Friday, November 21, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... My Daughter is Crafty

Laura wanted a nice big wreath to decorate the door this year. I was seeing them for fifty dollars, and not well-made even at that outlandish price.
Becky got up early, went collecting in the woods with five kitties, and made... this!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vanilla Extract on the Cheap

Every time I buy vanilla extract, I cringe because of the exorbitant price.
So I bought my own vanilla beans wholesale and poured vodka over them.
I have another bottle like this to fill and then I'll be on the hunt for cheap bottles.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Pudding with Dumplings, or: Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

I had an abundance of Penny's milk and asked, "Which cheese should I make?" The girls answered without hesitation, "Pudding!"

Laura was at the stove making the world's best chicken with dumplings, and I crowded in next to her with my chocolate pudding pot.
She flung dough from her fingers, and we laughed until we cried when it almost plopped into the boiling pudding. Luckily it hit the side, but now we have a better idea of how new recipes are created.

And yes, we use a blaze orange stocking cap as a pot holder for the hot lid. Don't you?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Guinea Fowl. It's What's for Dinner.

Instead of "hunting," this post should be labeled "hunting light."
The girls are processing three guineas that came to our farm a long while back and have been eating a lot of feed and tormenting our chickens. Becky and Katie decided to kill two birds with one stone, or three birds with three .22 bullets, as the case may be, by eating them for dinner tonight.
I'll try hard to remember to photograph the dinner so you can enjoy tasty skinny African fowl vicariously through us.

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.