On Sunday, we celebrated autumn with an Open Farm at the farmstead. Guests were taken on a walking tour of the property, checked out the cheese-making room, the milking parlor, and were accompanied by the goat herd on a walk to the pond. The WWOOFers (volunteer workers living on the farm) made tasty treats for our guests, including our famous POPOVERSserved with chevre. 

This was a first time visit for many of our guests, and most were amazed to find out the farm is located on an old Christmas tree farm. It's true! The goats roam pastures filled with overgrown Douglas Firs, climbing into the branches to eat tasty pine needles & strip bark from the bottom of the tree. This technique is called "girdling," and yes, it does eventually kill the tree. However, since Christamas trees are planted extremely close to each other with the intent of harvesting before they are too large, our forest of Douglas Firs is too dense to be healthy and we need the goats to do some thinning. Did you know that goats are often used for noxious weed control? In fact, they LOVE blackberries (despite the thorns) and will also keep poison oak at bay!  We noticed lots of our guests were interested in the diet of our goats so we thought it would be interesting to look at how similar & different they are to their hoofed relatives. Unlike cows and sheep, goats are capricious eaters (they are Capricorns after all) and will sample most things, realize they don’t like it, and move on. They do not graze, like cows, sheep, & horses-- they are browsers and prefer eating woody shrubs, vines, and even plants that are toxic to others. During milking, we feed our milking ladies grain while they are in the stanchions, all organic of course. They also get an alfalfa hay mix to supplement their foraging.  In the near future, we will be installing more fencing to start high-intensity rotational grazing to better mimic natural occurring processes found in the wild.

We have these open farm events every few months and plan on having another soon! Please come by and meet the goats that help create our beautiful cheese! Until then, enjoy some photos from the event!