Yo-Goat

Having a new baby takes up a lot of time and energy so this year I am raising a zkidsbaby rather than working on projects. Helping Penelope grow is more important but still I look around at what I usually work on this time of year and sigh a little. While the weeds take over, Jack idles in his pasture, and products are not being made Penelope is rolling over, figuring out how to put things in her mouth, and laughing at her siblings. They are only little once so I enjoy it while I can and turn a blind eye on the toys taking over our house, never-ending laundry, and reappearing dishes.

That being said I do plan on making a few batches of goat cheese before the pigs are no longer hear to enjoy the waste byproduct of cheese making which is whey. Basically there are four ingredients needed to make cheese:

  1. Milk
  2. Rennet (My new rennet arrived in the mail this week!)
  3. Starter culture or buttermilk
  4. Water

Before I can make the cheese I need to make the buttermilk. I have discovered that I can make goat milk yogurt which works great as a cheese making starter. When my friend Jessica was living with us she liked to try new recipes and one that she tried was goat milk yogurt which she cleverly titled yo-goat. Unfortunately goat milk yogurt is an acquired taste which we were never able to acquire. While we were experimenting with goat milk we decided to use the yo-goat instead of buttermilk to make cheese. It worked great, so I have been using it ever since. Jessica gifted me her yogurt maker and I use the recipe in the booklet to make it.

Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker Abbreviated Directions:

  1. Pour 7 glass jars (equal to 42oz) of fresh, pasteurized milk into saucepan.
  2. Heat milk until it boils (203 degrees) and starts to climb the sides of the saucepan. Boiling ensures a firmer yogurt familiar to most American tastes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow milk to cool to room temp. (68 degrees)
  4. Pour cooled milk through a fine mesh colander.
  5. Stir in one glass jar (6oz) of natural yogurt with some of the strained milk in a separate bowl until yogurt is dissolved and you have a smooth mixture.
  6. Mix the room temp. milk very well with the smooth mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into the 7 jars .
  8. Place the jars- without the lids– in the yogurt maker.
  9. Cover yogurt maker with clear lid.
  10. It takes about 6 hrs. to make yogurt with whole milk, and 8 hrs. for skimmed milk.

    zjars

    If you are wondering why one jar is smaller it is because we lost a jar and replaced it with a baby food jar. 

As I have relaid in previous posts I do not follow recipes very well so I have my own version of this recipe. Remember I only use yo-goat as an ingredient to make cheese. If I were going to make yogurt for myself to eat I would follow the recipe a bit better.

Yo-goat Recipe:

  1. Pour 1 quart of fresh goat milk into saucepan.
  2. Heat milk to about room temperature.
  3. Add about 6oz plain yogurt and whisk until yogurt is dissolved into milk.
  4. Pour into the 7 jars
  5. Place jars- without lids – in the yogurt maker.
  6. Cover the yogurt maker with the clear lid.
  7. Let the yogurt maker run for about 6-8 hours until yogurt is ready.

As you may have noticed I have a few less steps to my recipe than the booklet recommends.

  • I did not boil the milk because I want all the wonderful cheese making bacteria alive and well.
  • I skipped a few steps to save on dishes. I hate washing dishes so if I can complete a project only using a pot and a whisk I will do so.
  • I cut out a few steps that were only necessary to improve the texture of the finished yogurt. Again it will be an ingredient in a big pot of milk so texture issues are void.

Step 1 in cheese making completed! Now all I have to do is keep milking Fauna, the goat, until I have a gallon of fresh milk to make cheese.

I want to add a quick note on what my two older kids worked on all afternoon yesterday while I made yo-goat. Lucian built a fox trap and they spent a few hours trying to catch the fox that has been taking off with our chickens. I would guess the fox has snatched 8 chickens and all 4 of our ducks. Yesterday Lucian made a noose snare with a piece of baling twine and a blind under a tarp to watch his trap. He didn’t catch a fox but he caught himself and Fiona a few times. They had a ton of fun hiding under the tarp waiting for the fox and planning how to catch him. They even put out food and water next to the loop to lure him in. Although they didn’t get the fox the fox didn’t get any chickens because the kids set up right next to the chicken coop.

