Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Goat Milking 101

In case you aren't sick of hearing about the goats I thought I would show you how we milk.  Did you know that more people in the world drink goats milk than any other type of milk?  Here in the States we assume that the majority of people drink cows milk since that is what we are accustomed to. Not the case.  I can't imagine how much milk we would have if we had a cow.  I believe cows give upwards of 5 gallons a day.  I am stumped with just one gallon daily!

  Mocha is the first goat to be milked and she hops right up on the stand.  There is a moveable brace for her head so that once I lock her in, she can't pull her head out.  She has plenty of room to bend her head, I just don't have to worry about her going anywhere.  This is the most common and easiest way of milking.  Once a goat is trained on the stand, you can also trim their hooves and administer medications should they need them without stressing the animal too much.  I sit on a hay bale next to the stand. I milk by hand, usually one teat at a time.  Some people use both hands, one on either teat but I prefer to do one hand.  Then I can switch if and when my hand gets cramped.

After the teats are completely emptied of milk I will let the goat continue to eat while I strain the milk.  Straining is important because it ensures the cleanliness of the milk.  During milking, hairs from the goat, pieces of hay or whatever can fall into the milk pail therefore contaminating the milk.  By straining immediately after milking we are able to get any impurities out asap.  I usually strain Mocha's milk in the barn, and take Latte's up to the house before straining.
We store the milk either in quart mason jars, or half gallon glass milk jars in the fridge.  Glass is the easiest to clean and sterilize.  I don't recommend using plastic milk jugs as its hard to ensure the plastic is clean enough.  With milk you never can be too careful.  So there you have it!  The whole process should take 15-20 minutes.  More if you decide to sit and play with the baby goats...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Milk, Milk and Cheese?

We have a total surplus of fresh milk here.  Considering how we are just two people and we are adding about a gallon of milk a day to the fridge, its hard to get ahead.  Today I decided to tackle the problem head on.  I made two batches of chocolate pudding.  One batch I put in the freezer pop mold so we can enjoy them on a hot summer day.  The other batch I put directly into jelly size mason jars to take in lunches.  I made a batch of yogurt which should yield 7 yogurt containers worth of yogurt.  And currently I have my attempt at cheese hanging from a cabinet pull.  I followed a simple recipe for farmers cheese but had some issues.  First off, during the time specified in the recipe, I didnt have any curds.  So I had to re-cook the milk and add more lemon juice.  That mixture bubbled over the pot.  Now my kitchen smells like burnt milk.  ulgh.  On a good note, it did curdle that time and I have a nice batch of curds hanging.  Hubby and I are going to the movies tonight so hopefully when we get back, we will have cheese.

Anyone know what to do with whey?  I might google a whey bread recipe since I think I am most familiar with that.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Goat's Milk Ice Cream

With a surplus of fresh raw goats milk I am up for trying anything to use it up.  Last year I bought this ice cream maker on clearance at the end of summer.  I think maybe I paid $10?  Regardless, it was super cheap and works like a charm.  I brought it to the family I nanny for thinking it would be a fun activity to do with the kids.  So while the baby napped, the older kids and I made ice cream.  Every five minutes I would hear "Can I eat the ice cream yet?"  How do you explain having to wait a few hours for it to freeze to a three year old?  After nap time we sampled the not-quite-frozen ice cream and declared it good!  We will definitely do this again soon as summer is quickly approaching.  For this round we made old fashioned vanilla.  Maybe next time we will try making a different flavor.  I know you can buy flavor mixes at Target, but to me that defeats the purpose.  I want to use whole ingredients without any additives.  This way we know exactly what goes into our ice cream.  Last night I sat on the porch swing enjoying the fruits of our labor.  I topped the ice cream with strawberry jam I had made for my sister's wedding.  As the three year old says "delicious!"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dandelion Jelly

I love canning, and I love frugal things.  When I first read that you could make dandelion jelly, I had to try it.  Weeds are free and abundant on our property.  I immediately set out to pick as many dandelion flowers as possible.  When making dandelion jelly you want just the yellow head part.  Next I plucked the yellow leaves off the head and let them steep in boiling water for a day.  Following the recipe I proceeded to make the jelly.  I was thrilled when it worked!  Dandelion jelly tastes just like honey, and is way cheaper.  Hubby gives it two thumbs up as well.  Wanting to take advantage of dandelion season, we made two more batches the following week.  Can you imagine how tickled I was when I got a text from hubby saying he was picking dandelions for me during his lunch break?  So far we have made 28 jars of jelly.  I think that should be plenty to get us through the year, if only we would stop passing them out to people...

