Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spilled Milk

You may have noticed I've grown my hair out (among other things) and colored it.  James seems to approve of the changes.

We've been getting so much milk lately I have to make cheese at least every other day and sometimes a few days in a row.   Much as I like making cheese, sometimes I want more days in between making it.  I need to find other uses for it - things I can do quickly, besides give it to the pig.
We eat homemade ice cream quite a bit in the summer and the recipe we use calls for a small can of evaporated milk.  James suggested I make some from our own milk.  Why not?  Turns out it's very difficult to do.  The ingredients?  Milk.  Tools?  A stove, pan, spoon and cheesecloth.  Read this very closely so you can do it yourself.  Here's the difficult recipe. 
Pour 1 gallon of milk into a large pan.  Place on stove.  Bring to boil then turn down to medium heat.  Keep stirring to keep the film from forming on top and milk from burning.  When milk is reduced to 40%  (this took me maybe an hour and a half) of original amount strain through cheesecloth to get out any clumps or skin.  I know this sounds challenging but you can do it.

Did that sound simple to you?  Well, it wasn't for me.  Sure the cooking part was easy but after that I ran into trouble.  In my last blog post I told you how I was having trouble getting into the swing of things.  That hasn't changed much.  I've been kind of numb for a week and a half.  I'm lazy, distracted  and not very interesting or interested.  I guess I wasn't thinking clearly because I poured the hot milk into a glass bottle which then cracked and my evaporated milk spilled all over the place.  It seemed to me like I should have cried over this but I didn't.  I don't think I even cursed, not out loud anyway.  I cleaned it all up and then strained what didn't get spilled into a pan.  It was slow to drain through the cheesecloth so I picked it up to swish it around a little to move things along.  How'd that work out?  Yeah, not so good.  I spilled more of it down the side of the stove and onto the floor.  I don't know how much evaporated milk I got out of my one gallon because I stuck the pan in the refrigerator, put some clothes on and went out to walk my donkeys. 

I may try this again on a better day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


James and I went away for 4 days.  It was a great trip and all was well taken care of at the farm so I had no worries.  As much as I enjoyed our time away, it was great to come home.  So why do I have a hard time getting back in the swing of things?   Does everyone/anyone else feel this way after a trip?

I was informed folks were tired of looking at peas on my blog.   I even had a hard time getting back to blogging.  I just didn't have anything to write about or maybe nothing seemed interesting to me.  I don't really know what it was. 

I'm happy to see the animals and the animal "chores" aren't that big of a deal now that I have a milking machine.  Yes, I broke down and finally bought a used one.  It's great.  I love it and I'm pretty sure our farm sitter appreciated it too.  Yesterday James and I moved all the boy goats over to the field so now I need to milk at night too.  The machine will really save my hands.  We got about 3 gallons of milk today.  Tomorrow has to be a cheese making day.

Roxie (the pig) is due in 2 weeks.  I'm looking forward to piglets.  I hope all goes well since I know very little about raising tiny ones.  I'm counting on Roxie to know just what to do when the time comes.   I wonder what sow milk tastes like.  I may have to steal a little.

The turkeys are growing fast and are having a harder and harder time getting through the fence but yesterday a woman stopped to tell me she threw one back over our fence that was out by the road.  I thanked her and gave her a bottle of goat's milk lotion.  I hope they don't fly over the fence once they're too big to walk through it.  While we were gone the turkey with the bad leg disappeared.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised but I felt bad for the little guy. 

July looks like a busy month for us with lots of company.  Summer has begun.  Tomorrow I hope to be back in the groove. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peas, peas, peas

I'm sure I blogged about this in the past, how we tend to eat the same vegetable night after night when it's in season.  I think we ate asparagus for a few weeks and lots of salads when lettuce was coming out our ears.  Well, now it's pea season. 

We've probably had peas every night for the past 5 nights.  Tonight we had friends for dinner and I wanted to make the peas a little more special.  What I did to them wasn't anything special but we all loved them.  I brought some water to boil then blanched them for no more than 2 minutes, then drained them.  If you're not ready to serve them yet you should put them in ice water so they don't continue to cook.  We were ready to eat so I left them hot and added a mixture of 3 Tbl. butter, 4 chopped up leaves of basil and 1 tsp. of grated grapefruit zest. 

Once the butter melted over them they were ready to eat.  I really loved the flavor of the grapefruit zest on them.  I'll do this again.  I had planned to use mint instead of basil but I couldn't find mint in our garden.  I don't know what happened to it.  The basil was nice though.

I went to a friend's for dinner earlier this week and she served a fruit galette for dessert so I copied her and made one today.  Again, another simple thing that tastes special and requires so little work.
James froze about 30 quarts of strawberries this year and today picked a bunch of black raspberries that grow around the perimeter of our property so that's what I used, mixed with a little sugar and flour.  The crust was just one of those Pillsbury refrigerated roll out crusts.  This was topped off with some goat milk ice cream. 

