349 Mattison Reservoir Ave
Branchville, NJ 07826
Phone: 973 948-0906
The Farm Store is open on Saturday from 8-4 and by appointment. We always say if we're home we're open...but please call ahead!
THE MARKETS DON'T START UNTIL JUNE! So visit us on the farm! We have eggs, honey, soap and lotion and a few canned goods!
Registered Alpine dairy goat kids available NOW! Prices starting at $200.
See a brief overview under the CSA heading or call or e-mail for more information!
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We are pleased to be a destination spot for the NJ Audubon for eco-agritourism trips. The spring walk is May 18th from 8-12.
Helping to feed your family since 1992!
As a child my father instilled the importance of treating every living thing with respect. This is what we believe, and this is the way we treat everything under our care at DanaRay Farm.
Biodynamic farming is another type of natural farming that follows a different set of practices from organic farming and is in many ways stricter than organic farming. It embraces the idea that the farm should be thought of as an living organism that must be cared for as a whole and be in balance with nature.
Greetings from DanaRay Farm,
Springfest was a smashing success! The attendance was phenomenal, everyone was as sick of this hideous winter as we were and they came out in droves looking for spring flowers and the promise that spring will indeed come soon. The crowd was packed shoulder to shoulder and the line moved in nearly a serpentine manner around the greenhouse. We were selling our jams and jellies, soap and lotion, and honey. We had out samples, and whatever flavor was out as a sample was what we were selling. Put out raspberry and we sold all the raspberry…put out spiced peach and we sold out of spiced peach…put out spring fling (“which is a mix of raspberries, cherries and red currants”) and we sold all of that. Oh, we haven’t sold any apple cider…put out a jar and voile…it starts to sell. I would watch for that moment when they put the sample in their mouth, the eyes widen and the lips curl up in a little smile, and they would turn towards us and say “that’s really good!”…and then I’d hit them with… “the reason that it tastes like that is because I use a type of pectin that allows you to get a good gel without using too much sugar…so you taste the fruit first…the normal ratio in homemade jams is one part fruit to one part sugar, I use two parts fruit to one part sugar.” Or some variation of the above information. We also had a sample on the opposite end of the table from the jams and jellies of our hand lotion, there was a jar full of small craft sticks for people to use for sampling. On Thursday an older gentleman picks up the stick with a big gob of lotion…as it heads towards his mouth the scene slides into slow motion…NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Ray and I and Susan from the next booth all cry in unison. Pop, into his mouth it goes, a big juicy gob of lotion. After we gave him a paper towel to spit it out into and offered apologies and a sample of jam to get rid of the taste of the lotion he told us it was quite alright and that the lotion didn’t really taste bad. A short disclaimer people…our soap and lotion are not made for ingesting! Perhaps you’ll have a wonderfully clean and soft gastrointestinal tract…but truly it’s made for external use.
On Friday the crowd grew, and along with the crowd we received a visit from two woman from the county department of health. They carefully looked over our jams and jellies, noting the ingredients (in descending order from most used to least used) and made sure that our address was on the jar and then asked where it was processed…etc. and so on. We, of course, get regular visits from them and answered all their questions. The younger of the two women then picked up our honey and studied it for a moment…and then asked… “What are the ingredients in the honey?” there was a long pregnant pause. Ray was of course incredulous. After a moment the older woman said “its honey.” Really! I suppose we could put bee spit and pollen for the ingredients.
