New Farm Stand Hours
We are changing our hours for the Spring to accommodate more customers and allow us to provide a wider variety of farm-fresh products for you. We are now open Monday through Saturday, from 1 pm. -- 7 pm. We are closed Sunday.
If you need to stop by outside of these hours, please make an appointment to do so.
Want to Tour the Farm?
We know you are as excited about the farm and animals as we are (especially the baby goats!). And we would love to show them to you! However, because we are a working farm (and we both have off-farm jobs), we cannot accommodate impromptu requests for tours. Thank you for respecting our time and privacy.
Instead, we will be scheduling farm tours for Fridays, after 1 p.m. for a small fee of $5 per person ("babes in arms" are free). Tours run between 1/2 an hour to an hour in length. Please call or text to make a reservation: 714.869.8379. This allows us to set aside the time we really need to give you a good experience (and secure our livestock guardian dog or any roaming pigs that might get too "friendly" with unexpected guests). Your educational tour will include a visit with all of our animals, a walk through our milking parlor, and information about our farming practices and the specific breeds of animals that we keep. Of course, there's always lots of room for Q&A.
Visit our page here for more information on visiting our farm.
Fresh Flower Bouquets
I'm excited to offer fresh flower bouquets in the farm stand this Spring. These bouquets are available while supplies last, and include a mix of roses, lilies, gladiolus, poppy, irises, and other blooms that we grow here on our farm. At $12 a bunch (the glass jar/vase is not included), they are a beautiful and aromatic way to brighten your Spring table.
Goat Milk Body Lotion and Facial Moisturizer
We've been enjoying the benefits of goat milk to our skin for a long time. And now we're ready to share it with you. We have two new products that you are guaranteed to love. Both are packed with natural, organic ingredients that will promote your skin's youth and maintain balanced moisture.
Goat's milk is rich in essential fatty acids and triglycerides and has a PH similar to our own, so it's less irritating and more readily absorbed into your skin. Goat milk also contains selenium, vitamin A, and lactic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA) that helps to exfoliate, hydrate, and brighten skin.
For my facial moisturizer, I infuse avocado, grapeseed, and coconut oils with grapeseed extract and green tea (both antioxidants), lavendar, chamomile, and calendula (for healing and soothing). These are combined with rose hip oil (essential fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C and B-carotene, a form of vitamin A) and rosemary essential oil (its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties are beneficial in eliminating eczema, acne, and oily skin), and then blended with our own aloe and goat milk, This moisturizer is unscented.
For my body lotion, I add essential oils for fragrance, as well as shea butter.
You can't put goat milk in a body product without using a preservative. As someone who is very careful about what I put on my skin and in my body, I have steered clear of preservatives and other chemicals. But after a lot of research, I feel comfortable with the preservative Optiphen (Phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl G). It's paraben- and formaldehyde-free and constitutes less than 1% my products' formula. I'm pleased to have found a safe preservative that will allow me to take advantage of all the beneficial properties of goat milk.
Both of these products can be sampled and purchased in the farm stand. Come check 'em out!!
We are finding ourselves already in the midst of Spring here on the farm! Grass is growing, flowers are blooming, the weather is warm, and the babies are snuggly. Goat babies. Kids.
It's my favorite time of year.
Join in on the fun by swinging by the Farm Stand or signing up for a class. In the meantime, here are some updates from us over here at Funny Banana Arms. (Sorry, Aaron came up with that pseudo-anagram like a year ago, and I just can't get it out of my head).
Spring CSA starts next week!
Yep, first things first, the Winter CSA is ending this week, and the Spring CSA starts next week. It will run through May 31st. Don't miss your chance to sign up -- there are only a few shares left!
If you've been to the Farm Stand lately, you know that we are selling out of eggs and milk quickly. We do anticipate that things will pick up again here soon. Winter is always a slow time on farms as chickens moult and don't get enough daylight to lay, and goats dry up before kidding again. But with the new goat babies comes more milk, AND we've recently rescued about 25 hens from a battery-cage operation, so production should really pick up soon! (Poor girls, they were in BAD shape when we got them, but they're finally figuring out what it means to be a chicken and free range. I'm honestly fairly certain they'd never seen grass before...)
The one way to guarantee yourself a regular supply of our delicious eggs and fresh milk is to purchase a CSA member share. Plus, it really helps support what we're doing. The more commitment we have from customers, the more goats we keep and the more hens we raise. Also, did I mention that we deliver?
