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Egg-glut Recipe #3 - Egg Drop Soup

Egg-glut Recipe #3 - Egg Drop Soup

This might be the easiest one yet!  We modified a recipe from allrecipes. Their recipe calls for chives. We didn't have any, so we used green onions.  We also didn't add the food coloring or thicken the soup with corn starch like they suggested.  And we quadrupled the recipe so there would be enough soup to serve 4.  Here's how Vivi did it:

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups chicken broth

1.5 TBS soy sauce

1.5 TBS sesame oil

4 eggs beaten

1 bunch of green onions

salt to taste

pepper to taste

 

First chop up green onions.  Save some of the greens to garnish soup.  

Saute the onions in sesame oil. (This part is different from Allrecipes.)

Pour the chicken broth into saucepan.

Put saucepan with broth on burner, add soy sauce and sauteed green onions/sesame oil to the broth

Beat 4 eggs while waiting for broth mixture to boil.

Add beaten eggs to boiling broth mixture, slowly and gently. 

It's done!  Now to serve it up.  Pour into bowls and garnish with left-over greens from the green onion.

ENJOY!

 

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Egg-glut recipe #2 - Greek Quiche

Got Eggs? It's spring, so our hens are getting busy and we have a glut! Here's Gio's second idea of what to do with a surplus of eggs. Today he made us Greek Quiche.  While there are more than 4 ingredients to this recipe, it's still fairly simple for a young cook to prepare. I've found that implementing the "Mise en Place" technique of having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking is very helpful when teaching kids how to cook. To be clear, he did all his own prepping. I'm basically the paparazzi and am available as questions come up. FYI: goggles aren't optional. Makes for lots of smiles in the kitchen, even if onions don't bother you too much.

So what goes into this quiche?

4 eggs

1 cup milk

tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup drained, cooked, chopped spinach

1/2 cup minced red onion

1/4 cup minced kalamata olives

1 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

2 dashes of pepper

1 puff pastry sheet by Pepperidge Farms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use middle rack.

Combine eggs, milk, melted butter in bowl. Whisk together.

Add flour.

Add in the red onion, garlic, olives, spinach. Stir together using a spoon. Add a couple of dashes of pepper.  

Next,  place a Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheet in a 9" ceramic pie plate and pat the bottom down.

Then fill the puff pastry with the quiche mixture.

Now the fun part! Using slices of red onion, decorate the top of the quiche. Completely optional, but the cooked onions add to the flavor and look nice. Gio made a flower decoration on his today.

Pop the quiche in pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes.

 Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm. Makes wonderful leftovers-- IF you have any left over! Almost tastes better the next day!

Thanks, Gio! 

 

 

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What to do with a glut of eggs? Recipe #1 - Lime Curd

What to do with a glut of eggs? Recipe #1 - Lime Curd

We are starting to get anywhere from 9-12 fresh eggs daily as the days get longer. This will continue for the next several months through summer. So it's time to get creative with how we use this wonderful food from our hens.  

One of my son's favorite desserts is lime curd, so it wasn't too difficult to get him to make a jar of it today.  The recipe is simple (only 4 ingredients), takes little time, and the reward is YUMMY! A perfect recipe for someone learning how to cook.

Lime Curd Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

grated lime zest and juice of 3 limes (zest is optional)

4 egg yolks

Gio learned how to separate the yolk from the white today. It's a messy job, but someone has to do it...

We made a bain-marie (we've been watching "The Great British Bake-Off" on Netflix lately) or double boiler by using a small pot of simmering water and heatproof bowl.  Gio put the butter, sugar, lime zest and juice in the bowl and whisked it together until smooth.

Then, he added the egg yolks and whisked. And whisked. And whisked some more.  For 10 minutes.  This is where cooking class meets Phy. Ed. The mixture thickens after about 10 minutes of whisking.

