Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Milker

Here is what our portable milker looks like, how we set it up, use it, and how we clean it.

The pump itself doesn't have a switch. It is plugged into this outlet strip so we can turn it on and off easily.

The pump is in this bucket with a towel wrapped around it to reduce noise. We used to put the pump outside the barn door each time we used the milker, but this keeps the noise down. Since we don't leave the milker on for long periods of time, I don't think it will over heat the air pump.

This is what the gasket looks like on the inside of the lid. The lip on the gasket is facing into the bucket, not into the lid.

Here is what the lid looks like when it is set up and ready to use with the goats. The double hose on the left of the lid goes into the inflations, one side into each inflation. The large hose right under the handle and heading out to the left also goes to the inflations. It carries the milk into the tank. The hose that goes down towards the bottom of the picture heads to the air pump. The double hose and the air pump hose both attach to the pulsator which cannot be submerged when being cleaned.

The pump has to be on before the infations are put on the goat's teats. If the inflations don't attach fairly quickly and you hear the pulsator working (you will hear a 'click, click, click, click'), then check all the hose connections, even the one on the pump. If any of the connections are loose, then the suction is reduced.

Once in a while, even when all the connections are intact and secure, the suction isn't enough. Check the gasket on the inside of the lid. Every once in a while I have to open the lid and just lift the gasket away slightly from the lid. Then replace the lid and, voila! suction again!

One of the brass connectors at the bottom of the inflations isn't as snug as the other one. After the doe is done being milked and we shut off the pump, we release the pressure by disconnecting the looser of the two connections. Then we gently pull the inflations off the doe's teats.

Cleaning Step 1
Check the tank to make sure that you emptied all the milk into the holding bucket before you start the rinsing and cleaning process. We've forgotten that a few times and end up having to throw out anywhere between 1/2 gallon to 2 1/2 gallons of milk depending on if we are weighing milk between does or just filling the tank with everyone's milk.

In the photo the bucket is set up with clean water and the inflations are submerged. This is the first cleaning step--rinsing the milk from the inflations, hoses, and inside the tank. Turn the pump on and suck the water out of the bucket.

Next we throw the water from the holding tank out into the dirt area in front of the barn.

Cleaning Step 2
Disconnect the hoses, brass fittings, and inflations. We leave the inflations attached to the double air hose because that hose never touches the milk, however, all the hoses are inside the bucket. Add about 1/4 cup chlorine dioxide, then fill the bucket with clean water and let everything soak for about 60 seconds. Chlorine dioxide will continue to work as long as there is a little yellow coloring to it. Most bacteria and viruses cannot survive 60 seconds in the solution.

 Set the lid on top of the hoses, but don't submerge the pulsator (the gadget on top of the lid) or the hose connector (the part my finger is pointing at) under the water. Use a clean paper towel dipped into the bucket to wipe the handle and any other parts that shouldn't be submerged.

Re-attach all the hoses so you can suck all the chlorine dioxide from the bucket into the tank.

Wipe the inside of the tank with a clean paper towel after the chlorine dioxide has been taken up by the tank.

Swish the water and chlorine dioxide around in the tank and dump it into the dirt area in front of the barn. Rinse the outside of the tank with water from the hose.

 Take the gasket out of the lid, place all the hoses, lid, and tank in the laundry basket that is lined with a towel.

Cover with another old towel. This allows the tank and hoses to dry without getting covered with dust or dirt.

Put the bucket in the old table by the water. Keep the chlorine dioxide stored out of the sun--it degrades very quickly in the daylight.

It takes me about 8-10 minutes to clean the milker and put it away.

All done!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Solait Cheesemaking Booklet

Here is the recipe booklet that I got the idea for using yogurt in my Feta.

Solait Cheese Making                                                                                                                            
It is an old booklet written in the early 1980's I think There is no copyright on the pages and no dates in the booklet. I scanned it in and hopefully it will be useful for some new cheesemakers.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Making Pectin at Home

I haven't tried this, but I just got an email from my friend, Sheepy. Her hobby is food storage and emergency preparedness. She likes to do things herself and she doesn't have a big freezer, so much of what she does is stored in storage rooms. She is a great friend and a great resource to me!

