Ausable Forks: Asgaard Farms Kidding Season
By Diane Chase,
Spring break may be starting for area schools but this is a busy time of year for Rhonda Butler and David Brunner, owners of Asgaard Farm and Dairy. Once owned by illustrator, printmaker and artist Rockwell Kent, the property, designed by Kent, has remained mostly unchanged. Since March 9 over 62 baby goats (kids) have been born with more expected during the week of March 31-April 5.
I talked with Rhonda 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 breed 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 does (mother goats) are breed in the fall, give birth in the spring with the kids drinking the doe’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 has a milking herd of 50 goats that are expected to produce about 100 kids.
Visiting 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.
© Diane Chase, author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks (Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities) for the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Jay/Upper Jay, Wilmington, Keene/Keene Valley which is available online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the second guidebook in the four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.