Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Update 2: Janice and Copper

Back in May we decided to start giving Janice daily liquid copper that Hubby mixed up (he's a chemist). We could not get rid of her bald nose and knew the bald nose was due to a copper deficiency.

Here is a link to the first post and a link to the second post about Janice and her bald nose.

First photo taken back in May of Janice and her bald nose and head.

This photo was taken yesterday!
Her nose started filling in with hair within 4 weeks. By 8 weeks her nose was almost 'normal'! And by about 10 weeks she had all the hair grown back on her nose. Her milk production was back up to between 4 lbs and 6 lbs per milking (1/2 gallon to 1/2 gallon + 1 quart), which is where her 6* says she should be.

We have been dosing all the milk goats with copper. Their coats are all shiny now. A Saanen goat that's glossy looks really nice! I wish I could capture the glossy coats in a photo!

For a 7 year old doe, Janice looked great at the shows, taking Second Place in one Older Doe class. The Judge was really surprised at how good this old girl looked. We are really happy that she is out playing with the younger does, looking and acting much younger than she really is.

Yay Janice!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Farmhouse Cheddar Adventure

My friend, Sheepy, loves it when I post my adventures with pictures and step by step 'how to' type photos, so this is for her. You are more than welcome to take a peek, too!

I haven't made alot of cheddar. I've had only 3 batches turn out well, which I've been really happy about! I was about to give up after 4 failed batches. I'm glad I had so much milk I decided to give it another try.

The last time I made cheddar I decided keep track of how long it took me to get it to the pressing stage. It takes me about 5-6 hours to get it from milk into the press, not a quick cheese! This is going to be a loooooong post with lots and lots of photos!

I am using the recipe on page 104-105 of Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll.

I pasteurized 2 gallons of goat milk. I used the pasteurizer that Sheepy gave me. One thing I love about having a pasteurizer is that I don't have to stand at the stove and stir the milk until it reaches the right temperature. Here is the post about my pasteurizer. Why pasteurize? Because we can eat the cheese in one month! If I use raw milk then we have to age the cheese for two months.

Step 1 (From Home Cheese Making)
I prepared a bunch of mesophilic starter in July. I keep it in a vacuum sealed bag in the freezer. When I need some, I take out one ice cube for every ounce of starter called for in the recipe.
We have goats, so this is 2 gallons of goat milk at about 85˚ F. You can see the frozen starter cubes floating in the milk.
I stir the milk and the starter until the starter is completely melted. Then I stir it for another minute or so, just to make sure it is well distributed. The timer is set for 45 minutes, that's how long I have to wait until it 'ripens'.

So, while I'm waiting, I'm blogging! I am not an expert cheesemaker. I've had lots of batches of cheese that have been fed to the chickens or ended up in the garden. Vet2Be has 4 milk goats, so there are days when we are swimming in milk. It gives me the freedom to experiment a little and learn alot!

My favorite cheesemaking book is Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. I love New England Cheesemaking Supply (where I purchased the book). They are really friendly, have answered all my email questions, and they have a great cheesemaking blog!

Step 2 (from Home Cheese Making)
Adding the rennet.

1/2 teaspoon rennet in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water.
I'm using animal rennet in this batch because that is what I have. We aren't vegetarians, so we don't mind using animal products. I never measure the 1/4 cup cool water, I just eye-ball it. I assume that it doesn't matter that much since it probably separates out with the whey. We have a reverse-osmosis water tap on our sink, so that's the water I use. I don't know how much difference it would make to use the water from the tap. Maybe I'll save that experiment for another day.

I don't have a nice slotted spoon for cheesemaking, but I found a skimmer that works for most things.
I gently stir the rennet in with an up and down motion (I don't know why that is important, but I like to follow directions until I learn that there is a different or better way to do it). I stir for 60 seconds. Really. I set the timer and stir gently for the whole minute to make sure the rennet is distributed evenly throughout the milk.

More waiting. Set the timer for another 45 minutes. I usually plan on cleaning house the same day I try to make cheese. I can get alot done (vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, sorting and folding laundry....) in 45 minute chunks. I hate house cleaning, so I love knowing I only have to clean for 45 minutes, then I can have a break. Sometimes I'll start a batch of yogurt or chevre during the sitting times, too. It depends on how much milk is in the fridge. Right now there is 6 1/2 gallons in the 'milk fridge' and 1/2 gallon in the house fridge. That doesn't include the 2 gallons on the stove waiting for the curd to form.

