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  • Writer's pictureElie Ravitz-Basser

Week of 2/14-2/20

Today, Saturday, was a very busy day! I woke up around 6 am to care for the 3 week old goat that's been staying in my house. The baby suffered some sort of head trauma earlier this week and has been unable to walk or drink properly. I've been responsible for it's daily injections of pain relievers in the morning and afternoon. Not only did the baby stay in the house...the 100 lb mom did too! After walking the two outside for the mom to eat hay, we called the vet to evaluate the baby and do routine care for the other 70 or so goats.

After a quick breakfast (two slices of Blackberry Coffee Cake), I bundled up into my coats, jumped into my flannel socks, and headed outside to face the below-freezing temperatures. While waiting for the vet, I ran laps around the farm with the 15 bottle fed kids baby goats (kids) we are currently raising. Most of them hover around one month, and still love to jump around or play in the hay stack.

Speaking of the babies, they are doing very well. Their names are Maraschino, Cow, Gauss, Mouse, Klaus, Pirate, Kroger, Clifford, Possum, Mini-Spoon, R2-D2, Julien, Silver Fox, Alfonso, and Lambie. As one can surmise from the name, Lambie is in fact not a goat, though she is raised with them. Lambie's mother abandoned her last month, and my dad found her alone in the barn. He brought her to the house, we quickly wrapped her up in blankets and fed her a bottle of colostrum, and since then she's becoming an integral extension of the Herd Family.

Below is a video of all 15 babies during lunch hour, as they scramble to find an open spot under the milk buckets to nurse from. We have two main buckets that we fill with milk, as well as five bottles to feed any stragglers with. As you can see, it is always pure nuttiness around feeding time :D

My family usually prepares the bottles and buckets 10 minutes before feeding, as preparation for such a large quantity of goats can take a while! We have a sink in the house that we lovingly call "The Milking Station", where we prepare the bottles for the babies.

Anyway, I digress. The vet arrived later this morning, and evaluated our sick baby. His health was unfortunately degrading and he was in need of immediate rehydration. Our vet, Dr. Margie, said that tube feeding was the fastest and best way to get him the fluids he was in need of rapidly. Tube feeding involves slowly inserting a tube with critical fluids like electrolytes and dextrose into his stomach. I was lucky enough to learn today how to tube-feed a goat as well, which may be necessary if we have another dehydrated baby. Sadly, our baby didn't make it and passed away only a few hours after the vet left. Today I learned an invaluable life lesson, which is there will be times that despite best life-saving efforts, not every injured or sick animal can always be saved. Not only did I feel really sad about losing our baby goat, I also was really sad for the baby's mom. This all makes me realize the preciousness of life. Later today, I sat outside with my goats and together we watched the sun set over the horizon of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Despite my busy week, I thankfully was able to spend some time in my farm's kitchen. On Friday, I made spaghetti bolognese for dinner, followed by Blackberry Coffee Cake (see recipe below) meant to be enjoyed for breakfast on Saturday. I forgot to take photos of the bolognese, which was delicious and surprisingly easy to make. My family practically inhaled the coffee cake before I could snap a picture, but I managed to get a shot of the last slice (excuse my less than mediocre camera skills) before it was completely consumed. Nothing like a piece of warm coffee cake eaten in front of a roaring fire on a 20 degree day!

Blackberry Coffee Cake Recipe:

For the Cake:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons lemon extract

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (4oz or 113g)

2 cups blackberries (10oz) fresh or frozen

For the Crumble Topping:

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour 120g

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform or square baking pan, set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center.

3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the eggs until blended. Add the sour cream, vanilla, & lemon extract. Whisk.

4. Slowly add the melted butter whisking constantly until combined. Pour the sour cream mixture into the flour and sugar mixture. Stir with a spatula until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be very thick.

5. Pour ⅔ of the batter into the prepared pan.

6. Sprinkle 1 cup of blackberries over the batter.

7. Dollop the remaining batter over the blackberries, and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with all remaining blackberries, pressing the berries slightly into the batter.

8. Prepare topping: Add the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and flour to a medium bowl. Whisk together then add the diced butter. Press and crumble the butter into the dry mixture. Once you have a crumbly mixture you can set it aside.

8. Allow the cake to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.

9. Bake at 325°F for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out with no wet batter. Moist crumbs are okay.

10. Cool the cake for 20 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan. Slide the cake onto a serving platter or plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar, or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

The cake itself is similar to a normal poundcake, but is studded with the ripest of this season's blackberries. I also added in a cinnamon layer. The top, easily my favorite part, is a cinnamon crumble topping made with brown sugar, to give this delightful dessert an extra wow factor. All in all, I think the cake turned out pretty well. If I make it again, I'd probably cook it for a shorter period of time and perhaps add even more stone fruit. Hey, if I'm feeling adventurous, I might even try raspberries, blueberries...or cherries!

More photos from this week:

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