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Piles of Friends Help Homestead

Tracy HouptI think we must really qualify as a small farm, if farms can be defined by piles. We have a wood pile, a rock pile, brush piles, compost piles, dirt piles, and from time to time a junk pile that sits around awhile waiting for our friend Rocky of Rocky’s Salvage to come and haul it away.

We met Rocky not long after we moved to Adventure Farm, when we stopped to buy some wood to supplement our supply. You can almost always find Rocky working outside around his place, splitting and stacking wood, organizing his salvaged finds, and in general keeping busy. That guy is a worker! The first time we met, I told him I had eggs for sale, but he wasn’t interested in paying for free-range eggs when he could get them cheaper at the store. Undaunted, I gave him a dozen to try, hoping he would be hooked. He did like the eggs, but over time we have arranged a barter system that works better (for me, anyway) than money ever could. I take a dozen eggs to Rocky almost every week, and in exchange he keeps his eyes open for things he knows we use. Ground venison, rolls of chicken wire, egg cartons, wood pallets, a large gate, plastic racks for curing my goat milk soap, and a large dog crate are just a few of the items he has brought our way over the past three years.

He has a fondness for snickerdoodle cookies, so I make a batch now and then and drop those off with the eggs. He’s always appreciative. Just today he told me he could get some blackberries for me, but if I baked pies with them he’d appreciate a small one so none goes to waste at his house, where he lives alone. He’s even going to provide the small pie pan! We are really glad to have a friend and contact like Rocky. (Now if I can just convince him that goat milk soap is a good thing!)

Another helpful contact, Klisse Foster, lives not far from us and raises Sable Saanen dairy goats. We bought our milker and a yearling doe from her in early April. Before that, she was a great resource as we experienced goat kids for the first time and had to unexpectedly bottle feed them. The best advice she gave us was to add full-fat yogurt to the kids’ milk replacer. I probably spent a small fortune in yogurt over the 10 weeks of bottlefeeding, but Opie and Ellie never had digestive problems. They gained weight well and thrived, and I attribute a lot of that success to my friend Klisse’s sound advice.

I wanted to pay her back somehow for so patiently answering all of my questions, so when her large herd of does began kidding in March, I took a homecooked meal to her family. I had to laugh when she said, “We will fall on it like ravening wolves!” In getting to know the Fosters, we discovered that Klisse’s husband Bruce is the very Bruce Foster who grew up in my hometown, and whose sister, Tammy, was one of my best friends in high school. Small world!

If you have animals, it’s important to cultivate a good relationship with a vet who knows about the species you care for and who understands your goals and attitudes toward them. We’re blessed to have a vet who understands our goat mania because he shares it! Dr. Holscher has met with us in the office, called us, texted us, and when needed he’s made farm calls here to help us with various aspects of goat care. Our two kids born in January are offspring of his Sable Saanen buck, Sheldon, so we feel like we’re practically family!

Rocky, Klisse and Bruce Foster, and Dr. Holscher ... we are so glad to count you among our “piles” of friends and farm advisers!

woodpile | Fotolia/katatonia

Photo: Fotolia/katatonia