Quonset Hut End Walls

Once we finished assembling our quonset hut, the next step was to build the end walls. We opted to build our own, rather than purchase them as part of the building kit, so that we could completely customize the size and placement of the doors and vents.

First, we screwed pressure treated boards to the cement to form a sill that we could build off of. We used our own rough cut lumber to frame the walls, doubling the boards in some places to reach the quonset hut’s 14’ peak (our sawmill only allows us to cut 10′ logs). Deciding how to secure the upper part of the wall to the curved metal structure was a bit tricky. We ended up putting roofing screws through holes that we drilled in the drip edge, which can be seen as little green dots in the photo below.

Framing the back wall.

For siding, we used upcycled roofing steel. To get the steel to match the shape of the quonset hut, we had to carefully cut each piece. Brandon would stand on a ladder on the outside holding a sheet in place, while I stood on a ladder on the inside to trace the curve of the drip edge. We then cut along the line using tin snips.

Cutting roofing steel by hand is harder than you would think!

Although you can see some light along the right side of the wall, the drip edge overlaps the cut edge of the roofing steel by a few inches, preventing water from leaking in. We will evaluate whether spray foam insulation is needed to fill these little gaps, and if necessary, we’ll tackle that project in the spring. For now we’re just focused on getting the building closed in to keep the animals out of the wind!

An almost completed back wall. We’ll be installing a man door and vents shortly.

The Farmstand Is Open!

Over the weekend we opened our brand new farmstand, conveniently located at 189 Ragged Lake Rd, Owls Head, NY 12969. The stand is stocked with our raw goat’s milk (for animal consumption, sold by the half gallon in returnable glass bottles), fresh eggs, and a variety of our handmade goat’s milk soaps. We will be adding seasonal produce and baked goods as the summer gets underway. We are big believers in the importance of local food, therefore, we will be partnering with other North Country farms to make it easier to eat locally in Owls Head. Our partner farms and their products will be listed on the Farmstand page of our website; be looking for updates on what we will carry.

Progress On Our Farmstand

Today we put the roof on our farmstand, despite getting caught in the rain. We are so excited to be bringing fresh, local food to our little community. Hopefully we will have things up and running in just a few weeks!

We received a generous grant from the Food Animal Concerns Trust to help cover the cost of having a utility pole installed at the new property to power our farmstand, and eventually, our barn. We are very grateful for these funds, and we hope to share the wealth with other local farmers by marketing their products through our farmstand. We already have several partnerships in the works, but we’d love to hear what you’d like to see! Goat’s milk lotion, maple syrup, honey, beef, pork, chicken, and a greater variety of produce are all possibilities.

Goat Milk: For Your Pets?

Today is a big day for us here at the Cook Farm. Our pet food license from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has finally arrived! (We had been checking our mailbox religiously every morning for the past month waiting for it to come in.) What does this mean? We are now authorized to sell raw goat’s milk as a nutritional supplement for dogs and cats (or other species). We will begin offering milk in returnable glass bottles as soon as we can get our farmstand up and running this spring.

So, what’s the deal? Why on earth would anyone sell goat’s milk as a nutritional supplement for pets? Here are our two big reasons:

1) We love our goats! We love them so much, that we made milking them our business. You may have tried one of our goat’s milk soaps before (if you haven’t, check them out here). We really enjoy making and selling our soaps, but we think that our goats have a lot more to offer. Goat’s milk, goat’s milk cheeses, and goat’s milk frozen yogurt are all delicious and we would love to be able to sell them for human consumption, but there’s one BIG problem: becoming a Grade A dairy is incredibly cost-prohibitive! For us to do so, we would need to construct a brand new milking parlor, separate milk house, while navigating an incredibly complex series of regulatory hurdles. (Don’t even get us started on NY’s raw milk regulations!)

2) Goat’s milk is actually GREAT for your pet! If you don’t believe us, check out this article from The Dog Bakery (based in California) on all of the health benefits that goat’s milk has to offer your pet. Our friend Rosemarie has noticed that her dog Molly’s skin allergies have improved since she started giving her our raw goat’s milk, and she believes that the RAW part is key. Pasteurization was designed to kill harmful bacteria in milk, but unfortunately, it also destroys many of the beneficial probiotics and vitamins, alters the structure of healthy fats and proteins, and deactivates important digestive enzymes. Organic Pastures (a family-owned farm in Fresno, CA) posted a handy chart on their website to illustrate how raw milk, pasteurized milk, and plant-based milk substitutes compare, which you can find here. Dogs and cats really seem to love the taste, and look forward to their daily milk treat!

You will notice that each bottle of our milk states “WARNING: NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION – THIS PRODUCT HAS NOT BEEN PASTEURIZED AND MAY CONTAIN HARMFUL BACTERIA”, but rest assured, we regularly test our milk to ensure that our SCC (short for somatic cell count, which is the total number of cells per milliliter) is low, reducing the likelihood that harmful bacteria may be present. We will post our test results here on our website when we receive them.

Hopefully this post has been informative, and you are now curious enough to try giving some of our goat’s milk to your pet! We will be sure to share updates as we approach the completion of our farmstand and have milk available to sell.

Our New Property

We recently purchased two properties that will serve as the new base of operations for our farm. Initially, we purchased a 26 acre wooded lot that we planned to clear and build upon, but the opportunity presented itself to purchase the half acre adjoining it, which already has power, water, and septic. (As we’ve discovered, installing these utilities can get expensive quickly, with the cost of drilling a well being $15-$30 PER FOOT!)

Old fencing is embedded in trees on the perimeter of our new property.

Not only is purchasing this second parcel saving us money, but it adds to the overall cool-factor of our property; we believe it to be the site of the original farmhouse and barn. When we walked our land for the first time, we noticed old barbed wire and panel fencing embedded in trees around the perimeter. From what Brandon’s grandfather tells us, it may have been a sheep farm sometime in the early to mid 20th century. We were excited to hear this, and we think it’s pretty cool that our goats will be grazing land that used to be pasture over half a century ago. It’s just going to take a few years of work to get there!

What we believe may have been a sheep barn many, many years ago.

It will be slow going at first, as we acquire the equipment that we’ll need and get in touch with all of the right people, but I plan on sharing progress reports here on our website whenever we’ve done something worth sharing. We are hoping to get our greenhouse up before winter arrives, so that we can start plants in the spring to get our farmstand up and running next season!

A Bull is Born

On Friday morning we welcomed Nova’s first calf to our herd. He is a robust young bull, whose name has yet to be determined. Nova delivered him overnight without complication, and has seamlessly transitioned into her new role as a mother. The calf will be available for purchase when he is weaned in the fall.

Nova and her new baby.

Where Our Soap Has Traveled

We thought it would be neat to make a map of all of the states we’ve shipped our soaps to thus far. Our goal is to reach all 50 someday, so if you know anyone who lives in Alaska, be sure to tell them about us!

Our First Kids

Yesterday afternoon we welcomed two new additions to our farm! Both healthy little does, one solid black, and one black and tan (chamoisee) like their father. Their birth was quick and uneventful. Ginger was exhibiting signs of early labor when we checked on her around 1:00 PM, and by the time we went out to feed at 5:00, the kids were already up on their feet. Both are vigorous nursers, and their mother, Ginger, has been taking excellent care of them. Their birth marks a milestone for us, as these are the first of many babies to be born on our farm!

A peek at the newborns.