Hay Making Time

Who wants to think of winter while we are in the middle of summer?

No one, but the fact remains that winter will come and I live in Wisconsin which means winter lasts for 6 months! I have to feed hay out to the animals for an additional month after that until the grass has grown enough to support them.  That is 7 months worth of hay!

Over the years I have calculated exactly how much hay I need to make it through the winter months.

  •  30 days in a month X 7 months of winter = 210 days of feeding hay.
  • 1 horse and 3 goats will eat about 1 small square bale of hay a day.
  • I need 210 small square bales to feed out through the winter.
  • An additional horse will add 105 bales to my usual amount.(Yes, there is an additional horse in our future)
  • I need 315 small square bales for this winter.

An additional horse means more hay. Horses are big animals and it can be a bit of a hassle to haul small squares out to them every day. Round bales are more convenient because one bale will last them two weeks or more, but if you do not have a feeder to hold the bale a lot of hay will be wasted. This summer a horse round bale feeder was given to us, Yay! Trenton did a little welding on it and it is now ready to go.

Here are a few more figures:

  • 1 square bale = about 50 Ibs
  • 1 round bale = about 800 to 1000 Ibs
  • 16 to 20 square bales per round bale

My dad has been baling hay and so far we have brought two wagon loads of hay home. We have approximately 155 bales put up so far. Halfway there only 160 left to go! Or (hopefully) a few round bales. Lucian Hay 19

Lucian gets very excited when it is time to do hay. He loves the whole process and would ride around in the tractor with papa all day if he could. My dad took Lucian with him to bale the last wagon we brought home and he maniacally giggled each time a bale kicked out. His job this year when it was time to unload the wagon was to stand at the top of the elevator that runs the bales up into the hay mow and push them over when they reached the top. For some unexplained reason bales sometimes stick at the top and the twine holding the bale together breaks. He was a big help making sure the bales didn’t get stuck while I was stacking hay.

Fiona was also a big help when it was time to get the loose hay off the wagon. My dad uses a kicker baler which is nice because you don’t have to stack the hay on the wagon but is also bad because sometimes bales break when they are kicked out. There is usually a fair amount of loose hay left over on the wagon when we are done unloading the intact bales. We haul that hay into an empty stall in the barn and feed it out first. Fiona did her part in helping this year by grabbing handfuls of hay and bring them into the barn.

Grandma Linda has also been a great big help watching Fiona and Penelope while we unload hay. Fiona is 2 and not quite Kids hay 19big enough to be up in the hay mow yet. She would want to help which is great but she would also probably get wacked with a bale of hay in the process, which is not good. Penelope is 5 months old and needs a person’s full attention, so Grandma “da” came over to watch us work and visit with the wee little gremlins.

Pickling Radishes

When we returned from vacation every single radish was ready to be picked. Radishes are a fast growing crop that can be fun to have in your garden because they outpace every other plant, besides the weeds! The down side to that is when they are ready they are ready all at once.

How do you preserve your radish crop?

There are a few different ways to store radishes that will retain their crispiness:

  • Slice off the tops and bottoms, wash and store them in water in the refrigerator. This will keep them fresh for about a week.
  • Store in a sand box in a cool place, which is also a good way to store carrots.
  • Cook them like a carrot or potato. When radishes are cooked it takes most of the spice out of them.
  • Pickle or ferment them.

I’m not a big radish eater but Lucian picked out the seed for his row in the garden and he wanted radishes. No amount of coaxing could talk him out of it. He picked out white icicle radishes and was very excited when they were ready to harvest. Did he like them? NO, “There too spicy!” Were his exact words.