Here are some links for you to look at (and for me to remember!)

Making Your Own Apple Pectin
by Sam Thayer
From The Forager

Practically Edible
This link teaches what pectin is and fruits that are high in pectin. It also describes how to test your pectin to see it's strength.

Making Pectin Stock
A great link directly to a PDF that teaches how to make pectin and how to store it on the shelf. You can store it in the freezer.... but if you don't have a freezer you need another option.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Do We Keep?

We will have to make a decision as to which kid to keep and which to sell. Both are registered, and both have different strengths. Our good friend drove 40 minutes to help us make a decision.

Lizzie. Good topline, good slope on her end, nice looking little doeling. She is about 2 months old.

Lizzie's udder and escutcheon.

Annie. Nice shoulders, good topline. No photos of her escutcheon, but it wasn't quite as good as Annie's in our friend's opinion. A little cow-hocked, but she may grow out of it. Has a bit of color so she may have to be registered as a Sable. Sometimes the color fades in the winter so we will wait and see before we send in the registration papers.

In the end we decided to keep them both through the summer and show them both. Then we will breed them with they reach 80 pounds. We will probably keep Annie because our friend said although Annie had 'busy shoulders' she had a good top line and some other good features. If she was going to pick one to keep, it would be Annie.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shearing the Llamas

It finally got hot around here and we needed to shear the llamas. Actually, one llama and one huarizo. Daisy (the huarizo, which is a llama x alpaca) had a heavy fleece this spring. You can see in the photo below how much fleece she has.

I went out to the field to find Daisy and realized the sprinkler was on it's side... again! I realized why why kept finding the sprinkler on it's side when I found Daisy sitting on it trying to stay cool. It was spraying right onto her belly and legs. I should have gotten a picture of that!

Taco, Vet2Be's good friend, came to help us shear. He's sheared alot of sheep and knows how to use hand shears. Last year we sheared Daisy with a pair of 8" sewing shears. It worked okay, but I wanted to see how to shear with the 'real' red-handled hand shears.

I held Daisy and Taco started shearing. We have a llama chute, but it is storing RN's things before she moves. So we decided to see how Daisy did in a stall. She did just fine!

It took almost 2 hours to shear her because her fleece was so thick. Once in a while she would stand without me holding her, then I grabbed the second set of shears and worked on her, too.

So cute! Huarizos are known for being more pet-like than llamas or alpacas. They are usually sterile and they usually have a wonderful fleece.

Me holding Daisy and Taco shearing. Vet2Be was in the house sick with Strep Throat. We saved the 'blanket' of Daisy's fleece and tossed the rest.
Daisy didn't like anyone shearing her legs, but we were able to do it without too much trouble. Shearing her neck was trickier. I had no idea there were folds of skin at the base of her neck. I ended up holding her head down towards the floor while Taco sheared.

Meadow with two years of growth on her. We leave the halter around her neck because otherwise we would never be able to catch her. She was originally rescued by Taco's mom and then placed with us. She came to us skittish and afraid of people. Now she will come up to us and cautiously eat grain out of our hand. She is a wonderful mama llama and nursed Daisy for about 18 months--much longer than most llamas.

We paid to have someone shear Meadow the first year we had her. He stretched her out on the ground with ropes and pulleys between two trucks. She was really easy to handle when she couldn't move! This year Taco was willing to help us try it without a 'professional'. We are always greatful for his help, and he helps often!

Meadow was faster to shear than Daisy, but more difficult because she was not happy with us at all. Son1 brought Taco and I some water to drink since it was about 100˚ while we were shearing, and he got right in and helped us. Son1 held Meadow while Taco and I sheared. At first we wanted to be as fast as possible so we used the loud electric shears. After doing her back we noticed that the electric shears weren't working very well and switched to the hand shears. Hand shears don't give as smooth a cut, but they are much quieter and less to mess with than electric shears.

We didn't get a picture of Meadow with her 'bandit' mask on. Taco showed us how to cover her nose and mouth with a flour-sack dish towel so if she decided to spit we wouldn't get covered with green goo. Basically the towel was folded on the diagonal and went across her nose, it was crossed under her chin and tied behind her head. It worked like a charm! No spitting!

