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Our Girls are Home, and We Hope, Expecting
Our girls, Izzie and Kara, are home from their mating holiday.  We know that they got lots of ‘action’ and hope that they are pregnant: we should have babies at The Goats’ Garden in October!girls are home  It is so good to have them home, we missed their sweet dispositions, their calm demeanor and affectionate gazes.
We Meet Doffen and Plan Babies
This past week we got to go out to Doffen’s farm and meet him and his owners.   What a beautiful spot.   Doffen’s ‘folk’ have several acres including both forest and pasture, leading down to a small lake on an island, but close to Tønsberg, the oldest town in Norway and now a small city of about 42,000 people.   What a lovely place to live, and what a fantastic life for Doffen!   There are two other female dwarf goats there, one who has just given birth and one who may do so any day now.doffen 1 Doffen (left) and a pregnant doe.

Doffen was personable but not cosy with us- of course, we had just met him, and he clearly has some pride!  He is still a teenager, less than a year old, but male african dwarf goats can handle the task at hand when they are only a few months old, as the recent birth of babies on his farm shows!  We noticed how much smaller he is than our girls-  I think Kara may give him a run for his money!  But he is so beautiful, and also gentle.

We took a rag and I tried to get close enough to Doffen to rub it on him, but he was having none of that.   Finally, I put some goat kibble in it and let him eat from it.  When we got home we hung the rag up on the gate.  Kara didnt take much interest, but Izzie rubbed all over it and pulled it to the ground.    Female dwarf goats go into heat about every 21 days, for just a couple of days.  We discussed our strategy and decided the best thing is to board our girls there for a month, to be sure they have been in heat and been serviced.  A month!  I don’t know if I can stand that- I will have to go and visit a few times!

doffen 4 Doffen in his enclosure.

I worry that our girls might not get along with the two other females, especially the one doe who is pregnant, so we decided to wait until after she has given birth.   Our girls will not be on their own territory, so hopefully they will not be agressive, but if they are frightened, I tnink especially Kara might be hard to handle.   We will not know until we try!

This is all so exciting and new to us, and obviously it will be new to our girls too.   If all goes well we will have our girls down in Tønsberg in the next month or so.  I hope they will love the beautiful place, the contact with other goats, and of course, Doffen!

A Suitor for Our Girls!We have found a suitor for our girls!  Doffen is 3-4 years old and lives in Vestfold county.  In Norway, goats cannot cross county lines, so the challange has been to find a suitable African Dwarf goat race to breed our girls.


I get to go meet Doffen this week.  After that, the trick is to get the girls down to him when they are in heat.   African dwarf does go into heat about every 21 days.   When I visit Doffen, I will take a rag that I will rub over him, and then bring it back and hang it in our goat shed.  When the girls go crazy over it, I will know they are ready- then it is into the car, down to the farm, where hopefully Doffen will do the rest!  Gestation is 5 months, so we will greet our new babies in the early fall, if all goes to plan.   How exciting!


We finally have some snow in Southern Norway! It has been so unseasonably warm this entire winter that we wondered if it would ever snow.   I walked home in the stillness from and enjoyed the house glowing in the in winterWe might even get a chance to do some cross country skiing on the fields behind our house if it doesn’t melt.

cross country ski run outside house  We lit up the fire in the sauna and had a soak with the snow all around!


It’s not too early to plan!  Horten’s Live Viking Market has announced it will be back again this summer!  I still have some fantastic pine syrup I  bought there last summer, which I will use for Christmassy cookies and biscuits.

