Saturday, October 31, 2009


I've made mozzarella before out of both store bought organic cow's milk and raw cow's milk from a nearby farm.  Today I made it out of my own goat's milk.  Not only is it more delicious, I also got more cheese out of a gallon of milk.  Our goats have a pretty high butterfat content, maybe that's the reason.  When I was done making mozzarella I made ricotta out of the leftover whey.  I felt really good about my success with the mozzarella because earlier this week my attempt at chevre (goat cheese) didn't go as well.  The chevre was more like yogurt which I'm eating on my cereal in the mornings so it wasn't a total bust. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Greenhouse is ready for action

Yesterday I finished building the guts of the greenhouse.  The table in the back came out of our garage.  The 2 tables on the sides are an old sign Adam brought home from the campground down the road.  I cut it in half and put legs on them.  Underneath the one on the right is a box built out of old oak fencing for James to put manure and compost in to heat the greenhouse.  The top board is hinged so he can fold it down so a shovel fits in.  On the back table I used cut off sections from our columns as shelf support.  I drilled holes in them so they could be filled with dirt and plants could grow through the holes.  We've decided to cover the tables with plastic for fear the tables will rot from all the water.  It's not very pretty but I think it's going to work.  Hopefully I'll take some pictures later to show you lots of green plants and vegetables growing in there.

In the second picture you can see new grass growing around the greenhouse.  That's winter wheat James planted.  Soon we're going to run out of our  wheat from a few years ago that we use for our bread.  I don't think this will be ready by the time that runs out.  He planted wheat in 3 different gardens in the past 2 weeks.

Our first Calendar Girls photo

Maybe you have to have seen the movie Calendar Girls to appreciate this picture.  Of course we thought we were hilarious.  I kept telling my friends about the movie so some of us watched it together.  We thought it would be fun to take pictures of ourselves on our hikes in various poses.  Here's our first one.  There were 5 of us in the photo but one woman (much shyer than the rest of us) edited herself out and it was on her camera so she could do that.  She was afraid we'd send it to her Sunday school class.  Good thing because look, here it is for all the world to see.  I thought it was very tasteful.

It all came about because, I'll call her Rebecca, got so hot she stripped down to her bra to hike.  Not a jog bra, a regular white one.  I should mention, we never passed a soul on this hike.  Most of the rest of us took our tops off too but we had on sports bras.  When we stopped for a rest we decided to take this picture.  There was one other photo taken on this hike but it's on Rebecca's camera and for her to do with what she likes, which is probably save it for her own viewing.  We came to a pond and Rebecca, being Rebecca, went swimming.  I'm sure you can guess what she was (or wasn't) wearing.  The rest of us chose to keep our clothes on.  I took the picture.  It's pretty good.  She's somewhat hidden behind a rock. 

Last hike we didn't take any Calendar Girls pictures.  We hike again Tuesday, Nov. 5th.  Anyone care to join us?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some days everything goes your way.

Today was my day.  I almost hate to say that for fear something bad will happen before I go to bed.  Seriously, I had the most wonderful day.  Yes, I have a lot of great days but today was even better than usual.  I went to pick up my two new goats, Principessa and Luti.  They're big goats, probably twice the size of my others.  I didn't have a dog crate big enough for the 2 of them so I took the station wagon and they rode with me like the dogs do.  I think Luti liked it.  Principessa cried every now and then, at least I think it was a cry.  They peed 3 times.  Oh well.  The car has over 300,000 miles on it and has dog hair all over.  Not much could hurt it.  When I got back home I drove into the pasture and let the goats out to explore.  I had all the others closed up so they could meet each other through the fences. 

As I was heading back to the house my phone rang.  Someone saw my ad at the local farm store and wanted to come see Telly and Chaps, my almost 10 week old wethers.  They got here 30 minutes later.  Not only did they want to buy Telly and Chaps but Clifford also won them over and they want him too.  Of course he can't leave his mom for 5 more weeks but they left a deposit for all of them.  All the goats were on their best behaviour and couldn't have acted any sweeter.  I trained them well.  They will be pets on a large horse farm.  I'm sure their 8 year old son will love them.

To top off the day, I milked Principessa (we'll call her Pessa) and it was like no milking experience I've had yet.  Really, I was almost giddy.  Milking a big goat is nothing like milking a dwarf.  It all went so fast and she didn't budge the whole time I was milking.  I didn't even need James' help.  I just tasted the milk and it was delicious.

As I look out my window now the sky is a beautiful pink and blue.  In this picture you can see some glowing eyes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hike to Mt. Pleasant and Mt. Pompey

Look past the picture of me to see the beautiful views we had yesterday on our hike.  Up until yesterday I had been thinking it had been a pretty unremarkable Fall, but then I went on this hike with the Wayfaring Women (my women's hiking group) and the colors of the leaves were spectacular.  There were 11 of us on the hike, a record for us.  Usually there are 5 or 6 hiking. 

