Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

This is going to have to be short and sweet because I am covered up today and I awakened feeling a bit under the weather.  I didn't milk last night, so the girls and stomping their hooves. I have food to make for a Halloween party tonight, baseball practice this afternoon, homeschooling to do, and if I don't get this house picked up, I may have a nervous breakdown. I still have the soup pot in the sink from Monday night's dinner.

Kat had to go back with Magnum yesterday. That's 0 for 3 on the first heat of the season. 0/2 on Magnum. I know it's too early to worry, but I'm not happy that my backup plan (Westley) fell through. It's adding way more stress to my life right now.

The deer have returned to the garden once since I put up the new charger. I have barricaded the entire perimeter so they can't squeeze through. So far, so good, but I still have to get out there and replant everything. The chicken coop needs cleaning and compost from the barn and coop need to be spread up at the garden.

I don't foresee any of that getting done today.

And I need a shower. That I really need to fit in!

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Clucky Lucky

Our little "tetra tint" pullet, Lucky,  disappeared this week. We got her from TSC this spring. She's some kind of leghorn mix that lays brown eggs. After a couple days MIA, she turned up! Broody! Behind all the hay in the loft.

First off, what bird goes broody in October. Secondly, what kind of leghorn goes broody at all?

Lucky is sitting on a clutch of 10 eggs now. I'm going to have to figure out how to get them all down from the loft when they hatch.

I finally got around to making some homemade English muffins. I've been meaning to try it forever. I love them, but they are so expensive at the store and we try to eat only homemade bread using freshly ground wheat. Wide mouth canning lids make the perfect forms, but it took a little practice to determine just how much dough needed to go in each one.

It's been cold here so I've cranked up the wood stove. The kitty cats are in heaven!

That black mass on the green rug is actually another cat.

Can anyone identify this creepy crawly? He was down in by the buck pen. Florescent green and about as big as my thumb. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rodents on Stilts

Mom and I have been working so hard on the garden. She grew all the plants from seeds and I have been out there babying them, picking off every last cabbage looper, treating every ant mound, singing to them, petting them, you get the idea.

I brought hubby up there Sunday afternoon and we made plans to take down the existing electric fence and fence in the entire upper pasture with high fencing, more than doubling the size of the garden and allowing us to access all parts through one gate. Right now I have a hodgepodge of fences that I've added on as I need more room.

I went up there yesterday afternoon to finish planting the last of the seedlings and came across near total destruction!

The romaine was eaten off as was most of the cabbage. Half the chard, collards, and cauliflower. The broccolirabe was stripped of its leaves, but I think it will recover. We lost several broccoli. They even sampled the dill!

Hoof prints were everywhere. I believe they snuck in through the fence wires on the south end of the garden. It was like they spent an hour at the "buffet" sampling every last little plant I had tucked in every corner of the garden. Jerks. I'm convinced the only good deer is a deer in the freezer.

I knew that if I didn't take drastic action, the bits that remained would be taken out overnight. I took down the solar fence charger, stuffed my pockets with the money I'd made selling the minimancha doelings, trekked off to TSC, and picked out the meanest A/C charger I could find.

The new charger can't be put out in the elements like the solar charger, so I had to devise a protective box for it and run a drop cord to the barn for juice. I'm rather proud of my handiwork. Zip ties are almost as good as duct tape in DIY projects.

I hope my chickens are smart enough to stay away from it! Then I grabbed the cattle panels we'd used to trellis tomatoes this summer and ran them along the inside of the rabbit fence on the south end in hopes that they'd get a good zapping trying to come in the way they did the previous night.

All in all, I spent over $150 and an entire afternoon putting a bandaid on a fence that we're replacing anyway! I guess I can justify it in that we were going to need the charger for Westley anyway and now we don't.

I haven't checked the garden yet this morning. Pray my defensive measures worked!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

End of the Week Update

I finally moved the doelings into their own pen. Much crying ensued from them and their mama. I really should have separated them earlier, but had no place to put them until Hubby built the new pen for Westley. I've also been using that pen as the breeding pen. I wrote to their buyer asking for the balance due on them and the boarding she owes me. No reply yet.

As soon as I'd gotten both little girlies moved, here comes Phoebe back in heat! So Abraham had to do his business on a leash and I got to smell like a billy goat all day. I couldn't take the chance of him messing with the wee girlies. They're still to young to be bred and Abe has ears- they do not. That's all we need is a mini-mancha-alpine hybrid. I also reinforced the cattle panel with extra poles and some chicken wire to discourage through-the-fence breeding. Ike almost managed that feat with Kat. My girls are such hussies!

