Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
We are no longer waiting for goat babies. They are here. 14 of them. And they came all at once. We were crossing our fingers and hoping that the pregnant does would hold off during that last cold spell we had, with
temperatures at night in the low 20s. Even though you all up north may snicker, that is very cold for us here in North Florida. Heck, we put on long johns when the temperatures go to the mid- thirties LoL. Well, the does held off having babies and the temperatures warmed up. The first night after the cold spell, the first doe went into labor, and within 24 hours the other four followed suit, some of them at the same time and we had 11 more babies on the ground. Usually pretty coordinated in my office attire, I went to work the following day with black boots, blue tights and a brown dress, backwards no less.
Goat Farm Financial Sustainability
Speaking of office. My husband and I work full time to support the farm financially. It is a myth and lie if someone tells you that nowadays a family farm can be financially sustainable without outside income. That is just not happening. Just yesterday we had a $300 bill for brake work on a car and $600 for a vet bill which included a dog with a broken leg and several medications. These are not expenses either that you can choose to pay. Both are life safety and have to be paid.
Nevertheless, my husband and I are the eternal optimists and therefore always looking for ways to make the farm more financially sustainable so that maybe, maybe some time down the road, we can work on the farm full time. We will explore those ideas in another blog, but here is one that we have implemented as of January 1. We have opened the farm up to the Public!
Come and See Serenity Farm
Since we are a year-round farm, we have opened Serenity Acres Farm and Goat Dairy for farm and dairy tours. Visitors will be able to take a two-hour, very hands-on walking tour for a special peak into the operations of a true working dairy and will see where our products come from, starting with meeting the goats and the chickens. Visitors will get a chance to go into a designated goat pasture and play with the goats and will also be able to get a close-up look at our adorable goat babies. In the dairy visitors can buy our goat milk soaps and all natural body products as well as other goat milk treasures. Most of our fellow goat farmers do not give farm tours for various reasons including lack of time or fear of diseases for the goats.
We do have an annual open house for people to come and see the farm and this is just an extension. We are asking people to wear reasonable shoes and we give them plastic booties to wear over their shoes to minimize the spread of diseases. We have wet wipes and hand sanitizer on hand and of course do not allow any outside pets on the farm. But we have found during these annual open houses that people are just hungry for information on food and animals and farming. We have heard questions like: “When do chickens wean their babies?” and “Is it true that goats eat tin cans?” and we feel we can make a difference by educating and explaining. It is also priceless to see the smiles on people’s faces when they are actually able to touch and feel a goat, hold a chicken, and give and receive goat kisses. Our best compliment is when a young child looks up to their parents and says “When I grow up, I want to be a farmer like Mr. Wayne and Ms. Julia”. We do live in the South, as you can tell by the way we are addressed.
We have established reasonable prices for various groups and private tours, are making arrangements for a permanent porta-potty, have listed the program on the website and in our newsletter and are ready for the first tour to come. Check out our website www.SerenityFarmFL.com (which by the way we updated just recently) and let us know what you think. Or, better yet, come by and take a tour.
Back to Babies: Another Source of Income
All the goat babies we have now are also for sale. The first two or three kidding seasons, we didn’t sell any doelings to build our herd. Last year and this year we are just keeping the “special ones”. Those that have, for one reason or another, grown close to our hearts. Last year we kept three out of 24. This year, who knows? Over the last three years we have built a solid reputation for healthy and happy goat babies, so we are able to sell most quite quickly. We also keep our prices reasonable. We don’t show and we like to give other people the chance to start like we did. With three nice goats.
This month we have two more does ready to kid, and tonight the temperatures will again dip into the twenties...