Sunday, June 22, 2014

Springtime is just about over

A few days ago we were reminded what summer is like here in Virginia.  I heard the sound of the ac coming on for the first time this spring.  That night we did not close up the barn until 10:00 at night, the goats were loving all of the extra playtime.  Mr. Bootsie suggested leaving the barn open and I said no.  A few nights back he fixed a solar light to burn in the barn all night, when I went down to milk I had a barn full of goats who were wired just like a child on sugar.  Two nights in two weeks would have been to much excitement for me.  We closed the barn and after waiting for the temperature to cool down, everything went well.  When I opened up in the mornings the heat did come out of the door.  Another lesson learned.

Swiss chard and broccoli are on the stove,  chard will be used to make pizza topping and the broccoli will be used for soup.  We so enjoy all of the vegetables from the spring garden.  String beans aka snaps are about 4 inches long.  Garlic is turning yellow, time to gather.  I did gather some of the more advanced this week.  I finally planted black-eyed peas before the 4th of July.  Zucchini are coming in and of course, I made a pot of zucchini bisque.  Transplanted some of the climbing spinach, there were a number of baby plants this year, they came up under the arbor where the spinach was planted last year.

Trapping has been slow this last couple of weeks.  Maybe we will harvest some black berries this summer.  The only going on in the traps is a cute little cat that likes the bait.  We are letting it go and it will come back another day and there it is caught in the trap.

Lightening struck a tree, a really big one in the goat pasture.  We will have to take down the fence in order to drop this tree.  There was a group decision to wait until after all of the leaves are off of it.   The tree Mr. Bootsie felled a few weeks ago is becoming fire wood.  There is one rack filled with this wood. Most of the trunk of the tree has been cut and split into pieces we can now handle and load onto the splitter.  We should fill at least one more rack.

Everything is settled in the goat barn.  I have my two milk goats and one of the babies from this spring.  We are ready for the winter.  It was a hard decision but we are pleased with the results.  I remember the winter of 2013, and I just wanted to make things a little easier for me.  I will be using the once a day milking rather than twice.  When making cheese the other day I decided to try and  use the dehydrator to control the temperature and I am pleased to be able to say this procedure worked well, I am learning how to use as many things as I can for dual purposes.

We have both hatching of chickens growing.  The oldest little roos are now crowing, well almost sounding like Mr. Wonderful.  The first hatching was 10 and there are 6 little roos and 4 hens.  I want to keep the hens so it will time to make some changes in the coop.

The ducks are doing good, there are no drakes with us any longer.  We gave the drake to someone with a big pond.  I needed to do this because the drake was the brother of 2 of my girls and the other was his mother.  Momma duck is doing a little better with her egg.  I started feeding her meat bird grower, continued with the oyster shells and now I can see a little improvement.

All in all this has been a wonderful spring,  babies everywhere.  Things are starting to settle down as Summer arrived this week.  Plans are now being made for preserving the fruits of our farm.  There are a few jars in the pantry from last year so it is time to look back and see what was canned and how much. With each season on the farm it seems there is something to be done.  OH, I just enjoy the preserving of our garden.  I love walking into the pantry and seeing all of jars on the shelves filled with the wonderful tasting goodies we have canned or dried.

It is now time to say, "Good-bye Spring and Welcome Summer!!!"

Just a quick note, we are making kefir sour cream and using it in the zucchini bisque in place of the creamed cheese.  We are using the yellow zucchini for this and it is wonderful.  Follow the link to a few of the recipes we use during the summer.

Check out some of our recipes!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

It has been a week of highs and lows on the farm.  First, we were expecting baby chicks and ducks,  Sunday-Tuesday there was no sign of babies.  Finally on Wednesday much a hugh amount of squawking I took Little Gray off the nest.  I was really upset, we knew there were 4 eggs loss during the hatching process,  I, also,  knew there was an egg eater in the coop, needless to say the mystery was solved.  Little Gray ate her eggs.  No baby ducks and no little chickens.  Little Gray is not asset to our little farm, there will have to be some changes made.  She is a lovely pure bred Maran, lays a beautiful copper colored egg.  She was one of our first hatching here on the farm.  But with all of this going for her the truth is she will have to go.

