Check out this virtual visit to Slide Ranch’s 134-acre farm and coastal land. In the spring, Slide Ranch is buzzing with new life — baby goats in the barn and seedlings in the garden. Guided by the Slide Ranch team, you’ll visit with the goats and sheep, run with them in the pasture and wander through the beautiful organic garden overlooking the coast. While mingling with the animals and meandering among the garden beds, you’ll learn about the ecosystems of Slide Ranch, animal husbandry and organic gardening practices. This will be a fun field trip for all ages.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Kelsey Speal - Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Kelsey Speal. I'm a senior marketing manager at First Republic, and also part of our Environmental Stewardship Community here at the bank. Thank you all for joining us today for our Zoom field trip to Slide Ranch. This 134-acre farm is located on the coastal land of Marin in California. And as a nonprofit, whose mission is to connect people of all ages to the outdoors. We're looking forward to doing just that with them today. We're going to visit with the goats and the sheep, as you can already see a preview of, run with them in the pasture and wander through the beautiful organic garden overlooking the coast. We'll learn about the ecosystems of Slide Ranch, animal husbandry, and organic gardening practices. If you'd like to submit a question during the webinar, please use the Q and A feature at the bottom of your screen. We're so happy to have the team here from Slide Ranch today. Maika, please take it away.
Maika Llorens Gulati - Well, hello, everybody. And it's such a pleasure to have you all here at the Slide Ranch today, especially on Earth Day. And thank you First Republic for being a huge supporter of Slide Ranch, including coming here to volunteer and help us with everything that is to be done at the ranch. As they were mentioning, we are located just like 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, and this is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. So it's a national park and our mission is to plant kids in nature. And we try to do that with all kids. And everybody's always invited. We are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. So if you are in the area, please check us out. And we would love to see you. So today I want to introduce you to the best part of our Slide Ranch, which is our team in addition to our, you know, our human team and our furry and feathery friends. So I'm going to start here, switching my camera to Natalia, who is helping us with all our animals here, and then I'm going to also pass it to John is in the garden. He's our garden manager. So wave hi, John. And then we have Jesse, he's Senior Operations Manager and behind the iPad over there is actually Robyn Dabora, who's helping us with development. So yeah, I guess we will bring it back to the pasture and we are going to introduce you to some of our resident furry friends. So, Natalia, you want to do an intro on the animals?
Natalia Ramirez - Absolutely. Yeah, thanks again for having us. And just really quick, before I go into it, we're located here on indigenous coast, Miwok land, and for about... After that, it was a Portuguese dairy farm for a long time. So we're kind of still using the same pasture space as before. I'm very grateful to be using this land for this long. So basically, yeah, we take our herd out to pasture every single day. And we have a slow season during the year when it kind of, the grass is kind of dried up, but right now we're still in the season where the pasture is very lush and green. And so, they really, really love pasture time. It's probably their favorite time of the day aside from eating more in their barn. But so we have seven goats and about 10 sheeps. And we have three goat kids inside the barn. So I can go ahead and start introducing our goats that have some really big personalities. Here we have, Athena. Athena is about seven years old and she has a very strong personality. She just loves all the attention. And she's one of our, also our dairy goats that we have here as well. And yeah, so the kids kind of interact with her a lot during the week. So she's a very special, she's a little diva. So we love her. And over here, we have Dotty. She's about, I want to say five to eight years old. She's one of our older goats here and she is the mama to the three goat kids. So she gave birth today, or earlier this year, or about just like a couple weeks ago, actually. And she is another one of our dairy goats as well. Yeah. And she's a Lamancha breed. I didn't mention Athena's breed, but she is a Alpine goat. And if you can tell the difference between their ears, the Lamancha breed is usually like the more. so you can see Athena's personality now. Dotty's getting some attention.