My friend, Rebecca, named our group.  It was her idea to form it in the first place.  She's a real planner so she called me and Laura up and we had our first meeting to plan a women's hiking group more than 3 years ago.  She cracks me up.  She even wrote a poem about the Wayfaring Women Of Rockbridge County.  Rebecca likes theme parties, adventures and has her family sing jingles on their answering machine.  She has more energy than just about anyone I know.  Anyway, she's a great person to have on our hikes because she is always enthusiastic.  At first I wasn't sure I liked the whole idea of committing to monthly hikes.   Hmmm, commitment.  I thought I liked the idea of spur-of-the-moment hikes but I know if we didn't plan and write them on our calendar it would never happen.  The women in the group are religious and not religious, Republican and Democrat which makes for some interesting discussions at times but mostly we have lots in common and we all love the outdoors.  

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We have soap

My goat milk soap looks like it turned out.  It was nice and firm so I could cut it.  I still wore my gloves when cutting because I was afraid it could still burn me.  Four weeks to go now until we get to try it out.  It smells interesting with just a hint of rosemary.  Maybe next time I make it I'll add a fragrence.  This time it's eau naturale.  Looking at the picture it looks like a pepper cheese, doesn't it?  Kind of makes me hungry. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Goat milk soap

Today I made my first attempt at making goat milk soap.  I won't know till tomorrow if it turned out or not.  Actually, I won't know if it's any good until 4 weeks from now when it's fully cured.  Who'd have thought soap could be so expensive to make and so dangerous?  I didn't, that's for sure.  I really knew nothing about soap making.  The ingredients are expensive, cocoanut oil, palm kernal oil, olive oil, almond oil, sodium hydroxide (which I was really scared to work with) and goat milk.  I sure hope it turns out and we like it.  I put rosemary in it. 

I wore my rubber gloves and goggles when I was working with the lye (sodium hydroxide) and was so careful because I read a horrible story about a young child pouring it down his front and losing some of his eyesight and burning his skin terribly.  How can something so caustic be used in something we bathe with?  Crazy! 

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More ideas

I have all these eggs.  What should I do with them?  It's a shame to throw away all those shells.   Of course we eat the eggs but the shells are so pretty, surely they could be useful for something.  I have a few ideas.  One of the ideas seemed brilliant but, like the paint-sprayer-milking-machine-idea, it didn't go quite like I pictured.  First I used my Dremel to drill a tiny hole in one end of 4 eggs and a little larger hole in the other end.  I blew out the egg to save for eating later.  To clean the egg inside and out I put the shells in boiling water with vinegar in it.  I boiled them for, oh, maybe 15 minutes.  I read that the outside of the shell has a coating on it and it was removed by boiling in vinegar water and then wiping them off.  The shells were lighter in color and not as pretty.  I drained the shells and let them dry.  Next I put them in very hot vinegar water with orange food coloring in it hoping to make the eggs pumpkin colored.  They barely changed colors at all.  Oh well, it didn't matter because I was going to coat them in sugar anyway.  First I rolled them in a thinned down Elmers glue water then rolled them in sugar.  I didn't have enough glue in the water I guess because the sugar stuck all clumpy-like in some places and popped off later.  I rinsed them off and started again with more glue.  This time it stuck but still wasn't beautiful.  The next job was to fill them with chocolate with a little almond flavoring.  I melted the chocolate and put it in a plastic baggy with a hole cut in the corner.  I squeezed the chocolate into the larger of the 2 holes in the egg which I didn't make nearly big enough.  The chocolate was burning my hand because I couldn't do it fast enough.  Can you guess what happened next?  Because the egg shell got so hot the sugar melted off.  Crimini!  I rinsed the egg again and drew a face on it.  So now I have one egg filled with chocolate.  I gave up on the rest.  I thought it would be a really neat idea to crack open an egg and find it filled with chocolate. 

Here's my next idea for the egg shells, fill them with homemade goat milk soap.  They'd make really cool soap molds don't you think?  I'll let you know how it goes.

It worked!

My milker worked, not perfect, but it worked.  It needs a few adjustments but I'm pretty pleased.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about read the post below this one for an explanation.

The only glitch is the baby bottle nipple.  I need to get another 20 cc syringe so I can attach the tubing directly to it so I won't need a nipple.  The nipple collapses when the pressure is too great.  For some reason it worked really well on one of Strawberry's teats but not the other.  I'm going to get this right.  Maybe the milker will stretch her teats so I can milk by hand.  I don't think she minded this at all.  She kept right on eating and ignoring the milking.  Hooray!