So…….it was time to get creative with storing radishes. I decided to try to pickle them.

I found this Ball recipe for sweet pickled radishes and decided to give it a try. We’ll see how they taste in a few weeks when I crack them open.

  • 1/2 pound sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Pack sliced radishes in a hot 1 pint jar. bring all other ingredients to a boil and add to jar.
  2. Wipe rim clean, place lids, and hand tighten band. Let cool. Chill before serving and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

I am more of an impromptu cook and I always change recipes. For starters, I had to pickled radishquadruple this recipe for the amount of radishes I had. I also did not have mustard seed in my cupboard so I used ground mustard instead. I used 1/2 tsp. ground mustard rather than 1 tsp. mustard seeds. I thought 1 tsp ground black pepper was a little much so I measured in about 3/4 of a tsp. instead. Finally, I put dill weed into two of the jars to test out different flavors. I also put the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal them.

In 4-6 weeks I am going to open a jar to see if the pickled radish experiment was a success or not. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they taste delicious when I open the lid. If they do I’ll plan on traditional red radishes for next year. Not to judge a jar of pickled radishes by their appearance but I think red radishes will be prettier.

Back Home on the Farm

When vacation is over the farm will still be waiting.

We had a great time at WinterHaven Resort on Block Lake in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota. I spent a lot of time on the deck while feeding Penelope and reading with a great view of the lake. We finally had the kayaks out for the first time this kimg03402.jpgyear. Lucian paddled his own kayak for the first time while we were there. He used one of the small 8 foot kayaks they had at the resort and we had a little mother-son time out on the water. It was great!

Fiona spent most of her time playing with her cousin Maddie, who is also two, in the giant sandbox. She went out with both Trenton and I in our kayaks while Grandma “da” watched Penelope. She did much better this year in the boats. She sat nicely while we paddled along exploring the lake.

We are home now and we have a little catching up to do. In the four days we were gone the weeds have taken over and it seems everything has ripened at once. Before we left I picked our black raspberries and the radishes but apparently I didn’t pick enough. Last night Lucian and I harvested the rest of the radishes. I cut the tops off and washed them before putting the in the fridge for now. I am currently looking for radish recipes. I am thinking of trying to pickle radishes.

What do you do with your radishes?

kimg03242.jpgI’m planning to take the kids berry picking today. I think one more picking will finish off the raspberries. I’ll wash them up and freeze them today until I decide what I want my finished product to be. I’m thinking either black raspberry jelly or black raspberry syrup. I have never made berry syrup before so maybe I will try that.

 

Trials of Vacationing

Going on vacation can be wonderful and an event to look forward to, but when you own a small farm the process becomes more complicated. You cannot just pack up and go. Arrangements need to be made for the care of your property and animals. It can be surprisingly difficult to find the special person or people to feed, water, move, and milk a variety of animals.

We have not been away from the farm for more than two nights in years, but we’re going for a little longer vacation in two weeks. My husband’s Aunt Lori has rented a resort for July 14th through the 21st and has invited us to spend the week with the whole family. Although we won’t be able to spend the whole week we’re very excited to get away from home for awhile.

To make this happen we have to find a few willing farm sitters and accomplish of a few lingering chores to make our sitters’ lives easier. Every season has different challenges and with July comes the heat. My sister, Sondra, and our neighbor, Bridget, will be doing chores twice a day for us but I worry about watering the animals when it is very hot. Especially the pigs. Pigs are wasteful with their water because they like to roll in the mud to cool off when they are hot. Pigs don’t sweat so they have to find different ways to stay cool, mug rolling is the preferred method. After they dump their water dish to make mud their drinking water is then gone.

A list of chores to be completed before we leave:

  1. Plumb in drinking cup for pigs. This way they have continuous water to drink but not to waste. Our lovely chore ladies can throw a bucket of water in for them twice a day to roll in.
  2. Weed whip the fence line. Although Jack, our horse, does not test he fence our goats are constantly testing it. We want the fences working at high voltage so animals aren’t wandering far and wide.
  3. Till the garden. Weeds seem to grow twice as fast as the vegetables. To keep them down until we get back Trenton is going to till the rows before we leave.

