Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Sure enough, Celeste and Truffles both kidded right at 4 pm yesterday. The fourth baby pen went from zero to ten in just 5 hours!
I think that's 29 now. Probably a few more will join us tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

Fortunately, amidst all the goat care and milking I still have time to cook occasionally. And what better dessert to make than banana cream pie? Especially when made from fresh bananas grown on the farm. I've always enjoyed bananas well enough, but there's something special about the ones here in Hawaii; they're more flavorful and somehow lack that sappy "grocery store" flavor.

I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe, in which a brown-sugar vanilla custard is spooned into the crust, then topped with bananas and sour cream enriched whipped cream. The crust was the buttery, crumbly tart dough from her book.
I learned one very important thing on Sunday - banana cream pie makes for an awesome breakfast!

Monday, March 26, 2012

More babies!

The baby count as of right now? 25!
First, Buckshot had triplets (2 boys, 1 girl) right around noon today. We had just finished taking care of her and the babies and I finally was sitting down to eat lunch when Jimmy yelled out "Bandit has triplets!". Huh? Truffles and Celeste were in the barn being monitored, but Bandit wasn't due for a couple days and was still out in the other pasture. At this point we thought it was a joke because babies have been popping out left and right and the last thing we wanted was a doe kidding out in the shed while the rain was blowing sideways. But there she was with three dry babies, one already standing. We dragged her through the rain up to the barn and bundled the babies in towels and fed them bottles of Bandit's milk. The girl is a puny little thing - only half the size of the other two.

Tonight I'll be hand-milking six does (all the does are milked by hand for the first 4 days after kidding) and bottle-feeding 25 baby goats. Maybe even more if Celeste has hers this evening!

Why are all the pretty ones boys?

Batman! Jazz's baby boy.

If only he stayed this small, he'd be guaranteed a seat on the plane in May!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baby Count!

Sixteen and counting!
This afternoon, two does kidded - one with twins (boy/girl) and one with a single boy (the first single in a while). Another kidded yesterday, and another the day before...
And kidding season has just begun!
I think we still have a dozen does due in the next couple weeks.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Scenes from the farm

Turkeys and goats - the two most prevalent animals on the farm. Except these turkeys aren't pets - they're wild. Spring turkey season is open and I just bought my HI hunting license. Tommy better watch his back....

Every single mammal and gamebird species on this island was brought in (with the exception of the Hawaiian hoary bat), which has led to quite an interesting array of animals: feral goats, sheep, mouflon, donkeys and pigs, turkeys, pheasants, quail, francolins, mongoose and more. And unfortunately these non-native mammals are destroying native habitat and leading to the extinction of hundreds of native plant species.
But they sure are tasty! I hope to do my part in saving Hawaii's wilderness while I'm here ... one pig and sheep at a time. I'll let you know how it works out!

Geckos and anoles are also very common, and do a good job keeping down the fruit fly population. They also eat my bananas when I'm not looking.

Avocados aplenty - and papaya, bananas, guava, and citrus. The massive avocado tree on the farm drops a dozen or two every day. Nobody leaves here without a sack full, whether or not they want them.

Jazz, a "Snubian".
I'm gradually learning all the goats' names (yes, all one hundred have names), but it's a long, slow process!

Goat Babies!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

From One Island to Another

Here it is - the first blog post of the year, and the first of many about my latest adventure!

Back in high school, each of the graduating students had to submit a paragraph about our plans to be run in the Vashon Beachcomber. I don't have it in front of me now, but it went something like this: I love cooking and making cheese, I will be attending the Culinary Institute of America, and in ten years from now I hope to be a private chef on a tropical island (yeah right) .... Not five years later and I've already attained half of my bogus future! I'm living and working on a tropical island ... but making cheese!

Three weeks ago I arrived on the Big Island of Hawaii on a one way ticket and the promise of gaining cheese making and dairy experience as the new intern at Hawaii Island Goat Dairy. I couldn't have picked a better place - the people here are unbelievably nice, the cheese delicious, and the goats' kicks aren't too painful. I only have a couple bruises...

The dairy is located just above the tiny town of Honokaa at 2000 feet. Looking north on a sunny day, you can see the ocean and Haleakala, Maui's towering volcano. South is up - to the top of Mauna Kea (13,796 ft), which at this time of year has a good bit of snow at the top. This ten acre property was formerly a macadamia farm, but harvesting the nuts proved too labor intensive. And I don't blame them - more on that later!

Over the past eleven years, the herd has grown to about 100 - with more babies on the way. Only a third are currently being milked, but within the next month that should double as thirty does kid and come into milk. And good thing too, since Dick can barely keep up with orders for his signature Big Island Goat Cheese.