It’s that time of year again. Kidding season is finally upon us! This year Lotus was first up in the kidding order, and on day 147 she kidded with beautiful twin gold-colored does, sired by Zedoary. Knowing that kidding was imminent, toward the end of last week we had moved Lotus up to the new kidding pens. She then spent most of Friday and Saturday out in the sunshine, browsing on her favorite blackberries… …and taking an occasional moment to lay down, and rest. Not that laying down, on a slope, when you’re heavily pregnant, is very easy. Then Saturday evening, around 8PM, we could see on the barn cameras there was a notable shift in her posture and behavior. Labor was finally starting. I didn’t intend to, but I ended up sleeping the night in the workshop, across two camp chairs, so I’d be close to hand when she started pushing. Last season her first kid, Rosie, decided to be a little difficult, and Lotus needed some help, so I didn’t want to be too far away. It was really cold in the workshop that night, and around 3AM bundled in two sweaters, a jacket, fleece-lined jeans, and three layers of blankets, I was almost tempted to crawl in the stall with her so I could sit under the heat lamp, but I didn’t want to disturb her. I also didn’t want to disturb Mr. CV. I’d sent him to bed late on Saturday evening, as there really was no point in both of us losing sleep. I toughed out the cold, and the following morning, right as Mr. CV was bringing me a steaming mug of hot coffee, Lotus...Read More
This winter many parts of the country have been entombed in bitter cold, and record snowfall. As such, I’m almost afraid to say that so far our winter has been incredibly mild. We have had a few storms pass through, but our temperatures have been spring-like for weeks, soaring past the 80-degree mark for a number of days this month. The advantage of our unseasonably warm winter has been that we’ve been able to cross some projects off the list during our relatively quiet time of year. Our first priority this season was to install a new dedicated hay storage shed. The shed was installed a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, which gave me some time to actually get a coat of paint on it before the next round of rain. I used this as an opportunity to test out a potential new house color, as I figure it’s much easier to repaint a shed if I hate the color, than repaint the entire house! After a few tries, I finally found a yellow-based color I like, and it’s so much cheerier than the drab tan our house currently is. Hopefully this summer we’ll get the house painted to match. It was a tremendous relief to have the shed in place, so our stored hay could finally be moved out of the workshop, and it also holds a lot more bales of hay than we could store before. At least this year, if we find good hay with the ongoing drought, we can stock up! Another task was to get some of the garden areas spruced up. The native garden area in front of the house was getting rather...Read More
I must have been good last year, as Santa was kind enough to upgrade my camera and lenses for Christmas. For the last six years the blog has depended on my old camera, but it had some shortcomings, especially in low light conditions, so I’m quite excited about the upgrade. I’m still getting used to the differences between them both, as it’s amazing what they can pack into a DSLR these days. I spent some time with the girls in the barn yard this morning, specifically because the lighting down there is always challenging, as it’s surrounded by tall trees, and this time of year gets a lot of dappled light. I think Lotus approves of the results, though. Although we’re currently enjoying a slight lull in farm activities, and using that time to get ready for spring planting, and a new batch of spring chicks, the ladies in the barn are busy making some spring preparations of their own. This season we have five does that are scheduled to have kids between late February and the end of March. The first doe scheduled to kid this year is Lotus, in just over seven more weeks, at the very end of February. I’m not sure that day can come quite fast enough for her though. Poor thing. Lotus only ultrasounded with triplets in November, but I’m seriously questioning now if we missed one. Her girth is already impressive to say the least! She always has been an over-achiever, but we love her for it. This is how she looked a few weeks ago, in mid-December… In livestock, ultrasound isn’t always an exact science, especially when there are multiple babies to count....Read More
It really is difficult to believe that yet another year is drawing to a close. Some days we’re convinced the farm has slipped into a time vortex. One minute it’s February, we blink, and we’ve been instantly transported to the end of December. Unfortunately, we have yet to figure out how to make this time vortex work in reverse. The laws of physics, and space-time, simply don’t apply on the farm any more. Part of the reason for this year’s time-slip is that, even though the gardens were left fallow due to our endless drought, we had more than enough to keep us occupied elsewhere on, and off, the farm. That’s why blogging has been scarce this year. If we’re honest, we had so much going on this year, that we’re not sure we would have had much time for a garden, even if we’d planted one. If our recent rains persist though, we’re hoping to revamp our neglected kitchen garden in the spring, and maybe squeeze in a few more blog posts, too. In the meantime it’s fair to say that the farm is now very much centered around the goats. Of course. Every day, rain (thank goodness we’ve finally had some REAL rain), or shine, every single day is significantly preoccupied with all…things…goat. It seems like just yesterday that Lotus and Minnie moved into their brand new barn. Now the barn no longer belongs to just the two of them. A few short years later, and (perhaps somewhat to Minnie’s chagrin) there are so many new faces in the Curbstone Valley herd. Thanks to Darby, Magnum, and Zedo…there are many more new faces on the way! I’m all but certain that the...Read More
Having just officially entered our fourth year of drought, a recent series of Pacific storms have had many Californians jumping for joy, myself included. In our last post the farm was in the midst of one such storm. Once the rain ceased, we were already preparing for the next storm. This next storm, however, was predicted to be MUCH stronger than the last. Earlier this week the National Weather Service was predicting that this area of the Santa Cruz Mountains could receive a daunting 7.5 inches of rain with the next storm, which was also predicted to bring steady 30-40 mile per hour winds, with gusts along the coast upwards of 60 mph. Although we’ve been relatively dry the last few seasons, large storms, outside of a drought, are very common during the winter months here. Too much rain, or wind, however, can certainly cause problems, from downed trees, and power lines, to mudslides, and road wash-outs. Mountain living certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you choose to live in the coastal mountains, it’s essential to be prepared…for almost anything! Preparing for the worst, we spent the week leading up to our predicted monster storm making sure that anything capable of blowing away or floating away was either stored away, or secured. Extra hay was put up, batteries were charged, the tractor, generator and chainsaws were fueled, and vehicles were spread out, and moved away from potentially hazardous trees. Although we have a portable generator to keep the freezers going in an extended power outage, the farm has no hot water, or a functioning stove when the electricity is out. Before the storm arrived I spent a day in the kitchen...Read More
