Sooooo…….there is so much going on at the farm. I know I need to update our site more often, but just the busy days of life (and my bed calling me each night!) keep me from getting on here more often!
Our first news is that we will not have black raspberries this summer. We had our plants in for 9 years, and each year we would lose some to weather, disease, or pests. The big thing we noticed was a lot of orange rust in the plants, which is common in black raspberry plants. Our crop had decreased enough that John decide to take the plants out last fall. We will replant this spring, but this first summer we won’t have a big crop to harvest. The summer of 2018 we should be open again for our U-Pick Black Raspberries. Now that we know a little more about raising berries, when we replant we will make the rows longer and the space between them wider so we can get our equipment through the rows easier. No more push mowing the rows for me! On an acre of berries!
This is a picture from the summer of the berry plants.
The other BIG change is that we have added a creamery onto our barn. What? Yikes! I know, right?! We have had Polypay sheep on our farm from the start, which are meat sheep. Last fall John took a trip to Wisconsin and brought back some dairy sheep, East Friesians. They are now pregnant, and once they lamb, we will start milking them….and make yogurt….and cheese…yes a big undertaking, but anyone that knows my farmer John knows that he doesn’t rush into things lightly and without doing his research and homework. The funny thing that so many people say to us when we say we will be milking our sheep is, “Oh, so you’ll make goat cheese.” No, we will make sheep milk cheese. Sheep milk has a very high percent of fat in it, and it makes lovely, creamy, great-tasting cheese.
This is a picture of our barn before the creamery was added.
This is the barn after the creamery was added. It doesn’t look that different. Where the overhang used to be is now enclosed with rooms. The cooler that you see in the very back of the “before” picture is now moved to right inside the door we walk in.
This is the cheese making room, the next room past the cooler. There will be stainless tables and shelves added in addition to a pasteurizer. The door in the corner is a back door to the milk holding tank.
This is the next room past the cheese making room. The big tank is where the milk will go once the sheep are milked.
The next picture is at the end of the hallway and on the left, across from the room where the milk tank is. This is the milking room. The sheep will come up a ramp and go to a spot to be milked. There is a trough so they will feed while they are being milked. People have told us that after a few times the sheep will know where to go and will go to the same spot to be milked each time.
This is the ramp from the barn that the sheep will come up, (there will be a solid piece on the middle) and they will go in the door into the milking room. If you look closely in the milking room picture, there are two doors. They will come in one door and out the other.
John has the Polypay and East Friesian sheep in separate areas in the barn. To me they are hard to tell apart. John says you can tell by looking at their bodies, so I will take his word for it!
This is a Friesian.
And then, if you didn’t visit the farm this summer, you may not know about our other news. We have a new llama, Jack Sparrow. But the llama had a buddy that had to come along….so we got an alpaca named Dusty. He is the most handsome one on the farm.
Whew….that is enough news for now! We will have lots to share with you once we start milking and cheese making and figuring this whole process out!