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18. November 2006
A few days ago I got a call from an unknown woman from Trinidad. She had gotten my name from a veterinary, who in turn also had only heard about me and my goat project. She wanted to exchange some ideas. Told me about her goats and that she also sold goat milk to customers. It is unbelievable: she sells quite a lot of milk to dog breeders who only want the best for their dogs. It is scary, the best milk goes to the dogs (pun intended) and people here drink milk made from milk powder. I hope that my work with the goats may effect some change in this attitude.
Almost all young goats from this year have been sold and I have to find a buck for my girls. Lilly is the only one pregnant at the moment and due to have her lambs around Christmas.
This Thursday I am leaving this little island for the first time in eight years! I cant 't believe it: I am taking the fast ferry to Trinidad. What adventure! I hope I'll have more luck in Trinidad in finding shoes for myself to buy. Otherwise I need different items for my work, which I hope to find as well.
13th November 2006
After two weeks of back and forward, I called the printery and asked about what happened to my estimate? They said, and I quote: "But I sent you an e-mail ( which never arrived) and told you that we are unable to print the labels. The amount of labels is too low and we have to reset the printing press too often."
I need labels for about 10 different baked goods (click here), but cannot order 2.500 of each! After all the labels are for Christmas cookies and you don't bake those all year round. I had told them that when I placed the order. Now it took them more than two weeks to cancel the order, isn't that just lovely!
Now to the story of the pasteurizer. In 1999 the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations) offered farmers in Trinidad & Tobago the opportunity to learn how to prepare Yogurt and Cheese.
They also sponsored the necessary utensils. Farmers in Trinidad and Tobago never made use of the equipment and so it somehow arrived at my farm. Among the items was a 50 lb pasteurizer which could only run on high voltage. So I asked the local electricity company to install a high voltage cable. They said it would cost me TT$ 100.000.00! Impossible for my small dairy kitchen to support that kind of expense. So I said, ok then convert Voltage of the pasteurizer. The experts here were of the opinion that that this could not be done after they messed around with it for a while, causing more damage than actually converting.
To make a long story short: the machine lingered in a corner for 8 years. At some stage it disappeared completely from the kitchen and had to endure the sea blast. Until my electrician recently had a look at it. I asked him to see if it was still working and thought that I would maybe be able to exchange it for one that could work with the electric current at the farm. The electrician fiddled with it for about 3 hours and then said: Ok, you can use it now. I was amazed, I did not even dream that I would ever be able to use this machine! Like anywhere else: idiot experts never die. Sometimes one gets lucky and finds a good technician. This same electrician also repairs my air conditioners. Before him, there was a high turnover of technicians at the farm trying to repair the air conditioners. At the old sugar mill on my estate lie a lot of old non functioning compressors. When I first started the goat farm, my entire profit went to the maintenance of the air conditioners. I nearly gave up!
11. November 2006
I was able to produce a new cheese: Tobago Chèvre. A fresh goat cheese mixed with creamy garlic-dill. Absolutely super!
The Yuletide baking was supposed to start now as well, but failed again because of the lack of ingredients which are not (yet) available.
The labels and the barcodes for the packaging will also not be finished as fast as I would like. So the baking will again be a "last minute" affair.
8 November 2006
The most productive time of the year has started. The so called high season of tourism in Tobago. In the past few weeks several of my goats moved to a new home. Always a reason for me to be sad. I am sure that nowhere else will they have such a good life as on my farm. This sounds presumptuous, but nevertheless is the sad truth. Many farmers only see the keeping of animals as a supplementary source of income. Very often there is not sufficient land available for the goats to roam.The animals are being kept in very close quarters and condemned for the rest of their lives to just stand in a box. They are being fed only once per day, which is about the worst kind of treatment for a goat. Who only has a few goats, just ties them anywhere, even if it is to the very sign placed at the edge of the highway which reads " It is forbidden to tie animals here".
There was also a death on my farm. A 4 months old female goat became lame, first the hind legs, but later also the front legs. No vet on Tobago was able to help and I had to have her slaughtered. Those are the days when I hate my work. Unable to know what disease was responsible and therefore not in a state to assist the sick goat. I had my own diagnosis, but that did not really help me in any way. Here you have to wait many weeks for the results of blood and stool tests. I hear many times that farmers said they called the vet (and had to pay him of course), but the animal died anyway. Therefore often the farmers just have the sick animal quickly slaughtered to get rid of the troubles. The result is that often the animal is killed too soon, before the cause of the illness is known!!!!!
Therefore it is also difficult to find and buy a good buck for breeding. Quick money is preferred here. To raise bucks is too much work.