Monday, November 9, 2009

The Oberhasli goat is a dairy breed developed in Switzerland in the mountains around Bern and Freiburg. Oberhasli goats were first came to the United States in the early 1900s. Goats are generally brown, but can range from light tan to deep reddish brown and have black stripes down there back, on their belly, and their face. Oberhasli goats milk is the most similar to cows milk and one of the reasons that we got this breed, on top of the fact that it is about the only real dairy breed on the American Livestock Breeding Conservancy list.

Our goats came from Edelweiss Acres in Olympia, Washington. They use Oberhasli goats primarily has pack goats because of their disposition. We have two females, both of which are pregnant and expecting sometime at the end of February. We will use the milk for our own use, both to drink and to make cheese. We will get a pasteurizer sometime around the time they have their kids. This is not really a money making effort for us, but something that we thought would be fun to try, especially making cheese. We have made cheese before but it is more difficult using store bought milk that has been homogenized.

We currently have our goats with our two Southdown sheep and we got an Oxford sheep that I will talk about in our next post. The 5 animals are still trying to adjust and the Southdown sheep our exhibiting their shyness and keeping their distance from their new pen mates.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Three Sisters

The Iroquois Indians used to plant corn, beans and squash together as companion crops. They each provide nutrients that can be utilized by the others and each draws out different nutrients from the soil. The pole beans utilize the corn stalks to grow and the squash plants help keep down weeds between rows. We ran our own experiment this last year with mixed results. We planted corn like you normally would with about 10 rows of corn and then planted the beans next to the corn and the squash between the rows. This created a couple of problems. One it was very difficult getting around as the space between corn stalks was all taken (and then some) by the squash so harvesting was difficult. I am also not sure the beans got enough sunlight, or at least for some reason we did not get great yields on the beans, although we did on the corn. The other problem I realized is that we planted summer squash in the corn as well which was very difficult to find and we had some get too large before we realized they were there.

Next year we will do things a little bit different, firstly we will plant summer squash separately to easy the harvest of zucchini and other summer squash. We will also plant the corn and beans in squares or circles and leave 3-4 feet between the squares and plant squash in the rows so there is more room to get around. We will plant the beans along the outside 1 or 2 rows to make sure they have adequate sunlight and so we can track their progress more easily. We were able to get a good harvest in a relatively small space, next year we hope to do even better.