Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adirondack Family Activities: Asgaard Farm Kidding Season

AsgaardFarmsKids_newSigns of spring are finally starting to surround us with songbirds arriving and bulbs pushing their way through the ground. At Asgaard Farm and Dairy, owners Rhonda Butler and David Brunner, have a different barometer for measuring the change of seasons. Since mid March about 75 baby goats (kids) have been born with more due in the upcoming week.

When I visited last year I spoke with owner Rhonda Butler at length about the spring births and was delighted to find out there are many opportunities to visit the kids and even attend a birth. The goats at Asgaard are bred through their natural cycle. Though larger dairies use artificial light to manipulate the goats to breed off-season, Asgaard continues to follow the natural season. The doelings (mother goats) are bred in the fall and give birth in the spring with the kids drinking the doeling’s milk. After being weaned, Asgaard Farm uses the milk for their various cheeses and goat milk soaps. Some of the kids are culled after the season and harvested for their meat to produce Chevon or sold as pets or to other working farms. Asgaard maintains a milking herd of about 50 goats that are expected to produce about 100 kids.

Caitin Aherne is getting ready to mix the season’s first batch of goat milk caramels. Her other duties include making goat milk soap, selling at farmers’ markets, managing the CSA and other sales. According to Aherne it is difficult to choose just one thing that is wonderful about working at Asgaard Farms. Though through all of her tasks she enjoys being a part of the Adirondack farming community where things are being done right.

“As the farming community continues to grow in the Adirondacks, we are able to help make the disconnection about where food comes from smaller,” says Aherne. “That people are able to come here and see where their meat comes from is so important. They don’t need to be part of the whole process, but we show animals that are grown humanely. People visit and start to understand the amount of work it takes to provide locally grown meat.”

“We also raise cows, heritage breed pigs, and chickens for their meat. We do have a garden for our own uses,” says Aherne. “We grow all the herbs that we use for our cheeses.”

Store hours are Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. There is also an observation window into the dairy so you can really see all the work that goes into producing those delicious cheeses. Since it is a working farm and a busy time of year, this is an informal tour. The farm and its workers may be doing another job when you arrive but will always be willing to take a moment to point people in the right direction. There is also the possibility to lend a hand by spreading straw and other easy tasks, so wear your sensible shoes.

I asked about treats and goats love raisins. It is fine if anyone wishes to bring the adult goats a bit of treat, as long as you stick to the raisins. The baby goats are all set drinking milk.

To get to Asgaard Farm and Dairy, 74 Asgaard Way in Au Sable Forks take Route 9N to Sheldrake Road (CR 65). Follow Sheldrake Road for a 1.5 miles and look for the sign. Once owned by illustrator, printmaker and artist Rockwell Kent, the property, designed by Kent, has remained mostly unchanged.  The store shop is open all year long and can be reached at 518-647-5754.

Photo used with the permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time.

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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