Organizers are taking applications for market participant already starting in January:  it should be another great market!

viking market



Local Christmas markets are starting up, and there is much to see and buy that is locally and made and of excellent quality.   This weekend  the market at Karljohansvern took place, but if you missed that, you can still find lots of wonderful items at Karljohan in the shopes atGarasjeTorget.  GarasjeTorget literally means the Garage Plaza- what were once garages used by the navy base on Karljohan have been converted into tiny, cozy shops at the far end of the road leading into the Preus Photo Museum and past the famous submarine.  I am not one for shopping, and when I do, it is usually at used stores, but at GarasjeTorget you can always find the types of treasures you would never find in a department store or a mall.  Some of my favorites are:

Original stuffed animals at Lene’s MoR (Myk og Rar means soft and rare)  Lene models her fantastic designs after drawings made by children with cancer.  You will never see another stuffed animal like this, ever (unless it’s one of Lenas!)  Lene animals BRM Strikk offers these wonderful warm fleeced blankets:  warm blanket and these wonderful goblets are from the Pikilia Handwork shop:  pikiliaIf you are around Horten in the weeks leading up to Christmas, a trip down to Garasjetorget is a must!  When you are done shopping, or for a break inbetween, have lunch or supper at Cafe No. 10  ( Nummer Ti, in Norwegian, so named, of course, because it is housed in the 10th garage spot!

Hope to see you in Horten this Christmas!


If you are interested in an ecological holiday a good place to start is    This site lists homes and holiday venues around the world.   The Goats’ garden is listed on the site, and is in fact the only organic venue listed in Norway.

In addition, The Goats’ Garden is listed under Eco Hotels of the World with 5 stars.   Eco Hotels give stars based on ratings of energy, water, disposal, eco-action, and protection.   The Goats’ Garden has been listed with 5 stars and has been given the Eco Hotels seal of approval:

eco hotels of the world

Since we were given the rating, we have made even more upgrades to our property and ecology, putting in a Biovac, biological septic system, additional composting, and new organic gardens.  We are the only Norwegian listing on this site also.     Here is our rating description on EcoHotels:

Green Star Rating Results:
For more information on how these work click here
Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5)

Energy Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Staff Comment – Our home is heated mostly with wood. We have a wood stove in the kitchen and in the living room, and a ceiling fan in the living room to direct extra heat upstairs. The house is well insulated and we have two and three layer glass in all windows. We use low energy bulbs throughout the house and staff are aware of the necessity to turn off lights and appliances whenever possible. We use electric appliances sparingly; we have an energy saving vacuum machine and use energy saving settings on the washing machine and dishwasher. We air-dry all clothes, towels, and linens. Guest rooms have an electric panel with a thermostat and day night electricity sinking. We provide a guest guide to the thermostat and to saving electricity in general, and our staff and management are trained and aware of energy saving. We use a service of our local electricy authority that allows us to choose to buy alternative energy.

Water Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – We have our own non-chemical septic tank and our own well. We use compost and water conservation methods in our ecological gardens. We reuse spent water from the goats or from the house in the gardens. We use ecological cleaning products and organic toiletries. We change sheets and towels only on demand. Staff are aware of water saving measures, turn off taps when not in use, use the washing machine on eco settings, use the dishwasher only when full. We have signs in the bathroom reminding guests to use water sparingly and have an ecological manifesto in the rooms with the room literature. Guests are advised to use showers instead of baths, and we have a written water saving memorandum in guest rooms. Guests may use ‘family cloth’ optional cloth wipes instead of toilet paper, if they choose; we provide wet bags for used family cloth and wash these for our guests.

Disposal Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – We avoid as much waste as possible by buying only what we need. As much as possible we buy from local farms or use our own home grown products thus avoiding packaging. We shop with cloth bags and take care to buy organic products in ecological packaging. We sort all waste and advise guests on sorting waste as well. Guests are advised to use the recycle bins and the compost bin. We sort guest waste from the guest room bin ourselves when we clean the rooms if they have not done this themselves. We sort foodstuff, paper, plastic, metal, and glass. We have our own compost and compost all compostable material for the garden. We also have a second business called ‘Carbon Free Creations’ that recycles used clothing and other products into new clothes, accessories, toys, and other products. Everything is used, and scraps are used to provide stuffing for stuffed animal creations. Any used towels, sheets and so on are also recycled through our Carbon Free Creations. We do not use disposable tableware,etc, although we are experimenting with edible plates and cups, and handmade recycled paper plates and containers.

