Aster was the second heifer calf born on the farm, and I clearly remember that September morning. She arrived before her due date, and I didn't believe my brothers and sisters when they roused me from my bed with the announcement that Blossom calved while we were all sleeping.
I'd decided years before that I was going to name the first heifer born on the farm Daisy (which I did), and the second heifer born on the farm Lily. Well, I took one look at Aster and thought, "She is NOT a Lily." It took me about a week to think of a name for her, but I finally named the new heifer Birdsong Autumn Aster; Autumn because she was born on September 5th, and Aster because the wild asters began blooming the week she was born.
Aster was black like her mum, and I always liked how she added a splash of dark colour to the herd, which ranges from black and mulberry to brown and fawn. As she matured, she developed beautiful red and brown highlights.
Aster spent close to six years on the farm and blessed me with a beautiful heifer calf in 2014 before I sold her to a family in Sunnybrook, Alberta.
Aster was an opinionated girl at times and she always like doing things her way. I can be opinionated too, so we often disagreed. In fact, my first farm scar came from Aster. We were fighting about her grain and I split my chin on her hard noggin! The scar never completely faded, so every time I touch my chin I think of Aster and all her crazy shenanigans.
Aster was smart...or maybe she was greedy. She was the first cow that figured out that when she untied the knot on her rope halter she could assist the other cows with eating their grain too! My sister Anna and I were always learning new knots in an effort to outsmart her.
I really enjoyed the goodbye photo shoot my sister Anna and I did with Daisy, so I wanted to do a photo shoot with Aster to remember her by as well. We decided to take Aster's pictures on the Baxter Bridge, which crosses the Shuswap River about half a kilometer before you reach the farm and I think it made for a great background.
Many of you know me as a cow girl, but what you might not know is that I'm a goat girl too. :) While my Jersey cows are my passion, my Nubian goats are my hobby and I can't imagine life without them.
In 1992, when I was four years old, my parents transplanted our family from Kamloops to an acreage an hour outside of the city. Our first farm animals--a flock of laying hens and a small herd of Alpine-cross goats--arrived in 1994.
I was homeschooled as a kid, and one of my assignments in Kindergarten and Grade 1 was keeping a "Nature Book". I still love going back and reading the journal entries in my Nature Book and looking at the photographs and my drawings:
November 1, 1995: I milked Buttercup today!
November 27, 1995: Made Cottage Cheese from Buttercup's milk. We gave the whey to the chickens.
March 22, 1996: Today is Friday. Daddy went to the barn, and then he came running back up to the house to tell us that Buttercup's baby kids were born. There were two of them. We all hurried and got dressed and ran down to the barn. Buttercup was licking the kids off. They were so tiny. They couldn't even walk yet! Then Daddy said he thought Buttercup was going to have another baby. Mama didn't think so, but she checked Buttercup, and sure enough, she could feel a little hoof. It was almost an hour after the last kid had been born, so we thought this little kid might not be alive, and we saw it being born!! We didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, but Peter named it STRIPE. I named my little goat girl PUSSY WILLOW, and Anna named her little goat boy SPOT.
March 23, 1996: Daddy told us this morning that Stripe is a little girl.
March 31, 1996: This evening, just as we were getting ready for bed, our goat Daisy had her kids. Daddy went down to the barn, and when he came back to the house, one kid was born. We named him Blizzard, because it was snowing and blowing outside. Then Mama went down to the barn and Daisy had another kid! This one we named Blackie, because she is mostly black. Mama came back up to the house to look after Thomas, and Peter, Anna and I went down to the barn to see Blizzard and Blackie, and while we were there, another kid was born. We named her Sunday, because she was born on a Sunday. So now we have six baby goat kids - three from Buttercup and three from Daisy.
But as every farmer knows, not every minute of farm life is joyous.
April 10, 1996: Aster's kid 'Midnight' was born tonight at 10:00 p.m. He was huge, and Aster is very sore and not feeling very well.
What we didn't know at the time was that Aster wasn't feeling well because she cracked her pelvis while birthing her huge kid. We bred her again, and the following spring she and her kids died while trying to give birth. My dad buried Aster at the back of the goat pasture and I remember that every summer her grave was covered with fireweed. It was beautiful!
I loved our goats and spent countless hours cuddling and playing with the kids. When I was a little older and wanted to learn how to milk, our goat Buttercup was a great teacher. She was very patient and would do anything for grain. :)
My parents sold our goats while our family spent two years in McBride, but after we came to Enderby our first farm animals were again chickens and goats.
After reading the book Your Goats: A Kid's Guide to Raising and Showing by Gail Damerow I wanted to buy purebred Alpines. I never dreamed that I would be raising purebred Nubians instead and in fact I thought that they were not very attractive with their floppy ears and funny noses!