 Daisy peeking in the stall to see what we are doing to her mom.

I also trimmed Daisy and Meadow's toes while we had them contained. They both 'went down' as we were finishing the shearing. No problem. I reached underneath and pulled their feet out and trimmed them. Meadow ended up with Taco and Son1 laying over her back so she didn't jump up while I was trying to trim, but Daisy was fine as I pulled each foot out to trim.

Daisy and Meadow aren't too pleased in this photo. But they were fine in the evening. Both came up and ate some grain out of my hand. We didn't do a fantastic job shearing, but they have a much shorter coat and are much cooler. That was the most important!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I made a batch of Feta cheese yesterday. I love Feta.

I have made it a few other times using Ricki Carroll's recipe in Home Cheesemaking.

This time I decided to try using her recipe but substituting yogurt as the mesophilic starter. I read that in a really old recipe from the 1970's.

Instead of the feta turning out into a nice curd with a clean break, it turned out kinda weird. The curds were defiantly formed, but they were cracked and broken.

I cut it as best I could and let it sit for an hour, as it said in the recipe. Since it was getting late, I decided to let it drain in the fridge overnight instead of 4 hours as it said to do in the recipe.

This morning I tried to cut the curd, but it just crumbled. Hmmmm...... this looks very much like the feta that I have seen in the store!

Crumbly feta just right for putting on a salad. It will ripen in the fridge for 4-5 days, if I can keep from 'taste testing!'

So, from now on if I want feta that looks like store-bought feta I will use yogurt as the starter instead of the 'normal' mesophilic starter. If I want softer, cubed feta, then I'll use the mesophilic starter asked for in the recipe.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Fence

Just a photo of the new fence. It has been up for a few weeks and has done a great job. I love looking out my window and seeing this beautiful fence!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monkey Bread

These are yummy! Lots of people have recipes for this pull-apart cinnamon delight. I wanted to post mine so that if I ever loose my recipe, I'll have an electronic copy.

I have a bread machine that I use for making dough. I don't use it for bread, but it is so nice to be able to put the ingredients into a machine and 90 minutes later have a batch of dough ready to go. I don't want to spend the time mixing the dough in the mixer or cleaning the mixer and the flour that has poofed all over while I was making the dough. There is much less clean up time for me with a bread machine.

Another wonderful thing about a breadmaker is that I can find them at the local thrift store for $20 or less. So if mine wears out, a replacement one is very reasonably priced.

Monkey Bread Dough (in a breadmaker)
Add the ingredients in the order that your breadmaker calls for. My recipe shows the order that I add ingredients into my breadmaker.

If you are using a mixer, you can use whatever dough recipe that is your favorite, just add a bit more sugar.

1 egg and milk to make 1 3/4 cups (warm)
4 Tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon yeast

Select 'dough' on your breadmaker and push start.

When the dough is ready make cinnamon sugar by blending 3/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a microwave bowl.

Caramel Sauce
In a pot on the stove bring the following to a boil:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 cup white sugar

Grease a bunt pan or an angel food cake pan.

Break off walnut sized pieces of dough and dip them in the melted butter. Then dip the dough ball into the cinnamon sugar and put into the greased pan.

After one layer of cinnamon sugar covered balls is in the pan I drizzle about 1/3 of the caramel sauce over the top.

Add another layer of cinnamon sugar covered dough balls and drizzle more caramel sauce over the top. Repeat.

I usually have about 3 layers of cinnamon covered dough balls and caramel sauce.

Bake in a 350˚ F oven for 25-30 minutes.

Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Invert the pan onto a plate and serve.

I've seen some people drizzle powdered sugar glaze over the top, but we think the caramel sauce doesn't need any extra help.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Farmhouse Cheddar and a New Vacuum Sealer!

I had some farmhouse cheddar ready to either wax or put in some plastic yesterday. I decided that I much prefer the no-mess vacuum sealer and plastic. I don't think I will have to worry about the humidity if I use plastic, just the temperature as the cheese ages.

I am short on counter space, so I wasn't sure I really wanted one more appliance to go on the counter, but after the few experiences I've had with cheese wax.... well, I thought I could make a place for the vacuum sealer. I'll give my cheese wax to someone who might want to give waxing a try!