I always worry at this point if I will get a clean break in the curd. Most of the time I do. So, here's hoping for another! If not, then I'll let it sit a little longer. If it still doesn't break cleanly, then you get to see that I don't mind making mistakes.

A Clean Break
Yay!!! A clean break! I don't know if I will ever get tired of seeing that curd break cleanly.
Step 3 (From Home Cheese Making)
Cut the curd into 1/2" pieces. Well, sometimes that is a bit tricky for me. The curd slurps around the pot and some curds are wider than others.

I start in the middle of the pot and work my way towards one side, then I go back to the middle and work my way towards the other side. If I start on one side and go straight across, I get really uneven curds.
Then I cut the other direction, starting in the middle and working my way towards one side. Then starting in the middle ans working my way to the other side.
Now there are all these long, thin curds. To get them into a cube shape I take a spoon, dip it into the center of the pot, then push it towards the edge. I start a little below the surface and make one layer. Then I go down another little bit and make another layer.... I keep doing that until I reach the bottom.

Step 4 (From Home Cheese Making)
Before you start this step make sure you have comfortable shoes on or you will end up with sore feet. You'll be standing in front of the stove stirring for 30 minutes or longer. Don't hurry this part, just put some enjoyable music on or a book on tape or something to keep your mind busy while you are standing there stirring.

I don't follow the all the directions from the book on how to raise the temperature. We live in the desert and I feel really guilty if I don't make good use of whatever water I use. Dumping water down the drain isn't something I consider a 'good use'. So, instead of putting my pot of curds and whey into a big bowl of warm water, I set up the stove with a round cake cooling rack on top of the heating element.

I have a flat surface stove so this works very well for me.
Here is the pot sitting on top of the cake cooling rack. This way the pot doesn't sit directly on the heat.

My starting temperature today. Sometimes it is little higher, sometimes it is a bit lower.
The idea is that the curds have to heat slowly, really slowly. No more than two degrees every 5 minutes. That is really slowly. My burner is set on low and I stir the curds gently and constantly. Since I am heating only from the bottom, instead of sitting the pot in a bowl of warm water and heating from the bottom and the sides, I keep the curds moving to keep the heat even.

I set the timer on the stove for 5 minutes, watch my temperature, and stir. Then repeat, and repeat....

Because I'm still new to making cheese I often get big or long curds. You can see some on the spoon above. I gently use the edge of the spoon to push through the curd to 'cut' it into smaller pieces. I have found big curds as late as 15 minutes after starting the 'cheddaring' process.
I use two or three rubber bands for my thermometer to hang on. It also makes a nice spoon rest while I take a picture!

You can see how the curds are shrinking in size. This is about 15 minutes into the cheddaring process.
Step 5 (From Home Cheese Making)
I reached 100˚ F, the target temperature for the curds to reach. I'm not sure how long it took me, but I think it was a little quicker than it should have been.

Now the curds have to rest for about 5 minutes. While they are resting, I set up the colander over my milk pail in the sink and line it with cheesecloth.

I do everything messy in the sink!
Lined with cheesecloth.
I love the way the curds look all shiny in the colander!
 Now the curds need to be hung and drained. Hubby had a cider press made for me for my Christmas present last year. It makes a great out of the way spot to hang the cheese for a while for an hour.

The cider press sits right next to my desk, which is filled with music that I am arranging for my guitar students. You can see the whey dripping into the pot. It will slow down in a little while. But it is fun to hear it dripping while I am typing this.
What to do with the whey? I usually pour it on one of my outdoor plants. Our soil tends to be alkaline, so adding a little bit of acid is always a good idea. I thought it would be interesting to see what the pH of the whey was this time.