So Athena's getting a little, probably jealous, but yeah. So if you can see the difference between their ears, the Alpine goats kind of have like more of these pointier ears, longer ears. And the Lamancha kind of have those very short, if any ears at all. So we can go ahead and keep going up here. So over here we have Dream. She is a Nubian goat and she kind of has the more floppier ears like that. So right now she's showing off her ears. She's adorable. She's not one of our dairy goats. We have tried to milk her in the past. She wasn't a big fan of it. So we haven't bred her since then, but she's a really, really important part of the educational aspect here of just showing the different breeds and showing like her amazing, beautiful long ears to the public. Here we have Amber, she is a Saanen goat and the Saanen goats usually have beautiful white, like a white-colored coat like she does, and a nice long white beard. And she is our oldest goat that we have here. She is about eight to 10 years old. And she has a daughter as well. So she's on the lower part of the paddock. I could just point to her, same breed, obviously. She's a Saanen goat. And she basically looks exactly like her mom. She just had a little less hair than her mother, and she's about three to six years old. We have two more goats up on the paddock. Over here we have Chocolate. She's the daughter of Dotty, who gave birth to three goat kids a couple weeks ago. And she's a mixture of Lamancha and Nubian. That's why she has also kind of floppy ears like Dream did. And yeah, she's also has a very strong personality. She's very sassy as well. And she's great. We love her. She's not a dairy goat. So she also is kind of an educational goat to show off her different ear style of the other goats.
First Republic - Hey, Maika, really quick when you're holding the iPad, can you just move your hand off the mic? I'm getting a little bit of feedback.
Maika - Oh, sounds good. Sorry about that.
First Republic - Thank you. No worries.
Maika - And I will mention that Chocolate, although we are not supposed to have favorites, but she's definitely my favorite.
Natalia - And our last goat here, Sweetpea. She's an Alpine goat. And she used to be a dairy goat last year, but we weaned her off because she has something that's very common in ruminants called hoof rot. She's been dealing with it for a couple of years now and we've been treating her every day for it. She still has a very healthy quality of life. And she is an Alpine goat and she's actually very special because out of all the Alpine goats, she has the waddles. So if we get a little closer, you can see the waddles and the only other hoofed animal that has waddles is pigs. And of course, chickens have waddles too, but it's just a completely different body part than theirs. She's just kind of doing her thing. So we'll just leave her alone. But she kind of has like those two little like beads on her neck. I don't know if you could see it from here, but she's great, she's super sweet. Hence her name, Sweetpea. And that's basically all the goat herd. The rest of the sheep, they kind of are a little bit more, a little bit shyer than the goats. So they usually like to just mind their own business, not get too close to humans, but we do have some very friendly sheep in the herd as well. And yeah, they're just enjoying their pasture time today. And they'll be here for about up to 5:00 PM today. So they're on pasture from about 11:30 to 4:30 to 5:00 every single day.
Maika - Okay. So I don’t know if you guys have any questions so far.
First Republic - We have a couple of questions here. Kelsey, I'll start with the first one and then you can go from there. Our first question is how many goats do you have?
Natalia - We have seven goats. Well, and now with our goat kids, we have 10 goats.
Kelsey - This is Kelsey, coming to you with another question. So previously you mentioned, obviously, some of them have babies and maybe they're moved to a different pasture or whatnot, sort of, could you speak a little bit more about the I guess the cycles of goat life and what will happen with that goat when he or she grows up and how do you manage that?
Natalia - Yeah, absolutely. So here, since we have dairy goats, we use our dairy goats, yes, for our resident consumption as well, and as well to up-cycle it, to be used for our chickens to drink and eat. But we also use it for programs here. So they're also educational dairy goats. So we really use them a lot for programs to bring students and the public to come to get educated on how that looks on like a small-scale farm. So we have outside stanchions where they get milked, so they can do that with students. And so the idea is when the goat kids are born. We separate them from their mother, which sounds kind of like an intense process, but it's really just putting them in another room. And we bottle feed them ourselves every single day until they don't need to be bottle-fed anymore. And they just graze with the grass. And we do that because if we let the kids latch onto their mothers naturally like the sheep would, for example, then we wouldn't be able to kind of control the milk that we would be using them for the public and for our educational aspect here, if that kind of makes sense.
Kelsey - That's really helpful. Thank you so much. And then, and one final question, and then happy to turn it back to you. Obviously, we can see so much beautiful land. It's just truly beautiful. How much space does each animal need, obviously you said, you know, various goats and sheep go to different pastures and whatnot, would love to hear sort of how much room does an animal need and how do you manage that?