"Selfies" with Phoebe. She was practically sitting in my lap when I took her out of the breeding pen. I thought she'd had enough. She thought differently.

Speaking of Westley, I'm not getting him afterall. He turned up CAE pos in his test results. His breeder is devastated. Her entire herd tested negative less than a year ago. She took him to a show since the last test, but he shouldn't have been able to contract it there. 

We got some much needed rain on Thursday which washed out elder twin's baseball game (much to the relieve of this exhausted mommy) and washed out my mom's inspection of the vegetable garden. Strawberry buckets double as rain gear- she had just done her hair. We are still getting beautiful peppers and eggplants. Most of the fall crops are in now. That's lettuce to the right of Mom and broccoli to the left.

Those blasted ants ate off two cauliflowers. I DE'd the heck out of them. They didn't seem to mind.

Look what my awesome Father-in-law brought me this week! I feel like I should do one of those "who can tell me what this tool is used for?" surveys. But I won't. It's a creep feeder for the pigs. Pour the feed in the top (instead of on Pork Chop's head), it stays dry and clean and comes out in measured amounts at the bottom.

Ash is almost 100% recovered from his surgery. Poor boy. He's been a bit more vocal this week. I can't stand dogs barking and he's usually pretty quiet. Payback for removing his man parts? Ugh. I tell myself when he wakes me at 3am that he's just doing his job, but I am pretty sure he was barking at armadillos and not coyote the other night.

I've been managing to get a few ripe figs each day before the birds can take them. I think I got 7 yesterday. A record!

My hubby is the best! He got home yesterday afternoon after 2 weeks working trade shows and brought me goodies. A truck full of hay and a whole trailer load we have to go pick up. It was decorating the Chevy booth next to his and they didn't want to haul it all out of there, so they gave it to us! And he brought 2 gallons of honey! Can anyone say "mead"?! I am so excited.

Lowes had fruit trees on sale so he took me to get a few things. I got a Meyer lemon, a Ruby Red grapefruit, and a Mandarin orange. They will be joining the Persian lime I have on my deck where I can cover them or bring them in if we get any cold snaps over the winter. Hay, honey, and fruit trees not clothes and jewelry- my I'm an odd one.

And I'll leave you with a little game of "Find the Treefrog". Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 18, 2013


Here are the pictures of the soap we made on Tuesday. Terrible pictures but you get the idea.

The crinkle cut bars were in a wooden mold I borrowed from another of my girlfriends. The insulating properties of the wood allowed the soap to get warmer- hence the darker color. That fragrance also contains vanilla which I read can brown in cold process soaps. I am hoping for my own wooden mold for Christmas. I'd like one that's small enough to fit in the fridge so I can keep the milk cool as the soap cures.

The flower bars I should have left in the fridge longer. They heated up some in the middle causing the swirled color. It's becoming less obvious as they cure though. Come on, if it looks too perfect it doesn't look handmade. Right? Right? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I had a hard time getting these bars to cut without cracking. I think I need one of those straight edge blade cutters- like the crinkle cutter, just...well...straight. Some of the pretty wooden soap molds come with them, so I'm going to hold off on eBay searches. For at least the next 30 seconds. Hey look there's one for only $3.00. Wonder how long it will take to get here from Hong Kong....

As with anything else, practice makes perfect.

I want to do a few more batches but I ran out of lye. And since lye cannot be purchased locally anymore, I have to wait on UPS (thanks a lot you stinking meth labs- I'd like some cold medicine without having to hand over my first born too). I bought a trial pack of mica pigments I'm anxious to try.

How beautiful is this soap I saw on Etsy? I know with enough practice I can make some nearly as pretty!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goat Milk Soap

I spent the afternoon making soap with one of my best friends. We made three batches- Honey/Almond, Teakwood, and Coconut.

I will take more pictures when I unmold it tomorrow.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Goat Butter

I started freezing  milk for the winter this week. I figure I'm going to need about 24 half gallon bags to make it through the dry spell. It's hard to imagine I will be going from drowning to dry in a few months.

I separated a couple of gallons of milk for butter. Goat butter is a little different than cow butter. It's white not yellow and has a lower melting point. Putting a chunk on your tongue is a neat experience. It just sort of dissolves.

This time since I had so much cream, I decided to make the butter in the kitchen aid instead of the blender. Big mistake. My splash guard has gone missing and I had to stand for 15 minutes with tea towels to catch splashes.

Here's how to make goat butter:

First you will need goat cream. I used a cream separator, but you can also leave your jars of milk undisturbed for several days and scoop the cream off the top.

Chill cream to about 50 degrees. Pour into the blender and start beating it. After about 5-10 minutes in the blender, you will hear a distinct splashing sound as the butter separates from the buttermilk.