All that changed when my friend Natasha offered me her two Nubian goats, Garden Gate Barbie Doll and Cot'Wood Sweet Treat, for a really good price. I agreed to buy them, and my first purebred Nubians arrived at the farm on October 27, 2006.
These two goats changed my life! I fell in love with the Nubian breed and their floppy ears and funny noses, and today I can't imagine raising any other breed.
Barbie Doll was 6 and died the following spring before she kidded, but her family lives on today on Birdsong Farm. Barbie Doll's dam was Willow Way Dolly's Daffodil, and Daffodil is the great-granddam of my buck, Garden Gate Sir Lancelot and the great-great-granddam of my doe, Garden Gate Perfect Breeze.
Leave a comment below to tell me how you got started with goats and what breeds you raise. I'd love to hear your story!
I recently came across these beautiful photographs of apple blossoms that my sister Anna took, and picked half a dozen of my favourite photos to share with you.
Apple blossoms are one of my favourite flowers. What are your favourite flowers?
Birdsong Blossom's Daisy was one of my best friends. She was the first heifer calf born on the farm, and I was thrilled when she was born because Blossom's first three calves were all males! When Daisy was born I never dreamed that I would be selling her one day, but after spending seven years on the farm and blessing me with two beautiful heifers, it was time to say goodbye.
Selling a cow is always bittersweet... I'm happy that my little herd has grown to the point where I can sell one of my beloved Jerseys, but it's always hard to say goodbye to a good friend.
Daisy's new farm is really nice and she is blessing her new family with her rich Jersey milk and cream; knowing that made parting with her a little easier. But even after two months there are still times when the farm feels a little empty without her greeting me when I start my morning chores.
Since Daisy is part of my "Blossom" cow family, where all the heifer calves are named after flowers, I thought it would be nice to photograph Daisy with her namesake flower: daisies.
The talented Janice Robillard from Crocus Floral Design in Enderby made two beautiful daisy wreaths for her, and my sister Anna photographed her in front of our neighbour's old wooden barn. The weathered barn boards made a great background!
I will always cherish my memories of my time with Daisy, and I know that her new family at Crooked Sky Farm in Nakusp will be making many new memories with her!
I've had my farm logo for about eight months now, so I thought that it was time to get business cards printed. There are various pre-designed business cards available (the type where you choose a design and then add your logo and type in your name, address, and phone number), but I wasn't really happy with any of the options...so I had my business cards custom designed by Pure Graphics in Enderby. (Pure Graphics is the business that designed my farm logo; please click here to read about that story.)
Naturally, I wanted my business card to feature my lovely new logo, and I wanted my name, email address, phone number, website, and Facebook page listed on the card as well. I thought that it might be nice to add my farm quote (We don't inherit the land from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.), plus a list of what the farm offers (Jersey cows, Nubian goats, and cheese making workshops).
Becky Shuert, the owner of Pure Graphics, asked if I wanted a photo on the card as well, maybe as a background. That hadn't even crossed my mind, so Becky let me look through a binder filled with other business cards that she had designed for ideas. I liked the look of the business cards that had a background photo, so promised her that I would send her two or three of my favourite farm photos. When I got home later that day, I emailed her my favourite photo of Daisy as well as my favourite photo of the cows out on pasture.
Holly Kormany was the graphic designer who worked on my project, and about a week later I received an email from her with the first proof. It featured five business cards to give me a bit of an 'idea board' that I could work from:
I was so impressed with all the designs that I actually squealed when I opened the email! It was hard to choose, but I went with design #5 because I liked it the best.
I didn't like how Princess Sonja's rump was cut off, so I asked Holly to change that. I asked her to add my name to the card as well, and switch the quote and list of what the farm offers around.
After receiving the next proof, I asked Holly to make my name larger and my phone number smaller, and add the link for my Facebook page. Holly recommended removing the quote to keep the business card from being too crowded, and shifting the layout around a little as well. This was the result:
I was happy with the new look of my business card, but requested that Holly switch my phone number and email address around. Email is the best way to get in touch with me, so I wanted to encourage that by listing my email address first. I asked Holly to change 'cheese making' to 'cheese workshops' as well.
I was almost happy with my business card, but thought that the card looked a little heavy with the extra text on the right side. So I asked Holly to take the list of what the farm offers and put it under the logo instead.
She did that, and changed the bullets from black to purple as well 'cause she thought it looked better that way. I agreed with her, and was very happy with that design. My new business card was finished!
Pure Graphics offers printing services, but in the end I ordered 500 business cards, printed on matte paper, from Staples Copy & Print.
I think my new business cards look amazing, and am very happy that I paid the excellent graphic designers at Pure Graphics to design it.