Natalia - Totally. Yeah. So our whole herd, our sheeps and goats, they're one herd. So they stay in our barnyard. And I don't know if Maika, if you want to kind of zoom or, yeah, plants over there again. So over there, that's kind of their whole like inside home, as you could say, and inside of their barn is kind of like their shelter. So that's kind of like the space for the whole entire herd, for the goats and the sheep. And during the day when the pasture is still able to, when it's still lush like this, for them to graze on, they'll come here during the day and then they'll go back inside during the evening. So that's kind of just like the space that we have here for them. Every farm is different. So there are bigger production farms that have huge pastures and they just let their herds go out onto pasture, like all year until, before they harvest them. Here we're obviously a small-scale educational ranch. So we have kind of a smaller pasture. And even though on Zoom, it probably looks ginormous. It's a lot smaller than other farms. So they just jump from different paddocks every day that the ranch team here sets them up during the week. So for example, here, they'll be here today and then they'll jump over to this paddock tomorrow. So they'll just kind of switch different paddocks, every single or every other day. And then they'll go back inside their barn at the end of the day, if that makes sense.
Maika - And the reason for doing that is because we want them to eat the top of the grass instead of pulling the entire grass, because it's very important in addition to the health of the animals, also the health of the pasture. So that's how we keep it always growing without getting areas with no grass.
Kelsey - That's great. Thank you so much.
Maika - And you can see this sheep right here that they actually had so much wool recently, but we actually have them shear. So, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Natalia - Yeah. Absolutely. So sheep shearing is very essential for your sheep herd to do annually, because if you, for some reason, say you let their wool grow out one year and you don't shear them one year. Then, now, then they'll have double as much wool as they did last year. And it'll be uncomfortable during the winter and as well as the summer, because in the winter, sometimes it's very rainy and whatnot. And so that big kind of collection of wool will kind of make it super matted with all like the muck and stuff. And in the summer, obviously it's pretty explanatory. It gets very hot. So it's just not comfortable at all for the sheep to have all that wool. So we bred these sheep in order to create this wool. Right. So it's our responsibility to make sure that they're sheared every year so that they're not uncomfortable, kind of the same like idea with like a dog, you know. And so, yeah, so they got sheered about two weeks ago, so they're just freshly shorn and it's just so funny. They look so dorky because they look like they have huge heads with their like skinny bodies. But yeah, if that makes sense, sheep shearing is very essential to a sheep herd.
Maika - And also the wool that we have is amazing and we always send it out and then they bring it back. So we can actually do projects here with the kids and also as a yarn, you know, for knitting or different projects. Okay. So you guys have any other questions? Oh, here is maybe one of the twins.
Kelsey - They're so cute. This is Kelsey coming in with one or two more questions if that's okay.
Maika - Aha.
Kelsey - It may be a double part on the first one. So how do you introduce new species to each other and what happens if they don't get along? How do you manage that?
Natalia - You, mean like new lambs and goat kids to the herd? Yeah. So we kind of have a process for that. So for example, with our lambs now they're obviously well adjusted to the herd, but it definitely is about like a two-week process to make sure that they kind of get accustomed to the herd. So first we have their, when they're first born, we put them and their moms into something called a lambing jug. And it's basically just like a little room within the barn that separates them from the rest of the herd. And while they're in there, it's mostly so the mom and the lambs get attached. And so, to make sure the lambs also latch onto their mom's teats. But we also do that to kind of like slowly accustom them into the herd because the herd will have their smell inside the barn. And they'll kind of hear them when they make their calls and stuff. And then a week later then they'll go out into the barnyard with their moms and they'll get a little bit more accustomed to the herd inside the barnyard. And then finally, they'll be out on to pasture with the herd during the day. With the goat kids, it's a little bit different since we separate them from their mom and we bottle feed them ourselves, they stay inside their rooms for about like a month. And then they'll be able to go out onto their barnyard and then eventually onto pasture. So it's a bit longer of a process just because they don't have their moms with them and we bottle feed them ourselves. If that makes sense.
Kelsey - Yes, definitely. Another question about shearing, are your demonstrations open to the public? Have some interest there.
Natalia - Yeah, definitely. So we have sheep shearer who's way more experienced than I am in sheep shearing. He's been doing it for about almost 30 years. And so he comes every year to shear our herd. Yeah, he just came about two weeks ago and did our whole herd in about like 30 minutes. It's very impressive.