Lastly, Gio poured the curd into a canning jar.  You can use any small jar or ramekins. It just depends what you want to do with the curd.  We like to use it as a topping for shortbread cookies.  Good job, Gio!

 

Stay tuned for more Egg-Glut recipes!  

 

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Are You Brooding? Book and Toy now available!!

Hi Everyone!  We are so excited to announce our new product, "Are You Brooding?"  Get them while they last!   Save money when you order the entire set for $39.99 (shipping included!) and don't forget you can order extra eggs!  

 

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impromptu video, fun emails and adorable goat names

We were visiting with friends yesterday and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to video  their ADORABLE 5 year-old son playing with Margo and her babies. I can't tell you how much I love to see children play with our toys and to hear from our customers.

Are You Kidding? Plush Toy from Steph Allosso on Vimeo.

Here's some of what we've been hearing: 

"I purchased your book and stuffed animal at the Union Depot Holiday Bake Sale. We LOVE it. My daughter LOVES it and I need to buy more from you for gifts! I’ll be buying some online. We read the book about 10 times last night before bed. And she sleeps with the baby goats and I sleep with the mommy goat J J"

"We just got Margo in the mail. The kids love having her give birth:)"

"My son takes Margo and the kids everywhere we go. He loves showing off the toys. They're a hit!"

"Hi! I bought this for our 4-H club. I think it will be a great tool for presentations."

"My in-laws sent us Margo and the book for Christmas. My girls LOVE IT! We have goats and are expecting our first kids in February, so this fits right in."

"This is the cutest way EVER to show how birth works!"

 

Thanks for all the great emails. I appreciate the support and feedback!

Lastly, you know how at the end of "Are You Kidding?" the duck asks the reader, "What are their names?"

 

My friend's son in the above video came up with my favorite name (so far) for the little brown goat -- "Big Wayne" -- and I heard through the grape vine that a little girl from western Minnesota came up with the perfect name of "Cool Whip" for the little white goat. Cool Whip? How cute is that? If your children have come up with any fun, unusual or interesting names for Margo's kids, I'd love to hear them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Shipping all weekend long! Black Friday and Cyber Monday DEALS!

FREE SHIPPING from Nov. 25 through Nov. 28, 2016.  

Want an extra 10% off? Order on Black Friday and use code "BLACKFRIDAY"

Want to save $10 on your order of $65 or more? Place order on Cyber Monday and use code "CYBERMONDAY"

 

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Now Available at the Pennyroyal Farm in Boonville, Ca

Pennyroyal Farm is located in Boonville, in the Anderson Valley of California. They specialize in farmstead cheeses, made exclusively from the milk of their own sheep and goats, and handcrafted wine.  

Pennyroyal's tasting room is open from Thursday - Monday, 10-am - 5 pm, where you can sample and buy their products as well as pick up Gardenagerie's "Are You Kidding?" plush goat toy and book.

They also offer tours daily at 10am & 2pm. Check out the creamery, milking parlor, solar-powered barn and the animals! Cheese tasting after the tour with juice for kids and wine for those 21 and up.  Click here for more info, for reservations and pricing.

So if you've been wanting to take a cheese and wine tasting drive along Highway 128, make sure to put Pennyroyal Farm on your list! Pick up an "Are You Kidding?" gift set before they are all gone! Supplies are limited!

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Come see us at the Union Depot Holiday Bake Sale on Dec. 10th!

In addition to some SWEET holiday baked goods, you can pick up some cool, unique gifts from 10 Minnesota Makers that will be a part of the Lowertown Pop mini market at the 4th annual Union Depot Holiday Bake Sale.  We will be there selling our plush Margo Momma Goat with 2 Kids and "Are You Kidding?" Book.  Others vendors include:  Desdemona Doolittle's Trash to Treasure Leather, StormSister Spatique, Nest PURE, The VOICE Community and Moxie Malas.  

