Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweaters for Kid Goats

Newborn kid in a Kiddie Goat Sweater

Although I have 6 of these on hand for spring, now is a good time to make a few extra to store. I thought some of you might like the pattern, too.

My pattern is modified from Shirley Smith's pattern found at Fias Co. Farm. You can find my pattern on the same page along with the original pattern, a hand-knit pattern, and a crochet pattern. If these sweaters don't fit your kid goats, you can alter the pattern by loosening or tightening the tension on your knitting machine.

All our kids wear sweaters for at least three days after they are born. We generally have kids born in March and April and it makes us feel better to know that they are spending their energy growing instead of keeping warm. Some kids have worn theirs for as long as two weeks depending on the weather.

I make all my sweaters from Lion Brand Wool-Ease. I like the idea of having some wool in the sweater because wool holds moisture and keeps heat in better. But I also like the idea of being able to machine wash and dry these sweaters! I use whatever leftovers I have from other projects. Some of the sweaters have 3 or more colors. I don't have photos of all of them, but you can see a few below.

Check out the pictures below, the kids are so cute in their little sweaters!

Here is the pattern. You should be able to click on the link and download it in a PDF format.

Goat Sweater

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Done with Grapes

I have finally finished with grape juice! I gave away the last box because I was too tired to do them. We got about 30-ish quarts of juice from this batch.

Here is how my juicer is set up on the stove. I have to pull my stove away from the wall about 10 inches otherwise the microwave gets in the way.

I love these buckets! They are so easy to clean and move. Since they are flexible, it also makes it easy to 'pour' the grapes into the strainer basket of the juicer.

It always seems as if there is still some juice in the grapes when I am done with them. So I put them in a strainer which just happens to fit in my mixing bowl to get the last few drops out. I usually put the juice from the strainer into the refrigerator and drink it instead of bottling it. The chickens get the leftover grape skins and seeds. They love their treat, too.

Most of the jars of juice :) Yummy! We gave a few away to friends because we have such nice friends. It is always fun to share some of the harvest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The New Girl

I couldn't resist the chance to buy this little doeling from our friend. She is a daughter of our buck and she is polled! She is also registered so Vet2Be can show her next year. She has the best conformation of the triplets born to Gidget this spring, too. Her name is Pearl and she is a beauty!

Sadly, my good friend would not let me her buy her--she insisted that she wanted to GIVE her to Vet2Be. I have to think of something extra special to do for this good friend who is always sharing so many wonderful things with us.

What about the doeling that Vet2Be was going to keep? He might decide to sell her since she is a sweetie and will go to a good home. We weren't really planning on adding another dairy goat to the herd, which is why he sold her mother-Glacier, but this was such a wonderful opportunity to have a beautiful, registered doeling that I didn't want to pass it up! Sometimes things just feel 'right' and I have learned that feeling means that the Holy Spirit is whispering to me. If I follow the prompting--things work out better than I could have expected.

The small farm where Pearl was born called her "Snotty" because she was not the nicest of the triplets born to Gidget this spring. The other two were much sweeter in temperament. Vet2Be and I have always been able to change a borderline temperament into a sweet and loving one. We've never had to deal with a real stinker but we wouldn't take anyone that badly behaved, anyway. The number one rule on the farm: Be nice, or be tasty!

I met Pearl last Tuesday night along with the other two doelings from that kidding. Our friend wanted to use our weight tape * to see how much her kid goats weighed. She also dropped off Gidget to be bred to our buck again. Two years in a row this pair has produced triplet doelings! Both years there were 2 polled kids and one that needed disbudded. We are all hoping for another great year.

I thought Pearl was lovely and I didn't notice any problems with her personality. My friend said Pearl was sweeter after she left here on Tuesday than she has ever been. I guess she was meant to be ours, what a blessing for us!

Pearl's mother, Gidget. She is so sweet :) 

* If you are curious about using a weight tape but don't have one (or don't want to buy one) and want to use a sewing tape measure instead, look here. Surprisingly, this way of measuring a dairy goat's weight is fairly accurate.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall Beekeeping

Vet2Be and Hubby checked the bees on Friday (9/25) and put on a bee escape. The bees can go down through the escape, but can't get back up. We are ready to harvest some honey (which is unusual for a first year hive where we live) and we didn't want any bees on the super.

  Here is a photo of the bee escape Hubby. 
There are a few different styles, but Hubby likes this kind the best.

