Internships with Coonridge
We have been living here with our goats and using their milk to make cheese since 1982. We live in the high desert surrounded by pion and juniper forests. Our goats are the heart of our operation. They forage for their food most of the year. We provide them with certified organic hay in the winter, but even with a foot of snow on the ground they want to go out to browse on the south facing cliffs behind us. Unlike many commercial dairies we feed no grain and the goats produce milk off what they browse that humans can't eat.
It is not green here (except for the evergreens) most of the year. We are not out in the low desert with sand dunes and big cactus but it is dry here. We work hard at conserving water.
We are very isolated! It takes a hour of hard driving just to get to where our mail is delivered. To get to Albuquerque takes about 4 hours one way. Access is best by 4-wheel drive. 2-wheel drive is possible if you have lots of ground clearance and the roads are dry. Most of our helpers have not had a vehicle.
When you walk away from our houses and barns, all sign of humans disappear and you can walk for hours without seeing any.
Milking the Goats
The most important thing we do is taking care of the goats and making cheese with their milk. Liking the animals can make this job a joy. We can train you to hand milk but mostly we milk on machines, 12 does at a time.
We have four small, separate accommodations
( most with a wood stove, and some solar lighting with a solar powered AM/FM radio.) We all share the kitchen/living area. We cook, eat and clean up after our meals there. We eat at least one meal a day together but you also need to be able to feed yourself from the available food.
We have wifi and can play CD's so bring your computer or music!
In the winter, we only have people in the converted school bus we lived in the first 7 years here, a converted step van or travel trailer. These all have wood burning stoves in them. In the summer we also have other small places to live with out heating.
Cleaning up in the kitchen is part of work here. In fact, WASHING up in the cheese room, WASHING dishes and pans in the kitchen and WASHING milking equipment in the milk parlor are a big part of our ongoing operation.
We try to live off what the land provides us. For example, if we have a lot of zucchini in the garden, we eat lots of zucchini. We eat a lot of brown rice, Mexican style food, garden vegetables, plus our own goat milk cheese and meat plus chicken eggs in season. Although we eat meat here, vegetarians have worked with us. We enjoy a natural food diet- buying food from our food co-op for anything we can not produce here-organic and local when ever possible.
We try not to go to town more than twice a month. This means we have to keep track of what we need and sometimes do without if we run out before a scheduled trip.
We allow no pet dogs, no drugs and no alcohol. Since we are certified organic, even if you have personal uses for pesticides don't bring any here. If you smoke, plan to keep a month's supply on hand while here. This is NOT a good place to try and quit smoking. There is no smoking in the main house, hay storage areas, or cheese rooms. Smokers must dispose of their cigarette butts appropriately. DON'T throw them around. An inquisitive goat could eat it, a fire could be started or Nancy could see it!!
Everything we bring into Coonridge is consumed, recycled, put back into the soil or hauled out. We heat with wood and use outhouses or composting toilets.
We like to recycle as much as possible. Aluminum cans should be smashed as small as possible and placed in the 55-gallon drum on the porch of the main house. All burnable paper is put in or by one of our wood stoves. All food scraps are fed to our chickens. Meat scraps and bones are set aside to be rationed out to the dogs equally. All non-aluminum, non-paper, non-edible trash is placed separately to eventually go to the dump.
Our electricity is from generators or solar panels. The generator is used to run power tools and not for everyday needs. Our solar panels make small amounts of electricity on sunny days. This electricity is stored in batteries and must be used wisely.
We catch all our water off our roofs and store it for use through out the year. This means we have to be especially frugal with our water. We use it twice whenever possible. We use our wash water to water plants. We reuse our rinse water into our next wash water.
There are Fire Extinguishers located around all wooden structures. Make sure you know where they are located and how to use them. They would be the first line of defense in the event of a fire. After that, water would be pumped from the tanks. Be sure you are trained to do so. No fire truck would ever come to Coonridge!
Your Skills and Interests
Besides our ongoing work we are building stone and bottle buildings, have run off gardens and other projects. The skills and interests you have will determine which other jobs you do. You will need to be able to work without supervision as well as get along with other people in group projects.
We are trying to find ways to live harmoniously within our environment with our animals. This takes hard work from everyone who lives here.
Apprentices receive a place to stay and all their food in exchange for 6 to 8 hours of work per day.
Internships with Coonridge