Eco-Active Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – The owner and staff are members of our local Transition Initiative and we are active in community projects such as Incredible Edible, Freecycle, and organic planting, as well as Film nights featuring films to increase ecological awareness in our local town. We work together with local permaculture and seed saving organizations and take part in lectures and presentations held by local organizations such as MaJoBo (Food,Earth and Living) and Fremtid I Våre Hender (The Future in Our Hands) and NaturForbunet (the Nature Foundation) We are members of a local farm cooperative and get many of our vegetables from there or from our other neighbours. All profits from our Bed and Breakfast are deposited in the Cultura Bank, a local bank that funds ecological projects. Our blog and PR material emphasize our environmental priorities and practices, and guests are invited to join in activities if they like. All our PR material, envelopes, etc. are made of recycled paper. We offer pick up from our local airport in our electric car, which has mileage offset with credits for renewable energy from our local energy provider. We have made a commitment to offset air travel of overseas guest to our Bed and Breakfast by planting trees on our property and buying credits through We encourage the use of trains and will pick up and deliver guests at the local train station. We can loan out bicycles and encourage use of public buses. In our home we use ecological cleaning products, microfiber cloth, organic sheets, towels, and toiletries, and fully organic meals.

Protection Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – We are dedicated to living as locally as possible. We source food, accessories, and vintage furniture from local farms, from local organic initiatives, and from local recycle shops. We protect our own land from pesticides and support the practice in our area. We grow organic food and share our seed locally. We aim to plant local perennial plants as well as plants localized through seed saving and selection. We advertise local events such as the annual Viking festival, the Roots and Reggae festival, and other music events as well as local products, in our in-room literature. We have a variety of Norwegian and other art, books, and music in our home. We are a bilingual home. We make local products available for sale at the location and advice guests of where they can find local handcrafts in the immediate local area as well as in the town.



It’s blustery today, but inside it is warm and cosy by the fire.  Curl up in this comfortable wicker chair and read a book!  Tea is on the stove, too.

wicker chair no flowers

This wicker chair is handmade-( by me, actually).   Skovestuen Pil, (pil is the Norwegian word for wicker) is a small wicker farm in Vestfold Norway, which sells wicker and also offers classes in basket making and in chair building .  It took two days and the  patient direction of Lars at the Bendwood chair course to saw, screw bend, and nail each piece of wood and length of wicker into place.  there were just 5 of us on the course, and an amazing comraderie among us as we worked.  By the end of the day on Sunday I was bone tired (it is much more physically taxing that one would think, to bend and turn this way and that, while pounding in each tiny nail) but I was also happy to the core. Here is a photo from Skovestuen Pil’s website, of Lars working on a chair:

wicker chair course   Here is the website:    It was such an amazing experience.  This chair is not perfect, but it is the first piece of furniture I ever made myself.  It is so much more fulfilling to rest in a chair that you have laboured over yourself.

wicker chair

We covered the chair seat and ottoman with vintage embroidered  pillow covers from David’s mom- they look fantastic with the natural wood, and the clay nepalese elephant candle holders on the right.   With a full library of  books to read, we are ready for warm and cozy nights.


