Thursday, October 16, 2014

Move Along Folks... Nothing to See Here

You can't really see three of the four cheeses from Penny's fall freshening, but you can imagine the deliciousness underneath that red cheese wax. The hard cheeses are being born about a week apart it seems. There are two Farmhouse Cheddars, a Parmesan, and a Romano. I ended up feeding a Manchego to the pigs because I had messed up so much of its timing while it was being made that the curds just wouldn't stick together. That fiasco was a direct result of muscle relaxers. Normally cheese mess-ups work out fine, sometimes even to my advantage.

As you can see, each cheese gets a cat scan before its wax coating.

I use raw milk, so to be perfectly safe from bad microbes, we wait at least two months to eat any of the hard cheeses.

There's a particularly lopsided Parmesan this time. That happened because I put the cheese mold in a five-gallon bucket, a dinner plate on top, with weights to press it. The plate tipped overnight and this cheese will have a variety of tastes within the different edges when it's ripe.

Lopsided cheese will be a thing of the past, however, after I ordered my handy-dandy professional cheese press from New England Cheesemaking!
I also ordered black wax and pure beeswax so Penny's cheeses will have a little variety in their looks.

I wax all my hard cheeses whether the recipe calls for it or not. So far the Romano in this batch is the only one that isn't supposed to have a waxed rind, so I will be interested to taste the final result this winter.

Yes, I've hatched a plan that involves a few of those exceptionally hot peppers in the background being pressed into service to create some Habanero Jack and some Habanero Cheddar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Butter Making

Katie makes butter every morning with the cream she hand skims from Penny's milk.

Each quart jar she shakes makes one ball of butter. We had three today. I'll wash it and put it in a one-pound butter mold, then I'll quarter and wrap the sticks of butter and freeze them so we won't have to buy butter all year.

I thought after we milked Penny last time, I would be prepared for the sheer abundance of milk and cream she produces. But alas. I'm still overwhelmed with just the two and a half gallons a day she gives to us after she's fed Felicity about the same amount.
It takes two gallons to make a two pound cheese, so I'm able to make a hard cheese every day of the week and still have plenty of milk for all of our other dairy needs.

The two gallons that Katie skimmed for this bowl of butter will become a lower fat Romano cheese. Not low-fat, mind you. Low-er. There's still a whole lot of cream left in the milk!

Every time I carry a full bucket back up to the house through the little red gate I holler, "Thanks for the milk, Penny!" and each time she calls back, "Moooo!"

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Penny gave birth on September 17th around dinner time. Unbeknownst to us, the heifer calf must have had a hard birth resulting in the lack of suckling instinct. A day later, we fed a weak, fading calf her first milk. She had missed her initial colostrum, so she got an infection. We took her to the vet's for IV fluids, a tube feeding of mom's milk, antibiotics, banamine (calf Motrin,) and vitamin shots. Since then we've been providing supportive care- tube feeding every meal and continuing meds, to keep her alive till that elusive suckling reflex came back.
This evening, between feedings, I was giving her a cranio-sacral massage and manipulating her spine with my fingers if it felt out of whack. She went into a deep sleep on my lap and I prayed earnestly that God would intervene in this situation.
Becky came to the pen, we got "the calf" as she was still known, up to see, once again, if she would nurse.
Becky asked me to push her rump as she pulled her head toward the udder. I sad, "Let's just see what she does, first." And lo and behold, she walked right up to Penny's udder and started to nurse! Then she gave a few butts for good measure.
She had gone from being a "dummy calf" to being cured in that moment.

Her name is Felicity: noun, 1. the state of being happy, especially in a high degree; bliss.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When the Cat is Away, the Mouse Will Blog Farm News for Him

Here are some in progress shots of the electric and water lines going to the barn and water pump out front. I will describe each shot underneath, so maybe you'll know what you're looking at.

Water and electric lines to a pump by the hog corner.

I'm at the little red gate looking at the back of house. This is where the automatic waterer is going.

The Great Driveway Trench!

Filling it all in.

I'm at the fema shelter looking up at the little red gate. More details on this pen tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mouse Trauma

Bonnie is teaching her little family the ins and outs of rodent killing.
Yesterday Furby played what we thought were unrealistic games with his mouse carcass by throwing it up against the tree and leaping onto it as though it were climbing away.
Then today we saw this little mouseling run from the shed where Bonnie was holding a hunting session and scuttle up the oak tree.
Looks like Furby knew more about mice behavior than we did!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's Hot Here

I just want to make sure that my friends in other parts of the world have a clear understanding that it's hot.

Here's a pretty sight that met me on the west side of the house this morning when I went around to see the dogs coming home from the fields with baby bunnies in their mouths. (They were cheating at hunting because a blacksnake had found the nest and they hogged up what he couldn't get down the hatch in time.)

I think the sky and trees and moon look so pretty this morning.

In the heat.

So Many Rough and Tumble Boys

Momma Bonnie, sister Polly, Gooseberry, and Blizzard are missing from this photo shoot because they were wisely hanging out on the cool front porch doing dainty lady cat stuff while the baby brothers Jase and Furby romped in the heat with Uncle Clyde.

In case you haven't gotten the idea, it's hot here today.

Come at me, Bro!

It's on like Donkey Kong!

Uncle Clyde. Babysitter and fellow playmate.