Maika - Yeah. And absolutely. And you know something that we do is that we have field trips every week, we bring schools and community groups on the weekends. We have also family programs. So this special event was actually for, we invited families so they could actually get tickets to come over and visit. So, yeah, that's a way that you can actually observe that. But we also have, like right now, you know, with the field trips, with the family programs, those are the ones that they are part of, you know, our mission, but we are also open every day all the year. So, this land is a national park. So anybody is welcome to come, you know, from sunrise to sunset and they might not see like a special activity, but they will definitely enjoy, you know, being close to them and being able to explore. You know, we have 136 acres of land, so they will definitely be able to explore everything. I think this one here is trying to eat the grass right on my feet. Hi.
Kelsey - That's wonderful. That's wonderful. One additional question, if it's okay. We've got a knowledgeable audience today.
Maika - Of course.
Kelsey - And they say sheep are grazers and goats are browsers. Are goats given browse and additional grasses, What kind of browse?
Natalia - Yeah, that's a great question. So we usually just have them graze onto pasture the same. Obviously, there's nothing different for the goats and the sheep, but for some enrichment for the goats, since they are browsers, we usually cut up some like branches of cypress, or pine, or coyote brush a lot of like native bushes around here and we'll throw them into the barnyard for them to kind of munch on and stuff. And the sheep also really like it too. So it's enrichment for both the sheep and the goats. That's a great question.
Kelsey - And one more, chiming in with just one more question before we turn back to you. So obviously, you know, the lambs and the goats have, I'm sorry, the sheep and the goats have additional children and you have got limited land, you know, how do you manage capacity?
Natalia - Yeah, that's a good question. So we make sure when we breed every year to not go over for what we would like in a herd size, because again, we are a small scale educational ranch, and we don't really need more than kind of what you see right now. And we actually, we have a really good partnership with another educational ranch in the South Bay called Hidden Villa. And so at the end of the year, when the lambs get a little bit older, we'll usually do an exchange and give them one or two lambs from our herd to give to them. And that kind of also really manages our herd size and the same for the goat kids. With our partnership with them, we'll usually do an exchange in, and in exchange for that, they breed our sheep, our ewes here.
Maika - And I will say that a lot of our goats, because they, especially the goats because they are so used to kids, we try to also find them like educational farms where they can live their lives over there as well.
Natalia - Yeah. And also to add on to that, we also castrate all the males that are born here. I know that kind of sounds like an intense answer, but that's also a really obviously great way to manage our herd size. because if we didn't, we would obviously have probably a lot of surprise babies that we wouldn't want to have. And it's also just for the health of the ewes here too, because we want to make sure we are aware whenever they're pregnant. And we don't have any bucks here, which are male goats, but we do get them later on in the year and they have a separate pen so we can manage which does, the female goats go in there to breed with them.
Maika - And you want to tell them what the male goats, why one of the reasons we don't have the male goats, maybe what they do to attract females?
Natalia - Yeah. So if anyone has been familiar with going up to ranches, the bucks have a very strong smell. And the reason for that is because they do something where they like kind of like pee on their own body. And this is also something to like attract does, for some reason. I don't know the kind of the science behind it, but it leaves a very strong smell. So that's also another reason why we would not want, ideally one here, because it's just a lot to deal with.
Kelsey - Yeah. That's amazing. Thank you, done with the question portion for this segment.
Maika - Great. Well, so we are, I guess we can go down and keep introducing maybe some of our sheep. And the different type of breeds that we have because you can also, now is a little bit harder to see now that they have been sheared, but we also have like different types of breeds for sheep which is important for us, the educational farm, just to see the, you know, different types of animals that we have within the herd. So we going to go here, going down maybe to the chicory? Yeah. Well, hello. It's really funny to see them because they were like at least double the size before, with the wool and now they look so skinny. So we are going to go see here, like another one of the twins. with the first lamb that was born. So the first lamb, that is the one that is a black, this one was born a day before the twins. So you already saw one of the twins up the hill, so you can see them right here now in the shaded structure. And they see us coming. They're probably going to go, "Why are you coming here? I'm going to go." Hi. And I guess everybody goes to the bathroom. Okay. So, maybe I'm thinking we are going to go either with the chickens or in the garden. And then I'm going to, we're going to try to go inside the barn and see if you can see our triplet kids, the goats. So we'll start heading over there. If Jesse or John, do you want to go next?