  Another view. The bees come out at the edge of the triangle and can't get back up through.

Hubby also tried a new type of smoker fuel this weekend. They have used pine needles in the past. Hubby said this stuff lasts for hours in the smoker and does a better job. 

Ross Rounds in the shallow super. We got 18 full rounds this year. Many will be gifts for Christmas.

Hubby said the super weighed at least 60 pounds! He said we will probably get about 30 pounds of honey since the weight also includes the wax and the brood (the queen visited the super). You can see the 4 frames stuck to the medium super. Vet2Be is ready with his hive tool to get them unstuck.

Two medium supers (top and bottom) and the Ross Round super in the middle.

Checking on all the bees in the top deep super. They look great and have plenty of honey for the winter. Hubby is scraping off the burr comb that the bees made while Vet2Be is using the smoker.

 The bee escape installed. It doesn't look like much from this photo because the triangle screen is on the bottom of the unfinished board.

All back together.

The Ross Rounds all ready for gift giving. There will probably be a few left that we can sell, too.

Hubby went to a neighbor's house to spin out the honey on Saturday. It drained for about 24 hours into  bucket. Seems like there is about 25 pounds of honey in the bucket. We are grateful for wonderful neighbors who let us use their equipment!

Here is the first quart of honey in a quart jar. We were so excited to pick up the honey from our neighbors that we just had to fill one jar and look at it.


It is wonderful to know who is really in charge and that He is there no matter what.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hot Fudge

Last night after dinner Vet2Be noticed that the home-made Hot Fudge Sauce was all gone! Oh, NO! No fudge sauce for his ice cream. He was so disappointed because he had just found the half-empty jar buried in the back of the refrigerator a few days ago. Who knows how long it had been tucked away under the lemon sauce in the back of the fridge?

So, amid the bottles of cooling grape juice and the stove top steamer (still 1 1/2 bushels of grapes to go!) I found a few moments to make more Hot Fudge Sauce. I'm not sure where I got the recipe, but this one is Vet2Be's favorite version. This recipe cooks up in about 15 minutes and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

Hot Fudge Sauce (makes about 2 cups of sauce)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of chocolate to a boil in a 1 to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted.

Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Add butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool sauce to warm before serving.

The recipe says that it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Ours had been in the fridge for months and still tasted wonderful :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grapes into Grape Juice

My good friend had a chance to pick grapes and she picked 4 boxes for us! We love grape juice and this was a wonderful gift. She is a good friend that has given Vet2Be a number of animals that she was culling from her herd. We have loved each one.

Bottling grape juice is not as much work as bottling fruit. I gave away 3 bushels of nectarines this year because I didn't have the time to do anything with them before they would spoil. The friends that got them were so excited, so I know they went to good use.

Vet2Be and I can take care of grapes because they don't take as much time as bottling fruit. Most of the time is spent pulling the grapes from the stems. Then we can let them sit in the steamer for a while until we have a few minutes to put the juice in the jars.

We got a few jars done today. Tomorrow I'll be spending lots more time getting them all juiced.

Also on the list for this week: picking and pressing 3 trees worth of apples, and shearing 3 Navajo Churro lambs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Change Your Thoughts...

My quote for the week. It is on the refrigerator. As we contemplate a 'cross country' move in the next 4-6 months, Vet2Be and I need to remember that although we love where we live, our Heavenly Father often lays out a path before us that is better than any we could have imagined. If He wants us 2000 miles away in another state, then we will trust in His judgment and follow the path he has laid out before us.

Friday, September 18, 2009


We have so many ducks and chickens that we decided to get rid of some before winter hits. It doesn't cost much when they are free range in the summer, but come winter it costs more than we want to spend. Ducks eat almost 1/2 pound of feed per day!

We sold 10 ducks, so we are now down to about 12. We sold the 1-2 year olds and kept the ducklings we got this spring. Five left on Thursday and when we did the evening chores I couldn't believe how much quieter it was in the poultry pen. Five more will go on Saturday to a different family.

Some of the ducks have already been sold in this photo, some of the other chickens and ducks are out wandering around. Downsizing is a great idea! It should make spring cleaning much easier :)

We gave away 6 of the older hens, too! I can't believe someone wanted older hens, but we had 2 families that were interested in them. I put them in the online classifieds and they were spoken for within about 10 minutes of being posted. I'm not sure how many more people would have called if I had left the ad on longer.

