Oh my, how I’ve MISSED you!!!!
Over the weekend, I shared a gallon of goat milk with the kids to make one of Katie’s favorites: farmstead [herbed] cheese curds. They’re great for snacking, tossing onto a fresh green salad, etc.
Two days earlier, I cultured one quart of buttermilk [with goat’s milk, naturally] following the purchased ‘starter’ directions. I use the buttermilk as a starter for most of my soft cheeses.
I used one of my fav cheesemaking recipes from ‘Goats Produce Too’ by Mary Jane Toth. I modified her cheddar recipe by simply halving the recipe and omitting the pressing/aging.
The most difficult part of the recipe is deciding which herbs/seasoning to add????
This batch was ‘seasoned’ with fresh dill and one clove of garlic! YUM!!
Disbudding is probably the least favorite ‘chore’ of raising dairy goats! In fact, most people are surprised to learn that most goat kids (except the few that are naturally polled, that is ‘hornless‘) start growing horns a few days after they’re born. Both bucks (males) and does (females) have horns. Most people don’t want their goats to have horns (4H goat projects typically do not ‘allow’ horns, so check with your 4H Club first). Horns are safely removed when the kids are babies — from a few days to a week or two, depending on the breed and the rate of growth of the ‘horn bud’ — using a process called “disbudding” (see “Disbudding Goats” for more on this).
This year, The Hubs, [finally] made me a ‘kid disbudding box’ which is an invaluable tool for disbudding and tattooing baby goats [especially if there’s only one person doing the job]. My NEW disbudding box features a Hoegger designed head piece which provides you full control and a broad base for safely supporting your hand and securing the kid’s head during disbudding.
Rather than The Hubs latching onto the kids with his ‘death grip & stranglehold’ — which is probably more frightening to the kids than the actual act of disbudding…gasp! — we used a disbudding box. The “disbudding box” is essential for keeping the kids relatively still and CALM during the process! Here’s an easy to build plan from ‘Better Hens and Gardens’ for one (the picture below shows the finished box with their goat, Ruby, inside serving as a model).
You can build your own with their ‘free’ kid disbudding box plans!
After all, we want happy goats!!!
Take five… as in give me a desperately needed break! It’s been a busy last couple of weeks. Our two dairy does have both kidded and I’m pleased to say all are doing well! The goat milk is flowing [I love the tranquility of hand-milking — a very happy place for me]… and my bottle-babies are drinking every last drop!
Cassiopeia’s, our OberhasliXAlpine doe, produced twins: a doe [Meriadoc Brandybuck a.k.a. ‘Merry’] and buckling [Peregrin Took a.k.a. ‘Pippin’]. This was Cassie’s second ‘freshening‘ [last year she produced a single buck kid] and is a very heavy milker, producing an excess of 8-pounds per day!! Her kids are now 16-days old and growing by leaps and bounds! BTW, my daughter Katie, decided on Lord of the Ring name theme for her goat kids this year!
Coriander, our Oberhasli dairy doe, produced triplets: two doelings [possibly ‘Arwen’ and ‘Eowyn’… too similar sounding for me???] and a buckling [Gimli] last Thursday! This was Corey’s third ‘freshening’ and her very first doelings! YAY! We were monitoring Corey’s progress hourly through the night when the ‘goo’ first appeared. At 1 a.m., we found the first doeling wet and in the straw, apparently missing the birth by minutes!
A peak of the second kid’s hind legs were already visible, slightly extending from Corey’s vagina, heel-up/toe-down! A quick pelvic exam also revealed a blockage… a large head… to the third kid… with no legs in view[by touch/feel, that is]… a malpresentation! Everything went blurry from there as I worked quickly [ no-time for hysterics if you want to save the kid/doe] to push the breech back into the womb in order to manipulate the large head of the fetus and identify corresponding legs. Thank God, we manage to deliver the buckling [aka Gimli] and shortly thereafter, retrieve the ‘breech’ doeling…all alive and well! Phew! TOO MUCH DRAMA!!! I NEED A VACATION!!! That’s why I never the the barnyard when babies are due…cuz you never know when mama may need a little help!
Corey’s triplets about 12-hours old, Gimli in the middle.
Goat kids on parade!
Exploring the great outdoors!
Happy goat family.
Looking for a good home soon!!!
yes… the lambs are growing by LEAPs and BOUNDs! My small flock of Shetland lambs range in age now from 4-weeks to the ‘youngest’ at almost 3-weeks old. My ewe Reese’s Pieces was the last to lamb on cinco de mayo! Thankfully, after Katie and I returned home from Wolcott Farm’s Sheep Shearing Saturday.
Several weeks later, the lambs are rambunctious, becoming more independent and confident… to leave mama’s side…and enjoying some serious playtime, particularly in the early evening hours.
Several years ago, we dismantled our children’s play-fort and re-used/recycled the lumber to construct a playhouse for our goats AND this play ramp/platform for the sheepies. (I actually want to add a roof, kinda like a wood-covered bridge.) Big D just grins and rolls his eyes with all the ‘projects’ I dream-up!!!!