The public will be able to get all of their cookie baking done by the top bakeries in the Twin Cities on Saturday, December 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Waiting Room at Union Depot. Admission is $5 for adults and includes a free tote bag, seniors (60+) and kids under 12 are free. VIP admission is $10 and includes a commemorative train themed cookie cutter gift set, free tote bag, recipe cards from participating bakeries, chances to win fun prizes, and one free Bee Line Honey gift from Union Depot. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Merrick Community Services Food Shelf.

I think this is going to be a blast!  I'm looking forward to all the baked goods, and checking out what my fellow makers are up to!  I LOVE sweets, cookies, cakes... doughnuts.  Oh man, if someone is selling doughnuts at this thing, I may never find my way back to the booth!  Poor Dan might have to sell toys and books all by himself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We can now ship to Massachusetts! Take advantage of FREE SHIPPING!

We're celebrating!  We just received our license to sell products online and in brick and mortar stores in the state of Massachusetts!  To thank you for your patience, we're offering FREE SHIPPING until Oct. 31, 2016. But not just for Bay Staters -- even if you're not in Massachusetts, shipping is still free. Just use discount code FREESHIPPING

We're still waiting to hear from Ohio ... I guess we'll have to celebrate some more later!

 

 

 

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Are You Kidding? Toy and Book in Northfield, Minnesota

Are You Kidding? Toy and Book are now available at The Eclectic Goat in historic downtown Northfield, Minnesota, located at 413 Division St S.

 

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Toys for girls AND boys

While I was designing the Margo toy, colorizing the “Are You Kidding?” storybook, designing the Gardenagerie logo, and even selecting the color of our tote-bag for the fair, I always was wondering, “would a little boy like this?” It’s really important to me that our products are gender neutral. I think it’s just as important that little boys have opportunities to play with toys that foster  compassion and nurturing as it is for little girls. There are plenty of toys for girls that promote a princess-like passivity, just as there are plenty of toys for boys that promote aggression and even violence. We like to think of Gardenagerie toys as an alternative to both.

Sometimes when people first see our Margo toy, they’re reminded of “Puppy Surprise.” Originally marketed in the early 90s, this was a plush toy that came with babies inside. The “surprise” element was that each toy came with an unknown number of puppies inside. But another element some people found surprising was the way the puppies were born. There was a pouch inside the plush toy holding the puppies, and this was accessed through a velcroed opening in the belly. 

The toys were very popular and have recently become trendy again. There are now a whole line of “surprise” pregnant animals such as puppies, kitties, ponies. But unlike at least some of the original 90s puppies, most of these new plush toys are aggressively feminized. Where the original toys were often brown or tan, like real dogs, most of the new surprise toys are pink,  purple, or rainbow-colored, with lots of ribbons, stars, and hearts. There’s even a pink, glittery, unicorn Pony Surprise plush called Starburst, with pink, lilac, and purple babies.

While I’m sure these plush toys bring joy to many of the little girls who receive them, I wonder how many young boys miss the opportunity to play with a toy that gives birth because the toys are just too…glamorous? I also wonder whether these toys misguide children a bit about birth?

Because, in addition to the glitter and rainbows, there’s that velcro caesarian section that the children use to get the babies out of the momma. Is it really necessary to hide from kids how babies actually enter the world? We live on a farm and our kids have all been present for the births of baby animals. They’ve watched kittens, lambs and kids born without being disturbed or traumatized. 

 

I’ve got nothing against caesarians - I’ve had two myself. But on the farm (or even at the Miracle of Birth Center at the State Fair), baby animals come out the end. It’s nature. Although caesarian “surprise” toys might have taught my children how they had actually entered the world, I wanted to keep it closer to what we’ve experienced on the farm. As a homeschooling parent, I think it’s important to teach the facts in an age appropriate way, whenever possible. So it was important that the plush Margo not have a cesarean.