Birthday Dinner
I came home to dinner at The Goat’s Garden! – the best organic restaurant around!  Beet soup followed by chickpea and chard curry, organic walnut icecream with natural, raw, handmade chocolate.  yum.  yum.  yum, thank you David.
goats garden dinner
Who Are You All? 
I have just found out that I can go back and find statistics about who has visited The Goats’ Garden, and I have learned that hundreds, almost a thousand of you have been here, from all over the world!  Mostly from Norway, but also the United States, Brazil, The U.K., Australia, Denmark, The Netherlands, The Russian Federation, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Austria, Hong Kong, and more-42 different countries all together and from all continents.  Who are you all, I wonder, and what brings you here?  Do you love goats, as I do?  Do you love gardening, good food, travel, or Norway?  What peaks your interest, and what would you like to know more about?  Drop me a note and let me know who you are, and how you came to visit.  And if you visit in person, we will sit and have a coffee, or a tea, or whatever you like, in the garden. I’m looking forward to meeting you!
Almost Home!
I’ve been away from my goats and garden all summer, following a master’s course in Education in Mallorca. Wouldn’t you know it’s been the most lovely summer in Norway, with weeks of sunny days and temperatures in the high 20s and up to 35 degrees! My goat girls have been naughty, too- they seem to find endless ways to get outside the fence and nibble on trees and plants in the garden- I guess they really do think its all theirs!I can’t wait to get home tomorrow and see them all again; I know the babies have grown up- I hope they remember me! Here is a picture David took to cheer me up when I was missing them:the goats garden goats in garden
You would think with all those lines of electric fencing they would stay inside, but no, they just jump over!  🙂
Horten Viking Market with Viking Life  July 4-6
The  Viking Festival with a three day authentic re-enactment of viking life is a highlight of the summer.  Viking aficionados from all over the world come to take part, living in tents, recreating viking craft and dress, and engaging in mock battles, music, and drama performances.  A full scale Viking market takes place at the same time over the three days.  If you are interested in Viking history, Viking craft, or just a splendid time, this is a must-see!  If you need a place to stay, we have rooms available- please email.  Welcome!
Horten’s Roots and Reggae Festival is back!
Horten’s Roots and Reggae festival is back for the second year!  For great music, great food, and a great atmosphere, come and visit Horten from 20 to 21 June, 2014.   If you need a place to stay, we may still have one room available- send an email.  See you there! 
Organic Appetizers, Mediterranean Style.stuffed vine leaves  Organic appetizers for Ådne’s confirmation-  100 percent organic, home made dough and puff pastry with organic flour and butter, and  home gathered or local ingredients (well except the olives- still haven’t figured out how to grow olives in Norway!)   Mediterranean inspired stuffed grape leaves, spinach rolls, mini cucumber salads, chorizo sausage in blankets, avocado, cheese and tomato spears with fresh basil, humus filled red pepper with black olives, curried deviled eggs and green olives with pimento.It was surprisingly easy to make puff pastry!  I discovered that my new pasta machine doubles as a puff pastry roller.  The trick is to keep all the ingredients cold, and fold and fold and fold.  I had so much fun doing these appetizers, and channeling my inner Greek for a uniquely Norwegian event.


We Name Our Goats, and They Pose for a Picture!

So we have finally named our new baby goats- they are a month and a half old, and growing so fast!  Meet all three generations in one shot:  a rare picture with all our goats posing for the camera at the same time.  Grandma Dina is in the front right of the shot, while her daughter, Lucky, is behind her, surrounded by Dina’s daughter Izzie, and Lucky’s daughters, now named Kara and Ajla.

the goats garden three generations

Name Our Goats!
the goats garden name my goats izzie??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????  ???????????????????????????????We still have not decided on names for two of our goat babies.  The first one that you see here, who I am holding, is Izzie.  She is Dina’s daughter and has Dina’s very sweet and friendly personality.The other two little ones are Lucky’s twins.  Early on I named the one lower down, with the darker face, Oscar, thinking she was male.  She is not!  The tiniest one, and the shyest, is the one in the top of the picture of the two together.  She is the most likely to cry, and the most likely to run from us.   I tend to call her ‘cutie’, but that is not a final name, and I have no other name in mind.  Can you help us name our goats?

who knew- raviolis made simple!