What's next?  I think the next thing to ripen in abundance is green beans.  I bet the basil butter and zest would be tasty on beans too. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It takes two to tango

Last night Adam texted me a picture of a stirfry he and Melissa made.  Adam grilled the chicken on their deck while Melissa cooked the rice and vegetables.  After a few texts back and forth he said, "it's more fun cooking with two people".  I agreed.  I can't imagine any dinner could taste bad from their deck though.
I told James about their meal and he said, "you and I prepare meals together".  He's right.  We may not share the kitchen or deck but it takes both of us to get our dinners on the table. 
James' gardens are beautiful this year.  June is a good month to take pictures so I did that today.
Here's an artichoke that won't make it to our dinner plates but it's picture-worthy, I think.

Keri and Lex are doing their own version of the tango in the garden where they don't belong.
This is not in James' garden but our cheese will be served alongside the vegetables he grew.  We have 40 lbs of cheese aging downstairs. 
I love that we both contribute to our meals, whether it be cooking it or growing it.  Adam's right, it's much more enjoyable when 4 hands prepare it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The turkeys are winning me over

It was hard getting excited about the turkey chicks' arrival since they showed up right around the time Rosie was dying.  Finally they've caught my attention.  Two days ago I was going to blog about them with a heading reading something like stupid turkeys.  I never got around to writing about them because the donkeys and bucks seemed more interesting.  Since Cooper and Jimmy's (the bucks) pen was vacated I decided to move the turkey chicks over there and get them out of the stinky shed.  I carried them in a plastic bin and set them free to run in the tall grass.  I had forgotten how turkeys make this peep peep peep all the time and this is how they call each other. They looked very cute wandering and peeping.  It took no more than 10 minutes and they discovered they could walk right through the fence and into the driveway.  Shoot!  I thought they were too big to fit through.  Actually, I hadn't really even thought about that. 

They were way more adventurous than any chicken we've ever had.  They covered a lot of ground in a very short time.  I was indoors and heard the familiar peep peep peep very close to the house only to find them on the basement steps.
I wasn't sure if they planned to stay there or if they'd find their way back so I loaded them in a box and returned them to their new space.  It was getting dark and half of them were heading out again until I chased them back in.  How frustrating.  I was sure they were going to be eaten during the night.  They finally settled in. 

Today they got lots of exercise but seemed to stay in the pasture area where most of the chickens and goats are and kept returning to their own pen.  That was nice to see.  I think they're getting the idea where they belong.  I drove the lawn mower into the pasture because the grass was so long it was hard to see the turkeys.  They came running after me, which reminded me of the turkeys 2 years ago that climbed onto the lawn mower and I had to quit cutting so I wouldn't cut them up before their time.  These little guys decided it was too noisy and ran off when they got close.  Good.  Maybe they're smarter than our other turkeys were.  The jury is still out. 

There is one turkey who can't cover as much ground as the others.  I haven't named him/her because I'm afraid he might not make it to November but he's begging for one.  He's got a bad leg and has to hop on just one.  He works so hard to get around. 

We went out to check on them tonight and they were all cuddled up in a pile in their fence where they belong.  What good turkeys.  Stay tuned. I'm sure there will be a stupid turkeys blog post eventually.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oh, Willo

Willo is one of my beautiful mammoth donkeys.  She's the one I "ride" most.  She's the youngest of the 3 and the peppiest.  She was the first to shed her winter coat and I think she's feeling pretty good because of it.  She looks like a different girl to me.  She's almost white instead of fluffy red, white and black.   This week I introduced a few things to her.  The first was a riding crop.  You know, I didn't even spank my son (except for one time) so it was kind of a big deal for me to actually use the crop on my sweet girl.  Well, it worked.  She moved forward when I used it.  Trust me, I didn't hit her hard.  My farrier assured me the sound is worse than the sting and that my other donkeys kick her way harder than I hit her. 

The second introduction was to two of my boy goats, Cooper and Jimmy.  I built the guys a shed in the field and moved them over there on the other side of the fence from the donkeys.  I gave them a day or 2 to meet through the fence and decided maybe they might like to do more than touch noses.  The boys may have been a little overwhelmed by Willo but they weren't too terribly afraid.  Jazz and Earl weren't near as interested in the goats as she was.  She decided Cooper was hers and no one else should mess with him.  If Earl or Jazz came near she kicked at them.  She kept draping her head over Cooper's back.  At the end of the video it appears Willo is in heat. Cooper is a pretty stinky buck so maybe this was the attraction.

At first I thought the boys didn't like it because sometimes they ran from her but this morning I separated them again and later I saw the boys cozied up against the fence by the donkeys.  Before I had separated them I saw Willo come out of their 8X8 five foot high shed.  It's amazing she fit in there.  I've decided to limit their togetherness for now just in case Willo gets to be too much for them.

Today James and I painted the donkeys' barn.  We got quite a bit done even with the assistance of our equine helpers.

Willo and Jazz both thought red paint might make for pretty lips.

The red lips really add to her sleek new feminine look.  I don't know, would you call her a paint donkey?