Monday, May 20, 2013

By The Light of The...Lamp!

We are constantly looking for ways to be more self reliant.  Last year we had a power outage for a few days and we learned just how unprepared we are for a disaster.  I am always looking for items at goodwill that would help us be more prepared in the future.  A couple weeks ago I found an oil lamp for just a few dollars.  I know you can buy these new, but our budget doesn't allow that.  I immediately grabbed the lamp and checked it out.  The dial to turn the wick worked smoothly and I was super pleased.  Now we have two oil lamps and they have been sitting on the table as decorations.  You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find the oil for the lamps in a store.  I contemplated buying oil from Amazon but figured I would hold off for a while.  Last weekend I was in Lancaster, home to the Amish.  I stopped in at a general store and what do you know?  They had the lamp oil!  I bought enough to fill our lamps for the time being.  I want to research and find the cheapest source (or a diy version?) before I stock up.  At least now we are ready for a power outage, and its kinda romantic don't you think? 
Do you have experience with oil lamps?  How would/do you get light during a long power outage?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Back in the Dairy Business

 Guess what???  Last week we were blessed to add goats back onto the farm.  Hubby and I always said that goats and chickens are our non-negotiables, meaning no matter what we would try to have them.  We had found an awesome family who was selling their herd.  We bought a doe and her buckling from them.  Another family had a milking doe for sale.  Our herd now consists of two beautiful ladies, and one tiny baby boy.  The mamas are milked every morning and evening.  When we first brought them home, they were so unsure of everything.  Now we have a routine.  In the mornings we let Mocha, the mama who didn't come with a baby out first.  She walks to the milk stand and jumps right up on it.  Once she is done, we open the door for her to return to the pen.  After that is Latte's turn.  Both Latte and her son, Java, come right out and hop up too.  This morning Mocha wasn't moving fast enough for Latte so Latte pushed her off the milk stand.  It was pretty comical.  Goats need to be milked at least once a day, preferably twice.  We milk around 5:15am and 6:00pm.  Typically milkings should be about 12 hours apart.  Milking is a huge commitment.  We can't decide to sleep in, or to not milk because it would mean that the poor goats are in pain.  Without kids (goat kids that is) nursing from their mamas, the udders remain full.  If they are not milked by a human (or a machine) they will be incredibly full and uncomfortable.  The goat mama would then realize that there is no point in producing milk and would dry up.  As long as the goat is milked daily she will continue producing milk whether or not she has a kid around.  Java (the buckling) nurses from only one side of Latte, so we milk from the other.  Between the two does we get almost a gallon of milk a day.  I will be trying  my hand at cheese, soap and anything else I can to use up the milk.  I made ice cream last week and yum oh yum! 

  These goats are so entertaining and I could sit for hours watching and playing with them.  I would think everyone would want a goat (just maybe not a milk goat).  I am sure the goats will dominate some posts here.  How can they not when they are so stinking cute?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Use What Ya Got

During nap time while nannying, I have been browsing Pinterest. Pinterest is an extremely dangerous place for me. Typically I would see a project, go buy the materials and proceed to make said project. However, as we are on a limited budget, and my Pinterest projects always turn out way more expensive than I plan, I can't do what I would typically do. I have now been trying to get inspired by Pinterest, and then figure out a way I can make do with what I have. I have been moving things around, painting, and purging. We have an old gate in the garden, which I set up behind a galvanized laundry tub to be used as a planter. I planted peas and geraniums. Hopefully the peas will climb up the fence. My only cost was the peas, which we had bought already. I have been trying to spruce up our back deck without spending too much money. Let me tell you that spray paint is now my best friend! We had these boring black chairs that were starting to chip and look kind of ugly. Instead of buying new patio furniture (which definitely is not high on our budget priority list) I just painted what we have and they look completely new. Check out the difference between the black and green. Love it! To me the green screams spring and looks so happy!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Garden Love

