Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Cheese 'Cave'

My wine cooler died. We don't drink wine, I used it for aging cheese.

I think the thermoelectric unit died, and it will cost a minimum of $30 to get it fixed. It only cost $30 so I'm not too thrilled about paying more to get it repaired.

So I am using Prion's dorm refrigerator. It took me a day to get the temperature stable at 50˚F, and I wasn't sure it would go that high. But it's been stable for about 8 hours now, so I think it will be okay.

An old Kenmore refrigerator--it cost $20. It's been a great dorm fridge for 2 years. Prion loves it because it is bigger than most dorm fridges! You can see that it has a piece of wood underneath, that's because it doesn't sit evenly on the floor. I don't know what piece is missing, but a board seems to work fine so we'll just go with it for a while.
Missing the bottom drawer, one of these days I'll find a plastic basket that will fit down there. I'm sure Prion can use it for fruits and vegies.
That's a thermometer in a jar of water. I can check the temperature of the water and know the temperature of the fridge before the door was opened.
The lone Gouda wrapped in a bandage so the crack heals. On the left is a plastic container with water and a sponge to keep the humidity higher in the fridge. I'm sure I'll have to defrost it more often, but that's okay, the Gouda likes the moisture.
I like the fridge shelves better than the wine cooler shelves. These are flat, the wine cooler shelves are wavy so the bottles don't roll around inside. The fridge is also alot larger than the wine cooler.

I think I'll be making a bunch more cheese this summer now that I have a bigger, better place to let it age!

And maybe I'll have to buy Prion a new fridge.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paper Bag Mulching

We saved most of the Purina Feed bags over the winter so we could use them as mulch this summer. I like paper bag mulching over the landscape fabric because neither one lasts forever, and paper bags are much easier to till in when we are ready for another layer of weed blocker.

About 9 feed bags cut open and laid on top of the weeds. Hubby cut the weeds, but we didn't till or use weed killer on them. The bags are about 3 grocery bags thick, they shouldn't have any trouble killing the weeds.

Covered with 9 bags of mulch. Ten bags would have been a little better. It was more mulch than Hubby thought we would need, but it should keep the weeds down for 3-5 years as well as reduce the water we need on the nectarine trees.
I still need to sweep the basketball court off, but every day we get a little closer to getting the yard all cleaned up and ready for summer.

Oh, wait... summer's here. Sheesh! Well, we'll keep working at it and one year our yard will be beautiful!

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Cheese Draining Bag

I've read about these bags for a while and decided it was time to give one a try.
Chevre draining in the new cheese bag.
All I can say is, WOW!!! I wish I had gotten one earlier!

But I'm still a penny-pinching Yankee and will often wait until I've really decided I want to spend the money to try something out.

The bag is made of nylon (I think) and has a draw-string at the top. I put the curds in the bag with the seam towards the outside and let the it drain over night.

When I removed the curd from the bag it just fell out. No sticking anywhere. It was wonderful!

I got both sizes that The Cheesemaker had to offer. The medium bag looks like it will hold a gallon of curd and cost $7.97. The large bag looks like it will hold 3 or 4 gallons of curd and was$11.97. The Cheesemaker didn't charge any shipping (Yay!). They shipped really fast, too. I ordered on Wednesday and the bags arrived on Saturday. I think I will probably only ever use the large bag. But since I really didn't have an idea of what the sizes were

New England Cheesemaking Supply is my favorite company to order from, but I might be giving The Cheesemaker a try for some of their other supplies from time to time.

I taught a class in Queso Fresco last week. I showed the ladies the bags I was looking at and one of them said it looked just like a paint straining bag. I couldn't find a paint straining bag close by, but now that I know exactly what these are made of, I'll be checking at the home improvement stores by me to see if it is the same fabric as the curd draining bag.

I'll also be checking the fabric stores to see if I can find fabric like this. I think I would like to make a bag that would fit right inside my cheese mold. Easy in, easy out, and no sticking!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


CooleyBug needed to disbud some goat kids. She was really, really sick a few weeks ago when it would have been best to do it, but we went ahead and did it last Monday anyway. CooleyBug has some mini-LaManchas and some Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Each of the six kids we disbudded got a tetanus anti-toxin shot before being disbudded just to be on the safe side.

Here are a few photos that our neighbor friend took during the process.

So cute!
We always spray Blue Kote after we are done disbudding. Then again 12 hours later, and once more 12 hours after that. The only year we didn't spray we had terrible disbudding infections.
This little one was snuggling close to Vet2Be.
Then it screamed, "Oh, please! Let me go back to my Mama!" He got a shot anyway!
This photo was so funny! This little goat really looks worried!
Disbudding seemed to go well. They all got up and ran out to their mamas after they were disbudded. I'm curious to see how well it worked on the kids that had horns 2" tall already. I've never done goats this late and hope that we did a good enough job that they won't have scurs.

These little goats are louder than the big goats, though! Next time... ear plugs :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another Use for Duct (Duck) Tape

We love using dog kennels inside the stalls. It give the kids a warm, safe place to sleep.

The kids love them because they are alot of fun to climb and jump on.

The dog-gloos are the sturdiest for the kids. But we have a few 'house' shaped ones around that I haven't found replacement dog-gloos for yet. I won't spend more than about $10 at the thrift store or yard sales for one, and I haven't found any that cheap lately.

This one kept getting knocked apart by the kids.

Sooooo...... I used duct tape to hold it together.

