Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mushroom Hunting in the Beaver Ruin

Yesterday was a beautiful day so I decided to go for a hike and do some mushroom hunting. I hit the "Beaver Ruin" first since it is absolutely full of dead trees.  It is amazing how destructive beavers are. 
Some of these trees are too big to put my arms around. Not too big for them to take down though. 
 This is not a place you want to be stuck in a wind storm, or even a breezy day! These trees aren't dormant, they are dead. 
Walking in this grass is treacherous. It is hiding fallen trees.
Ah, success.  Some of the oysters were a bit past prime. I should have hunted last week.
But I still managed to fill a basket. 
Predator prints...
And a big deer!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Merry Christmas

Where has the time gone? I feel like we just hosted Thanksgiving here and now I am running out of time to get Christmas together.

We have been frantically decorating and cleaning up for a family party tomorrow. Hubby's extended family hasn't been down here in years and he's excited for them to see all the changes to the farm.I am starting to remember why I don't homeschool in December, but unfortunately I really need to this year as we are a bit behind on our language arts work.

Milking is winding down. I have dried up 2 of my does and need to dry two more next week. Kidding will start in mid-February this year. I am too excited! Check out this baby belly.This is Kat who earned a "Superior Genetics" designation from ADGA this fall.

I should have lots of kids available in the spring, so take a look at my Dairy Goats and Goats for Sale tabs. I will also be offering unregistered bottle bucklings for $50 as long as they are picked up before they are 10 days old.

My dad had to have surgery last month. Fortunately, he seems to be recovering well. He and my mom helped to install wood floors in my bedroom. That's been a big project!
I've been doing a bit of mushroom hunting. 
And deer hunting....

And in my other spare time, have learned to tan the hides. Do you think it's time for some "down time" now?

In case I don't update this again before Christmas, I hope y'all have a blessed holiday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

An Obsession with Cheddar

This is going to happen. I am bound and determined to make a decent cheddar.

Who knew cheddar would be so tricky? My previous attempts have come out so dry and crumbly, that they aren't even tasty. I've come to learn this is probably because of too much acid production.

I tried to compensate and ended up leaving too much moisture in my curd which led to them not aging properly. 

I am now armed with a pH meter and a growing understanding of what I am doing. These pictures are of two of my attempts from this week.

The cheese pictured above is a stirred curd recipe called "Twelfth Night". I am going to dress it up with some black wax today. I feel really good about how everything turned out with it. My only concern is that the pH seemed to drop a bit more than I wanted it to while stirring the curd. 

The cheese below is the goat milk cheddar recipe from "200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes". I'm afraid I dried the curd out too much on this one- cut it too small, stirred it too long, etc. The pH readings seemed okay, but I'm afraid it's going to be a dry cheese.
Today I am going to try a milled curd cheddar. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Baseball Game of the Season

And not a moment too soon. Having somewhere to be four nights a week has been killing me. It's probably half of the reason that my milk production has dropped so much. What can you expect when you're having to milk at 5pm and not again until 8:30am?

The good news is, it looks like all the goats except for Kat earned their milking star (*) last month. Kat kidded a month later than the others and then was bred very early this fall, so that's going to make it harder for her. I think she will get it on protein after the next test. She has produced 48lbs so far and needs 51.5lbs to earn her star that way. Had she been given a longer season, I know she would have had no trouble earning it on volume, that's just not the way things worked out this year.


I think after the November test I will drop back to once a day milking. I am going to miss the extra milk, but I am ready for a bit of a break. That should free up enough time for me to actually get out and hunt!


One of my friends has gotten two deer here already. The other sees them each time he is out, but has his eye on a particular buck. I'm not so picky, I'd just like to harvest my first deer!


Hubby got some telephone poles to put in a bridge across the creek. My hunting friends are helping with that next Saturday (not a bad trade-off, I'd say). That will alleviate my concern about shooting a big one across the creek and trying to drag it back over the beaver dam. I'll be able to drive the ATV over and pick it up! Look at me counting my deer before they're shot. We will also be able to get those huge oaks that fell over for firewood.