Saturday was the biggest crowd yet and it was literally a slow moving constant wave of people. I had memorized Susan’s little talk about her gorgeous and perfect calla lilies by then. “Yes they are real, I grow them in my greenhouse this time of year, my grandfather grew them, then my father and uncle grew them and now I do, they’re an heirloom variety from the 1920s.” And she of course knew my “the reason that it tastes like that is because I use a type of pectin that allows you to get a good gel without using too much sugar…so you taste the fruit first…the normal ratio in homemade jams is one part fruit to one part sugar, I use two parts fruit to one part sugar.” Not everyone was getting my little talk by then and Ray would hit me up every once in a while to say it just one more time. Of course he was hitting everyone with “we have a herd of dairy goats and we needed some way to use the milk so I started making soap and now lotion.” Or “goat’s milk is naturally soothing and our soap doesn’t dry out your skin the way commercial soap does.” Anyone whose hands looked a bit chapped he would slap on blob of lotion and suggest they walk around and see how good our lotion worked and then, if they liked it, come back and buy it. Most people would rub it in and turn around and buy it right away. For whatever reason we didn’t sell much soap on Thursday and Friday, but on Saturday everything was flying off our little table including the soap. By the time we returned home Saturday I was running out of jams and jellies to restock the shelves.
On Sunday Ray hit up one of the maintenance men with a lotion sample, his fingertips were all cracked, and he had a bandage on nearly every finger. He returned soon after overjoyed with his healing fingertips and Ray gave him a jar. About an hour later he once again returned and took a pile of our business cards, saying he would hand them out to everyone. I suggested Ray should start handing out samples as the people came through the entrance. We emptied a lot of jars of jelly and jam over the four days, and I think almost an entire jar went into a little boy of about five. His mother made him a sample on a cracker which he gulped down, and then another sandwich, and a third. They wandered away leaving a sea of crumbs. About a half hour later he was back for yet another couple sandwiches…and again an hour after that. The mother extolling the flavor and how great it was that we were “natural.” She never did buy a jar…but I suppose we did provide her son with lunch…the cafeteria prices were very expensive.
The does, thankfully, waited until after Springfest to begin kidding. Yes, the act of a goat giving birth is called kidding…a cow, calving…a mare, foaling…a sheep (ewe)…lambing. And since then we’ve had a major population explosion in the barn. Ray asked me the other day how many we have, and you know, I’m not really sure. All I know is there are only four does left to kid and I’m feeding 11 kids…and there’s a crap load of kids nursing off their dams. OK give me a sec…18 kids so far. And with this population explosion comes many a sleepless night…First the kids need to be fed three times a day…about 8 hours apart…so 6am and 2 pm and 10pm…this 10 pm feeding gives me a chance to eyeball the expectant does…and if they look like they may kid I try to wander my way out to the barn about 2am. Oh I’ll try to tell myself they’ll be fine, and they almost always are, but then my mind dreams up all kinds of horrid tangled up births, all ending in tragedy. So it’s much easier in the end to just walk up to the barn and actually look at them. They welcome my midnight wanderings, wondering I’m sure what I’m doing up in the barn at this time of night, goats don’t seem to sleep very soundly, they meh at me as I try to hold onto the edges of my slumber and stumble back to the house. If it’s warmish I can make this trip while still being mostly asleep, it’s just not fair if a cutting winter wind actually wakes me up all the way. And most times I can make it back to bed without my side becoming cold.
So, while I can’t control the weather this winter was just no fun. I hated not having enough fresh greens for the winter CSA. So next year I think…actually I’m nearly sure I want to get a small hydroponic unit. I’ll put it in the basement and then I can be sure I will have fresh lettuce and greens even if another polar vortex winter comes our way! Even if the winter is “normal” next year more greens in January and February can never be a bad thing!
So Ray is getting creative with his building materials. He’s taken some pallets, some scrap plywood and an unused pig run-in shed and created a new shed to replace the shed that collapsed under the snow load over the winter. He has another run-in shed so he plans on building a second shed. He also has been doing a lot of repairs that couldn’t be done this past winter…one was to cable the shed roof on the side of the shop back up into position. He said we almost lost it, it had almost fallen off the stud holders.
Ray has cleaned the barn out and we now have a mountain of manure. This mountain will rot down over the course of the summer to a small hill of beautiful compost. The gardens will love it!
Ray suggests anyone with a gun collection should record in a book what their value is, for when you pass, your spouse will have an idea of the value.
Talk to you soon,
Dana and Ray.