Step 6  (From Home Cheese Making)
Yum! This is what the curd looks like after it has hung for an hour. I think I should have let it hang a bit longer--it is kinda 'juicy' this time. I usually don't have finger marks in it, but I almost dropped it on the floor. Good catch!
I didn't really understand this step until I saw other photos on the internet. I wondered what 'walnut sized pieces' meant. Did it mean the whole walnut, or the nut after it is out of the shell? Turns out it is the walnut after it is out of the shell.
Always, always, always use non-iodized salt! I didn't the first time I made cheese and the cheese turned out awful! Apparently the iodine does something to the culture. I found some non-iodized salt at the grocery store. Sometimes it comes as kosher salt, sometimes I find it as sea salt, the last time I bought some it was in a regular cardboard container with a warning 'This salt DOES NOT provide iodine, a necessary nutrient'. Perfect! Just what I need, and for 38¢, it was really cheap! The recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon. Just mix it in with your fingers, or a spoon.

Step 7 (From Home Cheese Making)

Pack the cheese into a mold. This time there were more curds than normal. I think that is because the cheese had more whey in it than it usually does after it hangs.

 After I packed it into the mold, I put it in the cheese press with 10 lbs of weight on it. Then after 10 minutes, I took the curds out of the mold and the cheesecloth, turned the cheese upside down, and put it back into the cheesecloth and the mold.

It said to press it for another 10 minutes under 20lbs, but I've had better luck with 10 lbs for another 10 minutes. My cheese doesn't turn out quite as dry that way.

I had to let it sit there for an hour--it was time to milk and we were already 30 minutes late getting out.

When I take the cheese out of the mold, flip it, and re-dress it, I tug at the cheesecloth to smooth it out along the sides and the bottom. I use a clean, dry piece of cheesecloth (butter muslin) for this step. I can flip my mold over and check to see if there are any wrinkles, some molds have a bottom and you can't check for wrinkles. It won't go into the press this direction, I'll flip it so the loose part of the cheesecloth is coming out the top.
Here it is re-dressed again in a clean cloth and under 25 lbs. The recipe says 50 lbs, but I have had better results with less weight. It will sit on the counter until tomorrow. The recipe says 12 hours, and by the time I get to it, it is usually a little longer than that.
Here is a link to my post about my ugly cheese press.

Tomorrow morning I'll take it out of the mold and let it dry on some sushi mats for a few days before I vacuum seal it and put it in the wine cooler in the storage room.

Now it's your turn, Sheepy! Give it a try!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Show Photos

Just a few photos from the the two county fairs that Vet2Be took his goats to.

We have some great friends who let us borrow their little trailer. It carried 3 adult does and 2 kids to the shows. The truck is Hubby's work truck and we were so happy it was back from Texas so we could use it to pull the trailer.

Waiting for the Showmanship class. Vet2Be hates showing. But he needs to be able to show that he is really interested in large animals since the veterinarian clinic he works at only works with small animals. Vet2Be is usually a good sport about showing, though.

In the Showmanship Ring with Pearl. He came in 4th place with the 4H division, 7th place overall.
Here is one of his two favorite doelings. She did great at the first county fair, taking 1st place in her class and Grand Champion in her Division. The Judge had a hard time deciding between Annie and another doeling for Best in Show. She picked the other doeling, but we were all happy with how well Annie did. She didn't do quite as well at the second show, coming in 4th, but the judge said he thought she was going to be a showy doe in the ring next year!
My 'prize' for the week. While I was helping Vet2Be clip Annie for the show, I didn't have a good enough hold on her and she jumped up and hit her head on the corner of my eyebrow. I kept an ice pack on it for over an hour. Hubby asked if I needed stitches. I told him that I didn't get stitches on my chin and I didn't have time to get stitches on my eye. I put 3 steri-strips on it and a band-aid over it.
Our List of What to Bring To the Show
I wish I had been given a list of things to bring to a show. Vet2Be's 4H leader is very good about sharing when I forget something. I wanted to have a list somewhere to remind me next year of what to bring.  Just in case someone else needs a list, too, here it is:
  • Shampoo or shampoo mixed with water in a spray bottle
  • short leash for the wash area
  • short hose for the wash area
  • 2 or three old towels (for washing)
  • brushes
  • clippers and extension cord
  • scissors
  • baling twine 
  • 2 or 3 biners or clips
  • 2 or 3 bungee cords
  • ADGA goat registration papers
  • camp chairs
  • extra water bottles and snacks in a cooler
  • hay (or alfalfa pellets if your goat is used to pellets)
  • milk stand (with wheels if you can put some  on!)
  • milking pail and milking equipment
  • a cooler with ice if you want to bring the milk home. We freeze water in an old 2-liter soda bottle.
  • buckets! 5 gallon for water in the stall and a few small ones for grain on the milk stand or .... we brought 3 small buckets and used every one of them.
  • 4H Project Book
  • Snow shovel or manure fork for cleaning the stall when you are done (if you have room for a wheelbarrow in the truck, that is a helpful, not only for cleaning the stall but for moving your stuff around at the show)
  • some cash.... just in case of emergency
  • First Aid kit
  • Sunscreen and a hat if you live someplace you will be out in the sun alot.
Oh, and don't forget the goats! Actually, Vet2Be's 4H leader's daughter forgot to bring one of her goats to one of the shows! We don't bring very many so it's hard to forget one for us, but they brought 10!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Anvil

