Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fresh Chevre

Fresh chevre hanging to drain

Making cheese seems to be dominating my schedule these days. We usually stop milking our doe in Dec. or January when it's really cold out. Having some frozen milk and much frozen cheese helps ease the loss until she kids again later in the spring. What's hanging now is from 4 gallons of milk and won't lose enough liquid to make it smaller but it will make it drier.  I put it into individual sandwich size baggies and freeze when it's the consistency I like   I drilled a hole in the bottom of the top shelf on this cart and added an eye bolt for when I am draining cheeses. 

For anyone thinking about getting a goat for milk, chevre is really easy to make and so much can be done with it.  In addition to chevre plain or with flavoring it can also be used in making cream cheese icing, cheesecakes, as a substitue for sour cream (just add a little milk to it and mix) to name but a few.  I use the recipe from "Goats Produce Too!"

5 Qts. whole goat milk
1/2 cup cultured buttermilk 
2 tbsp dilutd rennet
dilution = 3 drops liquid rennet in 1/3 cup cool water

Warm milk to 80 degrees. 

A good thermometer and rennet can be bought at Hoeggers
Stir in buttermilk and mix well. Add 2 tbsp diluted rennet mix. Stir well again. Cover and let set at room temperature for 8 - 12 hours.   When the milk looks like thickened yogurt it's ready to drain. 

I lable or pour the milk into a  colander lined with cheesecloth set inside a larger bowl to catch the whey.  I use these alligator clips to hold the cheesecloth in place when I'm first pouring.  After I pour it through the colander I tie the corners together and hang it for a day usually. 

Separate it into package sizes you want and freeze what your not going to use in the next week.  I package unflavored. 

Yield 1 1/2  to 2 lbs.          1 lb. of cheese = 2 cups.

I've had much better luck using cultured buttermilk from the store than with starters.   I also reculture the buttermilk so I only have to buy on occasion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jalapeno Lime Yogurt Cheese

Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime
Chopped Jalepeno

Drain your yogurt until it reaches the consistency you want it.  Add the rest of the ingredients to taste.  For 1 cup of yogurt cheese,  I used about a teaspoon of Mrs. Dash,  2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of fresh jalepeno peppers chopped and a few sprinkles of salt.   I use fresh goats milk yogurt but any plain yogurt will do.  The yogurt cheese has just the right amount of tangyness for these stronger flavors.  Mrs. Dash is very limey which was perfect but it isn't at all hot so I added the peppers.  I also like the texture of the peppers in it.  I liked it so much I am draining/ straining more yogurt to make some more yogurt cheese.  I will probably add some cilantro the next time too. 

Put the yogurt in a colander lined with cheesecloth that's sitting inside a bowl to catch the liquid that drains from it.   I leave it in the fridge to drain overnight.   Making yogurt cheese from plain yogurt is that simple.  It can be used to replace sour cream or cream cheese plain or flavored.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fresh goat's milk yogurt & yogurt cheese

Wild black cherry yogurt .  Couldn't  wait to freeze in the ice cream maker before trying it.

After a summer of gardening I am ready for kitchen time again.   Normally by this time of year I've got a number of pounds of cheese frozen and ready for the winter.  This year I'm starting late but ready to make up for lost time.   Last night I made a gallon of yogurt.   I wanted some for frozen wild black cherry yogurt, some for just plain yogurt and some for yogurt cheese. 

Yogurt cheese ready to use or add flavorings - Yummy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


That is sooo good

Ya, right there.   That's the spot

Awwwww..... just don't stop

Hey.... what about me?  I want some too!

Thank you.

Hey Pa,  how come they get all the good stuff and we just get treated like we're...... I don't we're a couple of pigs or something?  

I don't know son, that's just our lot in life I guess.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Drought conditions and feeding animals

A big bowl of broken cubes, misted with syrup flavored water to soften and make more appetizing.  Goats can be picky eaters.  These actually smell good when moistened just a tad.

We have been having the driest weather here I can remember.   Hay is getting increasingly difficult to get.   My hay man sold all his hay early on thinking he would just make more later for his own animals and is now looking to buy some for himself.  Hay that I was able to buy from a different source was so bad my goats won't even touch it.  I am having to buy a poor quality that I would not  have considered feeding my animals before.   The end result of this is that for the first time since getting goats I am having to feed them exclusively alfalfa pellets and cubes for their roughage.   They still get a small amount of sweet feed each day but they have no hay available to them at all.

The cubes have to be broken for them which can be a tedious task at best.  I do it while watching a movie at night.  After they are broken up I mist them a bit with water flavored lightly with  Kings syrup or molasses.  They seem to love them.  Previous years they've turned their little noses up at them, flavored or not.  I guess they are realizing this is as good as it gets this year.  Of course this isn't a very practical solution f you have more goats than a few.  I only have the two does so it works for me.

I am on a mailing list from the University of Md. Extension Service Called the Shepherd's Notebook.  They have goat and sheep related workshops on occasion and some things that are just online so if your not local you could still benefit from them. 

Today I got the email below from them and thought I would share it.  It's about a handbook for feeding your livestock in drought conditions.  I've only looked at the table of contents so far but it looks as if it has some good info in it. It's a free pdf file, 79 pages long I believe and the link to it is below.  

