Thursday, April 28, 2016

Some Visitors and Some Cheese

Welcome back!

Do you know what happens when you live on a farm and get sick?

You still have to do the chores! Even if you feel like you can't get out of bed!

That's what happened to Matt and I this week. I was sick one day and he helped so much with all the chores so I could rest. I still was out in the barn but I wasn't strong enough to get everything done that I usually do. Tim helped by doing some of the inside chores that needed to get done. Matt got sick the next day so I did all the chores that he usually does.

The next time your mom or dad gets sick I hope that you help out with the chores at your house. I am so grateful when I get help!

It has been cold and rainy lately.
Stumpy found a nice place to sit in the barn so he can stay warm and dry.
It's so fun to come out in the morning and see this cute calf!

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We had a neighborhood preschool visit us this week! The children and the parents were very well behaved. They listened closely, asked good questions, and were kind to the animals.

Echo loves the attention from the visitors.

Visiting the bucks (boy goats).

Feeding Clover.

This is my favorite picture of the visitors!
Echo loved them because they were all so kind!
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This week I made cheese, too. Echo gives us a lot of milk! Thank you so much for saving your containers for me! 

I made cottage cheese.

I also made some Gouda. 

Gouda starts as curds, like cottage cheese.
Then it gets pressed into a round mold.
A mold is something that makes a shape,
it's not the green stuff that grows on old bread.

After it is pressed it has to sit in salty water called brine for about 12 hours.

The next step is for it to dry in a special refrigerator.
Then we have to wait for almost 4 months before we can eat it!
We won't be eating this cheese until 24 July, Pioneer Day in Utah.

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I've been trying to get a good photo or video of Echo, Stumpy, and the goat kids.
It's pretty hard to have the camera ready when they are ready!
The goat kids love Echo, and they love to play with Stumpy.
You can see in the photo that Echo doesn't mind the little kids at all. 
We love this cow!
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This is the friendliest chicken on the farm.
She doesn't have a name, but if you can think of a good one, I'll name her.

People can pet her or pick her up and she doesn't mind at all. That's unusual for a chicken that is handicapped. They are usually scared of people!

She is handicapped because she is blind in one eye.
Something happened to this eye, we don't know what it was.
Her eye got an infection, then it went blind.
She still lays eggs, and I like her because she's so friendly.

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I'm sorry to say that the turkey eggs didn't hatch. Maybe she will lay another clutch of eggs and try again.

This little hen is sitting on eggs!
She started on Wednesday, 27 April.
Chicken eggs hatch out in about 21 days.
We're hoping they hatch!

One of our friends had a 'broody hen' and she asked for eggs.

Her hen sat on the eggs and she was able to get a short video of one of the eggs hatching! I am so happy that she let me share it with you.

And here is another short video she got!

I'm lucky to have such nice friends!

Here are the two new chicks with their mama hen.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Mountain Sunday * 24 April 2016

North of the barn.
24 April 2016

East over the barn.
24 April 2016

South of the barn.
24 April 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Graphing Eggs

Welcome back!

Thank you so much for bringing me containers for milk! You'll see later why I needed so many. 

This week I'm going to show you my graph. I hope you made a graph, too.

Here is my graph.
Does yours look the same, or different from mine?
I counted the eggs I collected each week, then entered the data into my graph.

Did you notice that there are only three bars on the first week? That's because the little grey chickens hadn't started laying their eggs yet.

There aren't very many duck eggs, or small eggs because we only have one duck, and we only have two small chickens.

Did you notice that week 1 has the fewest eggs? That's because I only counted eggs for 5 days that week, not 7 days.

I thought you might like to see what my tracking paper looks like.
This is how I collected the data and kept track of it each day.
The graph above looks muck nicer!

I collected 564 eggs over 5 weeks.
There are 12 eggs in each dozen.

564 ÷ 12 = 47 dozen eggs

The food we buy for the chickens costs about 20¢ per pound. The chickens and duck ate about 125 lbs of food during the 5 weeks I was counting eggs.
20¢ x 125 = $25

To find out how much each dozen eggs cost I divided $25 by 47 dozen eggs.
$25 ÷ 47 dozen = 53¢ for each dozen eggs.
We didn't add the cost of water, or the cost of heating the water in the winter. Our eggs cost more in the winter because it costs more to keep the water warm. Chickens also eat more in the winter because it's cold. It also takes us time to collect and clean the eggs. And it takes time to feed and water the chickens, and to clean their pen. 

If you buy eggs from the store you have to pay for all of those things, too, not just the chicken feed. You need to pay for the carton, and for a place for the chickens to live. You also have to pay someone to bring the eggs to the store!

In the spring and summer the chickens eat less food because they like to eat bugs and grass in the pasture. We're glad that the chickens eat so many bugs!

Here's a link to last years post on graphing eggs.

