We encourage plane-loads of British visitors because they work for their supper. My father and Tony build the extra projects around the farm that are so hard to begin otherwise, like Tony's Pen. My mother, of course, executes peerless laundry and organization inside the house. Rachel and Chloe were cheerful behind the shop till in summer. Andrew and Griff designed our shop, and will return this spring to direct a small expansion. But we allowed the first of our 2011 visitors to merely relax, because we're generous like that when you're over 80! Brian, who is a friend of my parents, an ex-geography teacher fond of long walks, pub quizzes and the occasional glass of wine, was last here ten years ago. This visit, he fetched fish from the harbor with my father-in-law, toured classic San Francisco diners with Three-Fingered Bil, and strolled in the marsh and ate olallieberry pie in the bar with local tree-grower Chris. Our highlight was Sunday night's quiz party in the hay loft, with sumptuous dinner and four quiz teams, some of whom played by the rules and some of whom may have been cheating. Still, it was a pleasure to have Brian in Pescadero and we hope he had a good time!
We opened our first farm shop at Level Lea Farm barn, on the road into town. This week we removed our original painted sign from the barn and brought it back to the farm. It's a poignant reminder of all the hurdles we've jumped to grow our business from a handful of goats and a roadside pitstop, to our gloriously healthy herds of milking goats, farm shop, farm tours and farm dinners that we enjoy today.
On a milking farm, male animals mostly leave. But on Friday we welcomed two boys who'll be with us for a decade or more. They are llamas Ruby and Haley, who belonged for 15 years to the family who gave us Bart, our iconic black llama. Bart died almost a year and a half ago, aged 28.
Ruby on the left, Haley on the right. They were show llamas, and have showbiz names, but we've shortened them for their new career as goat guardians. They will shepherd the younger milking goats
Ruby is certainly one of the most elegant llamas we've met
You know it's going to be damp when the National Weather Service calls your post office staff and tells them to get to higher ground! The local tow-trucks have been hauling cars out of Pescadero's larger puddles much of the weekend, including a minivan of visiting nuns. Our power lines, strung haphazardly through the town's older trees and muddy hillsides, collapsed somewhere on Thursday night, leaving us with a couple of hundred goats to milk by hand on Friday morning.
Pilar arrived at 6.30am as usual but couldn't see a thing in the dark. Ryan began milking at daybreak. We called Rachel in on her day off. Chloe called in favors at the taqueria. Teri, the farm artist, visiting from Oregon, got out of bed and into the parlor. The power came back on at 9am but the rain persisted.
The weekend storms blew off a barn door, soaked the pastures and garden to a rich squelchy mud, and brought thirty babies into the world. We expect more births in bad weather; our neighbors the Moores always had more calves on stormy nights. These are our yearlings' babies, and their mothers are a little surprised at their accomplishments. They look around for Ryan's support, and will follow him about the loafing barn anxiously, abandoning their newborn in a corner. They resist hand-milking, and kick up a petulant fuss in the milking parlor. Next year, they will be placid know-it-alls.
Only the llamas will browse the soggy pasture
Bring your farm boots!
She knows I'm not Ryan, who hand-reared her last spring
The babies have plenty of warm straw and luxury housing
Our afternoon of farm food and local wines at the spectacular Fogarty Winery was glorious, thanks to the generosity of everyone who came out on a snowy Saturday to taste, to pour wine, to cook and to cuddle our three traveling baby goats. The event will support the La Honda-Pescadero School District, where our son and almost all our younger staff are students or alumni.
Thank you to Fogarty Winery and Vineyards for the romantic mountaintop location
to the cooks, the local businesses who donated food, the Gary Gates Band, and the washers-up..
to the local wineries..
and to everybody who came - we hope you had a tasty afternoon!