Meet Us There!.
|Lively animals are passion of Moses Lake’s Jessi Ellis|
Judy Spalding Freelance Writer
Capital Press, Friday, December 01, 2006
MOSES LAKE, Wash. - Is there a
difference between having a job to live and enjoying a job because it makes you happy to live? One woman in Moses Lake thinks so. For her, raising goats is her passion. It's as obvious as the goats' kisses on her face.
In August, Jessi Ellis and her partner,
|Jessi said her great-grandfather (pictured at right) delivered milk (cow) in the 1930s and '40s in New York, Ocean Side, Island Park and Long Island for $25 a week.|
Many of Ellis's family have been raised on goat's milk, including her son and daughter. "Goat's milk is the closest to human milk for babies," said Ellis. Her first experience with goat's milk was as a 10-year-old when her best friend's family gave her quart jars of the milk to take home.
|"That experience educated me, and I decided it was better than cow's milk," Ellis said. In Ellis's opinion goat's milk is not only good for people, she has also raised pigs, chickens, goats, cows, horses and one time, two motherless fawns, on the milk.|
At present, Ellis owns 19 milking goats, and 13 are being milked. Two of the goats are Saanens and the others are Alpine. Ellis and Maurer renovated two shipping containers to create a bottling room and milking parlor. A false front with doors was attached to the front of the containers after the original doors were removed. Ellis calls it the "home-built system." Maurer built the milk reciever himself and has gone on to sell others.
The goats are raised on clover and mixed grasses along with 14 percent grain rations for protein. The farm is herbicide- and pesticide-free.
Annually, the Washington State Department of Agriculture checks the herd for brucellosis and tuberculosis. Monthly, milk samples are taken and tested, also by the department. Ellis said part of setting up the dairy was the creation of correct labeling for the bottles within state policies. Monthly tests include checking for listeria monocytogenes, salmonella and E. coli, along with quality control testing and somatic cell count.
"We have felt good doing all the required licensing. The state was awesome to work with and was very
When asked about her education in animal husbandry, Ellis said, "I learned in the tough school of hard knocks. "There was another goat-keeping woman,who was 80 years old. She was my mentor. She taught me how to milk, separate milk and make butter." Later, Ellis met a veterinarian in Colville who taught her how to take care of animals.
Following the August opening of the dairy, Jessi became a member of the Columbia Basin Farmers' Market and Craft Bazaar in Moses Lake for an added selling place. Today she is busy on customer base development.
Jessi's milking machine is manually attached to milk five goats at a time. Milking 13 goats takes 30 minutes. The goats, on an average, produce 7 pounds of milk a day per goat. Coming up in 2007, an additional nine yearlings will be ready to milk. "I have to supply the market," said Ellis about the increase.
When asked what she likes best about raising goats, Jessi said, "Their unique personality. Each one is unique, and each one has quirks. They always love you and are happy to see you."
At this reporting, Jessi was faced with putting down one of her goats. "Goats don't live very long, usually only up to 13 years. They have a lot of injuries because they like to jump and climb. The goat's worst enemy is dogs. In Maggie's case, she is crippled with arthritis from an injury and can't walk well. In every group of animals one is the boss, and that was Maggie's job."
According to Jessi, "goats don't become ill, are hardy animals and we don't use drugs. A vet sees them once a year. Full-grown goats weigh between 150 and 200 pounds, with yearlings weighing 125 pounds."
All of Jessi's goats have names and know them. One of the Alpine goats, Angel, was part of 16 live babies born as part of the first artificial insemination and embryo transfer done in in the US. She is now a champion 9-year-old doe.
On guard duty 24/7 is Chee Chee, a large Anatolian dog, who lives with the goats. Two llamas in an outer pasture also act as guards. A Border collie in a separate pen is for the Angus cattle also raised on the farm. "Everybody has a job and I love them all," said Jessi.
"I have a positive outlook. How many would be willing to start an ag venture right now? Farming is in my blood," said Ellis.
|Five goats wait for milking to begin while pre-dip is applied to kill bacteria.|
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