Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of Goats and Gardens

I saw the first flowers of spring today! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, so I've scanned a picture I took 25 years ago with my first 110 camera!

Today as Rosie and I took a second path out of our pond area, we happened upon an ornamental apple tree (I think) covered in tiny white blooms. I saw some redbuds last week that were ready to pop, but haven't driven down that road this week, so maybe they were the first flowers. Still, I'm partial to apple trees, so I'm just as happy to have caught this tree in its first day.

Now then...if you've been reading carefully, you'll see our first topic today is goats. Yesterday Miss Chef went on a field trip to a goat farm, and I asked her to take some pictures for me. Bosky Acres sells cheese, lotion and soap at farmers' markets and a few grocery stores around town. We've gotten to know Michelle, the owner, at our truly local market in Matthews. She has been playing around with chocolate-goat cheese truffles, and she and Miss Chef started tossing around ideas for other goat-inspired sweets.

Michelle invited Miss Chef to come out to the farm to play with a caramel recipe, and Miss Chef was more than happy to make the drive! I was just jealous that it was on a weekday, and I had to be at work. Thus my admonition to take the camera.

Unfortunately, the goat pen was down a steep hill from the dairy building where the flavor concocting was done. So my hopes of adorable closeups are dashed. However, she did snap a bird's eye pic of the pen and its denizens.

At the moment, there are 14 goats, but many more are on the way! The does aren't due until next month...Miss Chef told me how many are expecting, but I don't remember. Any goat experts care to take a stab at the breed? Miss Chef wasn't big on details. Oh, and you can see some canine members of the herd at the bottom right. Don't know about that breed either, but they sure seem friendly!

I was pretty impressed by this huge pen; it looks like there's been quite an investment in this little farm. And I think they're doing fairly well; at least they have a fairly wide distribution between the markets, groceries and a couple of restaurants.

Miss Chef spent most of her visit in the dairy building, making things boil. She explained how they made the goat-cheese caramel sauce: essentially, make caramel and add some goat cheese at the end! She said they only added about 4 oz, just enough to "add a little tang." Here's the finished product:

She brought home a sample for me--she's so well-trained!--and I could just taste something a little deeper, earthier, in the back of my mouth. I'm not a big caramel eater, so I'd have to do a side-by-side taste test to really describe the difference. The color is beautiful, though!

Michelle is figuring out the packaging this week, and will have this sauce for sale at the farmers' market as a Valentine's treat this weekend. I can't wait to see how she markets it; Miss Chef told her we'd see her at the Saturday morning market--which means getting up at 6:30 or 7:00. As a non-morning person, I have to admit, it's worth it. I love the farmers' market, and the more often you go, the more fun it is. It doesn't hurt that I go with my own personal chef!

And now a brief update on the garden. For those of you who are daily readers, I wanted to show you those mini raised beds we made from our deconstructed planter box. Miss Chef managed to do this yesterday morning before she left on her field trip.

That's our main bed in the back. She dug in the small "boxes" an inch or two into the ground. I'm already picturing those three little rectangles filled with bushy green spinach, mesclun and...we haven't decided yet. So many choices! You can see Miss Chef also started constructing a trellis for my spring peas. I am determined to grow enough peas to spare! Last year we only got a handful at a time, only enough to mix in with something else. I know when I was a child we managed to even grow enough to freeze some, so I'm hoping that a nice trellis and good timing will improve our yield! We've got some work to do on the trellis, though.

I could go on and on about the daffodils coming up higher and starting to bud, the robins gathering in their huge migratory flocks, and the red maple tree starting to redden up as the sap surely begins to flow. I still love spring! But I've got a dog here who might like some attention, so I'll save all that for some other post. There's lots more spring on the way!

Update: Miss Chef has declared the third box will be filled with beets, glorious beets. She probably said "yummy beets," but I'd rather look at 'em than eat 'em.


  1. It's great to have the raised beds and I want to grow some peas too. I'm guessing the goats are Nubians and the dogs are Great Pyrenees. Sure would like to try all the goat milk goodies.

  2. I'm thinking Nubians too. They seem to be a really popular milk goat, and I think I see the goofy floppy ears on them in the pic. That's cool that they're doing all that with only 14 goats - I want to get some for milk & cheese/soap making myself, and wasn't sure if just a few would produce enough to do much with.

  3. Raine, I should tell you that Michelle has started buying milk from another farm. Which apparently means the USDA has to get involved, because she has morphed into a "manufacturer." Crazy.

  4. I really enjoyed reading about the trip to the goat farm. Maybe next time you will get to go too! What a nice set up she has there. I agree, they look like Nubians. Your garden looks great so far! I doubt we will get any raised beds put in this year before planting time, but I hope to in the future.

  5. Haven't been able to keep up with my blog list...so am catching up now. The caramel goat cheese sauce sounds like an adventure!!!

  6. Hi Flar,

    It's so nice to come to your blog and see my friend's comments. You don't suppose your love for goats has anything to do with ME, do you?

    I hope so!

    I'm back from Dallas and just wanted you to know I missed you but did my best to follow your blog on my BlackBerry when we weren't running around. It is definitely nice to be home and back into my routines. It's much more enjoyable catching up with my bloggers online.

    Hope all is well!

  7. Definitely Nubians. We have 6 of them. Very good milkers.

    By the way, goat's milk fudge is AWESOME! Of course, I like fudge, so if you don't like fudge, you might differ, but it is another good sweet to be made from goat's milk.

    Some goats have a higher butterfat content to their milk and therefore you can get the cream from it and make very rich yummy sweets with that!

    Love the garden update!
    p.s. Goat baby due any day now here, so you will get some adorable goat pics (I hope) if you keep an eye out on my blog!


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