 

 

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Shamelessly Begging #BRASSYs

Hi!  I really wish these contests wouldn't rely on public votes.  I feel bad asking people to vote for us, but here I am... again... asking you to cast a vote.  If we win this contest, it would help us create more super cute, educational and unique toys and books. If you find yourself really bored and are wondering what you can do with your time between now and Oct. 9th, kill a minute and vote for us!!  Yes, you can vote every day if you want!  I'm not kidding!  Woo Hoo!  Click Here to Vote!  

 

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The Midwest Mini Silky Show in Kentland, Indiana

 

The Midwest Mini Silky Show will be happening this weekend: Sept. 24th and 25th, at the Newtown County Fairground in Kentland, Indiana. The show was organized by Triple A Acres of Grant Park, Illinois, and by Westwind Acres in northern Indiana. There will be goat shows and judging, and a silent auction that includes Gardenagerie’s “Are You Kidding?” book and goat toy. So if you’re in the area, get on over to the fairgrounds and support your local goat people!

 

 

 

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The Brassys

Hi everyone! For those of you who know me well, guess what, I've entered another contest! :) For those of you who don't know me well, I'm a contest junkie. My philosophy is, "someone has to win." 75% of the judging is about us, but 25% is based on the public response to our entry. We need your vote!! Winning would help us expand and develop new products. Thanks!

Click here to to vote! Thanks!

 

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If at first you don't succeed...

 

Last Monday I met with some pretty fabulous people: Becky from Lowertown Pop and Maria and Kevin from STYLED RETAIL. Because Gardenagerie was selected to be part of the Lowertown Pop event at the Union Depot in April 2017, we were given an hour of consultation to discuss marketing strategy, storytelling, networking, etc. All things that a newbie entrepreneur like myself needs help with. It was worth the four-hour drive down to the Twin Cities, and I was so energized to spend an hour with people who are really excited about Gardenagerie and what we are offering. After this meeting, I’m feeling validated. Polar opposite from how I felt after Gardenagerie’s Kickstarter Campaign failed a couple of years ago. But sometimes failure can be a good thing.

 

 

When I first designed the Margo-and-her-babies toy, I tried working with a broker on the West Coast to get the product made. The cost to get the first run of toys produced was pretty steep, so in  April of 2014 we launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource money for the “Are You Kidding?” book and toy. The opening day of that campaign went well, and we got a lot of support from family and friends. But then the campaign fizzled and failed. Crowdfunding a toy through Kickstarter isn’t the same as raising money for a new tech gadget. And some people probably wondered why we were asking for so much money, trying to cover those steep start-up expenses.

 

 

I took it personally when the campaign finally ended, far from our all-or-nothing goal. I blamed the Kickstarter’s failure on the product idea, when in reality it was a logistical and marketing failure. The Kickstarter fail was depressing, humiliating and embarrassing. It seemed to me like there was no interest in the book or toy, in spite of the fact that many people had tried very hard to drum up support for the campaign. Sometimes it’s hard to see the positives when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the negatives.

 

The prototype toy we’d bought from the broker sat on my desk for nearly 2 years. Then one day in January of 2016, I found myself sitting and looking at the plush Margo with her 2 babies. My first thought was “That is the cutest toy ever made.” The depression, humiliation and embarrassment had all faded away. It was time to try again.  

 

 

This time around I avoided the middle man. I did a ton of research, sourcing manufacturers.  Initially I wanted to have the toys made in the USA, but I quickly found out that this is not as easy as it seems. There are very few plush toy factories in the USA and when I contacted them they either were just not interested (I couldn’t tell you why because they didn’t even bother to return my phone calls or emails) or they couldn’t produce a low MOQ (minimum order quantity) for a reasonable price. A couple of manufacturers also took issue with the complexity of our particular plush and opted to pass, or offered to have the toy made in China and act as the middle man. No thanks — been there done that.  