Jon Skrbina - Hey, Jesse.
Jesse Wenick - Should I take over down here in the chicken coop?
First Republic - Well, it looks like the chicken coop is having a little bit of wifi issues, so we'll pass it to John in the garden for now.
Jon - That works for me. Cool. Hello, my name's Jon. I am the garden manager here at Slide Ranch. We have an organic certified garden. It's somewhere around an acre and a half in size, total. That counts this large grove of very old Russian Cypress trees. It counts that small house in the background and some very small orchard space. So all in all, we're cultivating maybe about half of that with vegetables and flowers and other plants for residential use. I have got you guys down here in our lower garden area. And I wanted to show off some of the crops that were growing and some of the maybe unique things about this garden that you wouldn't see at a more production-oriented farm, because we have the luxury of being able to be an educational farm. So, where some practices wouldn't make sense in profitable, like in a profit-driven system, we can do things like let our whole bed of parsley go to flower, and I'm going to cut a piece of parsley off for you and show you guys these parsley flowers. Obviously, this is not really great to eat, it's very tough. I had to cut it with some scissors. You can't really chew on that. It gets a little Woody and bitter. One of the reasons we have this parsley out here still is for the health of the ecosystem of our garden. So this is an organic garden. So we don't use chemicals to control pests or other, to control our pests. So what I'm doing with these flowers is to trying to encourage more biodiversity of insects to come into our garden so that there are more insects here than just the ones that want to eat our crops. So these flowers are going to provide a lot of nectar to our insect friends and having more insects here will hopefully attract some predatory insects. And then those predators can then kind of start to eat some of our aphids and some of our whiteflies and other things that could impact our crops. And that's a great opportunity to teach kids about insects, pollinators, and biodiversity. So right there looks like maybe a little bit of messy bed.
My background is in farming. So when I got here, I saw bolting parsley. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, well, this is a great opportunity to show some of the benefits and some of the ways to think about our crops or our food plants as part of an ecosystem. And part of a way to really think about food production as part of a natural system. Another thing I'm, my iPad is low on battery, but I want to take you guys over to an area. Let's see, flip this around. I take you over to an area where I've intercropped, a couple of plants, and this is a small quantity of plants, but right here, I've got my handy dandy poker here. Right here I've got a lettuce, a couple of different types of lettuce and a Chinese cabbage, this is a Napa cabbage, I've got two of them here. And the reason I've put them together, they look like they're about to run into each other, but I've intercropped them to try and cover as much soil as I can while they're growing. So the lettuce grows a little bit faster than the cabbage. And because of that, the lettuce will cover soil very quickly and it'll be ready to harvest sooner. So these lettuces, you can see there's a lot of soil cover. We don't see a lot of this bare soil on the bed here. These lettuces are close to ready to harvest and conveniently for my demonstration. These cabbages are really close to covering the soil between them. So this is another way we can talk about soil health in the ecosystem. And one of the key aspects of soil health is keeping the soil covered with living plants. And so this is something that I'm trying to do all across this whole space here. There's a lot of different crops that are mixed together. We have corn and some flower crops over here. We've got some spinach and Asian greens down there. And I've just been really have a lot of fun here, experimenting with different intercrops in different ways that these different crops can help each other and fulfill different ecological roles. So, here we have some nice fava beans.
These ones are just starting to bean and you can see they have a lot of flowers on them. This is maybe another situation where classical farm and a more traditional garden would look at this bed and say, well, there's a lot of weeds there, but what I see is biodiversity. And what I see is ladybugs crawling around these guys. And one of our, you know, I'm just going to sound like a broken record here. Biodiversity is super important when we talk about organic farming, because that biodiversity is the backbone of what's going to keep our crops healthy. And so this is just our little few other crops here. We have sorrel, we've got a patch of beats coming in in the middle here. One of the drawbacks, maybe I'd say about biodiversity is an abundance of bird-life. And you can see these plants don't look too happy. Get a little close-up look at those. These ones also are not so happy. This is a fresh crop of broccoli that we tried to plant. And what immediately happened is the birds who are putting on their spring, feather, their spring feathers. I don't know the technical term for it are really hungry right now. And they're looking for delicate tender greens to be eating and turns out our whole garden is full of them. So we have these amazing flocks of quail, and house finches and different types of sparrows that come in and eat all the vegetables we plant. What we're doing for that is just putting on a simple netting. I don't know if the quality of this video is good enough that you can see this netting and that just keeps the birds off. But this is a small price to pay for the smiles that the quails bring and the different benefits that they also.