I thought you might like to see what we put in our nesting boxes.
Plastic Easter eggs!
The plastic eggs let the chickens know that this is a good place to lay eggs.
We still have to look all over for eggs because chickens like to hide their eggs.
Silly chickens!
*     *     *    *     *     *
Do you see something different about River's front legs?
What's missing?
Her splint! We took it off on Monday and her right front leg is strong and straight!

One other thing that's different in the picture is that River is eating from her mom. Last week I showed you drinking a bottle. Usually when a kid starts with a bottle they won't eat from their mom.

I think River is very smart because she learned how to eat from her mom! We still give her a bottle or two every day to make sure she gets enough to eat, and because it's fun to feed a goat kid with a bottle.

I thought you might like to see what it looks like when a goat kid eats from her mom.

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I thought you might like to see what our refrigerator looks like.
Echo gives a lot of milk!
That's why we need so many containers!
Echo fills between 4 and 5 gallon containers every day.
The chickens lay a lot of eggs!

Do you see the yellow stuff at the top of the containers? That's cream! We can shake the container of milk and it mixes in. Yummy, creamy milk!

If we want just cream then we skim it off the top to make butter and ice cream.

This is something I'm very excited about.
It doesn't look like much.
We thought this tree died during the winter.
But it didn't! It's growing a new branch from the trunk.
I think it's because I pour about 5 gallons of water on it every day.
We don't like wasting water so when we're done cleaning the milker
we pour the water on this tree, and the garden.

This tree will grow very tall and provide a lot of shade for the animals. We don't have air conditioning in the barn so we like to make sure they have some place to get out of the sun in the summer time.

If you scroll back up to the tracking page you'll see that I wrote a note on the paper by Mon 28. That's when the turkey hen started sitting on her eggs.

Turkey's usually hatch out their eggs in about 25-28 days. How many days has it been since she started sitting?

I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mountain Sunday * 17 April 2016

South of the barn.
17 April 2016

East over the barn.
17 April 2016
North of the barn.
17 April 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

New Goat Kids!

Welcome back!

Wow! We had an exciting week during Spring Break!

Saturday there were two goat kids born at Welcome Home Farm. One was born early in the morning, one was born very late at night.

Did you know that baby goats are called kids?

I'll take some videos next week of the kids playing.

Here's Quin visiting the two new kids.

It's so much fun to get inside the little dog house with the kids!

The goat kids need to wear sweaters because it's been a little bit chilly. They stay warmer and grow better if they have sweaters on.

Do you see the red light on the left side of the picture? That light comes from a heat lamp. If the kids are cold they can sleep under a warm lamp. They also like to sleep inside the dog house because it's warm inside.

This kid's name is River.
Her mother is Misty.
She is wearing a red sweater to keep warm.
She's also under a heat lamp to stay warm.
River was almost dead when she was born. We don't know what happened, we don't know why. We worked very hard to keep her alive!

She was very cold when she was born a little after midnight. Matt and I took turns using the blow dryer to warm her up. We have to make sure she's warm before she can eat. People can eat if they are cold, but goat kids can't. If we feed them when they are cold they will die because their stomach doesn't work properly if they are cold.

Look at River's front leg near the wall. That's her right leg. Her leg was hurt while she was being born.

The leg in the back of the picture is just right! The hoof is flat on the floor.
The hoof in the front of the picture is bent.
We had to put a splint on it so that it would heal.

We used a tongue depressor for a splint.
Sorry the picture is so bad! I had to take it while I was feeding her.

Do you remember the name of the covering on the hooves of newborn animals with hooves?
It's the eponychium!
Here is a link so you can hear how to say it.
River had quite a bit of it on her hooves. Matt took a picture so you could see it.

River was very weak even after we warmed her up. She tried to stand but couldn't do it. Matt had to feed her with a syringe because she wasn't strong enough to suck on a bottle, or to get milk from her mother, Misty.

She was so weak that she couldn't swallow very much milk, either. We were finally able to put her under the heat lamp at 3:30 in the morning. She was born at 12:15, just after midnight.

Matt had to go out at 4:30 and again at 5:30 to feed her a little bit more, and to make sure she was staying warm.

I went out at 6:30 to feed her and she was finally getting strong enough to drink a little from the bottle. It was a lot of work to keep River alive for the first 24 hours! We had to feed her every hour or two.

Now look at her!
She can drink a bottle full of milk with no problems at all!
We still have to feed her every 3 or 4 hours because we don't want her to get sick.
Next week we'll feed her every 5 or 6 hours because she will be bigger and stronger.

Serenity is the kid in the blue sweater.
Annie is her mother.
Serenity was born early Saturday morning.
She was already drinking milk from her mother when I got out to the barn to milk the Echo, the cow.
*     *     *     *     *

Here's the last two weeks of egg counts.