 

So I started looking into China on my own. After about a week of online research, I selected a half dozen plush toy manufacturers and emailed inquiries. Every manufacturer I contacted responded with quotes within 48 hours. Emails were positive and timely. People may be uncomfortable hearing this, but it was an easier and a far more pleasurable experience tracking down a source with China than in the US. And since I was now dealing with the manufacturer rather than a broker, the cost of getting Margo and her kids manufactured was about half what I would have paid the first time around.  

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too hard dealing with a manufacturer on the other side of the world. I’ve developed a great relationship with my sales contact “Sara” in China. She has spent hours (sometimes 2 hours at a time!) on Skype with me chatting about the details of the manufacturing process. Sara has worked hard to win my business, holding my hand from halfway around the world through every step of the process. We went through several prototypes for the toy, book, and a carrying bag, and Sara kept working on my behalf until I got just what I wanted. Shippers and Customs people were also very encouraging and helpful — just like Sara, it’s in their interest to help you succeed. 

 

 

The new and improved Margo toy we introduced in the summer of 2016 is larger and softer, and we can offer it at a better price. The book is a hardcover instead of a paperback. And we added snaps to both momma and baby toys. So now not only does Margo give birth, she nurses. There was no nursing involved in the Kickstarter toy. I really love this addition and it would have been missed if the Kickstarter would have succeeded. 

Our first shipment of toys and books arrived around the beginning of August. It was a smallish order, to test the market, but receiving a couple of pallets of shipping boxes from China was exhilarating and scary. As we unpacked the boxes, I thought my dreams were coming true, but would people be interested? We opened our online store Aug. 10, 2016, the same day we packed our supplies and set up a booth at the Beltrami County Fair. So how did it go?  

 

The majority of people who see the toy or the book seem to really like it. At one point during the fair, Dan thought we should change our name from Gardenagerie to “Oh For Cute!” (a typical Minnesota-ism) because it was the reaction we got from people most frequently. Farmers liked it, but educators and people in health professions loved it. Once in a while, someone giggled nervously, averted their eyes, or expressed some uneasiness. But mostly, the response has been positive. Our online experience has been similar. Lots of likes and shares on social media, and occasionally someone thinks it’s a bit inappropriate. Honestly, I never thought I was creating a toy that would create controversy. But, I’m okay with that. You can’t please everyone. And it has been great watching people we don’t even know challenging critics and defending the appropriateness of a birth and nursing toy for young kids. If something like Margo had existed years ago, I would’ve bought it for my kids in a heartbeat! And that’s the driving force behind the “Are You Kidding?” toy and book.

 

 

After a little over a month, we can say our hopes have been exceeded. Margo had a great first month. THANK YOU to everyone who has ordered from us! Our inventory is getting low, so I reordered a larger batch to be manufactured, which we expect to have before the holidays. However, if you’re hoping to give someone an “Are You Kidding” toy and/or book this holiday season, you may want to go ahead and order it now. We have about a quarter of our original supply left.  

 

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"Are You Kidding?" in the Pacific Northwest

We just shipped out a box of “Are You Kidding? plush toys and books to Chimacum, Washington. Chimacum is a community on the agricultural eastern edge of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The town’s motto is, “We grow food for YOU!” Among the innovative farmers of Jefferson County are Patricia Young and her partner, Steven, who operate Yaks in the Cradle Farm.

 

Patricia and Steven began in 2013 with the purchase of one baby bull yak. Rejected by his mother, the baby they named Lucky Jewel was bottle fed for six months and handled daily. Lucky Jewel became a fence line companion to a small herd of Pygora goats, and Patricia and Steven's love of yaks grew. In 2015, they purchased a starter batch of eleven yaks, and they began breeding their own herd! In addition to the yaks, the farm has Pygoras, three rescued alpacas and a plethora of sweet heritage laying hens.  