Group hug… (missing a few more lambs from the pic).
Hey…no fair! Two against one!
Hi-Ho Silver!!! Um…I think you better use the ramp!
Too much fun…building strong bodies!
The lambs and goat kids provide hours of cheap/free entertainment!
Besides playing with babies, I’ve been making cheese nearly daily to share with family and friends. I get the 6 a.m. morning milk, then the kids have mama ALL day. By 6 p.m., my does are mostly all milked-off by hungry boys!
…got goat milk??? I have yet to make any yogurt this spring and I would like to purchase some grains to make kefir, a first for me!
AND, still working working working in the veggie garden…amending the last of the beds with compost for the tomato, green pepper plants, potatoes and basil that will go in this weekend for sure!
Also, last summer’s back porch project has been resurrected…our self-made screens have been installed (YAY) and we purchased a ceiling fan to replace the wall-mounted light. I’m refinishing a table that I purchased at a barn sale last summer for the back porch too. Still undecided on additional seating…but, I’m on the look-out for potential candidates! Perhaps we’ll be able to enjoy the holiday weekend with el fresco dining!
My fiber art and so many other projects have taken a back-seat during the past few weeks (as I’ve been pre-occupied w/kidding, lambing and gardening!), but I hope to be posting some creative results with you in the very near future! Thanks for your patience!
Hope you enjoy a lovely Memorial Day weekend with family and friends! Play safe!
May 1st, often called ‘May Day’, may have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring, a day of political protests, a saint’s feast day, a neopagan festival and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday!
Mayday is ALSO an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It is derived from the French venez m’aider, meaning “come help me”.
photo courtesy Millers Field
It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by mariners and aviators, but in some countries local organizations such as police forces, firefighters and transportation organizations also use the term. The call is always given three times in a row (“Mayday Mayday Mayday”) to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.
A mayday situation is one in which a vessel, aircraft, vehicle, or person is in grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance. Examples of “grave and imminent danger” in which a mayday call would be appropriate include fire, explosion or sinking.
My MAY DAY was a little of all of the above! Let me begin with a lambing update: three of my prego Shetland ewes have lambed (from a week ago Tuesday, last Friday and most recently, this past Tuesday). First and foremost, all mom’s and lambs are doing well!
First to lamb, Bella and her triplets!
Next, Dove and her twin ram lambs!
This past Monday, my prego ewe Serendipity, showed the familiar tell-tale ‘signs’ of impending birth… ALL.DAY.LONG. Before nightfall, I decided to put her in the barn (in a small make-do stall called a lambing ‘jug’). I believed she would be ‘safe’ without being disturbed by the other girls and I could more easily monitor her progress. By 10 p.m. and still anxious that she had not yet lambed, I decided to sleep/spend the night in the barn with her – just in case she required any assistance (pleeeeeze don’t require any assistance!!)!
My woman’s intuition did not disappoint. At approx 11:20 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., Sara gave birth to twin ewe lambs (a totally textbook perfect lambing!). YAY! Just short of MAYDAY arrivals! HAHAHA
Serendipity (Sara) and her day-old lambs!
As I own a very small spinner’s flock of Shetlands, I have one more ewe, Reese, yet to lamb. So, stay tuned… for further updates.
In the meantime, the milking ‘girls’ are doing well and their bucklings are growing by leaps and bounds. The boyz are as sweet and mischievous as little boys tend to be!! Anyone looking for a loving buckling/pet wether?
Oberhasli buckling at two weeks.
HEY! This stuff isn’t as good as mama’s milk!
Goats on parade…
Between playing (ahem) and checking-up on new mamas and babies, I’ve been cleaning more stalls than I care to…AND milking goats, making cheese again, working in the garden – STILL planting – and stealing a few minutes here and there to work on a growing backlog of fiber projects!
Happy goat family!
Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy family! BTW, Saturday I’ll be dyeing in the kitchen at Metroparks Wolcott Farm’s Sheep Shearing Saturday! Come and have some farm fun!
Time flies when you’re having fun…or not?
SPRING is undoubtedly the busiest time of year on the farm…shearing, lambing, kidding, gardening, planting and so on! So much has happened since my last post and I do apologize for not ‘sharing’ sooner. That’s probably one of the benefits of facebook; little snippets of news communicated/shared relatively simply with a few key-strokes!
To all my faithful followers, a brief recap. We began the week with our monthly 4-H goat project meeting – in the barn – with my two dairy goats who were now overdue (beyond the norm average 150-days gestation). We talked about the development of an udder, loosening of pelvic ligaments and BEHAVIORAL signs of early stages of the birthing process such as act of withdrawal, seeking seclusion from the rest of the herd, uneasiness, kicking, pawing the ground, lying down and getting up frequently, frequent attempts at urination, refusal of grain, vocalizing, and so on.
Since my 4-H goat project kids are all new first-year goat owners, we also talked about visible signs of second stage labor including vaginal discharge, uterine contractions, appearance of the water sac and finally the evidence of a foot exiting the birth canal. All thought, oh, how exciting! But, in reality, the responsibility as goat caretaker and overseer to the blessed kidding (or lambing) event can be a bit daunting!