And we sold Glacier and Jack (her wethered buckling) today, too. We are sad to see her go, but Vet2Be wants to keep Glacier's doeling because he thinks she is going to be better than her mother. Glacier is still milking 4-6 pounds each morning, so the woman who is buying her is very excited.

This is a photo of Glacier last year with one of her kids. She is a fantastic mom, kidding without any help! She also doesn't mind visitors peeking in while she is kidding. We were able to watch her have her second kid this year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wheat Blender Pancakes

One of my friends asked for this recipe so I thought I would post it here as well.

Wheat Blender Pancakes are one of our breakfast favorites!

I have a VitaMix blender, but a BlendTec is also a good choice if you are in the market for a new blender. You can use a regular counter-top blender, but it is best to soak the wheat in the milk overnight in the refrigerator.

Wheat Blender Pancakes
This recipe makes 16-18 pancakes.
  • 1 cup whole wheat (not flour-wheat kernels-see photo at end of post)
  • 3/4 cup milk (we use raw goat milk since that is what we have)
Soak the wheat and the milk overnight if you don't have a heavy-duty blender.
Then add:
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 eggs (we use duck eggs)
  • 3 Tbl honey or sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Blend until smooth then add:
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
You can add the baking powder and baking soda with the rest of the wet ingredients, but sometimes it takes a bit longer to grind the wheat and then the baking powder and baking soda aren't as effective. If the batter is too thick, add up to 1/4 cup more milk.

Cook on the griddle like you would cook buttermilk or regular pancakes.

If you aren't sure what wheat kernels look like, here is my jar. You can usually buy whole wheat at health food stores or in bulk at home storage stores. Our family prefers Hard White Wheat, however this recipe works just as well with Winter Wheat or Red Wheat.

If you are interested in an explanation of White Wheat and Red Wheat here is a great link:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dehorning the Buck--update

The buck that was dehorned August 24th (original post here) is doing well! In fact he is ready to breed. We can tell because he is now wearing 'Eau De Buck Cologne' and is getting pushy! It is definitely breeding season.

Two photos of what his head looks like now. The bandages have come off and he is doing great!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Soap!

A few homeschool families that we know wanted to learn how to make cold-process soap (using lye and fats). Monday was the day! Lots of good kids and very nice adults. I wanted to 'blog' the class so that the people who were here could use it for a reference. I had a few great photographers who took pictures for us all to enjoy.

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Warning: This is how I make soap. Soapmaking can be dangerous because of the caustic nature of lye. I hope I scared the kids enough that they will not do this without adult supervision. I am not responsible for any injuries, losses, or other damage that may result from your use or misuse of the information I've provided.
* * * * * *

Here is the recipe we used:

You need a good recipe or a lye calculator to make sure you get the proportions right between the lye and the fats. Each fat has a different saponification value. If you want to experiment with different fats, you need to use a lye calculator to input the amounts and types of fats you will be using. The lye calculator tells you how much lye and water (or other liquid) you will need.

The lye calculator I used can be found at Benjamin Farms. Here is a link to their Soapmaking 101 page. Simple step by step directions that I used when I taught this group. Another lye calculator can be found at Pine Meadows. I buy my supplies from Pine Meadows because they are so helpful and their prices are reasonable.

Gather all your equipment first.
  • safety equipment (rubber gloves, apron, goggles)
  • wooden spoons dedicated to soapmaking
  • stainless steel pots to melt the fats in (never use aluminum or cast iron for making soap)
  • a thermometer
  • a scale that is accurate to 0.1 ounces (many kitchen scales are)
  • a stick blender (or an old blender container for your counter blender)
  • containers to measure the water, lye, and fat in (you must use a completely dry container to measure the lye in)
  • a glass (or other non-reactive bowl) for mixing the lye and the fat together
  • soap mold (a utensil organizer from Wal*Mart works very well for a single pound of soap)
  • a spray bottle with vinegar (to neutralize the lye if you spill some)
  • an old towel (for keeping the soap warm after it is mixed)
  • an old cooling rack or something to sit the soap on while it cures for a few weeks
The general rule is to have dedicated soapmaking equipment. In other words, don't use the equipment for anything other than making soap.

Now for the fun part!

Usually I mix the lye and the liquid first so that it can cool while I am melting the fats. There were enough people here that I didn't want to leave the lye too long and let some of it escape into the atmosphere. I also didn't want to leave the lye unattended outside. It is very dangerous stuff! So... we melted the fats first.
Beeswax has the highest melting point, so that went in the pot first. In the picture above you see one of the children measuring the Coconut Oil

Here is another helper measuring the Palm Oil.