Son1 worked at a living history museum about 40 minutes from us when he was in Jr. High. He was the blacksmith's apprentice and got to work on some really fun projects.  He now has lots of books on blacksmithing and loves working with metal whenever he gets the chance.

When he got home from Mexico, Hubby bought him an anvil. We had been looking for one for the two years he was gone. They are really hard to find used!

This week as Son1 was heading to college he realized that he needed a music stand. The collapsible metal ones are really flimsy. I have a few in the music closet just for emergencies, but they aren't in very good shape. I have some sturdier stands, but they are harder to transport and college dorm rooms aren't known for their size.

Son1 decided to use his metal working skills to fix one of the flimsy metal ones.

You can't see the propane tank behind Son1. The flame is coming out of a weeding 'flame thrower' that we bought at the local farm supply store. He said it isn't hot enough to do much more than fix household things, but he was glad to use his anvil anyway!
Last week he used his anvil and flame thrower to fix a hanging chair base that Vet2Be sat on wrong and broke. It was great to see Son1 doing something he loves! And I didn't realize how nice it would be to have an anvil around the house.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clabbered Milk: Part 4 (failed again!)

Another batch gone bad. It looks like yeast again.

Can you see the cloth on top all poofed up? That's because something is growing out of the top of the bottle.

It separated, and it grew. I think it grew yeast again. This time it grew faster than the last time.
When I checked the bottle the second day the milk seemed to be getting thicker. Today when I checked, it was growing out of the top of the bottle.

I think I'll try keeping it in another part of the kitchen to see if it makes a difference.

I think the nice thing about having 3-4 gallons of milk a day is that I get to try so many things. If something fails I try to figure out what went wrong and try it another way.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

For New Goat Owners - Please Read

I had a sad experience on Saturday as we were heading to the County Fair. A neighbor called as we were half-way down our road and said that their goat had been in labor since 2 pm the day before. It was 7:15 AM. We didn't make the turn to the main road, but headed to the next block and parked in front of their house.

There was first freshening doe on her side worn out with all the straining she had been doing for the past 15 hours.

Some people buy a goat because they think they will be good weed eaters, some because they think it will be an easy, cheap source of free milk, some because they think they are cute. Whatever the reason, don't think that any animal can be put out in the pasture and be given food and water and nothing else. Just like having children, goats require care and a knowledge of how to handle and raise them.

Most people have a first aid kit or first aid supplies in their home. Bandaids, antibiotic ointment, something to sterilize and clean a wound with. Most people have some sort of pain killer and probably some type of cold remedy. Many have vitamins or other health supplement. Most people know how and when to administer any of that.

If you went to a hospital to deliver a baby, then you would expect the hospital to have the proper equipment on hand and proper medications to take care of the infant and the mom. Or, if you have your child at home you would have many of the same types of things.