Kelsey - This is Kelsey with a quick question, if it's okay?
Jon - Absolutely.
Kelsey - So you mentioned, I believe ladybugs earlier and various obviously insects, how do you, without using harsh chemicals, pesticides, things like that, how do you reduce the destruction of bugs, obviously to the plants in a more organic way? Or do you have any recommendations or tips?
Jon - So I talk a lot about insects because my partner is actually an insect conservationist, but my kind of practices with pest control and insect control in particular are a comeback to biodiversity. We did have a crop of fava beans that grew up right before these ones that just got completely invaded by aphids to the point where they basically died. And we didn't get any beans out of there. To me, that's okay. Especially because we have the opportunity to, because we're an educational farm, our house wasn't relying on, we didn't take out a loan to plant those fava beans. So I'm of the opinion that spraying chemicals, even organic chemicals is an absolute last resort to try and save someone who economically really needs to save their business. I just let those fava beans die. And what those aphids did there as they were growing is they attracted ladybugs. And I let those aphids just continue to colonize those fava beans because over the two or three weeks, that those aphids were growing in population, the predatory insects were also growing in population. So providing habitat for beneficial insects, for native insects, and native pollinators is actually my main strategy to control pests. The second strategy is to have really healthy soil and really healthy nutrient cycling. So adding lots of organic matter, lots of compost to our soils is going to keep those plants with the really wrong immune system. And plants just like animals have an immune system that herbivorous or plant-eating insects can actually smell the stress signals from a stressed-out plant. So the second you forget to water a bed of fava beans, the second that some of them begin to rot or lose certain nutrients, those insects that eat those plants are going to smell them first. And they're going to be the first thing on the scene even before the farmer gets out there. So healthy plants, diversity of habitat for insects.
Kelsey - Yeah. That's really helpful. And you mentioned, you know, in case other folks are wondering as well, you mentioned plant coverage was great for soil health. Yeah. Soil health, composting, things like that. Are there other things that you like to incorporate or do to obviously keep the balance going the soil and promote a healthy garden?
Jon - Yeah. So yeah, as a certified organic farm, we do have to follow the guidelines that the USDA puts out there, for general guidelines to promote healthy soil that the USDA publishes. One of them is to try and keep the soil covered as much as possible. So using mulch, using compost, or even using landscape fabric in type. You might be able to way up back there, I've got a black tarp over a bed, and that's a way to keep the soil covered until I'm ready to plant into it. So soil coverage is huge. Keeping living plant roots in the soil. So the more living plants the better, and then actually another big one is animal integration. So you all just met the goats and the sheep. We are blessed here in the garden of Slide Ranch, that we have way more animal manure than we'll ever be able to bring down the hill. And we just apply it heavily all over the place. And that's like pure gold for the soil down in here. So animal integration is a huge one. And then the last one is diversity. So that comes down to crop rotation. Comes down to planting different crops together, planting onions with certain crops will deter insects from eating those crops. And then each of those plants is going to pull slightly different nutrients and have slightly different impacts on the soil. So those are the, that might have been five, actually. Those are the main principles of soil health. Animal integration, soil coverage, living plants, and diversity of plants.
Kelsey - Yeah, no, that's really helpful. And it's just so lovely to see the garden. And so, you know, an attendees wondering, is it true that certain types of plants sort of help the diversity, chemical composition, things like that, and specifically are some plants, like onions and garlic, helpful in keeping unwanted insects away?
Jon - Yeah, so I've definitely noticed onions and garlic can deter certain insects. There is a certain point where if you have a really succulent plant and there's this huge need in the ecosystem around your garden for a really tender young plant to be eaten, those onions and garlic are not going to mask, you know, are not going to protect your plant. But there are a lot of benefits of having strong-smelling herbs. And actually, marigolds are pretty effective at deterring insects, as well as like onions, garlic. I'm hesitant to say certain types of basil because basil can be pretty prone to pest issues itself. So short answer. Yes.
