Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Triplets

Cordial delivered triplets!

Blue-eyed sisters

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Home Bound

During the rush of the short summer months, I envisioned myself enjoying this sleepy reflective period by knitting beside the woodstove, while watching my youngest daughter engaged in imaginary play.  Any sedentary and reclusive routine is welcome, this time of year.  My growing belly is ripe with our third child, a spring surprise pregnancy, slowing daily activity and jeopardizing barn chores.  Carrying warm water up the hill twice a day, climbing fences and wrestling hungry pregnant goats is exhausting.  They seem as perturbed by their predicament as I am mine.  We commiserate by exchanging hormonally charged insults.  I'll go first, thankfully, about four weeks before kidding season begins.  While looking ahead to a full farm and market season with a baby in tow, for now I am content to patiently wait for my labor to begin.   

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

24 Karat Goat

I grew up in the 1980's.  It was a fashionably tenuous decade, filled with puff bangs, scrunchies, banana barrettes, and Ogilvie home perms.  And those were just a few interesting things one could choose to do with their hair.  Clothing was equally outrageous, with accessories like bangle bracelets and hoop earrings proving that bigger was much better.

In junior high, I remember being teased by my literature teacher for the puffy hairspray stiff hair and my personal attempt at setting new fashion standards by wearing mismatched earrings.  Oh, how I loved earrings.  They were big, flashy, statement making peace symbols, flamingos and autumn leaves.  They were also cheap and imported, full of nickle and other heavy metals that bind to your own proteins making the metal-protein complex very immunogenic or likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions.

I haven't been able to wear earrings, for the itching, burning, swelling they cause, as long as I can recall.  During my pregnancies, I slipped in a pair of gold hoops comfortably since my body's immune system was naturally suppressed, ever so slightly.  And then just recently, I realized that I could wear pure 24 karat gold hoops again.  These were a gift from my late father, who brought them home from Korea decades ago.  Because they were such excellent quality, they caused none of the problems that I was so accustomed to.  I never took them out and adjusted to sleeping in them since the gold was so soft, I feared bending the posts too frequently.

And then one day, my favorite goat, Titanium, reached up for a kiss, which I indulged because she is such a wonderful friend.  She nibbled a 24 karat gold hoop right out of my ear and either swallowed it or (more likely) spit it into the straw bedding.  I searched the floor on my hands and knees for many days/weeks afterwards and watched her droppings like a hawk for at least as long.

Fortunately, my sweet goat is alright.  She hasn't suffered any gastrointestinal distress.  I am holding out hope that someday I will find my lost earring, while digging in our well-fed garden.        

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Holy Goat's Milk Butter, Batman!!

My Nigerian Dwarf goats make the creamiest milk on the planet.  From one quart of milk, depending on their stage of lactation, I get 1/4 - 1/2 cup of cream or more.  Late into their lactation it is MUCH more, but I can find many things to do with what they give me now.  Lately, whenever I make a hard cheese, which uses 3-4 gallons of milk, I skim off some of the cream that has settled into the top of the jars.  I've been saving the cream for making caramels, but it's more than I need for the little candy business.  

So, I decided to finally make butter with a pint of cream!!!  Honestly, I don't know why I haven't done this before, since I've been milking Nigerians for the past 6 years.  Butter-making always seemed beyond reach for some reason, too much work or not enough equipment.  After watching a YouTube video about it [blush], I was confident enough to try.  In summary, I was blown away by how easy it was to make butter and how amazing the final product tasted.  

Before drinking your lovely goat's milk, be brave (like Batman) and scoop the cream off of the top.  Milk that has rested in the refrigerator for at least 6 days (up to 10 days) has the most cream.  Transfer 1 pt of cream into a clean quart jar with a tight lid.  Then, shake, shake, shake!!  In about 10 minutes you'll get to whipped cream, which is SO yummy.  Keep going, and viola you have a clump of early butter and some liquid whey.  Don't be confused, this is NOT buttermilk.  True buttermilk is a product of fermentation.

 



Once you have a nice clump of butterfat, pour off the liquid and rinse the butter in cold water several times.

Transfer the butter into a small covered dish, pressing out as much liquid as possible.  Then salt to taste and store in the refrigerator.

This will keep a surprisingly long time, but I expect you'll eat it before then.  Serve it on fresh bread, fry veggies in it, make cookies or candy.  It is delicious in every way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kid Pics


Stormcrow giving me the stare.

Fluffy ball of cream.  This is "brown ear"...the only recognizable difference from his 3 siblings.

Three amigos blancos.  Where's big sista white?

Vulcan on babe patrol, already?

It was cold this morning, so my colorful crew was happy to congregate.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Don't Worry, Bee Happy

So, I finally opened our single beehive today, since it was above 40 deg F.  We haven't heard them buzzing for the past month and observed no evidence of cleansing flights.  I didn't expect to miss all the yellow snow that usually arrives in late winter from the mass of bee poo, normally excreted by a very large and healthy hive.  This unending winter has been tough on everyone.  Despite still having about 30 lbs of honey, the bees starved to death.  It looked like the cluster broke up too early into several groups, spreading out through the honey supers and then freezing mid-meal.

It took two hours to go through the hive bodies and remove (most of) the carnage.  I rearranged the frames for a new nucleus colony and closed it back up.  Along with several deep frames, there is one completely full honey super that I can't harvest until I have the help of a clean-up crew.  I hope the new family is as productive as the last.  We had many great harvest seasons from that group.  No stings since their fumbled installation, they were a pleasure to have in the garden and will be missed.

honey harvest fall 2013