Saturday, August 29, 2009


Neil and I spent the whole day tightening the 6' woven wire fence that encloses our alpacas. We hung this fence in April of 2007 with only one temporary staple at the top of each post so we could move the alpacas to the farm. We fully intended to tighten and attached the fence properly soon after.

Well, two and half years later the task finally made it to the top of our to do list. The wire has been drooping for some time and even curling up at the bottom a bit. It was this bottom curling that hurled this task to the top of our list. Emmie, our LGD,will always find the weakest point in our fencing and get out overnight to wander the neighborhood. Our quick fixes weren't fixing that problem anymore so we knew we had to bite the bullet and do the job properly.

When the day was done we were impressed with how well the fence recovered from it's drooping state and looks nice and tight now. Like we know what we are doing :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

New farm additions...

We now have a small flock of sheep on the farm. Three ewes and a young ram. They were delivered today.

The three black sheep are the ewes. One is pure Black Welsh Mountain Sheep and the other two are Black Welsh/Tunis crosses. The white one is the ram. He is half Black Welsh and half Corriedale (I think, still need to check on that).

We don't intend to grow the flock, just use the lambs for meat or sale each year.

The woman who we got the sheep from also had what she was told were two Giant Chinchilla rabbits that she needed to find new homes for. Even though we have American Chinchilla rabbits I told her we would take her two GC does. I figured we could still cross them with our AC buck for meat rabbits. I was a little surprised when she took them out of the truck as they were almost solid black (but still oddly chinchilla patterned) and not the size or shape of a GC at all.

In fact they were pretty much the size and shape of my AC does as you can somewhat see from this photo. So, am not sure what these rabbits have in them, surely some chinchilla, but there is something else in there too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Milk, Butter, Cheese & Brioche

Milking the cow has been going well still. I now have lots of milk in the fridge I need to do something with.

I have been drawing off about half the cream from each days milking and holding it aside in the fridge. Today I finally had time to make some butter with it. I don't have an old fashion paddle butter churn (although I would love to have one someday) so I made do with what I have. I poured the cream into the blender, replaced the top and turned it on until the cream broke and I could see the buttermilk and butter separate. I poured off the buttermilk into a bowl for another use. The butter I placed into a separate bowl. I now needed to wash the butter to remove the last of the buttermilk trapped within, this allows the butter to last longer. I poured ice water into the butter bowl and smashed the butter against the side of bowl. I drained the water into the sink and repeated several times until the water remained clear and no more buttermilk remained in the butter. I added a bit of salt, mixed it in and then a taste test... yumm!

Once the butter was in the fridge I took a recipe out of my cookbook, "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day", for Brioche dough. I mixed it up using the buttermilk leftover from my butter making in place of the water called for in the recipe. Once mixed up it needed to set out to rise for 2 hours and then into the fridge until later tonight.

Next up, I attempted to make some mozzarella cheese with a gallon and a half of Cherry Blossom's milk. It was the first time I have tried mozzarella and it was an utter disaster! I think it was mostly caused by trying to make such a time/temperature sensitive cheese while also doing the normal "mom" things that still needed to be done. Anyway, the chickens seemed to like the soft mush that resulted. I will try again when I have enough extra milk in the fridge.

The last task this evening was to take the brioche dough from the fridge and make it into sticky buns to bake off in the morning. I rolled them up, sliced them into rounds, placed them into baking dishes and stashed them back in the fridge to slowly rise overnight. 40 minutes in the oven in the morning and we will have fresh sticky buns for breakfast!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meet the guinea pigs...

This is McKayla holding "Jill".

And here is Evan holding "Bugsy".

Oh, both Jill and Bugsy are boys... just don't tell McKayla that!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pigs on the farm?

The kids and I headed out to our friend S.'s farm this afternoon to pick up some young Muscovy ducks from her. I met S. last year when she came by the farm to buy some Muscovies from me. Now, a year later I find myself needing some back. You see I have sold almost all of my young ducks that hatched out on the farm this spring. I only have a few males and 3-4 females left.

I had a gentlemen contact me wanting a drake and 4-5 females to start his flock. I told him it would take a few days to catch them up and I would call him when they were ready for pickup. After two days I could only get hold of a drake and a one female. The rest of the females free range almost 100% of the time and never come into the chicken coop to eat the pellet food in the mornings so there was no way I could get a hold of them.

I made a quick phone call to S. to ask if she had any females that she needed to sell. In fact she did and would love to help me fill my order. So, off to S.'s farm we went. It was fun looking around her farm seeing all her animals... goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, lots of different breeds of ducks, the Embden geese she got from us recently, pot-bellied pigs and Guinea pigs too. After the farm tour, we packed up three Muscovy females to bring home. Then S. offered the kids two Guinea pigs as well. She had several litters of young ones ready to go. The kids each picked one out (and a quick check to confirm they were both the same sex!) and we had two little piggies coming home with us too!

These will be the first "pets" the kid's have had. Obviously, at ages 7 and 5 I will still be the primary caretaker. But as I expect the guinea pigs to be around for several years at some point I hope they can take over the duties themselves.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Milking Cherry Blossom

I haven't mentioned much about my daily milking sessions with our Irish Dexter cow Cherry Blossom as it has been going really well and I didn't want to jinx it. But, since it has been a week and half now and all is well I thought I might be out of the woods.

I have been consistently been getting 2-2 1/2 quarts a day. That is with only one milking in the morning and Cherry Blossom is 7 months into her lactation. Not too bad at all! In fact I am quite happy I am not getting MORE milk. I am not sure what I would do with it all!

The 2 quarts I got this morning were first low heat pasteurized (I am nursing the baby so I am not going raw for now) and then one quart went to making strawberry yogurt and the other quart made a cappuccino chocolate chip ice cream (recipe from an old Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream cookbook I have).

It was Neil's birthday yesterday and since he was at work all day we celebrated this afternoon instead. The ice cream joined some from scratch chocolate brownies, fresh whipped cream and sprinkles in lieu of cake.

While I was in the kitchen working with the milk I also spooned the curds from last nights goat milk cheese making into the six cheese molds to drain. This is the first time I have used the molds instead of hanging the whole batch in butter muslin to drain. I am interested to see what the difference will be.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Honey Cream Goat's Milk Soap

I found some time to mix up a new batch of goat's milk soap while the baby was sleeping today. It used up the last of the frozen goat's milk plus a bit a fresh as well. This batch is a honey cream. It was the most pretty bright yellow when I poured it into the soap mold. But after a few hours of curing the heat generated during the soponification process darkened the milk some. It think it will end up being the lightest in color of the soaps I have made but still not that pretty yellow color when done.

It will be ready to cut into bars after 24-48 hours.