It should be that way if you have animals. Here is a list of things that we always have on hand for caring for our animals in during kidding. There may be some things that you have that you find helpful, I hope that you leave a comment so I can learn a little from you, too.
  1. A clean, quiet place for the goat to kid
  2. Flashlight & batteries or lights in the barn just in case you have to help a goat at night
  3. Latex gloves – In case you have to assist. Some people like to use their bare hands, I like gloves because I also play guitar and have longer fingernails on one hand. I don't want to hurt the animal on the inside.
  4. OB Lube – In case you have to “go in” to assist.
  5. 7% iodine – To treat the umbilical cord to prevent navel ill. 
  6. Film container (or spray bottle) – for dipping or spraying the umbilical cord with iodine.
  7. Dental floss – To tie the umbilical cord, if necessary.
  8. Blunt nosed scissors – For cutting the umbilical cord if it is too long.
  9. Alcohol or another type of sanitizer - to sterilize tools, hands, anything that might have to go inside the doe.
  10. Baby nasal aspirator – To remove fluids from newborn’s mouth & nose, if necessary. We know of one family who saved some kid's lives because they had one on hand.
  11. 3 old but clean towels – To dry kids to prevent chill & dry hands.
  12. Blow dryer - if our doe is kidding in cool weather we always use a blow dryer to make sure the kid is dry and warm before it takes it's first drink.
  13. Bottle & Nipple – In case you need to bottle feed
  14. Lamb / kid puller – In case of a kid that is positioned wrong. (Usually just your hand is enough to help a doe that needs help but it is a good idea to have one).
  15. Weak lamb syringe & feeding tube – To feed kids too weak to nurse.
  16. Feed bag (garbage bag) – For picking up the afterbirth.
  17. Soap & warm water - for washing up in case you need to assist.
  18. Digital thermometer – To check the temperature of chilled kids, to check the temperature of the doe if she has had any birth trauma
  19. Nutridrench (we use molasses in a pinch) – nutrient and energy supplement, we usually give one squirt to the kid, sometimes a few squirts to the mom. Sheep and goat nutridrench is the same formulation, we buy whichever is cheaper
  20. Colostrum — either powdered or frozen from last year's kidding, just in case you loose the doe and need to save the kid(s).
  21. Phone number of at least one vet that is familiar with goats - in case of an emergency.
I always have the following on hand whether it is kidding season or not. If you have a problem, you need to have the necessary supplies on hand even if you have a veterinarian. If you call a vet and you have supplies on hand, they can suggest to you what to do while you are trying to get the goat to the vet. If you don't have any supplies, you may loose the goat.
  1. Fortified B Complex
  2. Naxcel or Excenel (vet Rx only - 0 withdrawal)
  3. Penicillin - for snotty noses, polio, and mastitis
  4. Eprinephrine (for anaphylactic shock when given injections vet Rx only)
  5. Kaopectate or Pepto Bismol - for scours
  6. Probiotics - give when off feed or after antibiotic treatment
  7. Electrolites - prevent dehydration during stress
  8. Kaptan or Clorox for ringworm & other fungi
  9. 5cc and 12cc Syringes
  10. 18g x 1" and 22g x 1" Needles
  11. Drench gun or syringe
  12. BluKote or another type germicidal and fungicidal
The goat owners that we helped are very good people. But they didn't have much on hand to help their doe or any kids that were born. They had always just come out and there were babies with no problems.

But not this time.

There is a 30 - 30 - 30 rule when a doe is kidding (or a ewe is lambing) (Managing Kidding and Lambing by Mary C. Smith, DVM Page 3/8)
As a guide for when to interfere, use the 30-30-30 rule. If a ewe or doe goes into labor or part of the fetus or placenta shows, allow 30 minutes for delivery to be completed before examining the dam. An exception would be if the lamb or kid is yellow with meconium, indicating that it is already short of oxygen and needs to be delivered rapidly. If everything appears to be in normal position and posture, allow a further 30 minutes before delivering the lamb or kid. If the mother has had one or more fetuses unassisted but an additional fetus is believed to be present (part visible, further straining, fetus ballottable through the abdominal wall) allow a further 30 minutes to elapse before delivering the next fetus.

It takes a doe about 5 hours to deliver kids. Four hours for the cervix to dilate, one more hour to deliver.

I had never gone in to assist a doe. I have good friends who are very knowledgeable and I read alot, especially about goat care. I have had the procedure described so many times to me that I felt that if I didn't help this doe, then she would die.

The first thing we did was take her temperature, which was normal. I asked if they had Penicillin or Vitamin B on hand, any syringes and needles. No, they didn't. They had gloves, alcohol (70%) and some Vaseline, and an oral thermometer. Vet2Be called Hubby and had him bring down the meds we knew we would need.

Vet2Be gave her a shot of Vitamin B complex and a shot of PenG (5cc). Then he stayed by her head, talking to her and soothing her. He was in his good clothes ready to show (white shirt, black pants) so he couldn't help as much.