I believe that gardens can almost have personalities.  They are picky like children.  One year they like one veggie, and they might hate it the next.  Our first year gardening we were giving away squash and zucchini.  Last year we had a surplus of peppers.  This year is too early to tell, but so far our garden loves lettuce (and weeds).  We have been harvesting lettuce for salads, along with spinach.  I made a pizza using spinach, basil and asparagus from our garden.  The asparagus is so fun because one day its not there, and the next day its a foot tall.
  I am always amazed at things we can produce ourselves.  With some dirt, some seeds and a whole lotta love, we can produce food to eat.  Just knowing that the food on the table is because of me gives me so much pleasure.  I always tend to over order seeds, and someday I hope to have a system down for ordering and planting.  But I would rather order too many seeds for my garden than none.  This week we planted pumpkin, zucchini, gourds, squash, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes and probably more I forgot about.  Our garden is not just in garden beds, but in containers on the deck, and anywhere I can squeeze them in.  I planted chamomile to hopefully make tea later, and rosemary for my favorite rosemary chicken.  I planted the requisite basil and parsley. We have oregano, rhubarb, lemon balm and asparagus returning from previous years.  I love my garden!  Someday I hope to produce all the veggies we need for an entire year, but for now I am still figuring out what exactly my garden likes.  How about you?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Making Big Purchases on a Budget

We had to buy a fridge last week and I was not happy about it!  We had noticed that our fridge was not keeping things as cold as normal.  Milk was souring and the pork chops I had planned for dinner went rancid.  Our fridge came with the house when we bought it and I have no idea how old it is.  We tried everything we could think of to fix it.  We researched the problem (the freezer was also dripping water into the fridge) and tried all of the suggestions.  We scoured craigslist to find a fridge used.  I found that most people had really old fridges for about $75.  That would work well for a spare fridge maybe, but I didnt want to spend near to a hundred dollars and then have it go out within the year.  Craigslist also had nice used big stainless steel fridges for a few hundred dollars.  We ended up buying a new fridge from Lowes for under $500.  Its just a basic fridge, no icemaker or bells and whistles.  But it keeps food cold, and ice frozen and I couldn't ask for more from a fridge.  Lowes offers free delivery which is what sold us.  Hubby spent his evening after work switching the way the doors swing.  Now I am so pleased to open the door and have cold food.  I even bought a gallon of milk since I am no longer afraid of it spoiling the next day!  Yay for cold milk!

Monday, May 6, 2013

New (Used) Mower

I have never been so excited about a old mower before!  We have been attempting to use our push reel mower on our property.  This mower would be ideal if our grass wasnt so tall.  However our grass is way too tall and thick for the poor little mower.  Since our budget is incredibly tight, we thought we wouldn't be able to afford a new mower until a few more paychecks.  The thought of the grass getting even longer and taller was killing me.  So I turned to good old craigslist again and searched for a mower.  I knew we needed a self propelled model (our front yard is a hill).  Eventually we will need to get a riding mower (most likely used on craigslist) but for now a push mower will be fine.  There were only a few within our budget, but I managed to score exactly what we needed for only $80.  The key to craigslist I have found, is to be willing to pick it up right away.  I usually offer less on the condition that I can come right now.  If I want them to hold something for me usually I will pay the asking price.  This mower was on craigslist for $100 and I paid $80.  Never hurts to ask!  So now begins the hard part of actually mowing.  We started around the garden boxes, so that the lawn would not be so inviting to ticks.  We will move on to the front yard as soon as we are satisfied with the back/garden.  My arms, back and legs are aching but I am so excited!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Watch Out for Ticks

We have been enjoying incredible weather this week!  I love when the weather cooperates and we can be super productive.  Along with the nice weather however comes ticks.  ulgh!  Growing up in California I never had to worry about them.  I remember going to visit relatives in Arkansas as a kid and my mom would have to check us girls for ticks.  Well the other day I was at Target and went into the restroom.  I looked down at my feet in flip flops and noticed what I thought was just a bug.  I tried flicking it off.  That didn't work!  I bent down to see what exactly it was, and to my horror it was a tick!  Normally I would have pulled him out with tweezers or a match, but being in the Target restroom I had neither on me.  I wasn't going to go home anytime soon either.  Thus my friends I had a dilemma.  I could leave the tick on my foot and wait until I got home to remove him.  Or I could buy tweezers at Target and remove him right away.  Despite the fact that buying tweezers when I have a perfectly good pair at home is definitely not frugal, I opted to spend the money rather than take any chances with the tick.
  I know that when I am going into the woods or tall grass it is advisable to wear long pants and shoes.  That day at Target I was wearing flip flops and workout pants.  I had only gone to the garden from the front door.  Somewhere in the 50 feet from the door to the garden I got a tick.  Yikes!  Not even my yard is safe. I was thankful that the tick hadn't made his way too far into my foot and came out easily head and all...

  Do you have ticks in the area you live in?  How do you deal with ticks?