You can find more information about our Egg CSA and sign up here:
And info about our Milk CSA can be found here: http://www.sunnycabanafarm.com/milk-csa.html
New Products in the Farm Stand
Although eggs and milk are skinny in the Farm Stand, I have just restocked the last batch of pomegranate-jalapeno jelly for this year. Get it while it lasts! We won't have more until pomegranate season in the Fall.
If you haven't tried it, be warned; this jelly is slightly addictive. It's just the right amount of spicy and sweet-tart. It's mostly pomegranate, organic, and I use a low sugar recipe, I promise you'll love it. It's a delicious snack with goat cheese or cream cheese and crackers. If you've ever tried to de-seed and juice a pomegranate, you know that this jelly is a labor of love. <3
I'm also excited to announce that Down Right Sudsy is now using our milk in her Goats Milk Lotion, and this lotion is amazing! My skin has been soooo dry this winter, and this lotion has just been a god-send. It absorbs really nicely and doesn't leave me feeling greasy at all. I kinda want to bathe in it. I mean, it worked for Cleopatra right? I like it so much that I decided to stock it in the Farm Stand. There's even a little sampler out there so you can try a pump or two for yourself. I dare you to pass it up.
The Farm Stand is also stocked up with our own Goats Milk Soap. Currently I have oat + honey bar and lemon + poppy bar. I just pulled another bar out of the mold today to cure. So more will be available soon (including my favorite, "shea-ve" bar with lavender). You can sample our other skin care products there as well. We make those to order.
Cajeta (caramel sauce) is also available in Traditional and Cinnamon Spiced Rum flavors. Warning: Also addictive.
We should continue to have lemons available, a few grapefruit, and a few more oranges. If you're looking for something that's not there, be sure to let us know -- we'll gladly pick fresh for you. Or you can come pick your own (and we'll distract the goat bucks and hogs from eating your clothes and toes).
See what I did there? I made you read (or at least scroll) through all the new products before I showed you pictures of the goat babies. : ) I know what you're really here for. (Did I mention that I spent my college years working in a theme park? I'm familiar with where the gift shop goes. Wink-wink).
So yes, kidding season is underway!
Remember these babies?
Well they're moms now. And they seem to have replicated themselves two-fold. Wyldstyle lived up to her name, I suppose, and initially rejected her babies, refusing to nurse them, running away from them, and cowering in a corner. I get it. Being a new mother is rough. And there's a good chance she didn't even know she had it coming. I was 45 miles away teaching a night class. Of course. Aaron was home, in the middle of making dinner with a 4-year-old in tow, yet he somehow managed to get the babies warm, and he fed them some colostrum. I rushed home and gave Wyldstyle a good pep talk, and soon enough her instincts started to kick in. She's been a great mama ever since. Lucy is a natural little nurturer, and it just makes me so darn proud (blink blink, sniff sniff).
So because the dragon-slayer (my 4-year-old son) has become an overnight Star Wars fanatic, and because we've already established a pattern of naming animals after beloved movie and TV characters, we've decided to call them Luke, Leia, Vader, and BB8. I'll get some better pics up on Instagram and Facebook soon (psst psst, you should follow us).
This is such an exciting kidding season for me because these are the first goats we've bred right here from our own herd. Applejack is the dad! Remember him? He's Jarwin's mini-Nubian buckling from last year. A mini-Nubian is a Nigerian Dwarf mixed with a full Nubian. They are a smaller version of a Nubian but still produce a lot of reeeally creamy milk (perfect for reeeally good cheese). Applejack comes from a different genetic line than our full Nubians, so he was a good fit for producing a mini-Nubian line of our own this year (don't worry, no inbreeding here folks). Plus, his coloring is gorgeous, and he has a nice demeanor. And those blue eyes...
But you never know with a buckling. When it's their first year "in rut," they can sometimes have a difficult time figuring out exactly what they're supposed to do with all that... "energy." Especially when the girls he's meeting are nearly twice his size. But he got the job done and has remained a gentleman throughout the ordeal. He's turned out to be a great buck.
I'm excited about our next generation of mini-Nubians. They have all the Nubian features (long legs, long ears), but in a smaller package. Just what you want.
And remember this mama?
That's 'Nilla. She's my favorite. She's Lucy and Wyldstyle's mom. And now she's a grandma too. Which makes my heart damn near want to explode. She's also about to kid again herself, and she was also bred to Applejack. So that makes for some kind of weird "your-half-sister-is-your-great-aunt-and-also-younger-than-you" situation for Lucy and Wyldstyle's kids.
Also, she's huge. -->
We'll be breeding Applejack to Nia and her kids, Amelia and Atlas, when they're ready, and then we'll be looking for a new home for him and his buddy Samuel L. Jackson. It's going to be hard to see them go, but his job will be done here. And it's a big ocean out there, and there are many fish.