After putting gloves on and rinsing my hands with alcohol, I went in to find out what the problem was. Since I hadn't done this before I knew it would take me a few minutes to figure out what I was feeling.

All I could feel was a lump of kid goat. I thought it was the rump, but it turned out that the kid's head and both front legs were pointing towards the tail, which was towards the doe's head. What I was feeling was the back of the kids neck. I knew that I would have to get the head and both feet forwards in order to get the kid out.

It took me about an hour to do that. All the while Vet2Be was at her head telling her she was going to be okay, and scratching her cheeks. All the while I was praying that I would be able to figure out how to get the legs and head in the right position.

While I was working with the doe, the owners were calling around to find a veterinarian that would look at their doe. They finally found a vet that would see the doe if they brought her in. While they were getting their van ready and a tarp to lift the doe into the van, I finished pulling the kid out with the help of another one of the people that was helping.

As of last night, the doe looked like she might live. The vet had given her another shot of PenG (5 cc) and sent the family home with enough for the next few days. I felt badly because the doe had a tear inside. The vet said that they let that type of injury heal on it's own. The owners should just rinse it daily and keep it clean.

The moral of the story is, please, please, learn about your goats. Please keep medications and supplies on hand in case of an emergency. There really isn't time to go to the farm store to buy what you need. There might not be a vet available quickly, especially one that will treat goats. Read, read, and read more so that if an emergency arises, you will have the information you need and you will be able to be calm while you decide what to do.

One book I recommend (yes, it probably cost more than your goat did!) is the current edition of Diseases of the Goat by John Matthews. It has great information and is fairly easy to understand. At $80, it is a great deal for all the information it contains.

I know it seems like alot of money to buy the supplies you should have on hand, but in the long run it will save you heartache and vet bills.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What IS That Smell?!

Yup... the smell is the pan baking in the oven, again! I finally figured out something to remind me to take the pan out of the oven before I turn it on and bake the empty pan with used parchment paper on it.

See the tape that says, "Pan in Oven"?
It is right over the controls so I can't turn on the oven 
with the pan inside!

I don't have a regular place to store some of my pans that I use often.....

And I really like to use the parchment paper on cookie pans until they scream for mercy (because I'm a cheapskate!) ....

I put the tape above the oven controls when I turn the oven on. Then I replace it over the controls when I turn the oven off.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Clabbered Milk: Part 3 (and more to come...)

Hmmm... I checked the clabbered milk this morning. I stirred it up a bit and it was foamy under the cream. I think that means it was contaminated by yeast.

It still doesn't smell bad which is not what I expected from leaving raw milk on the counter for almost 5 days!

I dumped it down the drain, just to be on the safe side. I 'started' a new batch with the warm milk that we brought in from the barn this morning.

Hopefully this time it will work.

If it does, I'll look around for a great looking stoneware crock for the milk to clabber in!

Fresh milk, new jar, and a new cloth with a rubber band around the lid.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cheese Press—Ugly, but it works

Here's what my cheese press looks like. Ugly, yes. Not a charming, handcrafted piece of art, just  pieces and parts found here and there, then jumbled together to press cheese.

All set up and pressing some Farmhouse Cheddar. The only 'real' piece of cheesemaking equipment is the cheese mold that my friend gave me. She found it in her mother's stash before she moved. She knew her mom would never use it, but that I would! Thanks, Friend!

From top to bottom in the photo above:
hand weights, game board with holes drilled in the corners for dowels to go through, old jam jar, follower (you can't see the follower, it's under the jam jar), a real cheese mold, upside down plate to keep the cheese out of the draining whey, cake pan, another game board with matching holes.

Here you can see the two game boards 
and my messy kitchen in the background.

The follower is an old candle lid. I took the cheese mold to the thrift store and tried everything round I could find to see what would fit inside and make a good follower. I'm not sure if glass is a great choice because it might break eventually.
I've been using it for about a year so far with no mishaps, I'll keep crossing my fingers!
Here is a better photo of the follower. It leaves cute little round circles on the top of the cheese. When I used a jar without a follower I had a ridge of cheese around the edge of the cheese as it came out of the mold. Not so appealing at all! The follower makes the cheese come out of the mold even to the edge, no trimming!

