medicine walk

We have been graced with the chance to move in some old ways.  My son Weston, myself or Elizabeth get to be goatherds, which in sheep would be a shepherd.  Taking the goats out from the farm, on up the road to the Lopez Hill area feels like medicine to my spirit.  I dream of having each of our land mates choose a day a week to take the goats up and get their medicinal forages of choice: the wild varieties that we miss with the plow and mower.  They browse on wild roses, ocean spray, willow, hardback, alder, thumble berry, you name it, they love it, and the deep roots pull up the minerals goats need.  More minerals than sheep and cattle.

This year the goats kidded fine- no assistance, but it seems hard for me to keep the weight on them and in good health coming through the first couple of weeks of lactation.  After some health issues with the goats and my own stress from all the dairy related work, i received a message in my thoughts to go up the “mountain”.  This is not just a walk, it is several hours up there so they can relax and eat and move and eat and move and lie down.  And for me to read and watch and think and lie down, and eat too.  I think, “How lucky i am to be able to maybe make this part of my livelihood, to fight my mind saying it’s not productive but to know that the goats’ health is everything if my business is wholesome cheese and milk.”

Weston is most excited about that long stick then herding goats, but never the less he is getting good at it.  The other day he lied down next to me during the DAY in the field with the goats on one of our “walks” longer then i’ve ever seen him still.  I think it was 2 minutes.  He has been coming to the Quaker meeting so that’s given him some practice in stillness maybe.  Of course i dream of him being more a part of the dairy.  He has liked to bottle feed some of the doelings we bought.

One of the most beautiful parts of this dairy farming is that i manage the goats in a way that gives them freedom to forage and gather what turns in to milk and then i collect it.  If those goats eat what was intended for them then that milk is so nutritious and good.  They spend all day eating and converting that forage that we cannot make use of in to milk.  Then i manage that milk in a controlled manner to change it to cheese by some old ways again.  Grass and the other plants they eat do not taste good to me, but chèvre does!

I don’t want to give the idea that i always go relaxing up in the little wild patches of lopez on a daily basis.  For the most part i move electric fence out in our 35 acre pasture, fuss with this or that to fix or build and feed hay in the winter, but i would like to move with the goats more.  I gain such clarity, aside from my allergies, when i go.  I have joked about taking my laptop to do some office work, off-line.

Well, please come out to see us at the saturday Farmer’s Market. We are talking about a wednesday market too, which we thought would appeal to locals wanting a more peaceful shopping scene.   Maybe you’ll get some chèvre that was from milk made from snow berry leaves, which i guess is essentially sunlight.

One thought on “medicine walk

  1. Andre & Elizabeth,
    Your new dairy is an important part of our bounty of local food! This story makes me appreciate your delicious milk and cheese even more. I hope to see goatherds and beautiful goats traveling across Center Road up Lopez Hill sometime soon.

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