Or female goats.
Whatever. What a life. Who am I to hold him back?
Our Kune Kunes are doing great. We've been lucky to connect with some local farm supporters who donate fresh veggies and organic produce to feed them (You know who you are! And you know you're amazing!). We also keep the piggies happy with grass, our own milk or kefir, dropped fruit from the orchard, and a base ration of organic corn-/soy-free feed from American Farm & Larder.
We have four meat pigs that we will begin processing in probably the next six months at most, and we have a breeding pair that will be ready to breed in a few months and should farrow (have babies) within the year. If you can't tell, we opt for the slow-grow process. We've had lots of inquiries about our "Orchard Pork," and I promise I will get some info up on the site soon. Trust me, this will all be worth the weight. I mean "wait." It's bacon you can feel good about, remember? (wink wink).
Whew! You still reading?! That seems like a lot to throw at you at once. I'm loving the direction the farm is going and the rate that we're growing. We want you to be a part of it. Stay tuned, and I'll update you with more information about the Goats Milk 101 classes we'll be offering this Spring (the first one will be in April!) and some more details about the pigs.
We're also still looking to get that garden going. One day I'll find a way to carve out the time and get it started. I'd still love to find someone who wants to partner with me on this! For now, I'm reading "The Market Gardener" by Jean-Martin Fortier and enjoying the day dream.
*Note: We don't get anything for linking to other sites from our blog, we just like to be helpful that way. It's nice to point people in a good direction, and in turn, bring some attention to others we admire.
The farm saw a lot of growth in 2015. Our first kidding season went by without any major incidents. As a result, our goat herd grew from just four goats in 2014 to twelve by mid-2015. We brought our first pigs onto the farm, and tripled our flock of chickens. Of course, I can’t forget the addition of our LGD (livestock guardian dog), Michonne! We also opened the farm stand and started our CSA program, and as a result we've been able to provide local whole food to many more families in our community, and we couldn’t be more grateful for their reliable support.
Many times in the past year, Aaron and I have stood in the pasture or goat barn or farm stand and said to each other, “I think it’s working. It’s actually happening.” It’s in those moments that I experience a sort of tempered excitement, as though feeling too giddy could be the proverbial pinch that wakes me from my dream.
Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our share of losses and challenges this year on the farm. We’ve learned a lot of lessons that we carry forward into the New Year, which I’m sure will continue to deliver its own forms of heartache and frustration. But during the past year, Aaron and I have settled into a nice rhythm on the farm, discovering our respective niches and bringing our vision of the farm into sharper focus.
We hope to continue growing in 2016, and so we’re excited to announce some of the ways we plan to do so, starting NOW:
First, I’m really excited to announce that I am developing a “Goat Milk 101” class. Each class starts with the morning milking, where participants will learn about managing goats in the milk parlor, feeding and goat health maintenance, milking, proper sanitation practices, milk handling, and other aspects of goat care. This is a hands-on class, and so I hope to provide the opportunity to actually milk a goat for anyone who wants it. From there, we will take our milk up to the kitchen and explore the many ways that we can use goat milk in the kitchen. We’ll start a batch of caramel sauce, and then move to a cheese, such as chevre or ricotta before mixing up some beautiful milk and oils and turning them into soap. And of course, we’ll sample and snack along the way. Each participant will be invited to take home a sample of everything we make. It doesn't get much more farm-to-table than that!
This class is for anyone who might be thinking of getting into goats, has “milking a goat” on their bucket list, or is just looking for a fun morning with friends. Classes are available on Saturdays or Sundays, and class start times are flexible, although typically the goats need to be milked before 10 a.m. I expect the class to run 3-4 hours in duration. If you’re interested, contact us, and we will work with you to schedule a date. Group size is limited to no more than 5 participants and is appropriate for children 12 and over. If you don’t have an entire group or just want to come on your own -- don’t worry! Let us know you’re interested and we’ll put together a class of pairs and/or individuals. What a fun way to meet people!
.I’ve written elsewhere about my struggle with the garden, so I won’t lament that here except to say that my “green thumb” remained the palest shade of pistachio throughout 2015. Barbara Kingsolver has said that vegetable gardening in the desert is like writing fiction. You have to start from scratch, put all your energy into it, water the heck out of it, and innovate the whole damn thing. Just as in crafting a novel, you force this plot where there was nothing. Whereas gardening in the East is like writing non-fiction. You just let it happen and omit the stuff you don’t want. I grew up in Florida, where water was abundant, soil tended toward fertility, and high winds only came in the form of the rare hurricane. It was easy to cultivate a garden there. You just pointed to a spot -- a scrubby, weedy, already productive spot -- and removed everything but what you wanted to grow there. Here, well here I just don’t know what to do. I keep putting so much effort and sweat and work and time into my small garden plots, only to find the production is less-than-compelling. I would make a poor novelist.