Hopefully you can see the circular ridges on the top of the cheese. They haven't caused any problems so at this point I don't worry about them. In fact, I pretend I've put them there on purpose.

The jam jar, which has a lid on it, fits just inside the large ridge (which would have been the outside of the candle lid) so it makes the top of the press more stable. That's the big drawback to this press--everything on the top board has to be balanced just right or I end up with lopsided cheese because one side was under more weight than the other.

Maybe one day I will have a great looking cheese press! And maybe one day Hubby or Son1 will cut out a wooden follower and I will have a flat surface to my cheese, but for now the circles are my 'signature', and so is the ugly cheese press!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Clabbered Milk: Part 2

I've been doing some more reading about clabbered milk. Some places on the internet say to leave it in a sealed container, but more of the sites I have come across said to leave it in a loosely covered container, preferably the opening should be covered with a cloth.

When I checked the milk on the counter Tuesday morning, there was really no change except that the cream had separated to the top.

So I stirred the cream in a bit, changed the stickers to the side of the container, and covered it with a cloth.

I must say, I am really surprised that there was no nasty smell coming from the milk when I checked it! There was nothing gross about it at all. It still smelled like milk! Surprise!

I've lifted the cloth so you can see all our crazy labels. But I've had the cloth down over the whole container since I put it on. It's been sitting on the counter since 11/15/10 but the milk was milked out on 8/11/10 in the evening. It had been sitting in the fridge until I put it on the counter.

I've emailed a few friends, and they are interested in the clabbered milk, too! If they find any recipes I'll be sure to post them here. I'm really curious about this and what can be done with it.

Tomorrow we are at the 4H goat show, but I wanted to update this little experiment because I don't want to forget what I've done and how long it took when I try to reproduce it (or not) later on. 

And just in case there is anyone else out there who is trying this and following along, too!

Farmhouse Cheddar update

Here is a link to the original post:
Farmhouse Cheddar

I put my cheese in the used wine cooler I found on the local online classifieds. It cost $35, sits on a shelf in my storage room so it is out of the way, and is supposed to hold eight bottles of wine.

I'm not sure how much cheese it will hold since I only have 2 blocks aging right now.

We pulled the cheese out this week and it tasted..... like cheese! In fact, it tasted like cheddar!

How cool is that!

I was so excited!

Here is the link (again) for the tutorial I used from New England Cheesemaking Supply's Blog.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Clabbered Milk

l had a question from someone a few weeks ago. She was told to leave her raw milk on the counter for 3-5 days and it would turn into cream cheese. Leaving raw milk on the counter sounded really gross to me, not to mention that it seemed like the resulting product might be unsafe.

I did some reading and asked some questions. Apparently it is called clabbered milk and used to be made often. It can only be done with raw milk, not pasteurized milk, because the pasteurization kills some of the bacteria that is needed to clabber the milk.

On a side note--that's why Clabber Girl baking powder was originally made. You would add the baking powder to clabbered or loppered milk to produce a leavening reaction.

Here is a link on how to make clabbered milk:
The Nourishing Cook

Someone on the Basic Cheesemaking Yahoo Group said they do this all the time. She freezes the results and it makes a 'killer cheese cake' during the winter.

I've got lots of raw goat milk in the fridge right now. I think I'm going to give this a try.

 Sitting on the counter waiting.... and waiting.... 

Update: I just recieved this link from a friend. It has some great information and recipes for clabbered milk! NH Honey.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weeding and Tilling

Still no camera. It spent about 10 days in Korea with Son1 while he was testing for his black belt in Haidong Gumdo. Right now it is sitting on his desk with the card full of pictures from his trip.

Today we spent lots of time weeding! My goal is to have the whole garden weeded by Friday as well as some fencing repaired and a shelter enlarged.

My nephew is visiting from Connecticut for three weeks, and we have a foster son here this week as well. The house is full of boys and I put them all to work instead of letting them sit around on the computer!

Today I weeded for three hours. Vet2Be, Nephew2, and Foster weeded for about two hours. We got a bunch done, but there is still lots to do tomorrow.

Son1 tilled for about 6 hours and got the area in front of the barn nice and soft. We had old straw spread over most of the area as well as piles of muck from the stalls. We are hoping to plant grass in the fall so that next spring we will have more area in pasture for animals. It will reduce our animal feed bill in the summer if we have all the animals on pasture and none on dry lot.

