Thursday, August 28, 2008


John and Feta have been sold!

I've been trying to sell John for about a month now. It can be hard to sell a wether this time of year. In the spring I guess they are easy to sell because there are families wanting them for 4-H but not now. Anyway, I decided that I really don't need 3 dairy goats. I can hardly keep up with the one I have because I am getting 1 gallon a day from her. I can't imagine getting close to 3 gallons of milk a day. So I thought that maybe if I sold them as a pair I might entice a family who doesn't have anything right now but wants to start a dairy. Because you need at least 2 goats so they don't get lonely, they are herd animals and need companionship, I thought that this would be the perfect set up for such a family. That is exactly what I attracted! After listing them as a pair I had 3 emails within 24 hours. I am very excited about the family we sold them to. They have 4 young boys, the oldest looked maybe 9 and the youngest 3 or 4. They instantly loved the goats and the boys were very comfortable around them. The goats all behaved nicely and didn't even jump but did lots of sniffing and wanting attention. They still need to finish their fencing and shed for the goats so they paid me full price and will pick up the goats either Saturday or Monday depending on when they finish.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

mud, garden and eggs

Autumn is upon us. No, the calendar doesn't say that autumnal equinox has happened but the the Pacific Northwest things have changed. What does this mean for the farm?

Mud! We've got 2 1/2 inches of rain in the last week and a half and we've got mud. This isn't just your ordinary mud, it's a barn yard! So use your imagination. Mud! Mud! We'll call it fud.
This summer I bought a pair of crocs, a cheap version anyway. I have been wearing them in place of my big heavy mud boots out to the barn all summer long. If you know what these are they are soft, rubber (I really don't know what to call the actual material) shoe with lots of holes all over. Well, last night I discovered that I no longer can wear these to the barn now that we have received 2 1/2 inches of rain in the last 2 weeks.

It also means that as my garden stands right now, being a month late as it is, that very little in it will be allowed to come to fruition. Oh yes, there are some green tomatoes, but my 14 saucing plants (variety, Heinz) have just now begun producing fruit. Lots of flowers and just a few little tiny tomatoes. I have them all covered under plastic but the plastic isn't tight as in a greenhouse so it won't hold the heat it might produce. If I could get it to be tighter I might be able to get the sun to heat it up inside and therefore help some. My green bean plants have lots of flowers and are now starting to produce lots of little beans but I have yet to pick any. Same with the cucumber. And my corn, well bah humbug!
All I know is that we are NOT ready for this weather. It's very disappointing. August is suppose to be one of the driest , if not the driest, month of the year. This is the second year in a row it has lost that status. If it just rained and the temperatures still stayed summer temps I wouldn't be complaining as much but it doesn't work that way here in Western WA. No, our high yesterday was 66 and the low yesterday was 47!!! We might see a 70 this weekend. I really hope we get some sun.

Time to go feed let the chickens out and feed them. I heard through the grapevine that giving your chickens cayenne pepper will help increase their egg production. Our test starts today. I've been getting anywhere from 18-22 eggs a day! NOT a good number from 46 hens. Today I put cayenne pepper in their feed and we'll see what happens. I have a friend who did this with his THREE chickens and he says their production went up. He used to have days of no eggs and he hasn't had a day of no eggs since he started this. I'll let you know what happens.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dawn Adventures

It is now a bit dark as I head out to the barn in the mornings. I'm not particularly fond of going out to the barn in the dark, so I've been taking Killick with me. James leaves about the time I go out. I've been thinking that maybe I should go out a little earlier so he is still here in case I run into trouble. My imagination runs wild. I don't know that I'd ever really run into trouble but well, you never know.
The last several mornings I've been making Killick go into the barn with me because, well, I'm embarrassed to say, I've been HEARING the rats scrounging about as I turn the lights on and begin my work. I hate rats, mice, shrews, moles or varmints of any kind! I don't want to see them and I don't want to even hear them! Well, it really is silly to take Killick with me because he could care less about them and just lays there. Even if I see one and squeal(which I did yesterday), he does nothing. I need a ratter, something like a Yorkshire Terrier or Schnauzer, they were bred to be ratters. It's kind of weird though, a dog as a ratter.
But on another scale. As James and I left the house this morning, he to his vehicle and I to the barn, we stepped out to the sound of VERY CLOSE coyotes. Many coyotes yipping and yapping, very close. A moment later a gunshot rang through the air and the coyotes stopped. But I still needed to go to the barn, in the dark and those coyotes needed to move on their way. Were they headed through my land. One wouldn't know. So, I took Killick. I know he'd be of use with regards to something of this scale.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ag Update

Life on the "farm" is busy. Sometimes I feel silly calling it a farm but I think it is just because growing up a "farm" was my uncles 60 cow dairy on 100's of acres in the middle of Wisconsin. So compared to that, this really isn't a farm. But to us, it is a farm nonetheless. Above is a picture of all my girls...oh and one wether (I really would like to sell him...not sure I'd like goat meat...but we might have to try it).

