Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baking Soda

HI everyone,

Oh, how I miss you all!  I've had so many things I've wanted to post about!  I really don't have time to be posting, but this was already written.  I had left a comment on another blog, and realized that it was a ready made post, at least sort of, at least better than nothing...

I make my own toothpaste and deodorant with baking soda. I also use it in the dish washer with a little borax when I run out of dish washer soap. I clean with a mixture of baking soda and borax, or straight baking soda.

Toothpaste: baking soda (as much or as little as you want your batch of toothpaste to be), a few drops of essential oils of your choice. I like peppermint (for fresh breath), tea tree, lavender and grapefruit (all excellent antibacterial agents), some stevia powder, and enough coconut oil to make it into a paste. To make a re-mineralizing toothpaste, add some liquid trace minerals and/or calcium and magnesium powder. I also add some natural salt with trace minerals in it.

Deodorant: As much baking soda as you want for the size batch you want to make, a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil, and any other essential oils you want to use for scent, and enough coconut oil to make a thick paste.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to open the cupboard and make some more deodorant or toothpaste when a family member runs out, and never to have to put those things on a grocery list! :) Every item it the deodorant and toothpaste is something that is it the baking cupboard or medicine chest already.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

8-21-12 Harvest

This is today's harvest. The potatoes in the photo had to be harvested early because the cut worms left NOTHING above the soil. Thankfully we were able to harvest a few potatoes though. These are Kennebeck potatoes. We still have the Youkon Gold potatoes in the ground. They weren't hit as hard, so they should have some time to grow yet.

This is the first time we've grown potatoes, as hubby's opinion was we should grow things that cost more than potatoes. That has changed since we won't buy them at the regular grocery store any more. They're quite expensive at Whole Foods! So, anyway, I definitely have questions about potato growing. For one thing, I didn't think there were going to be ANY potatoes at all, since I never saw any flowers on the plants. I'd read in a gardening book that new potatoes were ready to dig when the flowers came on the plants? Also, when we were digging these, we ran across a few that were rotting, and in my daughter's words, "They smell like the pig pen. Is that why the pig pen stinks? It's all the potato peelings?" :) In other words, they stunk badly!! After a couple of those, dear daughter wasn't having nearly as much fun digging potatoes. She didn't want to accidentally touch another one of those! Were they rotting and stinky because the plants had died and we didn't get them dug soon enough? Someone please enlighten me!? Also, what happens to the "mother" potato? See, questions, always questions! :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Making Chevre and Feta

I finally accomplished a goal I've been working toward for at least three years now, though it's been five years since I first began thinking of the possibilities.  I was able to make cheese from my own goat milk! And what's even more exciting is it worked!! What's possibly the most exciting thing of all is that my kids even like it! :)
Hooray for goats! :)  For those of you who've been following my Nigerian Dwarf adventures, I'm very happy to report that the parasites seem to have backed off, and the girls are doing well now.  No more milk going to waste.  Oh, happy, happy day on the homestead!
I apologize for my overuse of exclamation points, but you know, it's been a good week... :)

First I heated the milk and added the diluted rennet and mesophilic culture.  This milk has been sitting for 12 hours, and it's ready for cutting the curd.  Do you see those funky, swirly marks in the top?  They're stir marks.  I think when I stirred the rennet and culture in, I almost stirred it too long.  Thankfully, I stopped when I did.
The curd is cut.

putting the curd in a cheese cloth lined colander.

Leftover whey.  This can be used fresh and unrefrigerated to make ricotta cheese, or used to make bread (just substitute the whey for the liquids in your recipe), or fed to animals.  I didn't feel like I needed another project at the time, so I fed it to my friend's pigs.  I ended up with a gallon and a quart of whey from two gallons of milk.

The curds hanging to get rid of all the whey.  I let them hang for about 14 hours.  I ended up with about 4 1/2 lbs. of cheese from 2 gallons of milk.
Out of the curds, I made two different types of cheese as my finished product.  I wanted a firmer curd that could be used as an easy feta as well as a chevre to make cheese spreads with.  To get that I heated the milk a bit more than called for in the chevre recipe as well as using a bit more rennet than called for.  I left some of the curds plain and just salted them.  In this picture are a fruit spread made by adding honey to the curds and blending them in the food processor until creamy, feta in olive oil with garlic and rosemary (because this cheese is in the olive oil, it doesn't need refrigerating.  It will last months on the pantry shelf.  At least that's what I've been told.  I guess we'll see for ourselves, if the cheese lasts months.  I doubt it will.), and roasted red pepper and garlic chevre.   

