Cows invade the goatshed

  • 2014-10-01
  • By Mike Parr

ALUKSNE - With the coming of autumn it is time to start harvesting. The biggest question has been what to do with the bumper crop of apples that I have.
Of course, the goats are helping to solve that problem, but on a personal level there are only so many apple pies that I can eat in a week! I’ve made enough apple chutney to see me through the winter, but still I have about one hundred kilos sitting, awaiting my attention.

The answer has been to make cider, a deceptively simple process to turn this crop into something that I can enjoy in the evening. I am lucky that my new friends and neighbors have the equipment to chop up and press the apples, then it’s a case of bottling the juice and letting it stand somewhere warm for a few days to allow the natural fermentation begin.
My first attempt was a resounding success, in a little over twenty four hours the wild yeasts were doing their job of turning the sugar in the apples into alcohol; after four days it was ready to drink.
Cider made this way is called rough cider, but I can assure you that it is anything but rough, and, it is a million miles away from the stuff that you buy in the shops. Three small glasses of this slightly fizzy, semi-sweet juice certainly started to have the desired effect!

Now I am busy trying to beat the goats to more windfall apples and bag them up to take over to my neighbors for crushing and pressing.
I’ll probably let the cider stand for a little longer this time, then bottle it up and store in the cellar. Hopefully I will be able to restrain myself enough that there will be some left when I have visitors next year!
Picking the apples has been a bit of a challenge as I managed to fracture my wrist the other week. It’s still a little sore, but I am able to carry out my main tasks of milking the goats and, more importantly, making coffee. I managed to convince the doctors not to put my arm in a cast but to strap it to a board. At least this way I can still manage to use my hand and it’s not imposing too much on my workload.

Jeb is still at his puppy stage (albeit a forty kilo puppy) and he thinks that the board that is bandaged to my arm is a new plaything for him. I need to think of new distractions so that he will leave me alone long enough for the wrist to heal quickly. All part of life’s little challenges, I guess.
Last night I came back to the farm to be greeted by about thirty cows wandering around outside the house, terrorizing the goats and knocking over anything that wasn’t fixed to the ground. My neighbor’s electric fence had failed and, obviously, the cows were keen to explore.

Once the goats saw me they made a mad dash to the perceived safety of my close proximity, which in turn made the cows run after them. A herd of charging cows is an experience that most people should have at least once in their lives, much better than a colonic irrigation or any powerful enema.
I managed to encourage them back into their field just as a very stressed farmer turned up, apologizing profusely (at least I think he was, it was in breathless Latvian so I could only guess at what he was actually saying), but Lenny decided that it was payback time and I must admit to smiling as the farmer ran to hide behind me (why is it everyone thinks that hiding behind me is such a good idea?).

He relaxed somewhat when he realized that Lenny wasn’t going to do much more than rub against him (worse than it sounds, Lenny isn’t into personal hygiene at the moment, the smell impresses the girls apparently).
So, all in all it’s been a pretty ‘interesting’ month for me; there are some things that I am not in a rush to experience again, there is the prospect of free cider in the not too distant future and I’ve learned the skill of one-handed milking. I just wonder what next month will bring… hopefully a lottery win or something of that nature.

To learn more about Mike’s farm, and inquire about his goat cheeses, contact him at