I used to have a pasta press- I loved making my own fresh pasta.  After I moved to Norway, I got out of the habit of making pasta; it just seemed like too much work and too much time.  But yesterday, I got a hankering for raviolis.  I just happened to have the left overs of a cheese aperitif: creamed cottage cheese, sun dried tomatoes, more cream cheese, ramsløk pure ( a wild, garlic flavored shallot), and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.  Then, on my way home, Gina stopped me and handed me three fresh eggs from her hens.  The plot thickened.

goats garden ginas eggs

I needed some organic spelt flour, salt, and olive oil, all available in my cupboard.  I discovered it was amazingly easy to make the dough (two cups flour, three eggs, one tsp olive oil and one tsp salt, divide it in two, and roll out a large rectangle.  Then I dropped spoonfuls of the cheese mixture at regular intervals onto the dough, rolled another rectangle to place on top, and cut the raviolis into squares.  while I was rolling the dough, I set a bag of frozen tomatoes from last years’ garden into scalding water.  I peeled the skins and cut out the stem ends, then cooked them up into a quick tomato sauce with olive oil, garlic, onion,and some herbs:

goats garden tomatosauce Finally, I tossed the ready raviolis into boiling water (the water I had scalded the tomatoes in, actually), boiled up each batch for two minutes or so until the raviolis floated to the top, ladled the tomato sauce over them, and added some dried oregano:

goats garden ravioli

The picture seems to have come out sideways, but the raviolis came out great!  Now that I know how easy it is to make and roll the dough, I can experiment with all kinds of fillings, and have a fresh ravioli meal ready in under an hour.  Amazing, I always thought I had to buy these things, or that it would take hours to make by hand.

The Goat Babies Explore Outside

goats garden babies outside

The snow has finally melted enough that the little ones can venture outside and nibble on tender new grass.  They love jumping up on the rocks and capering around, but I am still a little afraid to let them outside by themselves.  There are hawks in the area, and there could be dogs or foxes.  Could a hawk really take one of them?  I’m not willing to take the chance, so I play goatherd when I can, and send them back in.  I wish I could spend all day outside with them!

This shot was taken at dusk, so it is a bit dark, but you can see how much they have grown!  Now I am looking forward to more light and more warmth, so they can stay out longer.

yum! organic avocado!

I found organic avocados at the local ICA shop!  They are notoriously bad at stocking organic veggies- I bought lots so they would know there is plenty of demand.  My lunch this afternoon is organic guacamole on organic high energy spelt toast with tomatoes, olives, and parsley garnish.

goats garden avocado

February Slush

The weather is much warmer than usual for February, making the snow in to a soggy mess.  It was 3.5 degrees at 6:00 in the morning today.  I went out to the goats in my pajamas!  With the weather this warm, I can open up the shed and let the little ones play ‘in and out’. They chase each other wildly back and forth over the door jam and front step. I sat inside yesterday with my back against the pen wall and Izzie would race in, jump up on me, nibble my face, and then rush out again to join her cousins.  Or nephews, more accurately, since Dina, her mom, is Lucky’s mom too.  They are both bucks, I think, which is really sad, because it means we will have to give them away when they are about 2 months old.  I have had several requests, and I think I can find them good homes, but I was so hoping for more girls I could keep.  More pictures to follow!

And Then We Were Three

goat lucky's babies

Lucky’s New Babies

Lucky greets her two new babies!  She had been complaining all day, but had finally quieted down for a while, so I decided to go in and get something to eat.  When she started up again it was very loud and very insistent-  I ran out to the shed again, and found two babies in a pool of blood behind her- one was face down in the goo.  I pulled her out, shouting to David through the baby monitor.  He and Gina arrived at the same time, threw me towels and gave advice.  I had a hard time getting the second baby to take the teat; Gina tried as well and finally both babies got some of the very important first colostrum.  Lucky is such a great mom!  She took to the babies immediately, and also allowed me to move around her, put her babies to the teat, massage her udder.  It was hard to believe she would not let me touch her in those places before she gave birth.  It is so amazing to see the amazing bond that grows between a goat mother and her goat babies!

Izzie Joins Us

.Izzie joins us

No better place to start this new blog, I think, than with the birth of our first goat kid.  Dina gave birth this morning to a beautiful little girl.  This has been on the plans for two years now; we look forward to fresh goat milk, halloumi, parmesan, and other goat cheeses!  Of course, Izzie gets her fair share of the milk first!

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