Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 Indiana Small Farm Conference

Last week I was given the opportunity through grant funding to attend the 2017 Indiana Small Farm Conference hosted by Purdue Extension in our home town of Danville Indiana.  For a small fee a child can attend, so I brought along my eldest son, Asher, who aspires to be a full time farmer one day.  We were inundated with information, some of which was practically applicable to our current farming operation and some of which provoked more questions than answers.

            First I would like to share some of the practical information we obtained.  We spent Thursday learning how to craft vision and mission statements for the business, and how to prepare financial statements.  Some of this instruction was similar to what I learned at the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) National Convention in October, and it was helpful to revisit it.  We are about 50% of the way to where we need to be to accurately quantify which enterprises on our farm are making us money and which are costing us.  This break down by enterprises could be the difference between breaking even and making money.  One of the drawbacks of part time farming is that the urgency of perfecting these records is not there.  It is also difficult with the number of different enterprises we have.  It is not our intention to operate as a hobby, and it is an immediate goal of mine to improve my record keeping and accounting.

            I also learned a great deal at the conference about legally operating a small poultry operation.  Currently we raise poultry for our own consumption and sell eggs to offset the expense.  However, we were in need of the information on safe egg handling that we acquired from Dr. Darrin Karcher, Purdue University Animal Science.  We have been making a few mistakes and have already implemented new procedures to ensure the safety and quality of our product.  I am planning a future blog post about this topic as there is a lot of misguided information presented online.  We also learned about poultry disease prevention and how we can legally slaughter, package and sell chicken from the farm if we should desire to do so at a future date.

            I really enjoyed a talk by Adam Moody of Moody Meats, as well as a highly detailed talk about butchering by Blaine Brown, supervisor of Purdue’s Boilermaker Butcher Block.  I found it fascinating that stress to the animal has a direct, quantifiable impact on the quality of the meat.  It makes an excellent case for kosher kill in my mind, although I question that kosher kill in the slaughter house is as humane as kosher kill on the farm.  Unfortunately while dispatching on the farm is best for the animals, it is not necessarily the best for safe meat handling.  Personally I’m biased toward on farm dispatch, and as a Jew, I feel the spirit of our kosher laws is to eliminate stress for the animal.

            There was quite a bit of information about vegetable production, and I picked up some tips and tricks that I think will help us in our gardening.  My husband Kevin and I find gardening to be too time consuming to be the focus of our farming enterprise, but we do attempt to grow some vegetables for personal consumption each year.  The older kids are expressing interest in gardening, and we are planning to let them try tending their own patches this year.  It definitely sounded from the conference that vegetables can be a cash crop if you have the time and desire to devote to it.

            Finally I learned how I can possibly obtain grant money to improve my farm through North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant Programs.  I have some research ideas, and I need to do some further investigation to find out if the ideas are unique enough to warrant applying for a grant.

            To this point I have described the practical information I obtained at the conference, now I would like to discuss that which left me with questions.  My husband, Kevin, is a full time Mechanical Engineer, and that income is our living.  I am a full time home school teacher.  Naturally our farm operation is small and part time.  I focus on my livestock – 90% of the effort on my dairy goats, and my soap and candle making enterprise.  Kevin is focused on beekeeping, farm maintenance and coordinating our hay making.  Our original farm is eight acres, and we have recently acquired fifteen more acres which are planted in hay and bee pasture.  (As an aside, we have four kids and our eldest son is interested in farming as a career.  Many of the topic presented at the conference are complex, and there is definitely much industry specific lingo.  I felt like my ten year old kept up decently well.  He has learned a lot about agriculture already and sometimes informs me on topics with which I am unfamiliar.  The conference speakers were very kind to him, took his questions and gave thoughtful answers.  I don’t think I would bring a younger child to the conference unless they introduce programming for children in the future.)

