papers".

Them there papers.

All my teachers from first grade through a Master's degree are screaming in abject horror.

We used to go to this little Friday night auction at Smelkers in town. Smelkers - yup - Smelkers sorta like the jelly but with oh so many more fruits! The auctioneer was the owner and the Pa to Curtis.


Everything was "that there outfit" or "lookit this fine deal here" (deal - used as a noun). A lot of times Pa didn't seem to know what in the heck the item was that he was selling - and would refer to the item for sale as an outfit or deal.

The auction always started off with this item at $500. It could be one of those old t.v. consoles as big as a refrigerator, complete with fake, wood vaneer and a non-working, black and white t.v. set inside. $500.

"Who'll gimme $500 for this fine outfit? Lookit the vaneer on this here deal - you can't GET that now-a-days...."

You could practically hear the crickets chirp. (You couldn't actually SEE them thru the haze of cigarrette smoke but you could hear their tiny coughs and gasps for air) Pa would look around - see he had no fools in the crowd THIS Friday night and he'd bring the price down to $5.00 ---

"Who'll start me off with $5.00 for this shiny, shiny, gen-U-ine outfit? $5.00! $5.00!..... "

If no one bids, the price drops to $2.50. Still no takers?

"A dollar - who'll gimme a dollar for this here fine antique? CURTIS - get OUT of the way so the people can SEE!"

Someone generally takes the bait and starts 'er off and the bidding war is on.

I bought three lawnmowers and a small, rusty, metal garden cart - all one lot - (that there is auction speak for you city folk) at the bargain basement price of $1.00 one Friday night.

We were pretty strapped for cash, didn't have a working lawnmower and boy did that garden cart look mighty fine. F-I-N-E, FINE! The next day, we drove our 1973 International Harvester pick-up truck and took home all three lawnmowers and the garden cart.

One of the three mowers worked for two summers and we still use the garden cart - SIX yrs later! I'd say I got my dollar's worth that day...

We don't go to Smelker's any more. The owner/Pa died and I think Curtis is runnin' the show now - GO CURTIS! We have a small house and can't fit any more things inside. If you've ever been to an auction, you know that people can get carried away - I tend to be one of those people. Before you know it, I've spent my hard earned money and I have a semi-trailer load of junk to bring home.

I drive past and always think I should stop in to see how ol' Curtis is doing.