I’m planning on having our chore ladies come over to practimilking goatce. Bridget has never milked a goat before so it should be fun for her! We are only milking Fauna once a day. She still has a kid with her so if she is not milked completely it is okay, the kid will finish her off but unfortunantly she is not the most patient goat when it comes to milking.

I’m excited to head out for a few days. Planning to read, write, and knit in between chasing children around!

Horse Lessons Begin Again

Last year I started horse lessons with my niece, Aurora who was 7 at the time. By the end of the summer she was wielding the lunge whip, building muscles, cleaning hooves herself, and improving her balance while riding bareback while I led Jack around.

This year we started a little later, because of weather and schedules but now lessons are back on. It’s funny how much you forget over the course of winter.

Our first lesson was mostly getting re-acquainted with how to behave around a horse and to not be shy.

A few items we worked on:

  1. Don’t be timid. A horse is a thousand pound animal who likes to be scratched hard to make it feel good. If you’re not putting a little muscle behind a scratch it feels ticklish, like a fly landing on them. Horses don’t appreciate that.
  2. How to pick up a horse hoof. Run a hand all the way down his leg, grasp his ankle, and lean into him. Be ready when he takes the weight of his foot and be fast to pick it up. Put some muscle into the lift! Some horses will do it for you but Jack makes you work for everything.
  3. Behavior while lunging. While lunging a horse your job is to watch him and his job is to watch you. This is an exercise in maintaining pace, establishing dominance, and honing skills in observation. Horses are experts in body language and you need to be too.
  4. How to lead a horse. Aurora has short arms so I fed a piece of rope through a 2 1/2 foot length of PVC pipe so she can keep him off her heels. Jack has a bad habit of walking close to you and has been known to heel step if you’re not paying attention to him. We reviewed where he should be and how to keep him in his space and out of hers.
  5. Brushing etiquette. Most children love to brush horses so we mostly went over how to walk behind a horse and his ticklish spots.
  6. Opening and closing gates. It’s hard to work with an animal if you’re afraid of the fence to take him in or out. I had Aurora opening the electric fence to get used to it. When she is more adept at leading I will have her practice leading him in and out.

Overall it was a great first lesson and soon she will remember all of these items from last year.

The three main skills to remember around a horse or any animal are:

  1. Be Bold!
  2. Pay Attention!
  3. Put Some Muscle Into It!

zhorse2I’m going to start a few lessons with Fiona, my daughter, who is 2. She needs to remember that he is bigger than her. She loves Jack and has even ridden him bareback without support while I led him around. She clings to him like a tick and loves every second of it! The girl has a lot of attitude and forgets that she is only pint-sized.

Into Summer

Finally it looks like summer is coming to the north woods. Suddenly the leaves are green, the grass is green, and little green silk worms are appearing in the trees. June is green and I love it.

For the first time we have had a hen successfully brood a small flock of chicks. I’m excited about it. Every year we have had one or two hens try but when they set  in the chicken coop the other hens want to lay eggs where they are. Eventually we take the eggs away but it turns into a smelly mess. If you have never heard a rotten egg explode and sniffed the corresponding odor count yourself lucky. The smell fills the entire barn and lingers. Yuck! This setting hen (its always the Buff Orpingtons) found a nice quiet spot in the big goat stall. zhenThere is an old dog house in there for the goat kids and because they like to climb on it. Mamma hen set on her eggs in there and has hatched out 3 chicks. It works perfectly to have them in the dog house because I can put food in there for them and they are safe from the cats.

We had a fox stealing chickens so I am glad for the replacements. We lost about 6 hens and all 4 of our ducks. I really hope these chicks are hens!