I'll make my graph this week and show you what it looks like next week. 

  • Friday, April 1 I collected 10 brown eggs, 4 green eggs, 0 duck eggs, 1 little egg, and 1 tiny pullet egg
  • Saturday, April 2 I collected 6 brown eggs, 4 green eggs, and 1 duck egg.
  • Sunday, April 3 I collected 12 brown eggs, 5 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs
  • Monday, April 4 I collected 8 brown eggs, 6 green eggs, and 1 duck egg
  • Tuesday, April 5 I collected 6 brown eggs, 2 green eggs, and 1 duck egg.
  • Wednesday, April 6 I collected 14 brown eggs, 4 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 1 little egg.
  • Thursday, April 7 I collected 6 brown eggs, 7 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs.
  • Friday, April 8 I collected 3 brown eggs, 3 green eggs, and 1 duck egg.
  • Saturday, April 9 I collected 13 brown eggs, 4 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 1 little egg.
  • Sunday, April 10 I collected 6 brown eggs, 4 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs.
  • Monday, April 11 I collected 7 brown eggs,  2 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs.
  • Tuesday, April 12 I collected 6 brown eggs, 4 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs.
  • Wednesday, April 13 I collected 7 brown eggs, 6 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs.
  • Thursday, April 14 I collected 20 brown eggs, 14 green eggs, 1 duck egg, and 2 little eggs. (I found where the chickens had been hiding their eggs! In one of the dog houses!)

Next week I'll show you my graph. 
I hope you have a wonderful week!

Mountain Sunday * 11 April 2016

South of the barn.
11 April 2016

East over the barn.
11 April 2016

North of the barn.
11 April 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Making Butter

This is the way I make butter. There are lots of ways to make butter, but it always starts with cream.
You can get heavy whipping cream from the store, or you can skim the cream off non-homogenized milk, which is what we do.

You may notice that the milk, cream, and butter look very yellow. Our cow has something called the Jersey Gold gene. It's not an official name, just a term that old-time farmers use. It means that Echo's milk has a yellow color, and the cream and butter are a golden color.

It takes a few days to separate the cream from the milk in a 2-gallon beverage dispenser.
Cream rises to the top, and milk settles on the bottom.
I drain off the skim from the bottom each day, and add milk from the previous day into the mix.
By the third or fourth day we have almost half cream!

After skimming the milk from the bottom, I use a ladle to get the cream off the top.
I ended up with about 12 cups of cream, and 3 quarts of skim.
The skim milk is more like store-bought 2% milk than store-bought skim milk.
This method doesn't get as much cream out of the milk as a traditional separator does.

I let the cream sit out until it comes to room temperature (about 70-72 degrees).
This ages the cream a little bit, which helps it turn into butter faster.
Cold cream turns into whipped cream.
Warm cream seems to skip the whipped stage and go right to butter.
I'm not sure if that's true for store-bought heavy cream,
but that's the way it works with cream from our cow!

I use the whisks in my stand mixer. You can see the grains starting to form in the cream.
The mixer has been going for about 1 1/2 minutes, which isn't very long.

Now it looks like big grains!
This mixer does such a good job up until this point.
The whips don't do a good job forming the butter into a mass.
I have a Kilner Butter churn, which I love!
But it takes longer than the stand mixer to turn cream into butter.
I let the stand mixer do part,
then I put it into the churn to finish it up.

It takes less than a minute to get the butter into a nice clump,
all ready to wash. It takes about 15 minutes to use the churn to make butter without the mixer.

Yes, I need to wash the butter!

I drain off the buttermilk into a jar.
I'll add it to my cultured buttermilk later.
This buttermilk is not like buttermilk from the store.
The buttermilk in the store is cultured, like yogurt.
This is a little like the whey that comes from making cheese.

I put the butter into a bowl that has ice and water in it.
The butter is quite soft at room temperature so it's hard to wash.
The ice water firms up the butter quickly.

You can see there is still milk in the butter.
I knead it with the spatula and the milk comes out easily.

It takes about 3 rinses before the water is clear and the butter is washed.
It's important to get as much buttermilk out as you can because the butter will last much longer when it's clean.

9.1 ounces of butter from 4 cups (1 quart) of cream.

If you want to add salt, now is the time to do it. Salt is important if you want butter to last longer, and  most people like the taste of salted butter. You'll need to add it to taste, there isn't really a recipe to tell you how much to add. I add about 1/2 teaspoon to 8 ounces of butter. If I'm using it for cooking, I don't add any salt.

It makes great cookies! 

You don't need your own cow to make butter.
You can use heavy whipping cream from the store.

Here's Echo ready to come in for milking.
She gives us about 4 gallons of milk every day!
That's plenty of milk to drink and make cheese,
and lots of cream to make butter and ice cream!

If you're interested in cream separators and how they work, here's a good link to get you started.