Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Aspiring Farmer Blog
Saturday was a 21 hour day and gave us a little dose of the farm life. Firstly, we’d been sick all week with a cold passed along by Sweetbreads’ best friend’s baby. Note: Drinking too much wine around a sick child is a surefire way to catch a cold. Not a big deal, we thought. Just a minor cold and we’d be over it in a few days. Well, that little sucker stuck around all week and before we knew it we were faced with a long-planned visit to a dairy goat farm about an hour away. Luckily, by Friday our colds were mostly better and we felt good on Saturday morning, so we thought it had mostly passed.
We woke up at 3:30am on Saturday, caught the G train south two stops and picked up a Zipcar. We don’t have a car in the city (we have never really needed one), so we use a car sharing service called Zipcar whenever we do need a car. It comes in quite handy and saves us a ton of money. Owning a car in the New York City is expensive!
We arrive for our Zipcar right on time around 4:30am and make it up to the farm by 6am, just in time to bottle feed the goat kids, toss some hay in the doe’s feeders and get ready for milking. By this time we’re feeling great. We haven’t been on a farm in over a month and we caught kidding season perfectly. The sun starts to come out and it promises to be a surprisingly beautiful “winter” day in NY. In addition, the farm we’re visiting has the exact model and size of hoop barn that we were thinking of building for our goats. Excellent!
After a few minutes we're on to milking. We’re using a bucket system, which is our first time. We have been debating between bucket and pipeline milking systems, and having only used pipeline systems we weren’t sure which way to go. We’re still not sure, but now having used a bucket system we can at least compare the two. As the morning passes things are moving along and we’re talking loud over the vaccuum system that makes the suction for the milking. It’s pretty loud and we’re in a small room so I’m talking pretty close to the top of my voice. We’re using a 4-goat milking stand to milk through 28 goats, so it’s taking quite a while. It’s also a new stand so the goats just aren’t too familiar with the whole process. I don’t keep my eye on the clock, but by the end of cleaning it must have been close to two hours and all of the sudden my throat starts to hurt something awful.
I’ve lost my voice. Nothing is coming out, just raspy-ness and the occasional high pitched sound. Crap! Perfect timing. We're finally back out on a farm that has a lot of similarities to what we’re thinking for Little Seed and I can’t even say a word! I’m actually feeling really good, as if the cold has passed, but my voice is completely lost.
We plowed through the day, helping with chores, assisting in cheesemaking and feeding the animals. Not being able to communicate made it tough for me to fully participate and ask all the questions I had. I felt constrained and detached, but it also made me more observant. After evening milking, chores and catching up over a glass of wine we ended up not getting back home until close to midnight, nearly 21 hours later.
All in all it went really well, but it just made me think how vulnerable we’ll be with just the two of us on the farm. If one person gets sick, or even just can’t communicate, we’re really in a bind. It’s something we’ve thought about a lot, but having it happen in a real scenario is something we hadn’t yet been through. I imagine we’ll be faced with much worse one day in the future, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.
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