I bought a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer (model V3835) on sale at the local grocery mega store. It was $152 for the machine, and I spent another $30 on bags. I've had a GREAT time sealing stuff the last two days!

 The new addition to the family!

I sealed the Farmhouse Cheddar I finished on Tuesday, the colostrum from this spring, a bunch of dried apples for my daughter, some mesophilic starter for cheeses, and some fresh veggies from the fridge.

My next experiment is to see if the sealer will seal the mylar food bags. They cost about 50 cents each, so trying one out won't cost too much. Hubby has them in the lab for storing other things. He has a huge sealer, too, but it doesn't vacuum seal things, it just heat seals them.

Onto the Farmhouse cheddar!

Here is the link I used to make the mesophilic starter:
Little House on the Great Plains

And here is the link I used for great step-by-step instructions on making the Farmhouse Cheddar:
Barefoot Kitchen Witch

Here is how the cheddar looks all wrapped up nice and neat in a plastic vacuum bag!

My hope is that I will have time to take photos the next time I make cheese. It is always nice to have photos and step-by-step directions to remind me of how to do something (or what to avoid the next time I try it!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Janice's Sore Leg

Janice had a sore spot on her left front leg, right above her dewclaw. There was some swelling and it was warm, but I couldn't see any cuts or scrapes. She was limping on it and it didn't look or feel broken at all. I wish I had taken a picture to show the swelling, it wasn't bad, but it is always nice to have a photo for reference.

We gave her aspirin in the morning and evening for two days to see if she would heal on her own. She seemed to be in a little less pain with the pain killer, but it didn't get better. She was limping just as badly on Wednesday as she was on Monday.

Last night (Wednesday) we decided to put a comfrey poultice on her leg. I've got a friend who gave us a comfrey plant last year and it is huge! She uses comfrey for things like sore muscles and broken bones.Vet2Be and I decided that we would give it a try.

Here's a video I found about making a poultice for comfrey.  Making a Comfrey Poultice

It was kinda slimy when it came out of the blender! I was surprised, it held together like a mass of slimy goobers and it looked like green.... yuck!

Vet2Be smeared it on a gauze wrap and wrapped it loosely around Janice's ankle above her dewclaw. We didn't use flour like it said in the video and we put the comfrey directly on Janice's leg. Then we taped the outside of the gauze to keep it on.

I also trimmed her dewclaw since it seemed to be really long and uncomfortable.

We took the poultice off this evening and surprisingly, she walked much better this evening. We'll see how she does tomorrow. If she is still walking and feeling better tomorrow I will cut a bunch of comfrey and dry it so that if we need it in the winter we will have some.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I don't know the family, but my daughter does. She works with Henry's mom. Henry was found to have Trisomy 18. My daughter and her husband were asked once more to build a casket for an infant that would not grow up.

Here are a few photos of the casket.

This casket is bigger than Emma's casket because Henry was full term. It measures 26" x 14.5" x 13.5". I forgot to take pictures when the handles were put on. The handles were placed in the middle of each end and were polished chrome.

Inside the lid. On the other side of the lid a small plaque will be placed that says, "Henry, we held you in our arms for but a moment, and in our hearts forever." to indicate where the head is laid.

Inside the casket. I made a small pillow that is reversible, a small reversible blanket, and two hankies with Henry's name on them. 
One for mom and one for dad.

The other side of the blanket and pillow.

 Lid with the plaque on top.

I know it is a sad time for Henry's parents. I don't know what they are suffering at this time. I'm very grateful for the opportunity that we have to comfort them in a small way.

Here's a link to the other project that we did for a family that lost their baby girl, Emma. No photos of the casket, but photos and links for the burial clothing and other gifts we gave to the family.

Getting the plaque was interesting. We couldn't reach Henry's mom to find out what to put on the plaque. We chose "Families Are Forever". She called up after the plaque was done and had decided what she wanted on it. I left a note for the woman who made the first plaque with a request that if she had time, please make a new one.

She called me and was happy to help. Imagine... a business that has same day service and is happy to help! She said that she had buried a baby about 18 months ago and understood the pressure that families are under during this time.