Shepherd's Notebook

Some parts of Maryland and surrounding states have experienced their worst drought conditions in years. University of Maryland Extension has compiled a publication to help producers deal with the 2010 drought.

The handbook is for animal and forage producers. The original handbook was developed in 2007 by Craig Yohn from West Virginia University. The handbook was adapted to Maryland conditions.

A drought handbook for grain producers has also been developed.

Out & about in the garden

 Variegated Liriope starting to bloom.   I love that they persist into fall.

Tiny pea plants Malia planted ready to start blooming already.  They can't be more than 6 - 8" tall. 

A Jarradale pumpkin that has survived the squash bugs.   This variety of pumpkins along with the Butternut squashes seem to have a resistance to them.   Jarradales also will keep up to2 years if properly stored and produce quite a few more per vine than other varieties of pumpkin / winter squash.

A variegated Miscanthus getting divided and moved.  It was cut back about a month ago.  I then took a long ditch shovel and cut the root ball all the way around and let it sit.  Cutting all around the root ball severed  the roots which then encourages new feeder roots to develop prior to it being pulled all the way from the ground.   This way you have less shock when you bring it above ground to divide and transplant since new roots have already been formed.  It's more like transplanting from a pot this way.   The shrub behind it is a Harry Lauder Walking Stick and when the Miscanthus get tall it hides it so am glad to be moving this.

Moon and Stars watermelon that didn't get planted until July.   How do you know when to harvest them?   Anyone?   I have never grown watermelons before.

The only surviving blue Hubbard. The rest succumbed to the squash bug invasion.  I learned a lot this year about how to outsmart them and next year will be better prepared.  I am disappointed that I panicked and used pesticides and will be better prepared next year.  My goal is to not use any thing next year that isn't considered organic including fertilizers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why do we do what we do?

Our boots, always at ready by the door.

The past couple of weeks I've found myself asking "why I am homesteading".  Why am I caring for all these animals when it would be far easier and truthfully far less expensive to go to the grocery store and buy my dairy products, eggs and meat.  And the same goes for having a large vegetable garden.  What an immense amount of work without guaranteed results. Diseases and insects see to that.  In all truthfulness, I can totally understand why today, for the first time in history, more people live in cities than in the country and why there are so few farmers left.  Quite simply -  it's a ton of work.  And it's work most of us don't need to do in order to survive in this world of Walmart's and Sam's Clubs.  So why am I doing this?

I've been asking myself that a lot here lately.  I've finally got my little place in the country, acquired the animals (driving all the way from Virginia to Tennessee in one case for just the right animal ) and worked at the skills to care for them properly.  I've done all the backbreaking work to start the gardens and make them productive.   Yet, this past couple of weeks I've considered selling all the animals including the goats I so dearly love. The gardens have lost their appeal to me and have felt more like a burden than a blessing.  And I've not even been able to bring myself to post on the blog I've so enjoy writing.

All of us that choose this life do it for different reasons.  Some for survival, some for the ethical and humane treatment of the animal we use for food, some for the health benefits of knowing where our food comes from, some for the health of the planet and some for all of the above.  For me and many others it is also about family.   I do it for most of the above but much of my motivation is about family.   And about the values it instills.

Right now family is just Malia, 10, and I.   I've home schooled her for years and 2 weeks ago she started public school again.   She missed kids and was getting bored here and starting to hate it all.   I made the decision to let her go back against all my fears.  Fears of malls becoming more important than the local Tractor Supply Store with it's aisle of farm books she had so loved.  Fears of clothing becoming more important than the person wearing them.   Fear of Steak-um's from the school cafeteria becoming more desirable than healthy foods.  Fear that the other kids mothers who wore the latest fashions with matching nail polish with every hair in place and drove clean and shiny mini vans would seem more to her liking than me.  After all my outfits never match, my hair is always in a ponytail with stray hair everywhere and our vehicle looks every bit the farm vehicle it is.  The fears were many.   And giving all my fears credence was the fact that she had  declared even before her first school bus ride that she wasn't sure she wanted  Basil, Rosemary & Thyme, her 3 beloved pigs, anymore and thought maybe I should look for a new home for them as well while I was selling the piglets.

So for 2 weeks while she was at school I did it all and wondered why.  We are lucky; we don't need to do this for survival.  It's a choice for us.  So was I making the right choice?  This lifestyle requires a huge amount of time each day and was this how I wanted to spend my time?  After all, time is a currency even more precious than dollars and should  always be spent wisely for once spent it's gone forever. 

I finally came to a decision.   I decided that yes, I wanted to do this regardless of her involvement.  Maybe I would scale it down a notch or two.  It is a lot for one person to do alone.  Maybe her pigs would go but my beloved goats would stay.   Perhaps the garden would be a tad smaller next year and maybe all our bread didn't need to be homemade after all.  Maybe instead of the eco friendly push mower I would invest in a gas powered mower.  There were many small changes that could be made rather than giving up the whole dream.  It didn't need to be all or nothing.

So with that resolve and my couple of weeks of doubt and depression behind me Malia and I headed to the local Tractor Supply Store yesterday where she announced she had changed her mind and definetely did not want me to sell her pigs.  I, with a smile in my heart, asked if she was sure.  She was.  It seems we both learned something these past weeks.
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