Lucian and I also decided that Franky, our buck, needed a toy. He likes to ram his head into the side of the barn. I get a little tired of hearing him. Dong, Dong, DONG! He does it mostly when he wants his hay, but I know he was also bored. We found him a great toy. Lucian rolled a wooden spool used for electrical wire all the way through the barn and when Trenton got home he tossed it in for Franky. He has been having a blast with it ever since.

zgoatv

Let the Gardens Grow

The gardens are finally planted!

Sometimes I wonder if having a garden is worth all the work that goes into it, but when the vegetables start ripening I remember. Until then I keep thinking of how much work it is to start a garden. There are many different steps that go into creating a garden and each requires a fair amount of physical effort.

Step 1: Fertilizingzgarden

The better the soil the less fertilizer you will need on a garden to feed the plants that will feed you. Our soil is sandy so we need to fertilize it every year. There are different types of fertilizer that can be put on your garden. While there are chemical fertilizers that will help your garden grow most gardens do better with organic material to improve the soil. The preferred fertilizer is cow manure but we don’t own any cows so our garden gets filled with horse manure. This year I looked after Penelope while Trenton, Lucian, and even Fiona hauled countless wheelbarrows full of horse manure onto the various gardens.

Step 2: Breaking It In

If you do not already have an established garden plot this would be your Step 1. This step requires a nice rototiller or a tractor with a tiller to breakup the sod and get the soil ready to plant. For us we complete this step after the garden has a layer of horse manure on it then Trenton runs the rototiller to mix the manure into the soil. This year some of my perennial herbs died out of my herb garden which opened up considerable space. I decided to take advantage of this and fertilized it well before Trenton maneuvered the tiller into the little space. The herb garden has not been tilled with the big rototiller for 5 years so it was nice to turn the soil.

Step 3: Plant

Now its time to mark out your rows to plant. Trenton measured his rototiller and built a row marker so there is room to run it between the rows. After your rows are marked it is time to put your seed in. If you have time to complete this all in one day, great! If not start with potatoes and onions which take a little longer to grow. Like crop farmers we rotate the location of our plants each year so the soil is not drained of nutrients in specific areas. Make sure to at least rotate your corn which depletes nitrogen from the soil. This year the corn is where the squash was and the pumpkins and squash are in a side garden so they have room to spread. Plant all of your seeds before putting any starter plants in the ground. Lucian, who is 5 this year, is very excited because he has his own row in the garden and Fiona, at a rowdy 2, had fun putting the seed into rows and tried really hard to keep the seed in the lines and not too close to each other.

Step 4: Weed

Weed, wait, weed, wait, and WEED AGAIN! Its a never ending battle with gardens. Mulching helps unless you have chickens roaming around then don’t bother because they will spread the mulch all over and ruin your hard work in 5 seconds. I know this from experience. While waiting for your crop to ripen it is nice to have pre-measured rows that you can run your rototiller down once or twice. It will

zfiona

cut down on the amount of hand weeding tremendously.

Step 5: Grow Garden Grow!

When the first vegetables ripen and taste so much better than the produce bought in stores I remember why I put so much time and effort into growing a garden.

After a hard day we all look a little dirty. Fiona’s grubby little face just shows how hard she worked and played today!

Springtime Extras

The coming of spring is a hopeful time when the sun shining and the grass greening up lightens the spirit. More sun exposure means more vitamin D which helps you to feel better. While you are feeling better there is also so much work to do in the spring and a short time to do it in. Not only is there work to do in the yard and garden it is also time to clean out the barns and barnyards. It is also the time to remove parasites and vaccinate animals.