Kelsey - That sounds great. Thank you. Happy to turn it back to you.
Jon - Yeah. Great. So something new this year that I'm really trying to promote is growing a variety of different cut flowers in the garden. In fact, while you guys were meeting the sheep and the goats, I was deadheading this beautiful, big rose bush, that's behind the iPad right now. And so in the spring, you guys have the pleasure of viewing this in this lush green time of the year here. We're really trying to plant a lot of different vegetables as well as different flowers here. And so I don't want to take you as too far off of this because I don't have wifi at the top of the hill, but you can see there are some young sunflowers starting to come up in these beds. I'm surrounding them with sweet peas. You can see way far up the hill, that little patch of pink. We have some sweet geranium and also scented geranium. We have some of our flowers that are, this is our kitchen kind of herb patch. And these sage flowers double as really nice bouquet flowers, and also really fragrant and delicious sage. And then amongst these corn stalks, we've planted some calendula as well as some statice a little bit further back here. And these are just various flowers that can be used in flower arrangements. And this is another component where we can talk about just exposing kids to gardening in ways that's not strictly for food. And, you know, can also just be a form of recreation and enjoyment of just being outside and outdoors here.
Kelsey - Yeah, that's really helpful. I'm sorry, something's happening in my house. Just had a question about fungi actually, and a question from the audience in terms of organic soil, mushrooms being in the soil and wanting to know if it's safe to eat the vegetables, you know, from the soil where the mushrooms were growing. And is it a good practice to pull the mushrooms out or is it okay to leave them in? Would love to hear your thoughts there.
Jon - Sure. I'd say if you have mushrooms growing in your garden bed, good for you. Mushrooms and fungi are usually an indicator of healthy soil. If you are concerned about that mushroom being toxic or poisonous to animals, You can totally like pick it off or cut it off and make sure you wash your hands and wash the produce really well. I would say, don't worry about trying to dig it up, but maybe just pulling or cutting them, because the mushroom is the fruiting body of the fungus. So cutting that off and maybe moving it somewhere else in the garden where you don't have food growing would be my recommendation. If you are worried about toxicity. And then again, washing your produce well, I certainly would eat a head of lettuce raw even if it was coming in contact with a mushroom, as long as it was washed.
Kelsey - Yeah, no, that's really helpful. And then another question back to flowers, things like that. Somebody's interested in the rose you mentioned and what type of species do you have?
Jon - I'm actually not aware of what species it is., I started managing this garden about three months ago and I'm still learning some of the perennials coming out of the weeds as I'm going further up the hill. And some of the species that are out here. So, I actually couldn't tell you.
Kelsey - That's okay. Just wanted to relay the information.
Jon - Yeah.
Maika - Hi, Jon. I do not think it would be possible from where you are maybe to show our living roof because I think it's one of, it's a pretty cool feature also in our garden. The living roof.
Jon - I kind of thought, I flipped the camera around. So this is, this building right in the garden here is our farm-to-table teaching center. And it's one of the newest buildings here at Slide Ranch and up, I'm going to walk over here and see if you can get a cool shot of it. So you can probably see the little Scruff on top of the roof there that's supposed to be there. And actually, I went up there with Jesse who you'll meet later, and we were able to do some weeding up there and we ate some wild strawberries that are growing on top of our roof there. It's seeded with a bunch of native plants that are native to this coastline out here. So that's another great way that we're kind of incorporating habitat for birds, and insects, and other life in our garden.
Maika - Okay. I don’t know if you guys are ready, but we are actually here with our brand new babies, so maybe we'll just go inside and they will say hi to you. Okay. Let's see. So here they are. Our Babies and they're a little bit like a very jumpy, have a lot of high energy and they're all from Dotty's mom. With three different colors. This is our, hard To see.
