Only hours before Pesach Seder was to begin, Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Conference & Retreat Center in rural Reisterstown had a real, live Chad Gadya to sing about. One little goat, one kid. גַדְיָא חַד. No zuzim changed hands. Just joyful looks of awe and inspiration were exchanged as members of the Kayam Farm community gathered in the animal pasture to watch and assist the awaited birth of the first “kid” ever born at Kayam. On April 4, 2012, Sweet Muzette, our first doe of our first kidding season ever to go into labor, gave birth to a healthy baby boy (a “buckling” in goat-speak). And just one. Not a twin, not a triplet. Not a quadruplet. Just one little goat, one kid. Chad Gadya. Just in time for Pesach.
April 4 was a Wednesday, two days before the first night of Seder. Pesach preparations were well underway: in the Pearlstone kitchen, in the Pearlstone dining room, in the lodge and in cabins, and in the Kayam Farm fields, as far as eyes could see, all over the 164-acre bucolic campus that Kayam Farm shares with Pearlstone and Camp Milldale, on Mt. Gilead Road in rolling hills off Hanover Pike. Today, everyone was getting ready for Pesach, the most well-attended, usually sold-out event on Pearlstone’s annual calendar. More than 150 guests soon would arrive, many to stay for a full week of Passover Seders and communal meals, learning, nature walks, socializing, family gatherings, farm and wellness workshops, craft activities, outings to Washington and Baltimore museums, and generally enjoying one another, and the unseasonably mild spring weather.
Just steps away, in the Kayam Farm Animal Pasture, Sweet Muzette, a pregnant, Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat, was also getting ready for Pesach. How thoughtful of her to begin her labor early in the morning and then to deliver her single buckling baby while the sun still shone, sparing us what could have been an all-night vigil in the midst of Passover preparations. By midday, as Sweet Muzette’s labor progressed, her supportive onlookers — conflicted by the need to leave soon to travel to distant family for the holiday, yet wanting more than anything to stay put to see Muzette give birth — shared a collective sigh of relief that the birth was near. The time of delivery? A civilized 4 p.m. Unnervingly close, but still two days before Pesach. Within minutes after his birth, Kayam’s new buckling stood up on wobbly legs, looked around, was licked clean by his doting mom, and then instinctively rooted (and finally found) the font of mother’s milk that brought a contented grunt and a satiated, well-earned nap. All in a day at Kayam Farm.
It was less than a year ago, that Kayam started its first dairy goat-herd. We now have five dairy goats who share pasture grazing rights in rotation with a diverse flock of about 110 free-range, pasture-fed hens, from which farm staff and volunteers hand gather more than 5 dozen eggs every day. This Passover, 35 dozen of the farm’s eggs graced Pearlstone’s Seder plates and were served at Passover meals. Kayam’s colorful, blue, white, brown and other colored heritage eggs by the dozen are also available to CSA subscribers for weekly pickup and community delivery and are for sale at the farm office, as well.
So, haven’t you always wanted to learn how to milk a goat? And play with baby goats? Make chevre? Gather freshly laid, still-warm eggs from the coop? Show your children where food really comes from? Come visit Kayam and join us this summer for milking, cheese-making, and animal workshops, as well as team building activities and many multicultural and Judaic educational farm programs, too.