The goats need to be dewormed on a regular basis or they will develop Coccidiosis which is a parasitic infection which sometimes occurs when there are too many intestinal parasites in their systems. Like most conditions it is easier and cheaper to practice preventative care. Our goats developed Coccidia three years ago. IMG_0047Nora started to have diarrhea and soon she looked a little thin, then Fauna started to have diarrhea so we called the vet out. She explained Coccidiosis to me and prescribed Sulfamethoxazole Trimethoprim Oral Suspension to treat it. I was surprised that Coccidia was caused by an over abundance of parasites considering I had wormed them not a month ago. She recommended a stronger wormer, Injectable Ivermectin, which is used for cattle and swine. According to her, small ruminants in our area were having problems with intestinal parasites that year. We give them 2 1/2 mL of Ivomec orally about every 8 to 12 weeks and no longer have a problem with Coccidia.

Unfortunately this dewormer is expensive but I have discovered that pumpkin seeds and pulp are a natural dewormer. Not only do the pumpkins provide food for the goats but they clear their system of parasites and give their bodies a break from harsh chemical wormers. It’s too bad pumpkins are only readily available in the fall because they work great for keeping my goats healthy.

Another spring project is getting my horse Jack all ready to go for the nicer weather. That means deworming, vaccinating, and hoof trimming. I vaccinated and wormed Jack without any problems, he’s a real champ when it comes to needles. The vet was out to complete his checkup which was perfect timing because he had developed some kind of skin problem that became infected. Between his front legs he developed swelling and oozing spots. It looked like a hot spot on a dog. She took blood to check that his liver and kidneys were functioning properly. Last spring he had a different skin problem so she wanted to be sure his organs were filtering enzymes properly, which they are. She also gave him an injection of a long lasting antibiotic that cleared the infection overnight. KIMG0254[1]When the infection was all clear the farrier came out to trim his hooves. He has been a little sore in the front for the last year so it took a while longer than it should have. He no longer likes to stand on one front leg for very long.

He is 22 now and starting to get a bit touchy with his health. We have been together for 21 years now and he has traveled with me to each of my homes. I know I can’t stop his aging but it makes me a little sad and apprehensive of the future.

Lucian has been working on putting horse manure on the garden so we can get it planted. He is very excited that he is getting his own corner to plant this year. He wants to plant strawberries, blueberries, corn, and tomatoes. This list changes every time I ask him though.

A Sad Mystery

By definition a farm is land used for cultivating crops or raising animals for food. I believe a farm is also a special setting where a family can grow together and learn simple life lessons. Some lessons are happy such as, how do chicks hatch? While some lessons are sad, why did our baby goat die?

Why did our baby goat die? This is the question that has been troubling our little farm over the week. One of our does, Fauna, kidded the week before Easter. She had one buck and one doe. The doe was smaller and Fauna ignored it for a while so we brought it inside to warm up and feed it a little milk until she was strong enough to go back outside with her mother.  A week or so passed and both were healthy so we burned their little horn buds off. By the next morning they were jumping around as if nothing had happened.

A few days later we decided it was time to let them outside for the whole day. They had been outside before but only for a few short hours at a time. Long enough for Fauna to get some fresh air and the babies to play around outside. We put them outside in our winter pasture with our other doe, Nora. Nora and Fauna butted heads a bit but they usually do especially when they are separated for a while. Nora didn’t seem bothered by the kids, she sniffed them then ignored them. When we brought them in that night they were still happily jumping around but when it was chore time the next morning the little buck was dead.

Not once since we started raising goats have we had a kid die at three weeks old. We have had a few die a day or two after being born but never have any died in the night halfway to weaning age. It is a sad mystery as to what happened.

My son Lucian helped my husband bury the little goat and he was sad also. He said, “It died before it had a  name.”  Granted we don’t always name the goats we intend to sell but it is a little sad that the little fella didn’t have a name before he passed.

As the farmer I have to look at the cold reality of monetary loss. The sale of the kids usually pays for all or most of the hay the goats will eat over winter. I’m going to have to make up for the loss of the kid with milk sales, hopefully.

KIMG0236[2]

The kids (my human ones) learned a little lesson about life on a farm. A farm is a place where animals are born and where they die.