“WE SELL WHOLE GOATS”… certainly catches the eye. At least the eye of a beard-insulated, future farm owning, pragmatic chef. Magnetically, I was drawn to the stand of Toboton Creek Farm at the U-district farmers market. A few days later I was a small goateposit’s worth poorer. Two weeks later, yet again, my bank account lessened by the value of a small goat-payment. The upside was three-fold:
1) Walking through the farmers market while curious citizens and stand-tenders gazed at the two goat legs poking out of a trash-bag. I specifically remember a woman serving Naan, near the northwest exit, shouting to me “at least you don’t look suspicious!”
2) Butchering Maxwell Copper-Bottom, the chosen name of the goat, from whole animal to the parts that I wanted: a neck, legs, two shanks, shoulders, sirloins, tenderloins, offal meats, and bones.
Sarawack Goat Shoulder Curry w/ red camarang & white rice
Goat Shoulder Taco’s w/ Salsa Verde
Goat Aspic w/ goat neck and cherries
Mustard & Apricot Glazed Goat Leg w/ red onion, butternut, feta, and orzo salad
Greek Herbed Rubbed Goat Leg w/ orzo salad from one menu item above
Seared Loin & Tenderloin, w/ chermoula and minted yogurt dipping sauce
Goat Sausage spiced w/ cumin, chile d’arbol, coriander, red wine & cinnamon.
Goat Kidney & Liver pate w/ balsamic syrup, cornichons, fig jam, and whole grain mustard
Warmed Rustic Bread
Potato & Dill Salad
My culinary magnet led me to further discourse with one of the owners of Toboton Creek Farm, Lynda Kofford-Di Ciccio. This time the words “Muscovy duck” and “slaughter weight” were thrown around. Cut to me a few weeks later in Lynda’s car, driving to her farm in Yelm.
After retiring from their respective nursing and teaching professions, Lynda and Dan bought the farm 12 years ago. Of their 40 or so acres only a very small percentage is not left untouched for pastureland. When rolling through the gate to the farm you see Lynda and Dan’s small house, their two story generic barn on the right, and their feeding lot that they describe as “organized chaos”.
When the email was sent out that the pens would be organized into bucks, does, show goats, and kids, the chickens and ducks must have been playing angry birds on their Ipoult. They imperturbably floated from pen to pen laying eggs where they want and disregarding the needs of anyone else.
Behind the pens is a vast pastureland bequeathing its worms, grass, insects, streams and dense foliage to the needs of the animals, whose unclipped wings made catching them akin to a three stooges episode.
In the mornings, Dan leisurely feeds the goats, and picks up any eggs that he can find in the feeding bins or on the ground. Lynda would scrub the eggs of which I was able to see the massive ethereal white duck eggs, the pale green Araucana chicken eggs, and the shining dark chocolate Black Copper Maran eggs.
When going out to feed their Old Spot pig, Dan must cross what I call the vast “Sea of Cuteness”. A thirty-foot stretch stockpiled with two-week old kids whose sole purpose in life is turn the 8 second walk into a 5 minute “baa-fest”. À la The Grinch, my heart expanded three sizes when dozen of these soft and fluffy cherubs of the farm made a concerted effort to scale each other and my legs to get to my potential food-giving hands.
The amazing thing about Lynda and Dan is they raise animals to make the animals’ life happy first and foremost. They see their goats, chickens, and eggs as an extension of their farm and land, not as a product of their farm or land. Their four dogs run around and aren’t easy to wrangle, their chickens and ducks fly, fertilize, and lay wherever they want, and their goats spend their day lazing around eating while gazing into you innermost thoughts and feelings. All Lynda and Dan do is clean up after them. They spread their feces for fertilizer, collect their eggs for food, and take care of the goats needs, which of course further philosophize about the meaning of your life.
“We always thought this is what a farm was”
Lynda put it nicely, when she said “you try and get them to do what you want, but they’re animals too and if they don’t want to they’re not going to”. Their laissez faire style of farm management yields healthy, lively, beautiful, disease free, happy animals.
Having said all that, they do slaughter over-aggressive turkeys, of-weight ducks, and old hens. So I found myself, knife in one hand and Muscovy Duck in another, about to take that much forgotten step in turning duck into that delicious confit you enjoy so much. I could feel both my blood and the Muscovy’s blood coursing through our bodies when I made the cut. My knees jellied a little, but my grip held, and a few minutes later it was over. By “…it was over” I really mean that I missed the second artery and didn’t realize it until I came back from washing my hands and was mortified to see the first duck I ever “slaughtered” had hopped out of its cone. I was determined to not make any-more mistakes and finished the rest of the ducks without incident…phew. After bleeding we, scalded, plucked, and cleaned the ducks before I had to get back to Seattle. Lynda and Dan sent me home with a whole Muscovy and a few dozen duck and chicken eggs. Here are some more pics of from the farm sans the bloody slaughter.