Wednesday, we attended a class learning about making mozzarella cheese, not the quick method a number of people are doing., but the long method.  Well, there was a temperature change, outside, and the humidity decided to play games, I am quickly learning all of the above have an effect of the outcome of your cheese.  The instructor was so sad because it took until late in the evening for the ph to come down to where is was needed, the cheese will not stretch until the ph is correct, however when the ph dropped the cheese stretched.  The instructor was not pleased about what had happen and I was so excited.  I had really learned quite a lot in this class.  This was so good because when I was heating the milk on Thursday, I did not throw everything out when I realized I was reading the celsius side of the thermometer.  Poured my milk into a cold pan and filled the sink with cool water.  In a few minutes the pan became warm and the milk slowly dropped in temperature.  I was able to make the Fresh Goat's Milk Cheese, I was just running a couple of hours behind time.  I think this cheese is going to be a great topping for my pizza's.

Storms come and lightening will strike trees.  Mr. Bootsie had another tree to bring down.  Very close to the coop and barn.  Using his ropes he tied off this tree and felled it.  Yes. there is a barn and coop plus there will be lots of fire wood.  This tree was a poplar and we knew it had to come down, the tree split when it was struck.   I enjoy using this type of wood during the times you need a fire but not a really hot fire time.  I think we will plenty wood for this winter's warmer day fires.

The garden is doing much better than any garden I have had in the past.  Picking lettuce, snow peas, broccoli, lettuce and pepperoncini  peppers.  I have little tomatoes on the vines, the peanuts are up.  Baby Squash, about 1 inch long, are on several plants.   I find myself walking through the garden almost every time I go outside.  Mr. Bootsie cleaned out the goat barn and the waste product he had there became my treasure.  The ladies are doing a great job producing jelly beans for the garden.

One of our little girls moved to a new farm with week, it was exciting to see her make this move with one of our farmer friend's goats.  I did have her walking on a lead she was doing  pretty good by the time she left.  Now it is time for me to start working with another one.  We handle our girls on leads at feeding time and I think it is important they learn how to move with the lead.  One of my jealous babies can now start taking an afternoon walk with Momma. When I work with them in the pasture everyone of the babies walk with me, chewing on the lead. Saturday, we begin milking to start milking twice a day.

I have a real treasure in my kitchen.  It is my Momma's butter paddle as she called it.  I have sit and watched her wash many a pound of butter.  I was the daughter who was lucky to receive this as something to decorate my kitchen with.  I just could not put it up because it reminded me of all of the hard work she did weekly to feed us and many others.  This Saturday, I made my first butter.  I could not get to the drawer quick enough to pull out Momma's paddle and work my butter.  My hands have grown large like I remember her hands.  I am so excited to share with you, I HAVE MADE MY FIRST BUTTER.

I thought I would share with you my day as a milk maid.  On Saturday, June 7th, my day started and ended with milking.  In the kitchen I made butter and butter cheese  which is in the mold, 1 quart of lemon pudding, finished the fresh goat cheese, cleaned the whey by making ricotta and worked the kefir.  I made kefir sour cream which was hung to drain along with ricotta.

The first butter cheese was going to be ready to open on June 7th, but we opened it on the 6th,  We have been enjoying the butter cheese and the Feta.  I really do not think these 2 cheeses are going to be around very long.

When I started learning about cheese, I never thought Mr. Bootsie would be so interested.  He is working on making molds and of course, anytime, someone needs to do a little bit of sampling he is ready to assist.  I think I heard someone suggesting he may be needing homemade rolls so he could check out the butter.  Our life on the farm has become a wonderful adventure.  Thank you for taking your time to follow our journey.  Hope you are enjoying it as much as we are.  Until we meet again, which will not be long.