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

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! :)