Yaks in the Cradle Farm will be one of the new vendors at the Taylored Fibers Farm (http://tayloredfibers.com) in Quilcene during the Eighth Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour, September 17th and 18th, 2016. They will be bringing raw yak fiber and other merchandise — including Gardenagerie's “Are You Kidding?” plush toy and storybook —  for purchase and they’ll be showing “Turbo,” a six-year old Imperial Trim yak heifer.  


There is no charge for visiting the farms and if you purchase items from any vendors you’ll receive a free ticket for a raffle to win a $50 gift certificate to Doc’s Marina Grill in Port Townsend or on Bainbridge Island! So stop by if you’re in the area and check out the yaks and goats, and “Are You Kidding?"
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Coming to Ohio soon...

Ohio has some strict regulations when it comes to plush toys. All plush toys that are sold in Ohio (even into Ohio via the internet) have to go through the state’s very own inspection. The inspection costs the manufacturer or importer around $150.00 to $200.00 to have done, on top of the $50 fee Ohio charges annually. Keep in mind, I’ve already paid $500 to have the toys inspected and tested per CPSC/ASTM guidelines and regulations (which is altogether adequate for 47 states).  
Ohio isn’t the only nutty state when it comes to plush toys. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts also have their own state laws regarding the licensing of toys. That said, I will be succumbing to the madness soon. I started filling out the paperwork to have them registered in Ohio yesterday and plan to send off a toy for their destructive testing sometime this week so that I can sell them legally into Ohio. Sorry if I sound a little frustrated about this, but they don’t make it easy for small batch manufacturers to get a leg up!
Our Pennsylvania registration was completed last week.  It was pretty painless.  After we get the thumbs-up from Ohio, I will start the process for Massachusetts.
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Available in Germantown, North Carolina!

If you're in eastern North Carolina, go check out Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery, LLC! They sell goat's milk cheeses, goat milk soap, farm fresh eggs, farmstead meats, jellies, handmade crafts and "Are You Kidding?" plush toy and book!

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"Are You Kidding?" Book and Plush Toy Playset available at Chocolates Plus!

We are pleased to announce that "Are You Kidding?" book and goat playset can be found in beautiful downtown Bemidji, MN at Chocolates Plus!  

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Margo at the Fair

The County Fair was a blast!  Margo must've given birth a thousand times over those 4 days!  

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Our First Fair

Yesterday we set up for the Beltrami County Fair, which is running today through Sunday. Our first fair! There was a little bit of traffic in the evening, as other vendors and people dropping off veggies and crafts stopped by to check us out. We sold a handful of goats and got lots of encouragement. Looking forward to getting going today at noon when the Fair opens in earnest. 

 

 

The weather is supposed to be good for the rest of the week, with a possible thunderstorm late this afternoon. Maybe a little rain will drive everybody indoors, so they can check us out!

 

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Fliers around Bemidji

 

Lucy digs our flier at the Wild Hare Bistro in Bemidji, MN.  

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Welcome to Gardenagerie

A gardenagerie is a combination of a garden and a menagerie. Even before our family moved from New England back to the upper Midwest several years ago, we were already planning to fill our little hobby farm with dogs, cats, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and a big vegetable garden. Now, Gardenagerie is also the name of our family toy company, bringing a little bit of the small farm experience to kids everywhere.

 

The idea for the storybook Are You Kidding and the stuffed goat Margo and her kids came from Margo’s first kidding, a couple of years ago. We’ll tell you more about that story in this blog; and also the story of how the idea became a real thing. It became even more real when a truck delivered thirty boxes of toys and books from our contract manufacturer a couple of days ago. Stay tuned for more on that story, too. 

 

In a few days, we’ll be introducing Margo and Are You Kidding online and at the Beltrami County Fair in northern Minnesota. Usually the fair is a chance for us to enter food, crafts, and photos into little competitions. Last year we did pretty well, although our scarecrow came in second. This year, we’re looking forward to introducing Margo – and hoping our scarecrow wins! 

 

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