Nevertheless, we have made the decision to pull up some of our existing flower beds and replace them with either vegetable crops or xeriscaping. These beds are already irrigated, up by the house (hence, relatively safe from the livestock), and some of them are in prime locations for growing vegetables.
So what does this have to do with you? Well first, we don’t want to let these beautiful floral bulbs that we’ll be upending go to waste, so we are adopting a “U-pick” sort of system for the flower plants. We have several varieties of beautifully flowering, hardy perennials (including lilies, gladiolus, irises, and more, see photos below), and plenty of small pots and gardening implements for you to use. They’re gorgeous and pretty low-maintenance. If you want some, make an appointment with us and you can come dig them up and take them home for $1 per plant. Yours to admire.
Second, I need a mentor. I have the desire and can make the time to grow vegetables, but I’m lacking the know-how. I can’t bear the thought of aimlessly raking and seeding and weeding and watering any more beds of dirt without some notion that it’s going to amount to more than a single head of cabbage.
So. If you or someone you know has some experience in organic/permaculture gardening in zones 9-10, send them our way. Ideally, we’re looking for a gardener in need of a garden. Someone who would be interested in coming here to grow alongside us and share his or her knowledge. In turn, we’ll share the harvest.
So as we say "Adios!" to 2015 and look forward to 2016, we do so with the anticipation of good things. Growth. Nourishment. Fun! We hope you will be a part of it!
A few weeks ago now, Lori Enright and I stood atop the orchard, chatting about pigs, farming, and life in general. Lori (who is kind of a big deal), was stopping by with some meds that were needed to treat a little piglet of mine with a persistent cough. After wrangling Little Pig, we stood a moment, observing the others.
Our conversation drifted to why we do this. "This" being what most (and sometimes our husbands) would consider an unreasonable and borderline-insane devotion of "free time" to the care of farm animals, the preservation of heritage breeds, and a personal involvement with our food.
We talked about our various reasons, political and cultural ideologies among them, the love of the animals, the fulfillment that comes from working with our hands... and then I started describing my love of the people, my "customers," who feel more like community than patrons. As I did, my eyes involuntarily prickled. My heart swelled. I was getting downright sentimental! I cleared my throat, adjusted my hat, and focused on shuffling around some dirt with the toe of my boot, much as any old-time hardcore farmer would do to save himself (and his company) the embarrassment of a dewy-eyed moment.
But it has since occurred to me: I am not that farmer. I am a farmHER, and I will not shy away from the opportunity to gush about the people I've been so thankful to welcome onto this farm.
You see, one of the biggest blessings this farming venture has bestowed on us is the pleasure of developing a little network of like-minds. Strangers from all professions, ethnicities, and places. Fellow former-Floridians, aspiring homesteaders, Russian immigrants,vegans, mothers, sisters, families, and widowers. Some of whom have even become dear friends (you know who you are). I value every one of them for the knowledge and passion they bring to this farm. I look forward to my interactions with them, knowing that these relationships are based on a mutual investment in clean, humanely raised food and a sustainable lifestyle.
We've also discovered the hidden farmer in those we already know. A colleague at the university turned out to be somewhat of a chicken-processing expert, and graciously offered to teach us the "technique." This is someone who, formerly, I would have only talked academic neuroscience with, and yet we found ourselves elbow deep in feathers in her backyard. Our own parents, and particularly Aaron's dad, have surprised us with their enthusiasm for grass seed, goats milk, and soap-making, among other things. I've had old friends come out of the woodwork, confessing their own aspirations to raise animals, grow their garden, raise some chickens. Other dear friends who also drank of the proverbial Kool-aid and join us in dreaming about hosting on-farm dinners, growing meat chickens here on pasture, and planning that elusive market garden. In short, the farm has allowed us to connect with old friends in new ways, and our lives have been enriched as a result. I'm thankful to know people who get it.
The dirty life is not for everyone. I know that. But if it is for you, don't be shy. Don't be ashamed to dream. Be fervent. You are but one more among us, and we are grateful for you.