Now you want to scrape all that butter into a bowl of cold water. Icy cold works best, because it will be very soft at tap water temp- it may be different where you are, but the cold water comes out lukewarm in the summer down here.

With a spatula, kneed the butter against the side of the bowl to remove all the buttermilk. You will need to refresh the water several times. The butter will go rancid rather quickly if the liquid is not removed.

Save that lovely buttermilk for pancakes.

When the wash water is nearly clear, it's time to remove the water from the butter by working it against the side of the bowl. An ice bath may help here if the butter gets too soft. Many people use butter paddles for this job, but I don't have any. The liquid runs down the grooves in the paddles as you work the butter.

Salt your butter with some sea salt. A little seems to go a long way- I've oversalted before. The salt will help to preserve your butter and releases more moisture- be sure to drain it off.

Now mold your butter. I would love to have a cute butter mold. I don't so I made due with a soap/chocolate mold I've yet to use for soap. You can also roll the butter in wax paper to form a log. That's the method I'll use next since the mold didn't work very well for me.

Enjoy your butter!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Town Digs up 50 Year Old Law to Block Chickens and Goats

I came across this story yesterday.

You would think that with so many people trying to get back to the land and the roots of their food supplies, this town might pay more attention to its citizens and public sentiment. Towns all over the country are changing regulations so people can have a couple backyard hens. Oakland City seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

In the article it says, "City council is granting one exception". Either the law is for everyone or it's not. When our Founders said that all people are created equal, they meant that laws apply equally to all people. A city council should not have the right to single out one person anymore than The Regime has the right to exempt unions and other cronies from Obamacare.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Asher Goes to the Vet

Asher went to the vet this morning to get neutered. I first called the vet that I have taken my cats to in the past. The cost was $255 to do the surgery. They told me that Ash would have to stay overnight, and they weren't happy that I had administered his puppy shots. I was to bring my documentation but they would not guarantee they would accept it. I called another vet.

It took me 15 minutes to get his fluffy butt into the car to go this morning, but I finally managed and arrived at "Affordable Vet" just slightly behind schedule.

Asher was a dear sweet boy and they all loved him there. He topped the charts at 93 pounds, which cost me an extra $15 in anesthesia, but he was a trooper. When I came in to pick him up at 4:00 I could recognize his cry from the lobby. At home he's a pretty quiet boy, but he wanted nothing to do with that crate. I called to him in the back room and told him "Mommy's here. It's okay, Ash" and he quieted down.

He is very happy to be home tonight instead of stuck in a kennel and the whole thing including 6 months of Trifexis (heartworm/flea control) cost me only $233.

The thing that really struck me in this whole thing, is how much he really loves me. I've never been a dog person, and to be honest, Asher still is a side affect of the goats. But I love him. And he really, really loves me. And that's pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Low Chill Apples

It's fall and I'm craving apple cider. And spiced donuts, because spiced donuts are a must with apple cider. Then my cyber-friend Kris had to post about her homegrown apples and cider. I'm so jealous.

It's not looking like I'll get a trip to the mountains this fall. It's just too hard to get away with all that's going on here. And we are more known for our peaches and pecans in this part of the country. Local apples are unheard of.

We had a very mild winter followed by a late frost, so we lost all of our peach, apple, and pear blossoms. But last year- last year I had glorious apples. In June. That's the thing with southern apples, they come early. Like before the peaches early.

Apples (along with various other fruit trees such as apricots, plums, and nectarines) have a winter chill requirement. That's the number of hours below about 45 degrees between November and February. That means that here in central Georgia, I can't just grab any old apple tree and throw it in the dirt. A Gala, for example, is going to require about 600 chill hours. That's just not going to happen here.

Here are a few varieties with low chill requirements for warm climates:

Anna-  Chill hours 200-300. Developed in Israel, Anna is a light green apple with a red blush, crisp flesh, and a nice tartness. Requires a pollinator.

Ein Shemer- Also developed in Israel, this apple has a slightly higher chill requirement of 350 hours. This is a Golden Delicious type apple with a nice tart flavor. Self pollinating.  This is the variety I have. I will note that it took my tree about 8 years to bear.

Dorsett Golden- Requires only 250 chill hours. This is a great choice as a pollinator for Anna. This apple has yellowish skin and a firm, crisp flesh. Requires a pollinator.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Goat Milk Mozzarella Recipe

I think I've about got it! I have nearly perfected mozzarella from raw goat milk. If you've followed this blog any length of time, you've likely heard me complain that I could not make a decent mozzarella. I can make 30 minute mozzarella with a gallon of grocery store milk all day long, but no dice with fresh goat milk.