Saturday, August 4, 2012


We've been working on a few goat related projects for the last few days. Our new buck pen is nearly finished.
My sweet brother moved this lovely big rock into this space for us using his excavator. His little daughter LOVES the excavator, and now I love it too! :) It was so awesome of him to do this for us. I'd always wanted a real, genuine rock for the goats to play on. It's perfect for the bucks. They love playing king of the hill or napping on the rock.
The white "buck house" is really an old fishing shack. I think it'll work for a while, but at some point it will probably have to be replaced.
And the gate...I'm sure it isn't easy to miss, LOL! Hubby built it VERY solidly, so it would last a while. Here's a gate building tip: If you're ever going to build a gate, make it open IN. After several gates here, we've finally learned our lesson. It is SO much easier to get into a pen if you can "push" the animals away from the opening with the gate as you go in. I'm sure all of you knew that already. I'm a slow learner and not very observant, so I didn't know that, but I'm getting there. :)

This next project, I'm pretty pleased with. It's a hay feeder made of a crib rail. I'm not sure if I blogged about this or not, so if I did, bear with me.
All my trouble with hay feeders began when the goat kids were born this spring. Nothing was safe for them. I nearly had Shamrock get hung in one of the commercial hay feeders, and I've have a friend who had a kid hang herself in one of them. Another friend had a doeling break her leg getting hung up in one, so I took them down and put them on the outside of the wire fencing or security panels. That was safe, but I was never sure the goats were getting enough hay trying to get it through 2x4 inch rectangles.
 I then got a piece of a cattle panel with 6x6 inch squares, bent it into a crescent and attached it to the wall. I hoped that might work to keep the goats out of the hay and be safe, but the kids could get through the squares and quickly adopted it as a safe haven. Of course, they used it as a bathroom as well.
A lady on a forum I belong to had the idea of using a crib rail to make a hay rack, so I decided to try it. I finally got the guts to try out the plan I had formed in my mind for building it. This was my first building project, and I'm really pleased! I only had to have hubby help with two cuts on the table saw, and hanging it on the wall. I've been really wanting to get better at using tools and building things, especially since hubby has said, "This buck pen is my LAST goat building project, and I MEAN last." Okay, I know it's just a hay rack, but it has given me some confidence. I'm pretty sure I'll be trying my hand at some more projects in the future! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Garden and Chicks

Mama and her adopted brood.  There are five chicks, but one is usually under mom.. 

Still five, four under mom.  She is very careful of her chicks, and very patient even when they peck at her eyes.

The lone lettuce plant

A jungle of tomatoes and broccoli.  It's even worse now, as these photos are already a week or two old.

Jalapenos are doing well this year.  Usually I can't get them to grow very big.  But it's hot out there!  Hot enough to grow hot peppers! :)

Puny cucumber plant.  There are four of them.  I planted about 30.  Sad...and not one flower on them yet.  Hopefully they'll make up for lost time and give me a few, anyway.

Potatoes.  I think the ones on the right are Youkon Gold.  I can't think of what the others are right now.  At this moment they look even worse than in this picture.  Especially those on the left.  The foliage looks downright on deaths door.  I've never grown potatoes before, so I don't know what normal is, but to me they look bad.  And I don't think I've seen any flowers on the plants.  I thought flowers were supposed to form, and at that time there would be "new potatoes" to eat?  Please, enlighten me.

My broccoli usually doesn't grow well, as you could probably see in the above jungle pic.  The heads are so tiny, not enough to feed one person if I picked it all, and while I'm waiting for it to grow larger it flowers out and is wasted.  This plant is actually producing a lovely head that looks like what I'd expect it to.   yay!

Harvest for tonight's supper.
My garden has pretty much had to fend for itself this summer, as I'm really busy with the rest of life.  Goat care and milking takes up about two to three hours of each day right now, with 7 sets of hooves to trim, fighting parasites, cleaning up after them, taking them to pasture, hauling water, milking and caring for milk and milking equipment.
Right now, sadly, we've had to do some pretty aggressive treatment for threadworms, so all that lovely milk is going to the neighbors pigs.  Happy pigs, sad us...And I'd wanted to avoid dewormers so badly.  However, things are looking up, so in about five days we should be back in the lovely, clean, creamy white bliss again.  Hooray!

