Turkey Creek Lavender

Turkey Creek Lavender

Friday, July 22, 2011

Goat Farming with Eva

Today I'd like to introduce you to Eva and her goats. Eva works at the cattle ranch at the end of my road. She has various and assorted duties, but taking care of the calves just happens to be one of them. And to do that, she has to pass my place on her way to another pasture.

Eva and I met by chance one day. She was going by on her 4-wheeler on her way to check the calves, and I was hunkered down in the lavender field, perched on an overturned bucket, methodically cutting and banding bunches of lavender for the market. I heard her 4-wheeler go by, and I probably stuck up my hand in a half wave, as is customary when someone passes and we are outside. Most of the time I barely look up when someone passes, just wave and keep cutting. But I heard the 4-wheeler slow down, and Eva turned into the drive and cut the engine.

Naturally that got my attention. I was sweaty and unkempt from being out in the heat, and the dogs had left paw prints all over my shirt and shorts that morning. I think I had my hair stuffed under a baseball cap, too. Not exactly how I like to greet people. But I got up and walked toward her. She was asking if this was lavender with a distinct accent. Hmm, I thought, this is interesting. I confirmed that it was indeed lavender, and she was so enthralled. "I love lavender!" she exclaimed enthusiastically, bending to caress the stalks at her feet. I thought perhaps her accent was German, but I was wrong. Turns out Eva is from Czechoslovakia.

We stood out in the field carrying on a conversation about lavender and then I invited her into the soap trailer for a look around. As we looked at the soap selection I explained that I made all natural soap, and that I also made an all natural goats milk soap, but that my source for milk was drying up.

Her eyes got bright and she became excited as she talked about her goats, and how much milk they were producing. Naturally I got excited about finding this new source. I sent her on her way with a fresh lavender bundle and some products, and her assurance that she would be by with some milk for me the next day.

The rest, as they say, is history. This lovely young lady not only came by the next day, but every day after that for the next week with a gallon of milk a day. I was able to put countless pre-measured bags in the freezer for the goats milk soap.

As most of you know, I am somewhat enamoured of goats, so naturally I wanted to visit Eva's farm and see her lovely creatures, and she was only too happy to oblige. 

The buck in her herd is Chert, which, when translated, means Devil. He sort of had that devlish look about him. I felt like he was watching me the whole time I was there, kind of freaky like.


















Seriously. I think he was staring me down. Are billy goats unpredictable? I don't know, and I don't want to find out. He is beautiful though, with his thick, glossy coat shining in the sun. I just sort of avoided staring at him directly. Just in case.

Here are some of the goats waiting patiently to be fed and milked. You can tell they know the routine. (See?! Chert is still staring at me!)

















The little spotted one standing on a bench in the background was born this year. Eva said it is unusual to have spotted goats. Isn't she lovely, though?




















She couldn't quite get her head in the feed trough so she just hopped right in to eat...

















...while everyone else lined up to chow down.
Then the goats start lining up at the milking pen to wait their turn to be milked.





















They are very patient. There is no jostling or pushing.


































Eva has Boer, Nubian, Sanaan, and Lamancha goats. I'm not very good at identifying them so we'll have to ask her which is which.

This lovely doe is a Lamancha. See her ears? Lamancha's either have tiny ears, or are earless. She was so sweet and affectionate. She liked having her neck stroked, and she kept trying to nibble my camera strap. We bonded.

















Eva hangs a bucket of feed on the wall and, while the doe is preoccupied, she gets to work milking. She likes to work in this small area to contain the goats and keep them calm.


































The milk is then put into bottles to be used for the bottle-fed calves, but not before kitty gets a taste of the cream, which I shared with you in this post.
































Some of the milk is saved for her family to drink. I have already made several batches of soap with her creamy, fat laden milk, and they are so deliciously smooth and luscious, with a fluffy, creamy lather.

I love hearing Eva's story. She came to the U.S. via California, then Colorado, then Oklahoma with her husband and daughter. She told me that when she was growing up in Czechoslovakia she always saw herself living on a farm, surrounded by her sweet goats. When she describes her homeland you can almost see it...rolling green pastures bordered by trees and hills. So lovely.

Our meeting was so serendipitous. I am so glad she stopped on her 4-wheeler, and so glad to have Eva as a friend. I think it's important in this life to be open to everyone, and everything. You just don't know what treasures are waiting for you!

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