Monthly Archives: August 2009

So Sweet!

NOTE: does anyone know laura hulse? she left something at the farm.

You guys are the best.

I finally shambled off to bed at 10, totally exhausted; I told Bill to put out the campfire when the last of our guests were ready to go home. I woke up this morning to a totally cleaned up garden–and boxes of amazing goodies like a big jar of preserved lemons, pots of yummy jams and chutneys, the best salsa ever (who made that?), fresh Italian plums, Meyer lemons, some distiller’s grains (for the goats!), a cool zine, two (!) bags of coffee, duck prosciutto, bottles of wine, champagne, eggplants and peppers, and the following poem from my neighbor Demetrius:

“I would be remiss if I did not create a new poem for you on this wonderful date, the day you brought this community close by having us trade our ghosts for goats/

Like a beautiful song, natural, a capella, our wonderous farm lady lovely Novella”

Aw! He’s referring to the “Goat Town” t-shirts, which flew off the dirty tables like hotcakes (I have three left, all fairly big sizes).

I had no idea there would be so many people! Based on the number of questionaire cards filled out, there were probably about 500 people over the course of the day. By far, the most popular event was the chicken slaughter workshop. Samin and I were so lucky that someone brought two roosters to cull, so we were able to divide the class in half to allow more people could see. Sorry to those of you who missed it. There will be others.

One thing that made me really happy was that the neighbors came out in droves, despite the heat! Moses stopped by (wearing all black with a straw cowboy hat!); Grandma made peach cobbler (and we raised $100 for her daughter’s college fund); my neighbor D came over and helped serve hibiscus tea and cobbler: G told people where to park their bikes; and I met tons of people who live within a 10 block radius.

Sorry I was so swamped–I wasn’t able to talk to anyone in depth. I learned that next year (or spring), I should have a shade structure and perhaps have docents who can give people guided tours. This morning, I read the informational cards people filled out and was moved by everyone’s enthusiasm and desire to change the way we eat, and start growing our own food. Today I’m braising the chicken Samin butchered, peeking in at the Eat Real Fest, and opening up many of the jars of goodness you all brought–thank you for sharing!

If you filled out a card, I’ll add you to my email list and let you know about upcoming classes and events at Goat Town Farm–of course, I’ll post stuff here, too.

Reminder: Saturday, August 29 and some tips

Hey everyone!

Just a reminder about the farm tour this Saturday, August 29th. Based on recent conversations and comments, I think it’s going to be a totally packed farm on Saturday. To that end, I’d like to suggest a couple things:

-Ride bikes if possible. We won’t have bike valet parking (I wish!) but there’s a good place to park them against the fence in the playfield and on various street signs. If you do drive, don’t park on 28th Street. It’s a dead-end and I don’t want my neighbors to get mad. Best thing is to park on MLK, better to bike.

-Though I had fantasies of cooking fried rabbit soaked in goat buttermilk, that’s just not going to happen, so I thought: potluck! If you are a farmer/gardener, please bring something from your homestead to share. Make a little label telling us where it’s from, how you grew it, etc. Then we can all learn from each other. There is a grill, so we can cook stuff, too.

-Bring water. I’m trying to find one of those construction crew water dispensers, but it might not pan out. So best thing is to bring a water bottle.

-GhostTown schwag. If you’re interested, I’ll be selling copies of my book, t-shirts (Goat Town), and small plates of goat cheese/tomato/olives. There’s a good chance my neighbor, aka Grandma, is going to make peach cobbler, too.

-Volunteers. I might need 2 or 3 volunteers to act as docents (directing people where to park their bikes, signing people in, etc). Let me know if you can help–just email me at novellacarpenter at

Yay! Can’t wait to see you.

For Sale: Three Goats

Okay, I’m starting to feel like I’m swimming in goats in my backyard. The kids are now 3 months old and should be sold to good homes. I’m having trouble letting go, but I know it’s best for everyone involved. I’ve decided to sell Orla, my first freshener, her daughter Milky Way, and her half sister, Hedwig, the horned mini la Mancha.