Despite being way behind schedule because of late spring winter weather, the garden is doing well. This picture is of beans and corn. The corn is varied in size. Some of the stalks are as tall as I am and some aren't even to the knee. There is no corn on the stalks yet so I don't know if they'll go anything at all. I've never done well with corn for some reason. Last year some told me it was because we didn't thin them and they were too crowded. This year we thinned but still nothing. But it was the first year I grew "open-pollinated" sweet corn and maybe they need something special I'm unaware of.

My cucumber are finally flowering and I have tiny tiny cucumbers on the vines now. They are so cute.
I have 32 tomato plants. I'm very worried about fall weather approaching and not giving my tomatoes time to finish, especially since our late start. This week we are to have "a strong and wet pacific storm more typical of autumn" move in tonight through Wednesday. I hope to get SOME of my tomatoes under cover but with 32 of them I'm going to have trouble getting them all. Tomatoes don't like wet leaves.

I have a couple plants that are called "Stupice", a friend gave me two plants, and they have the funkiest tomatoes forming on them. She says they always do.

I have 3 apples trees all covered with apples. And they are looking really good. Last year we harvested 32 pounds from 2 trees....I really think we'll double that or more this year.

And last but not least. Since you did such a great job naming my flowers before I thought I'd throw this one out there for naming. I found the VINE growing in one of my flower beds. Beautiful little yellow flower, some are white. Anyone know what it is called?

Friday, August 1, 2008


Today, I MUST make cheese. I didn't make it the other day like I said I was going to and now I have over 5 gallons of milk in the fridge. It's not like making cheese is hard, it really isn't that difficult. I'm just the worlds worst procrastinator.
So far in my short cheese making career I've only made mozzarella ( a lot), ricotta, chevre (easy and great on crackers) and feta (just once). I'd really love to master making feta. So far, in my one try, I failed. We ate it but not in the way feta is typically eaten. It didn't taste like feta and didn't crumble like feta. It was too salty and too dry. We grated it on our spaghetti, kind of like parmesan cheese.
The biggest difficulty I've had in cheese making so far is salt. Most recipes say "salt to taste". So it's a big guessing game. And the time I made feta I followed the recipe exactly with regard to salt and I about choked on the cheese it was so salty!
Part of what I am doing wrong is that I haven't ordered the special molds, lipase and cultures yet. Mozzarella and feta both say lipase is optional but when I go here and read about cheese making it says that I won't get the taste I "expect" without it.

This is what we start with: stainless steel stockpot, 1 gallon of fresh unpasteurized goat milk, cheese cloth, ceramic bowl, stainless steel slotted spoon, citric acid powder, rennet.

Here is what I am making today: These recipes come from this book. I have made a few changes from the book.

30-minute Mozzarella

1 1/2 level tsp. citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1 gallon raw goats milk (the book says any milk but I've heard that ultra-pasteurized milk doesn't make good cheese)
1/8-1/4 tsp lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water and sit for 20 minutes. (optional)
1/4 tsp liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
1 tsp salt (I use much more but maybe because I don't use the lipase which I really want to try.)

1. Heat the milk to 55 degrees. While stirring, add the citric acid solution and mix thoroughly. If you are using lipase add it now.

2. Heat the milk to 88 degrees over medium-low heat. (The milk will start to curdle.)
3. Gently mix in the diluted rennet, stirring with an up and down motion. Continue heating until the temperature reaches 100-105 degrees.

4. Turn off the heat. the curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot. (I let it sit off the heat for a few minutes before moving on. One book I read says to sit for 15 minutes, but this particular recipe doesn't.)

5. Scoop curds out of pot into a microwavable bowl. The curds should look like thick yogurt and have a bit of a shine. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as you can. Reserve the whey for making ricotta if you want.

6. Microwave the curds on high for 1 minute. Pour off excess whey. Gently fold cheese over and over, pouring off excess whey as it appears. This distributes the heat throughout the cheese, which will eventually get too hot to touch at which point I use a big wooden spoon to knead.
7. Microwave 2 more times for 30 seconds, kneading with hands or spoon between and pouring off whey as it appears.

8. Knead quickly until smooth. When the cheese becomes elastic, start to pull and stretch it (like you would pull taffy). If it breaks, the curds need to be reheated.

9. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll into log or small balls and eat warm. Or place in bowl of ice water for about a half hour to produce a conssitently smooth texture. If you must wait, cover it and store in refrigerator.

I then make Ricotta from the whey. The Ricotta recipe I like and use is from a different book though, this one, with slight variations of my own.


1 gallon fresh whey
1 1/2 quarts whole goat milk

In a large kettle, heat whey to 200 degrees. when the whey has reached 200 degrees, slowly stir in the whole goat milk. Bring it back to 200 degrees, stirring often to keep from scorching.

The Ricotta is ready to drain when you see little white flecks forming in the pot ( have found larger "curds" then they lead you to believe).

Line a colander with cheese cloth and pour the curds into the cloth.

Hang to drain for 1 hour.

When drained remove from cloth and add salt to taste.

Refrigerate for up to a week.

Those are my 2 favorite to make, because they are easiest.
Today I might try some chevre if I have time. If I do I'll post the recipe tomorrow. But for now I must run!!! Please forgive typos if there are any as I don't have time to proofread.