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Does genetics remember home? Holiday Market Offerings, Season Endings

Farm News

The time has come for more milk. The demand for our chevre in Chicago has grown such that we could not produce enough to meet it this year. So, we’re growing our milking herd. Over the years, we have a cultivated a specific genetic fingerprint of milking goats. Our Nubian x La Mancha crosses, and the specific lines within those crosses, have produced a quality of milk to which we have become accustomed. It’s not just about butterfat and protein, the essentials for cheese making. It’s about flavor, it’s about goats that thrive on pasture; it’s about the interactions of seasonality and diet on milk and making the most of those interactions.

So, as we considered how best to grow our milking herd, the obvious first choice was to keep more of our own doelings. The next best option was to contact some of the herds who purchased our does (in numbers) to see if we might buy some of their offspring. We settled on Sirocco Ridge Farm in southern Indiana. They had purchased several of our La Mancha and La Mancha cross doelings and one of our bucklings a few years ago, and we knew they kept a clean herd. We also knew they were as meticulous (if not more so) as we are with record keeping and herd health testing.

Yesterday, Wes and Erica made the all-day trek southward to pick up 13 pregnant does; many of whom share the genetics of our herd. They fared the journey well, and made their way into their new digs just as the sun was starting to set. Excited to meet them, I was struck by physical resemblances of some with our does-the coloring, the eye stripes, the frosted muzzles. Inspecting their udders, I could tell right away who they traced back to in our herd. This is the first time that we have had some of our genetics return to the farm, with a twist.

Some have amazing differences though—beautiful black and white spots and belts and a stunning copper colored doeling named “Lou.” The other striking difference is their herd “culture.” They are calm, quiet and well-mannered. They seem so easily adaptable to their new surroundings, and make only the sweetest murmurings on seeing a human walk through the barn door.

In contrast, our doelings across the barn aisle scream when someone enters the barn, demanding to be fed or given attention. They peer (maybe jeer) over the fence at the new comers; unable to quell the indignant expressions on their faces. Herd culture is malleable, and my hope is that some of those good manners from southern Indiana rub off on our all-too-spoiled girls. Time will tell.

End of the Season

Last Friday, we milked our does for the last time this year, and now they are dry. All are pregnant, and enjoying their season of lounging and eating. We too will begin our season of rest and rejuvenation after this weekend.


Market Offerings

This Saturday, December 21st, we’ll be slinging the cheese at Urbana’s Market IN the Square. We will be there from 8 am-12 noon (even though the market runs until 1 pm). This is our LAST market of the season, and we won’t be back until the outdoor market begins in May 2020. We’re bringing a nice selection of cheese, including the latest (and young) batches of Cow-Goat Eclipse. These bloomies are aging beautifully, and they will be perfect to serve to your holiday guests over the next couple of weeks.

We will also be bringing some jarred products, PFFC “merch,” as well as our cheese & salami gift boxes (featuring charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.). Here is the line-up of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbes de Provence, cracked pepp