            Up until now, my husband and I have been at a bit of a loss as to how to facilitate a career in agriculture for our son.  We have stretched our resources to our comfort limit to obtain the small amount of land we have.  Listening to the keynote speakers, Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm and Blaine Hitzfield of Seven Sons Family Farm, Jeff and Zach Hawkins of JL Hawkins Family Farm, Adam Moody of Moody Meats and others, I began to realize that our small farm could be viable income for our son and possibly our other children.  I felt myself wishing the entire three days that my husband had attended with me.  I have many questions about the future of Still Waters Farm LLC.  I find it difficult to project out five or ten years.  I feel the scale of our activities is appropriate today, and I have a vision of where I’d like to be in two years, but where should we be when we have kids 7, 14, 15, and 17?  Or 12, 19, 20, and 22?  Or 17, 24, 25, and 27?!  One thing is for certain, we have a precious asset in our trust, and I feel an obligation to steward this trust for the benefit of future generations.  There are many voices ready to tell us we can’t feed the world off the small farm, and yet the small farmers I encountered at this conference seem to be proving that false.  I have a lot to think about after this conference.  I would highly recommend it to anyone with a small farm.

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Kidding Season!

We have some really cuties toddling around the farm this May.
Check out our Goats for Sale page for  information about available kids.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Soap Shop at Still Waters Farm - Holiday Sale!

 In the soap shop at Still Waters Farm, we are busy mixing up your favorite goat milk soaps for the holiday season. Our soap has all the gentle skin soothing properties of olive oil, the great lather and moisturizing qualities of coconut oil, the skin softening properties of goat milk, and great scent! We are accepting orders for soaps to be shipped December 7th. Bars are approximately 3 ounces and are sold for $3 per bar. The following fragrances are available:

Lavender – made with olive oil, coconut oil, fresh goat milk, lye, lavender flowers, and lavender fragrance

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey – made with olive oil, coconut oil, fresh goat milk, honey, lye, rolled oats, and fragrance (naturally a honey color)

Holiday Pine – olive oil, coconut oil, fresh goat milk, lye, and fragrance of vanilla and pine (naturally a light tan color)

Cherry Almond – olive oil, coconut oil, fresh goat milk, lye, a pinch of cinnamon, and fragrance (naturally a medium tan color)

Sugar – olive oil, coconut oil, fresh goat milk, lye, chamomile flowers, and fragrance (sweet floral fragrance with vanilla and musk – smells good enough to eat, but please don't!) (naturally a dark chocolate brown)

Spiced Cranberry Preserves – olive oil, coconut oil, fresh goat milk, lye, and fragrance (cranberries, apples, oranges, vanilla and spice) (naturally a warm brown color like homemade applesauce)

Honey and Beeswax Products
8 oz Raw Honey (in Bears) - $4
16 oz Raw Honey - $8
Hand poured Bayberry candles – 2 for $10
Hand dipped Beeswax candles – 2 for $5
3.5 oz Yellow Salves* – 1 for $8
*Salves are great for any skin that is chapped or chaffed. Made with sunflower oil infused with lavender and calendula flowers and Indiana beeswax.

Shipping Options
We ship in USPS flat rate boxes. Each soap scent will be wrapped separately. If you want each bar rustically gift wrapped and labeled, that can be done for a small fee. Gift wrapping $1 per 4 bars.

Small Flat Rate Soap Deal
4 soaps any scent or combination of scents ship in a small flat rate box for $18 total (soap, sales tax and shipping).

Small Flat Rate
$5.25 - if it fits, it ships. Up to 4 bars of soap, small orders of candles or salves.

Medium Flat Rate
$11.30 shipping – if it fits, it ships. Good for just about anything you may want to order.

How to Order

At this time we are taking orders by email. Please email swgoats@yahoo.com and indicate what you would like to order and if you would like to pay with check or credit card. We can take credit card payments through PayPal. After we receive your order, we will send you an invoice with instructions to direct payment. All orders will ship on December 7th!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Letter to Our Customers

A Letter to Our Customers:

For nearly a decade, Still Waters Farm LLC has been primarily in the business of breeding and selling dairy goats, predominantly Mini Nubian goats. Over the years we have seen the quality of our herd improve by leaps and bounds, and we have enjoyed working with new goat owners. However, we have not found the goat breeding business to be in our family's best interest. Over the past two years, we have been slowly selling down our herd. We have downsized considerably, not only in the number of goats we are keeping, but in the size of the goats themselves. We are finding the Nigerian Dwarf goat more appealing for a number of reasons – among them the smaller space required, ease of transport, and lower feed costs.