Some ideas make perfect sense

until you try them.  I try to be clever and save some money but it doesn't always work that way.  Here's my latest.  Ever since baby goat Clifford was born I've been concerned how I was going to milk his mama, Strawberry.  Her teats are itty bitty.  She makes Polly seem very buxom.   Okay, I guess you don't call a goat buxom, but you get the idea.  Polly would be a D cup compared to Strawberry's AAA.  So I went to my trusty goat forum because I remembered reading how people made their own milkers so they didn't have to do it by hand.  An electric milking machine is about $1,500.00.  The cheapest hand held, manual milker is $45.00.  The folks on the forum posted pictures of their homemade milkers and I thought I could make one too.  I went to our farm store and bought an Allflex Ultra Precision Syringe for $19.00.  I also bought a 20 cc plastic syringe and removed the plunger.  I attached the small end of the plastic syringe to the tube of the Allflex applicator syringe and went out to try it on Strawberry.  It was a bust, not enough suction.  I was disappointed and glad I saved the receipt for the $19.00 applicator syringe.  Hmmmm, I couldn't quit there.  I remembered we had a Wagner Power Painter that sucks the paint through a tube into the machine and sprays out the other end.  Sounded like a milking machine to me.  I spent many hours yesterday cleaning it out and studying how it worked.  I attached the plastic syringe to the sucking end after cutting the end of the syringe off to make it just a tube with a flange at one end.  That's a picture of it above without the plastic syringe attached.  The only problem I could see was that it had to stay primed with liquid to keep sucking.  When we tried it this morning I had a bucket of water in the stall with me along with the machine and extension cord (it was pretty cramped in there).  I primed the sprayer and then quickly held the syringe cup on Strawberry.  James held the sprayer hose over the bucket and let the water run through.  He was instructed by me to move it to the pan when he saw milk begin to come through.  It worked!  Well, it worked until I removed it from one teat and put it on the other.  It lost its suction real fast and we got no more milk.  Poor Strawberry, she's such a trooper to put up with my nonsense.  The machine was very loud and I could tell she didn't like it but she stood there and hardly moved.

Back to the drawing board.  I went on the internet and looked up the Maggidan's Milker available for $45.00, thinking maybe I should just break down and buy it.  Oh my gosh, the milker looked exactly like the first Allflex Ultra Precision Syringe only with a shorter tube.  Aha!  That's what I need to do, make the tubing shorter like James suggested the first day.  I didn't cut it because I was afraid it wouldn't work and then I couldn't return it and get my money back.  So I cut it.  When I went to attach the plastic syringe I remembered I had cut the end off it to fit the large tube on the paint sprayer so it was too big to fix to the rubber tubing so I took a baby bottle nipple, which I had in case I had to feed one of my babies, and put it on the end of the plastic syringe and cut a little bit larger hole in the sucking end for the tubing.  Can you picture it?  I'm sure you can't so here's another picture.  I attached the piece of cut off tubing to the spray end of the Allflex "gun" and ran that tube into a canning jar with a hole drilled in the lid.  Everything was attached with electrician's tape.  Very professional.  Ask me how it works.  I don't know because I haven't tried it yet.  I'm feeling confident though.  I'll post the results when I have them, along with some other ideas I have involving eggs, Halloween and soap making.  One of my friends told me I have too much time on my hands.  Impossible!

Julie and Julia

I haven't been to a movie in years.  We usually watch movies from home on long after the movie has been in the theater.  Last night 2 of my girlfriends and I went to see Julie and Julia.  I'm so glad I did.  If you haven't seen this movie you should.  As I typed that I'm wondering if everyone would love it as much as we did.  I love to cook and I like to blog but I don't think it matters if you know anything about Julia Child, blogging, cooking or not.  It's still very funny and touching and the food and drink will make your mouth water.  They depict Julia as a hilarious, high-spirited, amazon of a woman whom everyone seemed to love.  Meryl Streep is magnificent.  The young woman, Julie, is also great.  She has a depressing job and her husband talks her into keeping a blog.  She decides to cook all the recipes in one of Julia's cookbooks in one year and blog about it every day.  She falls in love with her idea of Julia Child and becomes obsessed with everything Julia.  You'll fall in love with her too.  The movie jumps back and forth between the 2 and had my attention till the very end.  I won't tell you anymore about it just in case you go see it.  Tonight I'm going back again with James.  We have a cheap movie theater nearby, $4.00 last night and $5 or $6 tonight.

Today I'm making sourdough bread but I feel like I should make something heavenly and French for dinner.

Bon Appetit              P.S. After seeing this movie I feel like I should be much more creative with my blog. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Clifford's birth

I decided to post the link with video of Clifford's birth so you can decide whether you want to watch it or not.  The ending is very disappointing because right after his head comes out I walk in front of the camera and the video stops.  You miss the good part of seeing the tiny guy right after he's born.  I'm afraid we were too wrapped up in it all and weren't that concerned about the video at the time.  Sorry. 
I bet if you go on YouTube you can see a goat birth on there.  You can find just about anything on YouTube.   Here it is if you'd like to see.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Elk Cliff Clifford

The link above is to a video of Clifford, my new baby.  Actually he's Witty and Strawberry's baby.  In the video Clifford turns around a few times so you can see all sides of him.  I also have a video of the birth but I'm not sure if people would like to see that or not so I'll think about it and maybe post it later.  I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching kids be born.  It's so exciting and we've been lucky that we've had easy kiddings so far.  It's interesting seeing the difference in mothering between Polly and Strawberry.  For the first few weeks of Telly and Chap's lives Polly rarely left their sides.  Strawberry, on the other hand, goes out to graze while Clifford is sleeping.  Clifford seems to be more independant too.  When he's tired of her attention he finds a little hideaway to take a nap where Strawberry can't get to him to lick him.  Different strokes for different goats I guess.

To be continued.....