A week in the life of the Giggling Goat Farm-Sitter
Hello! My name is Loren Knobbe and I have the greatest pleasure of knowing the Bittner family. To know them is to know joy, love and pure happiness. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to spend countless days being swooned by the gentle (sometimes not so gentle) breezes, chatty chickens, giggling goats and land that is bursting with life. I’m here to share further insight (and joy) of spending a week at Giggling Goat Farm.
Upon arriving, I am greeted by fields of wildflowers, swaying grasses, whispering trees and a beautiful red-roof cabin/farmhouse as I meander down the long driveway. I enter through the front gate and am immediately swarmed with love from sweet Owyn and Deb’s embrace. Although, this week is a little different. Instead of our usual routine of a fairy forest walk and front porch sit, Deb, Todd and Owyn are off on a road trip. So, it’s just me, and the farm. The farm is currently home to four La Mancha Goats, four chickens, a growing dome and 40 acres of beautiful land.
Every morning begins the same – wake up with the sun, get the French Press going, prep the snacks for the goats and chickens and set the milking supplies up for a morning of success. I walk outside to the sounds of the chuckling chickens hollering to be let out for the day. I head to the coop, open their door and lay out their food, then check for any overnight egg surprises. Now, off to the goat pen.
I greet the goats with a hearty good morning song as they exit their sleeping area. Joy quickly shoves her head into the grain cans before I can even get a chance to pour them into their feeding bowls. Smiley is the first to enter the milking shed. Up on her platform we get to milking as quickly as possible. The key is to maintain distraction with food (mostly them shoving their faces into the containers) while getting through cleaning the udders, stripping, milking and finishing. This always requires a bit of active stretching on my part to work the food and milk machine, which is why having a friend makes the process smoother. Smiley does a few kicks and hops to let me know she’s had enough. Next up is Chuckles. While the process is the same, the girls’ personalities dictate the methodology. Chuckles is quicker to milk but gets rather kicky if she’s not having her best day – oats and the grain bucket provide ample distraction to let me finish though.
After Smiley and Chuckles are milked, I get the goat pen ready for the day as efficiently as possible so I can get that fresh milk strained and in the freezer! I place their water buckets in their precise locations so as not to disrupt their daily routines (very important)! I fill their hay buckets with fresh goodness (these also have precise locations) and make sure the sleeping shed is cleaned and ready for their midday cooling session when the temps are rising.
I quickly head inside to get the milk strained. If you don’t have patience, this step is painful…. But rewarding, we’ve been getting over a gallon each day! Once the milk is strained into clean jars, it goes straight into the freezer for an hour – the timer begins. I use this hour to finish the remainder of the morning chores and get as much done as possible to “beat the clock”. I head out to the growing dome to open the door and panels which allow fresh air into the already stifling heat. I make sure the goats are happy (usually this entails a little alfalfa cookie for each of them) and that the chicken coop is clean and ready for the days’ laying. Then I start watering the plethora of growing food and herbs. I start in the growing dome, making my way around the circle and singing to the plants as I go, then the herbs outside, on the deck and in miscellaneous spots around the house. After watering, I have just enough time to squeeze in the mandatory morning fairy forest jaunt where I take in the cool morning air, growing grasses, wildflowers and so much more.
The timer goes off and the milk is ready to go in the fridge. Now that morning chores are done, the day is ripe for activity, on and off the farm! There is a never-ending list of things that can be done during the day – weeding, moving wood, turning the compost pile, moving hay, cleaning the pen, making milk products and more. Deb is the expert on that, so I do what I can, and then play the rest of the time.
The heat of the day quickly turns to gentle breezes and cooler temperatures letting me know it’s time for evening chores. I prepare the goat’s evening meal, get any food scraps from the day ready for the chickens and head out for “goat hour”. For me, goat hour is just spending time with the goats. They seem to love human interaction so it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. We leave the pen for our daily walk where we explore the farm “on hoof” and they get ample opportunity to munch on the abundant greenery surrounding the house. We also look for the chickens on our walk to see where they’ve been scratching for the day. The sound of quickly moving hooves across gravel might be one of my favorite sounds, for the simple joy of turning around and seeing four goats speedily following me makes my heart sing and makes me belly-laugh all at once.
We return to the pen to get ready for the night. Fresh hay and water gets moved into the sleeping pen, along with snacks and grain for dinner. Once the goats are closed in for the night, I set about getting the hay and feed ready for the morning, all the while, the chickens see themselves to sleep (most of the time). Sometimes, it takes a little wrangling to get them in but usually they do me the favor of already being in their coop when it’s bedtime. I say a resounding “gooooood niiigghhhhhttt” for all the animals and plants to hear and head straight to my porch perch for the glorious sunset.
While the day -to-day routine of being at Giggling Goat Farm stays the same, there are always little moments that never cease to take my breath away. When I look out the window, I see a rainbow of colors swaying in the wind, the purple grasses, yellow and red wildflowers, green trees and so much more. Sometimes there’s a herd of turkeys, others it’s a sole deer frolicking to find his friends. The farm holds so much space and light with which to live each day. It is a beautiful reminder that the simplest things often bring the most joy. And while I loved getting to care for the land and animals, I know it will be filled with joy tenfold when I can also enjoy it with the Bittner family back at home!
Until next time,
- L.K. (the biggest GGF Fan)