I like goats. I like dogs. I'll admire a horse. I'm pretty fond of our donkey and our hens. I like children, when they've grown up a bit and can be useful around the place. Cats are this far down the list. I don't dislike them. We need them on the farm to keep the rodents under control, so there are two in the red barn, and Caramel and Oscar here at the dairy. Oscar arrived four years ago from Berkeley, and took to farm life with gusto. He's the black cat that's always waiting by the screen door of the cheese shop, waiting to nip in quickly to patrol the premises for mice. He's a superb hunter. He has a big personality. We've grown to appreciate him very much. My husband dislikes cats, but not Oscar.
You can see the hayloft balcony through the sunflower stalks here. There is a lovely view across the farm, and Oscar likes to sit there too. He's been napping on the railing.
Oscar on my bed after his accident
Last week we found Oscar in the garden trailing a leg. He was obviously in serious pain but trying his best to stalk rats nonetheless. I took him to the Pescadero veterinarian, Linda Amezcua. Oscar had shattered his leg into fragments. We think he fell off the balcony railing while sleeping. Apparently cats quite frequently break their bones when they fall accidentally. Well, now I had a decision to make. A major operation would involve titanium pins, not just bonesetting. I don't have cat insurance. The cost of Oscar's operation would pay quite a few bills elsewhere.
If it had been any other cat, it wouldn't have been arriving for its operation yesterday. We are so lucky to have Dr. Amezcua here in town. She arranged for a specialist to operate on Oscar's leg in her surgery. It took an hour and a half.
Oscar will have to be confined to a crate for 8 weeks of recovery while his leg sets, so that he doesn't attempt any hunting. After that, he is a super-cat. And a fortunate one. One life down.
A huge thank you to Krisha and Stacey and friends for volunteering their Saturday on the farm. Krisha and Stacey run our office, and happen to have lots of friends who wanted a day of action on the farm. They destroyed a field of weeds, a barn of rotten timber, and a hot lunch.
arriving in the back of the farm truck
The sheds you can see beyond the mustard are the outbuildings of Phipps Country, where the Phipps family stored their heirloom beans, grown here in Pescadero. Tom and Teresa retired from their farm last year after the water shortage severely reduced their olalliberry crop. They will continue to sell beans from their barn in downtown Pescadero (117 Stage Road, Friday through Sunday 11am-5pm).
With the mustard and hemlock gone, Alison our rabbit czar will install outdoor pens for the rabbits to browse during the day. The pens will be enclosed with mosquito netting, since biting insects can transfer the usually fatal myxoma virus to rabbits, . Alison will also plant herbs said to deter mosquitoes, like feverfew, catnip and marigolds. She is planning to scythe and harvest the grass later on in the spring to dry as food for the rabbits.
We're clearing the outbuildings to ultimately house our baby goats. Our farm manager will live on the premises to keep an eye on the babies as they grow. We will keep the famous olallieberries, but due to water rationing will probably not have sufficient for public berrypicking.
Thank you! And a special thank you for sharing your photos, too!
The least we could do is serve them a hot farm lunch, with pear pies made from the pears in the orchard just next to the rabbit pasture
You might ask why we scheduled two hundred babies in less than a month? Good question - we'll ask the bucks. In the autumn, as the mature does come on heat, we introduce our bucks to separate groups of the does. Coltrane, Bruno and Billy Idol were all new on the farm, and the last two were barely the size of the yearling does. We weren't sure how appealing they would be to the women. We didn't see a whole lot of action. Seemingly, though, the nights were sizzling. The bucks were efficient, perhaps a little too efficient: wham, bam, why hello, ma'am.
In these same three weeks Carl, our dairy plumbing expert, has repaired the stainless steel pipe that crosses from the milking parlor to the dairy and replaced the milk pump in the parlor. We began our new routine of once, not twice, daily milking. Although most of the milk is being slurped up by the babies, Salud will try to make the first batch of ricotta today, ready for the weekend. And if not, then very soon!
Meanwhile, we're fixing the farm kitchen drainage and installing a flush lavatory in the small garden shed just beneath the hayloft. This involves exciting trenches across the garden. We hope our farm dinner customers will enjoy the elegant comforts of their new bathroom.
Hardworking shack: chicken coop, then garden shed, then bathroom
Inside, we have added a splendid refrigerator in the farm shop, the first step in fitting a kitchen suitable to prepare hot soups and drinks to add to your picnic lunches here on the farm. Check out the alluring full-size cheesecakes, party-sized Monet cheeses, big pots of plain chèvre and the farm kitchen's new harissa and kiwi nectar.
Kiwi nectar on scones for tea time
Donkey presides over the oldest kids, who are now in the run alongside the farm chicken coop. She clearly enjoys the attention from visitors on tours. Each morning begins with a huge bray, deafening the rooster's effort. Then she gets to nibble my own garden, before the gardeners get snippy, and scratch herself under one of the fruit trees, before spending the day in the run.
When I was younger, my skin often flared up in itchy patches. Eczema is the general word for all itchy rashes. I get it on my face and neck, but it is common behind your knees and at your elbows and armpits. Millions of people have eczema, but there isn't one simple trigger. Irritants like detergent and scent, allergens like mold, dust, pet fur and some foods, hormonal levels, high and low humidity, and anxiety may all affect your skin. When my face got blotchy and red, it was hard not to get worked up about my appearance, probably making the situation worse.
I was interested in goats before my first six pets arrived on the farm because I couldn't drink cow milk without upset. Goat milk made a huge difference in my diet, since I love a drop of milk in my tea. It lead me very quickly to goat milk soaps and lotions. When your skin is inflamed, it's crucial to keep it clean and moisturized, but regular soaps were not doing me any favors. Goat milk is packed with ingredients that make a difference to your skin - and to my ezcema.
We began making small batches of goat milk soaps and lotions on the farm a decade ago. Goat milk is pretty much all-powerful, since it will help remove irritated skin, repair the damage, retain moisture, and protect your skin from sun exposure. The alpha hydroxy acid lactic acid in goat milk destroys the bonds between dead skin cells, removing some of the irritation. Lactic acid is a major ingredient in chemical facial peels for this reason.
Goat milk is packed with vitamins, including vitamin A, which affects skin elasticity and tone. The butter fats are a supreme natural moisturizer. And goat milk minerals include selenium, which is believed to protect your skin from overexposure to sun.
I was lucky to have a right-hand woman in the shape of Eilís Burke, who makes our bath and body line. She trained as a nurse and rocks a no-nonsense attitude to life, but she could not be more of a caring goddess. She nursed me back to sanity after my operation a few years back. It's Eilís who develops our luxurious choices of aged bar soap, liquid soap, face, eye, and body lotions, face cleanser and toner, bath oils, bath salts, and more.
We sell our full range of bath and body soaps and lotions in the farm shop and onlineOne of Eilís's dogs
Each December we take the flatbed truck into the hills to thin my friend Sande's woods. It was misty and damp this year, with the wind in the trees. This is one of my own Christmas rituals, brought straight to mind with the scent of freshly cut pine. Roberto climbs the bank with the chainsaw, and the rest of us haul the trees to the truck. They are lovely without decoration, though we do hang lights and carved goats on some, and they will scent the farm Christmas fete this weekend.