Natalia - Maybe grab them. This was the first one that was born out of the triplets. She was kind of the smallest one when she was born. And then this one was the second one and yeah, she's just kind of like a regular size, I would say. And then our last one, who's our big boy, he was the only boy out of the three. Yeah, he was the last one. He was kind of big. Yeah. He's the biggest one out of the three. And they're just, they're just great. They're just, I think having fun. And they're here in our separate little pen inside of the barn. So we kind got a perspective of that from like the pasture. This is the second pen they've been in. The first one was a little bit smaller. And then this one is a bit bigger and has a little bit more of enrichment things in here, like the log to climb on and stuff, because as y'all probably have heard, goat kids are very, very, they just really love to climb things. It's just part of like letting out their enrichment and like their energy. So yeah, they have quite a couple of things to climb on here, which is great.
Kelsey - Yeah. Question from the audience. At what age do you pull their horns and how is it done?
Natalia- Yeah, that's a great question. So that process is called disputing and we actually just did that like two weeks ago, the farmers can do it as well. I've never done the process before. So we called our local veterinarian to come to the ranch and do it just a little bit more professionally. And it's basically what they do is they numb the kind of the upper head area, I'll show it. And they kind of just numb this part and then they kind of get like a heating tool. It kind of just looks like a, I don’t know, like a curling ironer and what they do is just basically press it onto the two horned areas to kind of kill all the tissue around the horn. And yeah, and it's kind of just an essential thing to do when they're this young, because when they get older, it would be a lot more of a painful process. So it's essential to do because when they get older, they headbutt a lot, which is very, very normal. It just a thing like to relieve any tension within the herd. But sometimes if the horns can get sensitive and they can probably essentially break. And if that happens, sometimes they could like bleed to death and we just want to avoid all that. So it's just a really great way to do it when they're younger and same thing with castration, it's better to do it when they're younger, because there's less nerves and tension in there.
Kelsey - Yeah. And now we'd like to, you know, we have a little bit less than 10 minutes left and would like to open it up for just any questions sort of throughout the event, but while we're waiting for those to come in, we'd love to hear more about any special care for the young ones that you have to do versus just the normal herd? And how rare or how often do you see triplets?
Natalia - Yeah, that's a great question. It's pretty common to get triplets out of the does. They usually make like one to three goat kids each birth that they have. So this is very common. And I'm sorry, what was the second part of that question again?
Kelsey - Yeah. Just any special care? It looks like potentially there's a heating lamp in there, but maybe that's just the color of the light, but we'd love to know sort of any special care that you've gotta do in addition for the little ones?
Natalia - Yeah, definitely. There's definitely a longer process for them than we have for our lambs here because our lambs just naturally latch onto their mothers. Whereas here, I kind of explained earlier, we separate them from their mother to not latch onto their teats. So we have control of how much Dotty's milk production we'll make for our programs and stuff here. Because we are an educational ranch. So what we do, yeah. And I'll just kind of break down the process again, we separate them from their mom, right when they're born, we'll let the mom still kind of lick off all the placenta and all those, all like kind of that birth goo around. It's also really good for her too. And then we'll put them into a smaller pen and then we will collect the milk from the mother right away to bottle feed the goat kids. And for up to about 70 days, we will hand bottle feed all the goat kids. So they get that nutrients before they get the nutrients from the feed that we have here for our herd. So they'll be in these rooms for a couple more weeks just to kind of be separated from them even latching on to the teat, which they won't do at this point anymore, since we separated them from their mom the first day. But just to kind of accustom themselves to the herd a little bit more just because they are being hand bottle-fed and yeah, we do have a heat lamp here for them as well, because they're not like the sheep where their wool is a big, big warming factor for them at night. For example, our sheep don't even sleep inside the barn, really. They all like to be together. So they'll sleep in the back area of the barn outside. So not inside. And the goats usually will sleep inside because they get a little bit colder than they do. So we just have this heat lamp here in their room just to give them that extra warmth.
Kelsey - Yeah, no, that's wonderful. And so we'll keep an eye on any final questions trickling in, but would love to, you know, we're coming up at the top of the hour and just want to conclude and say, thank you, obviously, to everyone from Slide Ranch, this has been so wonderful. And then obviously to our wonderful attendees as well, and all the wonderful questions that you ask. Yeah. We're just really, really happy that you were able to join us today and want to say thank you.
Natalia - Yeah. Thank you so much for having us.
Jesse - Thanks, everybody. I don't know if you can just say hi to the chickens really quick. I think we have some service down here finally, it was great. I learned a lot from our team and I hope you all did too.
First Republic - Thank you so much for joining us, everyone. Have a great day.