One really cute helper wearing his goggles and waiting for his turn!

The fats beginning to melt in the pot.

All the fats melted and ready to be mixed with the lye.

We forgot to take pictures of mixing the lye with the water. I try to do it outside because the mixture tends to have fumes. The next best place to do it would be in a bathroom that has an exhaust fan. Remember to always add the lye to the water. NEVER add the water to the lye. If there is not enough water (if you pour water into the lye) you may end up with a small volcano which can cause injury! Mix the lye with the water until the lye dissolves using non-reactive spoon. I use a wooden spoon that is dedicated to soapmaking. Mixing lye and water causes a chemical reaction that produces heat.

Often the lye will be too warm to add to the fat (or the fat will be too warm to add to the lye). The kids were surprised at how hot the container was that held the lye/water mixture. They knew I had not used hot water from the sink!

The lye mixture was still too hot at 180˚F. I put the plastic container that had the hot lye/water mixture into a bowl that had ice and water. This cooled the lye/water mixture fairly quickly to about 110˚F. The idea is that the melted fats and the lye/water mixture are close to the same temperature--about 100˚F. The fat had already cooled down to about 115˚F.

Here are the melted fats and the lye/water mixture ready to mix together.

This is what the melted fats look like before I added the lye/water mixture.

I used a glass jar to hold the fats and then I poured the lye/water mixture into that jar. It is recommended that you add the lye mixture to the fats. I don't know if it really matters, I've done it both ways. I used a glass jar so the kids could see what was happening. You can use any type of non-reactive bowl. Usually something with straight sides will be safer than something with sloping sides. I liked the jar because it comes in at the top. If the mixture splashed at all (it didn't) then the chances of it splashing out of this container was less than out of a bowl.

The last soapmaking class I went to had us use a stick blender. When I first learned to make soap we used a regular stand mixer and it took anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for the soap to 'trace'. The stick blender works in about 5 minutes! (However, when making goat's milk soap I have to use a regular blender because it does take longer to get to 'trace' and the stick blender was getting too hot.)

Here the mixture is tracing. I added the fragrance at this point. It is best to add the fragrance after the lye has started to combine with the fats. If you want to add a colorant, you can add it with the fragrance.

Here is a good video of when soap traces.

I think they are enjoying the chemistry/soapmaking lesson. And they are all wearing their goggles!

Okay! The mixture is ready for the mold!

My friend is an excellent photographer! I had no idea she was behind me taking photos! This is a great view of pouring the soap into the mold. You can see that the mold is really one of those drawer organizers. They hold a one pound batch of soap.

Another photo of putting the soap into the mold. I am still wearing gloves because the soap has not completely saponified yet, the lye and the fats have not finished combining so the mixture is still caustic.

After the soap is in the mold I tap it on the counter to remove as many bubbles as possible.

The next step is to cover the soap with a piece of plastic wrap and cover it with a few layers of towels to keep it warm until it is hard. The plastic wrap is right on top of the soap. It makes it easier to smooth the top of the soap and it helps keep the heat in and the air out until the soap is hard and completely saponified.

After the soap firms up (about 10 hours later) I turned the mold upside down and tapped it on the counter. If the soap hadn't come out easily, I would have put the mold with the soap into the freezer for 15-30 minutes. That helps shrink the soap and then it comes right out of the mold.

Vet2Be told me I should have taken a photo of the soap as it came out of the mold. He's right. Sorry I forgot! After the soap came out of the mold I cut it with a sharp knife. At this point the soap is firm, but still cuts easily. You can cut the bars into whatever size you want. I cut the soap into smaller bars so that I can give each family a few to finish curing at their house.

The soap is ready to use now but if you let it cure longer (let the water evaporate out of the bars) then the soap will last longer when you are using it. I've had different instructors and books give different time estimates for curing--anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.

You can let it cure in the linen closet and it will make your linen closet smell wonderful when you open the door! You can cure the soap any place that is in a fairly dry area and out of the sun.

If you want to learn about the history of soapmaking you can look here (an easy to understand explanation) or here (from Wikipedia--a more 'chemical' explanation).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mustard Seed Quote

Matthew 17:20: If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

I loved this quote the moment I read it! I hope that I can be that full of faith.