I’ve written a number of posts over the years of about our frustrations with trying to grow fruit trees, and vegetables, under tremendous deer pressure. I never expected to write a post about a paucity of deer on the farm. Usually we’re posting about deer that have raided the orchard, repeatedly, and the kitchen garden. But this year, something has changed. The honest truth is, despite the occasional frustration at nibbled fruit trees, and devoured cucumbers, I love looking outside the window in spring, and seeing young fawns playing, and deer grazing on the grass, just outside the window. The wildlife here can travel through the farm and surrounding woodland unencumbered, and that makes this farm that much more special. I’ve worked with wildlife in a professional capacity for more than 20 years now, and I’m proud of the fact that we raise livestock here, and grow fruits, and vegetables, without restricting the wildlife species that reside here. Since moving to Curbstone Valley almost eight years ago, and working here on the farm almost every day, I’ve come to know our resident deer herd very well. We’d observe the bucks in the fall, but from late winter through early fall, we’d mostly observe the does, with their yearlings, and fawns, traveling through the farm on an almost daily basis. However, three plus years of drought, and predators, have changed the deer population here on the farm significantly, and most notably during the course of this year. When we first moved to the farm, the deer here were abundant, but always seemed to be part of the same large family group. Many were readily recognizable due to distinguishing coat features, or old scars, and...Read More
I admit I’m a little disappointed that the days are getting noticeably shorter. I spend more time doing farm chores in the dark now, than in daylight. However, it’s all worth it once the classic aromas of fall begin to permeate every corner of the kitchen. The scent of pumpkin and spice has been filling the kitchen all week, but sadly, up until now, the end product wasn’t even remotely edible. This is because I was crafting multiple batches of Spiced Pumpkin soap in preparation for the upcoming holiday rush. However, the side effect of the soap-making is that I was left with an insatiable craving for something pumpkin! Fortunately, I had plenty of extra pumpkin puree on hand this afternoon so that I could finally squash (pardon the pun) my craving for the first loaves of my favorite Pecan Pumpkin Bread this season. For some of us, myself included, it’s almost impossible for there to be too many incarnations of pumpkin, or anything that contains roasted winter squash at this time of year. This is a classic quick bread, and is very easy to make, fills the house with the predictable aroma of cinnamon and spices, and begs to be consumed with a steaming mug of hot apple cider on a chilly autumn afternoon. Now that these loaves have finally emerged from the oven, I can finally, officially, declare that fall has arrived on the farm. This is, without doubt, is my favorite time of year! As I can’t share a slice with you, I’ll do the next best thing, and share the recipe instead. Pecan Pumpkin Bread Yield: 2 Loaves Ingredients 3-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour 3 Cups Granulated Sugar 2 Tsp Baking...Read More
An essential part of any nutrition plan for goats is access to free-choice supplemental minerals, to aid in the prevention of various nutrient deficiencies. It is especially important to source mineral mixes that are formulated specifically for goats, as they have higher requirements for some nutrients, including copper, compared with other species. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we began to have significant difficulty in obtaining the brand of supplemental loose minerals we offer to our herd. This was of particular concern as this year hay quality has been less than optimal as a result of the drought, so running out of mineral for the goats wasn’t really an option. We use slightly different mineral formulations for the dairy does, versus the bucks, but both formulas had been impossible to obtain in recent weeks. The principle issue was with the distributor for our region, so all sources local to us were unable to obtain the loose mineral we feed. We even contacted the distributor directly, ourselves, which proved to be an exercise in futility, and frustration. With breeding season on the horizon, to ensure optimum fertility, it’s especially important to ensure the does, and bucks, are all receiving a well-balanced diet. As we don’t wait until we run out of feeds, or supplements, to source more, we were able to make our supply stretch for a while. However, after a few weeks of being unable to source the minerals the goats needed, we were forced into having to look for alternatives as our supply was running critically low. If you have goats you know that the one thing goats tend to shun, is change. As goats are creatures of habit, we can’t just change which supplements we feed to the...Read More
a small organic farm and native garden located on California's Central Coast
Founded in 2007, Curbstone Valley Farm is a small private family farm. Situated on seven-and-a-half secluded woodland acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, along California’s Central Coast, the property is located in USDA Zone 9b (Sunset Western Garden Zone 15). The terrain here is challenging to farm, and steeply sloped, changing in elevation by more than 300 feet. Flanked by two creeks, and surrounded by mature native Redwood, Fir, Madrone and Oak, the setting here is truly peaceful, and beautiful.
The farm’s focus is centered around a small herd of ADGA and AGS registered Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats. Our principle breeding goals are focused toward excellence in dairy production, while maintaining correctness, and soundness, in conformation. In addition to attending various shows each season, the herd participates in continuous DHI 305-day milk test, and Linear Appraisal. Our herd is tested annually for CAE, CL, and Johne’s Disease.
We maintain an heirloom open-pollinated kitchen garden, and an heirloom orchard. Areas outside the fenced gardens are planted with a variety of California native plants, and deer-resistant, drought tolerant, flowering annuals and perennials, to encourage a diverse array of pollinators to the farm. To protect our waterways, and the farm’s resident wildlife, all of our gardens are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers.