As I write this post my phone is in the background letting off delightful little *pings* with a frequency you might find annoying if you didn’t know that every single *ping* meant that someone believed in you. You see, each *ping* is a notification from Kickstarter that another person has decided to back our Creamery. In just two days we’ve managed to fund over half our goal of $5,000. That $5,000 will work to pay for the roof and walls of the Creamery. I am in shock and absolutely overwhelmed that so many people have decided that our little Creamery is worthy of their hard earned money.
For those of you who may not remember, back in May, we unexpectedly bought all the equipment to start a Grade A Licensed Creamery, most notably the pasteurizer, the chiller and the bottler. We cashed in almost all of our savings and took a huge, gigantic leap.
Dairy had always been part of the conversation since starting The Farmstead five years ago. It was just never something we allowed ourselves to actually see happening because, as you might have guessed, anything dealing with milk is not only expensive it’s also a risk. And so there we sat, all Summer long, with lots of costly stainless equipment dotted around our farm. And, to be honest, we struggled.
We had taken on too much.
The addition of 22 more goats, most of them in milk, to the farm meant our feed bill exploded. Suddenly farming in a forest wasn’t so glamorous, it was costly.
We brought out an arborist and learned what we already suspected. Our forest wasn’t healthy. There were too many trees too close together…no one was thriving. We made a big decision to log a portion of our acreage to allow all our cedars and all our maples to really grow and, let’s be honest—there’s money in logs.
So we pulled down fences, let animals roam wherever they wanted, and hoped to make quick work of the job.
Unfortunately that’s not what happened.
We spent all Summer focusing on logs, fighting with animals that were taking full advantage of their no-fence freedom, and feeling as though we were going to lose our minds to the chaos that is inevitable when pigs and goats are free to do whatever they want.
Finally, we decided to bring in the experts.
Logging is a precise skill. It’s one thing for Nick to take down a tree and turn it into our deck using his Alaskan Saw Mill. It’s another thing to expect to clear 5 acres of trees that are stacked on top of each other with a 1964 Bulldozer bought on Craigslist and a couple of guys who have no idea what they’re doing.
In the past three weeks a two-brother team of loggers, with their trusty crane, have made quick work of not only logging our pasture but also pulling stumps and smoothing for seed. By the end of this week I expect we will be ready for a heavy seeding…just in time for the rains. It feels as though a weight has lifted off my chest.
Our farm, which spent all Summer in turmoil, is now getting buttoned up for Winter and FINALLY, progress is being made on the Creamery.
Yesterday we poured the slab for our milking parlor and Creamery…it feels amazing.
Gizmo just celebrated her first birthday. She is the most fearless child I’ve ever met. If she hears a loud crash she doesn’t run away, she runs towards it. She has no issue with the blood curdling screams of hungry pigs, doesn’t mind a nibble from a goat who thinks her toes are edible, and chickens don’t even phase her. We have our work cut out for ourselves as we focus on protecting her from herself (because pigs aren’t pets, goat bites hurt, and chickens like eyeballs) without squashing her spirit.
Maybe that’s where the Creamery comes in. There is nothing safe about starting the Creamery. It’s a lot of money up front with no guarantee of a huge return when “it all goes right”. For two people who have saved all their lives spending this much money on a bunch of goats feels more like gambling than investing (and I hate to gamble).
Pinning your dreams on living creatures is terrifying. What if they all get sick? What if their milk is terrible? What if they run away? A lot of things can go wrong.
But then, a lot of things could go right.
The goats could continue to thrive under our loose rules, their milk has always been delicious I’m not sure why this time would be any different, and run away? Ha! They’ll be begging to come back before they even hit the main road. We’ve created a good life for these animals and I think they know that. I know we know it. Sharing our day to day existence with these goats makes us better people and, I’m pretty sure, will work to ground Giz just enough to make her fearless without making her dangerous (to herself).
We have the support of a huge community, our concrete floor is in, and the dog footprints in my make room are barely even noticeable now that everything is dry (they, were not planned, but, an inevitable results of no fences...THE CHAOS!)
Thank you to those of you who believe in us, who believe in the importance of local food, and who are willing to donate what they can to see a family farm grow and expand. We are humbled. And we promise, we will not let you down.