Within 3 minutes of me hanging up the phone with the person making the plaque... I got another phone call with changes to the plaque. Yup! Sheesh! I called the woman immediately since she said the plaque would be ready in 5 minutes. I had one phone on one ear with my daughter telling me what the family wanted, and the other phone on my other ear relaying the information to the kind woman making the plaque.

When I went to pick up the plaque the woman was so kind and sweet. I told her what we are doing and commented on the caskets that can be purchased for babies. She answered with, "Like the styrofoam box that I buried my baby in?"

And that's why we have built these caskets, so mothers and fathers don't have to bury their precious children in the styrofoam boxes that are available at the mortuaries.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I like to pasteurize my milk before I make cheese. I've used to do it in a big pot on the stove, stirring the milk so that it didn't scorch. It seems to take forever!!

My good friend gave me an old pasteurizer! It was one that was buried under stuff at her house. She had gotten a newer one and didn't need this one anymore.

 Here's a photo of my 'new' old pasteurizer. I looked it up on the internet and the new ones cost quite a bit of cash, so I'm very happy with this one.

I took it to the local repair shop and they put a new electrical cord on it because the other one had been kinda chewed up by the mice! I spent $35, which I found out later was a bit silly because our son-in-law knows how to replace cords. Apparently he has replaced many cords since he works construction and construction workers regularly cut through their electrical cords. It's a good thing he's going to school to be a nurse, it sounds like construction workers can really cause themselves some damage!

 Notice the twist tie on the side? That's because I couldn't get the lid-holder to stay. I tied it to the side and don't have any trouble getting the lid to seal now.

The white stuff around the side on the drain tube is mending putty. I couldn't figure out why the water level was lower when I finished pasteurizing than when I started. It was because there was a slow leak around the edge. I love mending putty!

I always do things that could make a mess in the sink. When I'm using the pasteurizer it sits on a pot in the sink just in case there is a leak. It makes it much easier when I am draining the water level before I take the milk out, too.  There have been quite a few times that I have been grateful that I've made using the sink a habit.

It is really easy to tell when the milk is pasteurized. There is a loud buzzer that we can hear throughout the house and the yard (if the windows are open)! It usually takes about 40 minutes to pasteurize 2 gallons of cold goat milk. It takes less time if the milk is still warm from milking.

I love having a pasteurizer because I can do something else while the machine does the work! Like blog! Oh, there goes the buzzer. Time to cool the milk and make some farmstead cheddar!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Another Project.... got bigger!

Projects seem to increase in size no matter what we do!

We needed to repaint the backyard fence this year. We also needed to move some of the rails because the people who put up the fence before didn't make all the rails even. The rails on the west side of the fence were about 4" higher than the rails on the east side of the fence.

 Here is what the old fence looks like. This isn't the part we took down, it's on the other side of the yard. But this is what we started with.

So Son1 and his friend used the pressure washer to peel the paint off and get it ready for new paint. Then they went to move the rails and realized that not only had the screws rusted through making it difficult to remove some of the rails, the boards had rotted and needed replaced.

Okay, so we went from a $50 repaint job, to a replace the fencing. We decided to replace the rail fence with pickets because it would keep the dogs in better and look nicer than what we had up before.

Since the posts were taller than we needed them to be for the pickets, Hubby cut the posts off. Unfortunately he had forgotten that the ground sloped and he cut some of the posts too short.

Now we had to replace some of the posts, too!

Vet2Be using the jackhammer. He's 6' 1/2" now! Big enough to do some big jobs. Son1 did most of the jackhammering, and I did a little, too.

It turned out to be a good thing that the posts got chopped too short. As Son1 and Vet2Be were using the jackhammer to take out the posts, they realized that the posts were rotted, too.


Last night Son1 and Hubby were out in the dark getting the rest of the posts in place. It has to be dark to use the laser level. It's cooler in the evening, too!

What the fence looks like this morning. The posts are up, three are in cement. Today's project is to finish cementing them in.

So, we have gone from a $50 paint job to an $800 replace the fence job. I'm sure it will be a beautiful fence when it is done! I am very grateful for hard working sons and a wonderful husband who can do both chemistry and physical labor!