Happy Wednesday to all you lovely blog pals! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Fun Pics

The boys, Aspen and Shamrock

Swimmin' in the river

dock jumping

Dock jumping ninja
Chicks and garden coming soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Catching Up

 I'm hoping to catch up on what's been happening here this summer.  I'd love to get some photos of things other than goats up soon, but first I have to find my camera so I can upload them.
We've been able to squeeze a ton of summer fun into the last two months.  The weather has been wonderfully warm for water activities, which has meant lots of tubing and swimming.  The "Big Lake" has been 70 degrees many days, so the kids and Dan have been jumping off the dock in the bay near our house.  I just watch and take the pictures :)  I'll post a few as soon as I find that camera!  Before the lake warmed up so much we had the local river to play in, and I've got some pics of that to show you as well.  We have a great spot for swimming and playing.  It's like a water park just for us!  There's a water fall that flows into a pool where the kids get right in the water fall, and there's a flat rock formation that makes a water slide into the next pool down.  The river is usually not as full as it stayed for so long this spring and early summer.  Since we have this enormous ridge running the length of our county, the rivers run fast during spring thaw and hard rains, but are nearly dry the rest of the time.  By the time I remembered to bring the camera, the water level was down, but you will still get an idea of what it's like when I'm able to post pics.
The garden this year hardly deserves an update of its own, but today I was encouraged when I went out there.  Things are actually coming along now, and it's somewhat of a jungle out there.  Much more than I'd expected with the slow start I got and the failure to germinate that so many of my seeds had.  It was quite a strange phenomena how so many of our gardens had such trouble with germination this spring.  The strangest part for me was that so many of the seeds kept "popping out" of the ground.  I'd go out and find nearly the whole row of bean seeds sitting on top of the soil.  I'd poke them all back in and one or two would stay in and sprout.  Others would pop out of the ground again.  I'd poke them in again and another one would sprout.  That happened a few times and then so more sprouted.  The same thing happened with the squash, zucchini and cucumbers.  Out of about 8 rows of carrots, maybe four carrots came up.  One lettuce plant, one radish, absolutely no dill, four cucumber plants out of about 25...VERY strange.  Perhaps some of you have found out why things were so crazy, but unfortunately I haven't had much time to read (or write) blog posts lately.  I'm hopefully going to be able to slowly catch up soon though! :)
I've also got some pics of the chicks hatching in our incubator.  Molly got 5 eggs to hatch, then put the chicks under a broody hen.  She was thrilled with them, and is an absolutely terrific mother.  It's so fun to watch  them, and a big bonus that we don't have to raise the chicks.
So, next post will be pictures of what I've posted about today, but since the only recent photos I've got on this computer are ones of the does browsing that I took with my daughters camera today, that's what I've posted.  Next post, no goats...No, I mean it!  Really! ;)
It's nice to be back.  Hopefully I'll be here more often now.

Starlight's daughter, Lil' Bet

Panzy reaching for a leaf that caught her eye

Starlight and daughters, Ginger and Lil' Bet

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Daughter's Blog

I'd like to invite you all to stop by my daughter's new blog.  She's one super creative and talented girl, and I'm sure you'll enjoy your visit! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Catching Up

I thought I would finally try to catch you all up on what's been going on around here.  Mostly, we've been trying to finish up on our school year and taking care of goats.  We are really winding down on school, and going to finish up some of the last priorities slowly.  We really need summer vacation NOW!

I finally started planting things in the garden.  I really cheated this year and bought quite a few plants already started.  I got 8 tomato, 8 broccoli, 8 cabbage, 8 celery and 2 cayenne pepper plants.  They're all tucked in and nicely growing so far.  I did manage to plant potatoes a while back and they're growing nicely as well.  Just yesterday I finally planted the onion sets, so now I'll be anxiously waiting for them to come up.  My little girls started two pea plants and a corn plant indoors, and they've gone into the garden as well.  Very cute. :)  All in all it's been a very slow start with the garden.

My little goats have kept me very busy up to now, but I think it's getting easier.  I had each doe kid in her own little pen and let her bond with her babies there first.  When the youngest were 2 weeks old, I tried to begin separating all the babies from their dams at night and milking in the morning.  After 2 days, the twins got diarrhea.  I separated them all again, cleaned everything and waited to see what happened.  It seemed that they would have a short bout of diarrhea overnight, them be fine again for a number of days as long as I kept them on only mom's milk and grass hay.  I also gave them some goat probiotics.  Finally, after several bouts of the diarrhea, and several total pen cleanings, I started cocci treatment on the twins.  After three days of treatment (with two more days to go) I cleaned every pen with bleach water, sprinkled DE on the floors, and cleaned all feeders and the dog kennels we put in the pens for the kids to snuggle up in.  That alone took about 6 hrs. with my son's help.  I was satisfied that I'd done the best I could, and we put all the kids and moms together in the big pen with the outside run.  So far, so good!  We have now separated the kids from the dams for two nights in a row.  With the runt still with mom at night, I got a whoppin' quart of milk from all three does this morning!  That may not seem like much to you all, but I'm finally thinking this whole thing is starting to pay back.  I just had a nice cold glass of milk, and let me tell you, it was great!   I'd like to get more, but at this point I'd be satisfied with a half gallon a day.  Really, I should be able to get at least 3/4 of a gallon a day within the next couple of weeks.  I'm not ready to blame it all on the goats though, since we're all learning how to do this whole milking thing, goats and myself.  We're definitely getting better! :