I've wanted to add pigs to the farm since, well, basically the beginning. But as new farmers with full-time off-farm jobs and a 4-year-old dragon slayer to keep us busy, we don't rush into any decision. We do our research, bide our time, and test the waters. I've spent the last year learning about pigs and trying to understand which heritage breed would be the best for us. When I learned about the Kune Kune breed (pronounced "koony-koony"), I knew they would be a good fit. They are a smaller breed of pig, which is great if you would like the full variety of cuts of pork without overwhelming your freezer. They are also considered the only "truly pastured" pork because they aren't prone to broot and can grow out really well on grass alone. Importantly, they are also very docile. Some breeds of pig can be outright vicious. It was important to me that we have a breed that is mellow, for the sake of all the other animals (human and otherwise) on our farm.
To be clear, these are meat pigs.
They aren't pets. As such, they are the first animals we've brought onto the farm to raise solely for meat (we've only consumed the by-products of the chickens and goats; that is, eggs and milk). This was a tough decision for me. I struggled with whether I wanted to take the farm in this direction. But I eat meat. A fact I'm not necessarily proud of. And not long ago, I began to feel really conscientious about where my meat came from and how it was treated before appearing on my plate. I decided to make a concerted effort to only eat meat that had been raised humanely by me, or verifiably by someone else. Pork is a staple in our diet, and so when the opportunity to acquire Kune Kune pigs from a local, trusted breeder presented itself, we began making a home for them in the orchard (because what makes for a better mojo-pork than pigs raised on oranges, lemons, and grapefruit?!).
It's only been a day, but I LOVE having pigs.
What does it mean that we raise them humanely? First, it means they have free range of our 1/2-acre orchard, where they munch on grasses, dropped fruit, and have the freedom to romp and wallow and express their "piggy-ness" to their little hearts' desire. Their happy little grunts as they forage around... it's just music to my ears. They share this space with our two buckling goats, and the inter-species interactions between this scrappy bunch is why we don't need cable television.
Humane pork also means that we will do on-farm slaughter. I just can't stand the thoughts of an animals' last hours of life being rife with stress, fear, and confusion. I've also read that the cortisol, adrenaline, and other chemicals released due to the stress of being loaded into a trailer, transported to a slaughterhouse, and dropped in a completely foreign environment can negatively affect the flavor of the meat. I don't look forward to the day. It will undoubtedly be sad. But just because it's unpleasant doesn't mean I can pretend it's not a necessary part of being an omnivore. Every time I eat meat, an animal has died. I'm no longer comfortable taking that fact for granted. Instead, I choose to honor it.
Humane pork also means that we grow out our hogs slowly. Most CAFO (confined animal feeding operations)/industrial swine operations slaughter their pigs at 6 months. Because they are bred for small sustainable farmsteads rather than mass production, heritage breeds of pig take anywhere from 12-18 months to reach market weight, meaning they live at least 2-3 times as an industrial hog.
So why a heritage breed? From a purely economical standpoint, it makes little sense to raise pigs that take so much longer to grow out. It's that much longer that we have to provide feed, which is an expense. But we are committed to preserving heritage breeds -- those traditional breeds that were raised by small farmers prior to the industrial revolution and represent "part of our national heritage and a unique piece of the earth's biodiversity." They are bred for longevity in a free-range environment, and as such they are hardier than their commercial counterparts. Also, unlike industrial hybrid breeds, heritage breeds are bred for flavor, not mass production.
However, when we industrialized agriculture, heritage breeds were out-competed by hybrid pigs that were better suited to CAFO conditions. As a result, many of these breeds are considered endangered by the Livestock Conservancy.
Your next question, then, might be, "Why should we eat an endangered species?" Endangered livestock are not like endangered wildlife. "Unlike endangered animals in a zoo, farm stock has to pay its way." By eating these animals, we create a demand for them. We become a market to encourage farmers to keep them. The more demand, the less rare they become.
Rare and traditional breeds are well-suited to small family farms and receive more individual care and attention. We treat them like something special, rather than as a commodity. We choose to raise them because we believe in the importance of genetic diversity. And we feel there is still value in a breed that may produce fewer offspring or take longer to reach market weight.
In other words: It's bacon you can feel good about.
We've started with two pigs, a gilt (female) and barrow (castrated male), to try it out. Like I said, we are cautious. Start small, fail small. It's always my mantra (although experience has taught me that I over-worry). After a couple of weeks, if all goes well, we'll add a few more. And in about 6-7 months, we'll have our first offering of grass-fed orchard pork available for customers. If we like keeping Kune Kunes, we intend to acquire a breeding pair and begin a farrow to finish operation.
There will surely be many more photos of our new dynamic duo to come. If you're not doing so already, follow us over on Facebook and Instagram (@sunnycabanafarms). You wouldn't want to miss a glimpse of these gorgeous faces!