So I decided to try traditional mozzarella using thermophilic cultures. This took a lot longer and while the results were delicious, I still could not get a stretch. I concluded that it wasn't developing the proper acid and decided to leave it to sit overnight. And guess what? It stretched!

Here's the recipe I've come up with:

Raw Goat Milk Mozzarella

2 gallons goat milk
1/4t thermophilic culture
1 1/2t animal rennet
Kosher salt

Start this recipe in the evening so the final curds can sit overnight for approx. 8 hrs.

Slowly heat milk to 95*. This should take about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle starter over milk and let rehydrate for 5 minutes. Mix well using an up-and-down motion. I usually give it 30 strokes. Cover and maintain 90*-95* for 45 minutes.

Dilute rennet in 1/4c nonchlorinated water. Mix into the milk using the same method I mentioned above. Cover and let sit at 90*-95* for an hour. Give it longer if you haven't gotten a clean break.

Cut curds into 1" pieces and let sit for 30 min. Using low heat, raise the temperature to 104* over 30 min. Stir from time to time to make sure curds don't clump together. Remove from heat and let curds settle for 15 minutes.

Scoop curds into a colander lined with damp cheese cloth and let drain for about 15 minutes. Cover and save the whey for stretching tomorrow morning.

Place the curds in a pot and put them in a warm place overnight. I used my oven with the light on, but this got a bit too warm (it was 110* when I got up) and allowed the curd to release more moisture and develop a bit more acid than I'd intended. Next time I'll place it in a water bath in the oven with the light on and door cracked.

In the morning, heat the reserved whey to 175*.  Place a chunk of the curd, I used 1/6 for each ball, in another pot and cover with the hot whey. Let it sit for several minutes until the curd has softened then gently stretch the curd until it is about a foot long and fold it over on itself. Do this once or twice more then form into a ball. Place into a bowl of cold water and repeat with the rest of the curd.

Put your cheese into a brine solution (I used 1/2c kosher salt to 1qt water) for a few hours. Don't store it in the brine or it will get soggy on the outside.

The curd will lose its squeak in a day or two. Enjoy immediately or over the next 7-10 days!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Trixie is Bred

That should be two does bred now. I'll know for sure in 3 weeks. This would put her due date at March 3. I am praying for twins. I don't want Trixie to go through another horrible triplet pregnancy.

I used my new square cheese mold to make a more uniform version of my feta. I think it turned out really pretty. I am going to put this in a light brine instead of in olive oil. That much oil is costing me too much.

The pig pen needs cleaning today. I've been trying to do it every Saturday, but they were too stinky yesterday to let it go yet another day- I'm afraid my neighbors could smell it way over at their house! The pigs should be done before Christmas. I watched a video on salt curing your own hams and bacon and may have to try the bacon thing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Garden nearly in! I have to get some of the seedlings transplanted into the garden, but they're not big enough yet, so Mom is still babying them on her deck. The lettuces are starting to come up. I have garlic, onions, beets, carrots, collards, swiss chard, and broccoli-rabe planted.

The eggplant, peppers, and butterbeans are still growing like crazy. With such a rough summer, I'm hoping for a very late freeze. We've picked butterbeans in December before. That would be nice.


The weather here has been glorious and I've tried to spend most of my time outside. Not hard to do, but some of my inside projects are suffering a bit. Case in point, the 4 or 5 gallons of milk in the fridge. I filled out the paperwork for my pet milk license, but it would only be good until Dec 31. Then I'd have to renew at the cost of another $125. I'm not sure I can make enough selling milk in the next 2 months to justify that, especially as the goaty girls will continue to slow down production.

Kat is really drying up on me. She's down to a bit over a pint a day. I guess I should just count my blessings that even though she didn't freshen last spring, she continued giving a quart of milk a day. I am debating drying her up completely, but then I think of last winter when her quart a day was the only thing getting us through. I may wish I had that pint come January.  I'm debating going to a once a day milking now and really freeing up my evenings. I'm just such a glutton for dairy.

I cut into a Reblochon yesterday. Since I've never had Reblochon, I'm not sure how accurate my attempt at it is. Once it warmed up, it got nice and oozy under the rind. It was creamy and buttery with a slight bite from the rind at the finish.

We had one of those frozen steak sellers come down the driveway yesterday. This guy was all tattooed up and looked like he'd just escaped from the local jail. When is this tattoo craze going to end? Don't get me started. Anyway, I just looked at him like he was nuts when he tried to sell me meat. I asked if somehow he missed seeing the pigs, chickens, geese, goats, etc. when he came down the driveway.

Y'all have a great day!