Swiss Frau Farm is a 16 acre farm at the very center of Herman Center Wisconsin. This farm was historically the central farm where all the threshing was done for the area. Our barn is a traditional Wisconsin dairy barn with the lower level partly underground to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. According to Bender Builders who did some of the restoration on the barn it was probably built in the 1880’s as the beams are all hand hewn. The house is a Queen Anne Victorian built around 1905 for Franz and Emma Zerbel. Emma Zerbel grew up on this farm and was born in the little homestead house in 1873. We have been working on restoring the homestead house and it is now our store, honey extracting room and a room for soap making.
We raise American Toggenburg and Saanen dairy goats. We are not a commercial dairy. Our goats are disease free and regularly tested. We have a closed herd and practice biosecurity to maintain a healthy herd. CAE prevention is practiced on the farm. We use our goat’s milk to make our own cheese, sherbet and use the milk in our goat’s milk soaps. All of our goats wear bells from Switzerland. This recreates my favorite part of Switzerland which is the regular sound of bells from every region.
We have a variety of bells for the goats. This bell is called a treicheln. It is bronze and fabricated in Switzerland. This is my favorite goat bell. There are at least five different styles of bells used here and they all have a different sound. I can tell who is who by the sound of the bells. I always know where my goats are and whether they are grazing contentedly or running in fear of something. The queen goat (Morning Glow Rose of Sharon, AKA Rosli) wears a hand crafted bell that I bought at the Olma which is the Swiss agricultural festival in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The yearlings wear the high pitched distance bells. We even have baby Swiss bells to get the young doelings used to the sound and experience of wearing a bell. Only in Switzerland can I find replacement parts for the bells and the variety of sizes and sounds and styles.
We occasionally raise Jumbo Rock Cornish hens for meat. They are raised on pasture and are slow growing chickens. We have laying hens and Pilgrim geese. Pilgrim geese are rare and on the endangered list for domestic farm geese. The males are always white and the females are gray and white. Generally they are kept in trios, 2 females to one male.
My husband is the bee keeper on our farm. We sell honey and currently are adding more hives. We use our own honey in the soaps. Honey, like goat’s milk is a natural humectant. This means that it helps hold moisture to the skin. Honey is a natural antibacterial as well.
We have a small orchard and a cider press. We grow all of the hay we feed the goats.
Our goats produce about 6 gallons of milk a day at peak. They start out slowly and peak in production at about 6-8 weeks lactation. Goat’s milk is the most compatible milk to the human body. It is very good for infants and people of all ages. It digests in 20 minutes as opposed to 2 hours or more for cow’s milk. It also has very small fat globules, in fact 9 times smaller than cows milk fat globules. Also it is beneficial for people with acid reflux and skin ailments.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH 6 GALLONS OF MILK A DAY?
Well, of those 6 gallons 4 go back to the kids for their nourishment. I feed kids 3 times a day either by bottle or with a lambar feeder which is a bucket with 10 nipples on it. Some of the milk goes for soap making and this still leaves a lot of milk left over. Once a week I make yogurt or cheese. I use 3 gallons of milk at a time to make a batch of cheese. We now milk year around so we have milk readily available all winter.