We bought some 'Gorilla' duct tape a few weeks ago and that stuff is really, really sticky and sturdy.

I wrapped the tape around in four places. Hopefully the kids can play on it without it coming apart now.
 I'll let you know if they manage to pull it apart or if the Gorilla tape is tough enough to last through goat kids.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sharpening a Shovel

We had to clean out the kidding stall on Monday.

By the time we got all the loose hay out we had to scrape the mat at the bottom of the stall. We really like flat shovels (not spades) for this job.

I don't know if there are many people who sharpen shovels anymore, but it makes the job much easier if the shovel is sharp.

We use a file at a shallow angle to sharpen the shovel. First the back side....
Wedge the shovel in on something higher than the ground. Vet2Be is on the milk stand. Then file away all the rough edges.
Flip it over and do the other side. It doesn't really matter which side is first. The shovel tends to move a little less when bottom side is up. You can see a nice edge on this shovel. That's what you want to see when you are done.
When the stall is this wet we close it off for a day or two and leave a fan running to help it dry out before we put clean bedding down. It helps with the smell, and I like the idea of the goats having a clean, dry stall to lay down in.
Happy digging! (And cleaning stalls!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Calibrating the Cheese Press

Sheepy wanted to know how to calibrate the cheese press that her dad built. Since he built one for me, too (yay!) calibrating the scale was something I could do for her.

I needed a bathroom scale that fit on the base of the cheese press.

I used an old jar between the presser and the scale. Then I hung 5 lbs of weights on the left side of the lever and read the weight on the scale. I recorded it on the bottom of tape on the lever so I would know where to put the weights to get the pressure I needed for the cheese.

This is a photo of 15 lbs of weight on the closest spot.  It puts 32 lbs of pressure on the cheese. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the calibration weights.

Here are the weights I measured with 15 lbs of weights. 

Here is a photo of the front of the lever with the calibration markings for 10 lbs of weights on the top tape and 5 lbs of weights on the bottom tape.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Clover's Kids

Sunday night was a little it nerve-wracking! No time to take pictures by the time we figured out what was going on and what we needed to do.

Clover started kidding around 7:00 pm when we were starting to milk. The first kid came out hind legs first, which isn't a big problem except that sometimes they breath a bit too early.

Lucky did just that. He really tried to breath, and breath, and breath. But all he got was mucus. We turned him upside down and  spent the next 5 minutes using the bulb syringe to suck out his nose and mouth.

I really didn't think he would make it. Especially since boys tend to give up early.

But he's still around, that's why we are calling him Lucky.

His brother came out head first, but no feet. NO FEET!

That meant that I had to go in and get the feet out!

In my Sunday dress! Silly me, I thought I would have time to change between milking and checking on Clover.

As soon as his little head was out... he started BREATHING!

At least we caught this one faster and we were able to wipe his face off. He didn't have as much mucus sucked in as Lucky did. We worked as fast as we could, especially because we didn't know if this one would be a boy or a girl. Sheesh! All that work for two boys!

Both kids got a shot of LA 200 just to be sure they were okay. Clover got a big shot of Penicillin since I had to go inside and help with the kid.

I think next year Vet2Be will be the one going inside and figuring out the puzzle!

Here's Lucky. He was still wobbly on Monday. I'm sure it was because he had such a rough first few minutes of life.
Lucky is being bottle fed for now, since he can't seem to figure out where Clover's 'spigot' is. That's okay with me. It means that he'll be a very friendly little whether.

Lucky on the right, Banjo (that's what I'm calling him until Vet2Be figures out a better name) on the left. Banjo figured out where to eat Sunday evening. No worries about him right now. 
Surprisingly, Clover doesn't let them sleep all that long. I'm wondering if she thinks they need to be up, moving, and breathing, to keep their lungs from filling with fluid. Just a thought. We'll see if they make it through the first week of life.

Here's hoping!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Down the Window Well

We kept hearing a chirping noise near the window downstairs.

Here's what we found!

Vet2Be got it out and set it on the grass. It quickly went through the fence and, hopefully, off to a long and happy life!

The cats are in the house for the night to give him/her a head start on life.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gouda-with a Crack

I made Gouda again. This time with un-pasteurized milk. I have much better success with un-pasteurized milk. The yield is higher and I have ended up with a smooth cheese, not a crumbly cheese.

Since Gouda has to be soaked in brine for a while, I decided to try to keep the cheese under the brine instead of flipping it all day.

I ended up cutting an old chop stick down so it would fit inside the plastic container that was holding the brine. I put the cheese inside the brine, pushed it down, and wedged the chopstick on top of the cheese.
No, the picture isn't wonky and stretched. The chopstick is pushing the sides of the plastic container into an oval shape. The chopstick did a great job. It held the Gouda under the top of the brine for 16 hours without me flipping it! 

This time when I took it out of the press it had a crack in one side. The same thing happened last time and I'm not sure what I can do to prevent the cheese from sticking to the cheese cloth. I tied a white piece of cotton cloth around the outside to hold the crack into the cheese. I did the same thing last time and the crack 'healed' by the time I put sealed the cheese in plastic.

Here's a photo of the Gouda with the cotton bandage wrapped around it. You can't see the crack because the cotton is wrapped tightly enough to hold it closed.
You can also see some masking tape on the cloth, that's because I know I will need a reminder to tell me when to put the cheese into the plastic and age it in the wine cooler.

Waiting three months is always hard.

Maybe I'll have to make some Feta again tomorrow. It's faster!