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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Flat Aggie's Winter Adventures in New York

     My first view of the barn at Freedom Ranch-they really know how to do winter in Central New York! 

Freedom Ranch is a diversified livestock operation.  Scott and Sharon custom raise a variety of animals in a pasture-based setting for private sale.  When I visited there were meat and dairy goats, chickens, ducks, steers and a horse living there!  In the spring and summer there will also be pigs on pasture. 

They put me right to work, unloading the week’s grain. 
Since the ground is still snow-covered, the goats, chickens and even the steers get supplemented with grain and locally grown hay.  Once the grass starts to grow they won’t need grain or hay. 

Every morning Sharon milks her 3 dairy goats.  They are wonderful producers of rich milk, each producing between 1-2 gallons per day!  Sharon will use this milk in her home to drink and makes award-winning cheeses and yogurt. 

The kids (that’s what baby goats are called) drink their mothers milk during the day, and then the moms get the night off-duty and share their milk with Sharon on the morning.  I claimed to be an expert milker, but didn’t realize just how much milk Haley, her 7 year old Saanen doe, made!  I managed to milk 9.2 lbs. from her though.

Throughout my week at Freedom Ranch I was amazed at how cold hardy the animals are.  Scott taught me that if you can see snow on an animal’s back, that indicates their coat of fur is trapping their body heat in and keeping them toasty warm.  Who would think that these patient steers are really quite cozy?

 Even the does (female goats) and Levi prefer to eat their breakfast outside on a bright, crisp morning.  The meat herd consists of does that are boer/kiko crosses and are quite hardy.   However,  Levi (the horse) must think he lives somewhere tropical and did not grow a winter coat, so he requires a blanket to stay warm!

The chickens have a cozy coop area inside the barn where they spend the winter.  Chickens do not like the snow, as their feet get cold in it! 

I enjoyed checking in on the hens each day and collecting the wonderful eggs they lay. 
Did you know eggs come in a variety of colors?  I found pink, light brown, dark brown and even blue eggs! 


There were a few freshenings (or kiddings, as goat births are called) while I was visiting.  Ramona had triplets, which is not unusual.  Scott, Sharon and I worked together to help the does dry the kids off and dipped their umbilical cords in iodine to prevent infection.

There is a corner of the birthing stall with a heat lamp to allow the newborns to stay cozy for a few days after being born.  I quickly realized why the kids love cuddling up in there!  The lamp emits a red light so the kids can get some sleep without having a bright white light keeping them awake. 

  Sharon also loves sharing her knowledge with students at the local school, Hamilton Central.  She spent a few hours one afternoon teaching the ag students about the basic principles of cheesemaking.  The students got to make three different ricotta cheeses and taste the results too! 

Happy trails…until we meet again after my next adventure!!


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