A little bit about them:

Orla was born on the farm March 17, 2008 (white goat at the top of the stairs). Her papers from the National Dwarf Goat Association are pending (I’m so lazy about registering!). She is very sweet and cuddly and is a beautiful white goat without horns. This spring, she gave birth to two twin girls without problem. Though she has wonderful body formation, her milk production has been disappointing (this is why I’m selling her). I would recommend her as a pet or as breeding stock. $100.


Hedwig was born on the farm May 1, 2009. She’s a blend of Nigerian Dwarf and La Mancha, and as a hybrid, can’t be registered. She has very strong dairy characteristics. She also has horns, and so would not be appropriate for people with small children. I had thought she was a hermaphrodite, but am fairly sure she is indeed a girl. She’s really smart and cool, like a dog. $50.


Milky Way is a dream goat, born on the farm May 5, 2009. She has very good character and great milk lines on her father’s side. She might be a champion milker! She’s not registered but I can get her registered once her mom, Orla, is registered. She is very small and cuddly, pictured here at two weeks old. $150.


What you should know:

Goats need friends, that is why I’m selling these three together. You’ll need a backyard or farm with a good fence, protection from predators, a goat loafing area, plenty of water, and good hay (alfalfa and grass hay). The goats also like tree branches, leaves, jade plant. So you should know they will also freely eat your trees and bushes. I recommend separating them from the garden. The ideal is that you won’t eat these goats, they have been raised as pets.

If no one steps up for the goats, I’ll have to put them on craigslist. But I’d rather know the buyer so I can give advice and visit the goats and see how they are progressing. I’m especially curious how Hedwig and Milky will be as milkers.

Email me directly if you are interested and want to know more:

novellacarpenter at gmail dot com.

Open Farm Tour, Food, and Demos: August 29

FYI: no need to RSVP!

I’m really excited about the Eat Real Festival to be held in Oakland August 28-30. There’s going to be sustainably-raised meat taco trucks, dinners held at restaurants that feature produce from urban farms like City Slicker and People’s Grocery, ice cream cones and a beer garden.

A lot of people have emailed me to say they’re coming to town for the festival and they’d like a tour of Ghosttown Farm. So I figured, hell, let’s make a whole day of it, with demonstrations, tours, bookselling, and a campfire where I burn all the wood and branches that have accumulated on the property. And it’ll be a good excuse for me to clean-up the damn place. And you can all laugh at my pink and red house (thank you my landlord).

Here’s the schedule:


Chicken Slaughter Workshop

Many people who keep chickens recognize that one day they will need to cull a member of their flock. In this demo we will show best practices for killing the bird humanely, how to pluck, clean, and rest the bird for the dinner table. Chef Samin Nosrat will then demonstrate how to butcher a chicken quickly and efficiently into eight pieces and make a rich stock with its carcass. The class will also include a cooking demonstration with tips on how to season, roast, braise and grill so that you can extract maximum flavor from your backyard bird, as well as recipes for using all the offal, heads and feet so that none of your bird goes to waste.


Farm Tour and book signing

I will give a tour of the farmlette, telling the story of GhostTown Farm, which has played host to turkeys, ducks, geese, and pigs. It now features rabbits, chickens, bees, and goats. I can sign copies of Farm City and books will be for sale.


Farm Snacks

Just-picked food from the garden will be plated up and served a la carte in the garden. Items will depend on what’s ripe in the garden but most likely will include heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, green beans, homegrown eggs, goat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and local honey. Donations are encouraged.


Goat How-to

Many city people are becoming more interested in goat husbandry. I’ll explain how I raise my goats, the trials and tribulations of goat ownership, and give a hands-on demonstration of how to milk a Nigerian Dwarf goat, and a demo of how to trim hooves.


Farm Tour, II

Same thing, different time.


Open Grill

Bring something from your farmstead (or the store) to drink and grill. We’ll have a campfire and a bbq set up for whatever you want to cook. Mostly, though, we’ll just relax and meet each other, and talk about the day’s events with a big smile.

Here it is in a nutshell:

what: GhostTown Farm Tour, Food and Demo

where: 665 28th street, oakland, ca (at mlk)

when: Saturday, August 29, 10am-10pm, see sked above for exact times

how much: free, but donations gladly accepted