The absolute hardest thing so far has been disbudding these cute little rascals.  I had to do my biggest buckling twice, and I DON'T recommend that EVER!  I don't think I'll ever be able to do that again.  He was so big by the time I knew I'd have to do it over that it was almost impossible even with hubby and eldest daughter all holding him down.  It bled a lot more then when they were small, too.  When I finally did get it all stopped and let him go, he scratched it with a hoof and started it bleeding again.  By then he wasn't letting us anywhere near his little head, so the best I could do was spray it with blue coat and let him go.  Poor guy!  However, he still loves us.  Go figure.  I guess we could all learn a whole lot from these animals! :

I'm having fun catching up on all your blog posts, but that's taking time.  I never would have imagined how much time and thought (downright head scratching thought, second guessing thought, down on my knees praying thought) these goats would take.  I'm so new at this, so I keep telling myself to give it time.  It will get easier, and I won't always be in such a conundrum about everything.  Please, all of you tell me I'm right about that! ;)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

 Hey all you fabulous blogger folks!  I do apologize for not writing much of anything here.  I've sure turned into a crummy blogger!  You just wouldn't believe what havoc six tiny winy little itty bitty goat babies can wreak.  It's fun havoc though!  I mean, really, how could these little dears NOT make you smile?  They're tons of fun, but broken computers aren't.
That's another reason for my not writing often.  I don't have time to wait for this dinosaur computer to load pages.  I mean, really, sometimes it's so slow that I have to wait for my typing to catch up.  I'm actually typing faster than the computer can load, and I'm not fast. at. all.  Here are five of the six little balls of cuteness.  Aspen was off on an explore I guess.  You can see more at the North Forest Farm blog.  I've been there a bit more than here out of necessity.  I have a cute little goat kid to sell, so I have to work on the blog.  I hope to be back here more regularly when the garden is fully in.  I am really behind!  Not only my computer is being slow this spring.  :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Kid Pics

  I couldn't resist adding more goat kid pics now that the kids are growing.  They're so fun to watch now that we can't seem to get anything done!  I did plant potatoes a couple of days ago though.  I could still be outside watching the kids play while moms grazed. :)

We had an interesting Mother's Day weekend that I'll share with you next time I post (whenever I get around to that).  Actually, I've had a TON going on that I could post about (including the human baby making her appearance), but no time to do it.  Either I have a lot of time, but nothing very interesting to say, or a lot to say and no time.

I do hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day! :)

SHAMROCK (aka Sham)

SUGAR MAPLE (sale pending)

MACINTOSH (sale pending)


BOUNCING BET (aka Little Bet)


Friday, May 4, 2012

Starlight's Triplets

CLICK HERE to see a post about Starlight's kids, born 5-2-12.  They are adorable!
I haven't written much about this first kidding season of ours, I know.  It's just been so much more work than I thought!
There are two extra reasons why it's been difficult.  I've been under the weather for this entire kidding season, and so has the rest of the family.  I spent the first week or so caring for a coughing, feverish crew.  I spent the second week coughing and feverish.  The second reason it's been more challenging than it may have been is that Dan (hubby) badly sprained his foot falling off a ladder at work.  He's been spending a lot of time on his back since his foot is mostly supposed to be elevated above his heart.
Oh, and there's a third reason!  I've been trying to balance checking on goats during the night with getting enough sleep, since I am also waiting for a human baby to decide it's time to make an appearance.  It's been hanging in the back of my mind this whole time causing some extra mental stress, but so far he or she is holding off on introducing him/herself.  However, no mental stress over that now, since I'm ready and (other than coughing) can sleep all night! :)

Last night one of Dan's rabbits had nine bunnies, so he's pretty stoked too!

Next big challenge:  disbudding babies for the first time. :(

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Babies

Cupcake kidded on Thursday evening. She and her twins didn't form a very solid relationship, so this week has had many challenges. She really didn't seem to have enough milk for them and ignores them most of the time, not paying any attention to their cries and sleeping across the barn from them. It's sad to see. I'm keeping a close eye on them, and have had to do a few bottle feedings. It seems that her milk is picking up now, but I'm not positive. Her kids are a lot more lethargic than Japanzy's. I'm hoping I don't end up with full on bottle babies. I'd so much rather they were dam raised. Any way, they're adoreable! We're enjoying this adventure a lot.