Now if only these last does would go in heat! I am still waiting on Buttercup, Alice, Lulu, and Dagny. I'm assuming Maddy is bred after the weeks she spent with Magnum. She's not gone into heat either.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Last Market of the Season

Tomorrow is the last Farmers Market of the year. I'm relieved. It's been really hard since school and baseball started.

I have been invited to work at a couple other fall festivals, but the fees seem very high to me. By the time I spend $30 for a table, I have to sell 9 or 10 bars (considering the cost of my supplies) to cover the admission. I sell 5 or 6 bars on a good day at the market.

Mom and I have spent hours wrapping soaps. They'll make wonderful Christmas presents. If you can't make it to the market/festival at Midland UMC on Saturday, feel free to contact me here or visit my Etsy store to order.

I already have orders for 21 bars. One lady wants them in 3-bar sets. I need to find a cute way to package that.


These are two new scents- lemon and apple pie. I can't wait to use up what I have in the shower so I can get into a bar of lemon. It smells so fresh.

I have had a bit of success on the cheese front too. This is a honey-rubbed farmstead cheese. I wish I had aged it a bit longer to develop the rind more, but it is creamy and delicious. 



This is another saffron-infused caciotta. It is so wonderfully creamy and mild.

The goats are starting to dry up with the cooler weather and most of them being bred. I am down to about 2.5 gallons a day now (we peaked at almost 6 gallons). 

Buttercup and Alice still have not gone into heat. I am starting to get anxious. The others have been bred a month now. Buttercup kidded 3/25 last year and I bred her on her first heat, so I guess as long as she goes into heat soon, she's just repeating the pattern. I was just hoping for all kids to be born by April 1. I want the kids to be big enough to breed by next fall and that gets harder the later they are born. 

I'd best brave the chilly weather and get the milking done. I have a big day of market prep and homeschooling ahead of me. 

Please come see us on Saturday. Midland UMC. Market is 9-noon. Festival is 11-3. We will be there all day!




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Update

I'm sorry I've been MIA. The kids are playing Little League and it's killing me. We didn't get home from the ball field until almost 10:00 last night. You could just tell that those boys didn't want to be there.


Breeding season is rolling along. Kat, Lovely, Scilla, and Trixie were bred over 21 days ago and have not come back in heat.  I'd planned to breed Buttercup and Alice a month later so I only have one month dry this year, but neither of them has cycled yet. I'm getting anxious about it now! I guess they read my thoughts and didn't want to tempt me to put them in with the bucks early.

We have been training the girls to come browsing with us. They're learning fast. It's home free once we get past the old fence line, but until then, they are still drawn towards my landscaping.


The kitties like to tag along with us.


I've had a few new cheese successes. One is a saffron infused farmstead cheese. The other is goat camembert. I wish I'd gotten a good picture of the first saffron. This pic is of a new one. It doesn't have its rind yet.


The Midland Farmers Market is closing out the season with a big church-wide festival on October 25. I have a lot to make and package to be ready! I'll find the time somewhere.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cheese Day

Today is the day to find the back of my milk fridge. It is filled to bursting with half gallon jars of white gold just begging to be part of the alchemical processes that will turn them into glorious blocks of cheese.

Cheese is truly a miracle. It's one of the few things I can think of (bread too perhaps) in which four ingredients can be transmuted into such culinary diversity by simply tweaking time and temp.


I am feeling ambitious today so am planning the following:

3 gallons Cabra al Vino
2 gallons Camembert
and
2-5 gallons of "I'm not sure yet" perhaps butterkase? Maybe a honey-rubbed farmstead cheese?

We'll see how far I get.

For the rest of this season, I am on a mission to do better with natural rind cheeses and not let them get away from me in the cheese cave. I think I need an accountability partner- someone to write me every morning at 8:30 and say, "Go check the cheeses. Now". Siri may have to do the job.

Y'all have a blessed day. I'll try to post the progress of some of these.