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
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.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I Miss Reading

And writing.

So there you have it. I saw something the other day about a girl who reads. I used to read! I think the last book I actually sat down and read all day was The Help. It's been awhile.

That doesn't mean I've been without books. I am am avid listener of audiobooks and usually put down at least one a week, but somehow it's just not the same. Life has gotten so busy that as soon as I sit down with a book, magazine, or even a newspaper article, my giant "To Do" list starts running through my head.

I need to slow down. Winter is good for that. I never thought I would actually look forward to winter.

I think part of that slow down is going to be an early end to working at the farmers market. I'm burned out. I have several customers who come to the house. I wish I had a good place to put an outdoor fridge so people could come and go as they please on the honor system.

For now, I'm going to stick the headphones in and go work on the fall vegetable garden, while dreaming of a paper and ink book and my spot on the sofa. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Etsy Store

I have opened up an Etsy Store to sell my handmade goat milk soaps. Christmas is coming- check it out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The sun is shining today. We've needed the rain, but 4 dreary days in a row was starting to wear on me. Hopefully I'll have some time to hunt for mushrooms today.

Homeschooling started back last week. So far so good with the exception of hyper housebound boys the last couple days (see comments on weather). I really like the Sonlight curriculum. It's been a bit of a challenge to juggle the farm and homeschooling. I'm still trying to find areas that I can cut back on farm responsibilities and areas where I can put the kids in charge of their own education.

In the midst of all this, I'm trying to get the goats ready for breeding. I am taking deposits on kids this year, but that means that I have to get everyone clipped, photographed, and posted online to people know what they're buying.  I may just have to take pictures of Magnum from a distance. He stinks so bad!
Hammock Haven Lichen Lulu

Hammock Haven Magnus Opal

I'm off to get the milking done and then a long day of teaching.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I've been making soap this week. Sometimes I get inspired and want to do it, other times I'd muck the barn before making soap!

The brown is Indonesian Teakwood, arguably my favorite scent. The blue is Beach.

This one is Lilac. I think I'll use the wavy cutter to cut it today.

I also made bath bombs. I want to do more of these, but ran out of baking soda, much to my goats' dismay. I got some lemon/eucalyptus essential oil and want to do some "Cold Care" bath bombs. School is starting back and that means the start of cold season.

I also want to try Kris' idea of fresh cucumber in soap. Cucumber Cream. Yum.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

There Will Be Eggs Again.... Some Day

I have had an outbreak of broodiness on the farm. At last count, I have 6 hens either sitting on eggs or with chicks. When they're sitting, they're not laying!

This is the second time this leghorn mix has gone broody!

The weather is so dreary. I'm starting to lose my "get up and go". The garden needs picking and I cringe at the veggies I am sure to be losing out there. It's all I can do to brave the mud, muck, and oppressive humidity to care for the animals.

I worked on a couple indoor projects on Sunday- 2 batches of soap and bath bombs. I am very excited about the bath bombs. There is a store in Savannah that sells these for $3 each. I love them but cannot justify $3 baths. Now I have a slightly less expensive option (the ingredients still cost plenty and now I understand why they charge so much).

Asher was barking a lot in the night. I have a tractor of meat chickens out there and have seen some evidence of coons. They've eaten my cantaloupe and knocked over the chicken feed. I am a bit scared to go assess damage this morning.

Stay dry out there. I better get a move on these farm chores. They're not going to take care of themselves.

Monday, July 14, 2014


My trees survived the brutal winter in my orangerie (aka my sunroom) and are laden with fruits.
Meyer Lemon
Persian Lime
Ruby Red Grapefruit

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cheese Class

Saturdays are so busy! I get up at 6:30 to get the chores done and book it off to the farmers market. I usually need a nap when I get back home.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I would be willing to teach a cheese making class. I hadn't done one in over a year. Last class I did, the garbage disposer broke, flooded the kitchen cabinet, and we were forced to get water from the laundry room!

I told my friend that I'd do it and told her of my small fee and the requirement that everyone bring a bottle of wine. We had the class late yesterday afternoon after Market (and after my nap).

What I great time and a great group of people. We had 6 people attend including a couple who drove three hours to attend on their 22nd Anniversary! I just love it when you get a group of people together who really hit it off.

Everyone left happy, full of cheese, and armed with the ingredients and the directions to make a dozen more batches of mozzarella at home. Some people even stayed to milk the goats.

I've already had people ask if I'll do another one, and after this great experience, the answer to that is yes!

If you are interested in coming to a class, let me know and we'll work out a date. We made mozzarella this time but we could conceivably do feta instead. Feta would take a little bit longer, the cultures are a bit more expensive, and I'd have to make up a batch the day before so attendees can see what it is like after it's been salted, so the class would have to cost a tad more.