We don't have much of a garden this year. It froze three times this spring. We thought we had lost all the raspberries and the blackberries, but they surprised us and came back to life. There is no fruit on the fruit trees, though. Son1 really misses the nectarines. There are a few tomatoes planted and a few peppers, but nothing is growing very well. I was happy to see grapes on the grapevine, although two of the plants look kinda sick and yellow.

The flower beds in the front all need weeded, too. But they will have to wait until next week.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just What A Parent Wants to Hear

I got an email from our daughter today. I sat here and cried. It is just what a parent wants to hear. We always wonder if we are doing what is best for our kids.... always.

I loved growing up the way we did, I really think you gave us a good sense of reality.  I think learning to work is a priceless thing. You did great things with us, I think I could not have turned out better, you guys did a great job, I am not afraid to learn, or work hard, I could not ask for any more, it makes our lives satisfying and happy.  Thanks again for all your help, you are an amazing woman, and Carpenter and I really appreciate all you do for us.

She and her husband have moved far away. We miss them tons already. But she has always been a Yankee at heart, so she and her husband are very, very happy there. It is where they are meant to be.

The day they left. They drove straight through and arrived at midnight the next day. Surry (the dog) was sick for a while, but they gave her some Benadryl and she did great the rest of the trip.

Their family photo was taken a few days before they left.

The corner of their new house with the lake and the dock just beyond. They live in paradise!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Green Idea (aka I'm a Cheapskate!)

I modified this idea from a friend's blog. I tried it out the past few days and it works really well.

She (and I) love the wipes that you can buy to clean bathrooms and kitchens. But they are expensive and it seems like a waste to use them once and then throw them away. I hate using a washcoth or sponge and a bucket of cleaner. Yuck! All the hair and gunk from the bathroom seems to stick to the washcloth or end up in the bucket. Nasty!

Her idea was to cut up old t-shirts into 6" squares and store them in an old baby wipe container with a spray bottle of homemade cleaner next to it.

Here is the link to her blog post:

Then she throws the dirty t-shirt wipes in the wash when she washes her whites.

What a great idea!

Except I didn't want a bottle of cleaner sitting there.

So, I cut up the t-shirt, put the squares into the wipes container, and poured enough cleaning solution to get them good and wet, but not dripping.

Wow! It was great having some re-usable handy wipes to clean the bathroom!

The next modification will be to cut the t-shirt into 8" squares instead of 6" squares. I think I would like my homemade handy wipes just a bit bigger.

Here's the recipe for homemade cleaner. It's found lots of places on the internet.

1 gallon water
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
squirt liquid dish detergent (I like Dawn, you may have to use a bit less if you have soft water).

Here's a great site with lots of home made recipes for cleaning supplies (and other tips):

There it is, a green idea for cleaning! But really I like the idea because I'm a cheapskate!

Monday, August 2, 2010


We found out that the chickens have mites. I think that they came with the chickens that we got from a local petting farm.

We 'caught' one, put it under the IntelPlay microscope at 60x and took some photos of it with the computer. Actually, there were four on my arm after putting chickens in the coop, so Hubby grabbed them with a paper towel, folding them up and brought them in the house. They only live on birds, so even if one got away we weren't worried about an infestation of mites in the house (just in case you were wondering!)

Here's what we found under the microscope.

Hubby mixed up some diatomacious earth, sand, and pyrethrin powder from the local feed supply store. He put it in an old wooden box that is about 5" deep. I hope they decide to take their dust bath in the box, it will save us some time and headaches over treating each bird individually in plastic bags.

Vet2Be caught one chicken today, turned it upside-down and sprinkled it under her wings. She is one of the scraggly looking chickens from the petting farm. We'll watch her and see how she looks in a few weeks. These little buggers are supposed to have a two week life cycle, so hopefully in two weeks we'll see a little bit of a change.

We have always washed the eggs that come in from the barn. We'll keep up with that practice as long as they have pyrethrin in their dust bath.

We'll be cleaning the poultry pen next week, not a fun job. But between the cleaning and the dust baths I think we can be rid of them within a month.

Here's a link to more info about mites.
Ohio State University Extension Service: Common External Parasites in Poultry.
If you scroll to the bottom of the page there is a PDF version of the web page.