The focus of our breeding program has changed. We will now be freshening does in order to produce milk for our family and our budding goat milk soap business, and for our children's 4-H projects. We now have a herd dominated by junior does, several of which will not be bred this year. We will no longer be taking deposits in advance of kidding season or promoting ourselves as a breeding operation. We are keeping two Nigerian Dwarf bucks and one Mini Nubian buck. These bucks are standing stud as a service to the local goat keeping community. For more information about stud service contact Farmer Angie at swgoats@yahoo.com. We do not offer routine management services, such as disbudding, castration, clipping, hoof trimming, etc.

Instead of operating a goat breeding business, we will be expanding our goat milk soap sales. Currently we attend two reenactments a year, The Spirit of Vincennes in Vincennes, IN on Memorial Day weekend, and The Feast of the Hunter's Moon in West Lafayette, IN in October. At present these reenactments wipe out our inventory of goat milk soap each time. In the near future, we hope to build a larger inventory and open online sales. We are also selling beeswax and bayberry candles, beeswax ointments and raw honey. If you are interested in any of these products, you can contact Farmer Kevin at swhoney@yahoo.com.

Farmer Angie is also exploring the fiber industry. We have three Shetland Sheep with very nice fleeces. In the future we may have wool fiber products for sale. Thank you for your interest in our farm, and for your support as we find our true niche in the dairy goat and beekeeping industries!

Kevin and Angelia Mercer

Still Waters Farm LLC

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


We have a milking doe available for immediate possession - Eddy Place Black Beauty. Currently she's milking out a quart twice a day or a bit more. Has a history of easy kids with large litters. $300 SOLD!

I'm also selling 

Purebred Nubian buck Boilermaker ($400) SOLD! 

Pet Mini Nubian wether ($150) SOLD!

Bottle baby grade Nubian wether ($50) SOLD!

** Take the bottle baby with any of the others and he's free; take the pet wether with any of the others and he's half off!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mini Nubian Does for Sale

We are undergoing some changes here on Still Waters Farm and need to reduce our herd size by 2/3rds.  This means we will be selling many animals we would otherwise keep!  Our loss is your gain! 

Animals are sold first come first served.  We cannot hold animals without a deposit.

Eddy Place Marcie - SOLD!

Still Waters LauraMae - SOLD!

Still Waters WH Fair Rivkah - SOLD!

Still Waters WH Sultan's Saffron - SOLD!
Still Waters "Morgan" - SOLD!

Still Waters "Shadowfax" - SOLD!

Bucks for Sale - Nubian, Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Nubian

We are undergoing some changes here on Still Waters Farm and need to reduce our herd size by 2/3rds.  This means we will be selling many animals we would otherwise keep!  Our loss is your gain!

Our animals are sold first come first served. We cannot hold animals without a deposit. 

Eddy Place Nosey - SOLD!
Still Waters Royal Tea - SOLD!

CAE Policy
CAE is an infectious disease transmitted primarily to kids through milk.  It became widespread when dairies pooled their milk and bottle fed, thereby infecting the entire kid crop.  CAE is detrimental to dairy herds because it can ruin udders and shorten the useful lifespan of the goat.  Not only that, it can cause goats a great deal of pain.

We have only bred does with negative test results through bio-tracking.  If you are purchasing a kid and would like it tested, we can arrange to have that done before the kid leaves our premises.  It will be at added cost.  You may come observe the collection if you like.  We believe testing and using negative stock is the most effective way of eradicating this disease.

All goats are sold "as is" and all sales are final after the animal leaves our premises.  This policy is for the bio-security of our herd.