Finally, the long-awaited and imminent kidding arrived! Early Sunday evening (long after my 4-H families had departed), Coriander went into labor and delivered two bouncing baby bucklings (ie boys). Buckling No.1, for the most part, was delivered normally…albeit, a bit of straining by Corey to get the head/shoulders through the birth canal. Don’t get over-anxious to assist… proper dilation of the cervix needs to occur. otherwise tearing/damage may occur. The ability to recognize kidding difficulty is as important as proper technique in relieving dystocia (or, difficult birth). It is wise to prepare yourself with some kidding knowledge either through research/reading or by visiting a friend who may also be lambing/kidding, IF you find yourself in a position to lend a hand with the birth! Occasionally, in some situations, a gentle downward ‘tug’ on the legs with the next strong contraction is helpful. Another valuable resource for newbies and kidding/lambing info can be found at: http://www.infovets.com//books/smrm/C/C460.htm
As for Buckling No.2, it soon became evident – it helps to know your goat anatomy – that he was NOT in the proper presentation (but normal position and posture). Terms to know: presentation, position and posture. He was coming backward (breech), back legs first, dewclaw visible and hock (recognize the difference between the bend of the knee or the bend of the hock).
Diagram courtesy kinne.net
To make a long story short, all ended well with our two dairy goats’ kidding season. Finally, Cassiopeia, a first freshener, gained confidence through Corey’s kidding ordeal and decided she was up to the challenge! She delivered a single large healthy buckling on Tuesday morning, day 154. Moms (does) and kids are all doing well and thriving! Phew! I’m glad all ended well and I’m back into the routine of milking my girls twice a day. Our bucklings (or wethers) will be looking for new homes once they’re weaned!
With the help of Katie, my nurse assistant, Big D ‘the holder’ or gorilla (he has yet to contruct a kidding box for me…hint hint) and myself ‘the meanie’ (the one holding the disbudding iron), we disbudded the bucklings on Saturday, an unpleasant but necessary task. FYI – All goats typically have horns (both male and female; some goats are naturally/genetically poled/hornless) and most dairymen disbud (or have their vets perform the disbudding for them) their goats within several days – weeks old. Find more how-to disbudding info here.
Besides animal husbandry, I’ve also been busy working in the vegetable garden. More cleaning & trimming woody plant and pruning shrubs & roses. I also planted more leaf lettuce, radish, spinach, beets, carrots, swiss chard and parsley – all can withstand ‘cooler’ weather.
Weeding between pavers – ugh!
Temporarily cat-proofing the planting bed!
The sweet peas are several inches tall and the strawberries have blossoms!
Potatoes and kholrabi have yet to be planted. Tender annual herbs (such as basil and cilantro), zucchini & green beans will be planted from seed in a few weeks.
My French tarragon (not Russian tarragon which is an annual.
Cut cut cut… to maintain a fine tender & tasty chive!
Tomatoes and green peppers (tropicals) will be the last to go into the garden, typically after Memorial weekend for minimal chance of damage by late frost.
More cat-proofing planting bed until seeds germinate!
Sage, HEAVILY pruned a couple weeks ago shows re-growth.
Did I mention my Shetland sheep have been shorn and their wool skirted and already processed into roving and batts? Now we begin the waiting game, looking for clues and signs that parturition (birth/lambing) will occur soon. Unlike the goats that are hand-bred, we house the ram with the ewes for several months for breeding to occur. We don’t always ‘observe’ the actual breeding (but, there are breeding harnesses that the ram can wear that ‘marks’ the ewe when she’s been mounted). According to my calendar, my ewes could lamb any time now…!
I ended the week with speaking to a group of gardeners about the wonderful benefits of herb gardening, then rushing home to help a friend with skirting her wool fleece and how to ‘process’ it at home.
…and finally, we mucked-out one of the lamb sheds, right down to the dirt floor, limed it heavily and prepared it with fresh clean straw!
That about covers the week’s highlights…and then we start all over again with the never-ending list of chores! There’s no excuse for boredom!!! Hope you have a great week!
I love goats, but you already know that about me! What better way to spread the goat-love, than to ‘teach’ youth? While I don’t consider myself a goat expert, I’m more than happy to share my knowledge (with my daughter’s help, naturally) as a 4-H Goat Project Leader .
The goat kit/resources I HAVE used in past years was no longer ‘available’ and our MSU Macomb County Extension Office does not own a similar goat kit. The one I like/have used is this one from Ohio at a grand spanking cost of $459 !! YIKES! Well, that’s not going to happen…
So, I’m making my own… pulling together a number of resources from the web, library, my personal resources, CD’s, etc.
So, I also purchased a rigid foam poster board and sketched a dairy goat, identifying dairy goat anatomy and added a bit of color. I typed, printed and laminated the body parts and will attach velcro to the board and body part labels.
I think this will be a lot of fun and valuable resource for my goat kids.
…and at a fraction of the cost.
I’d like to sketch a skeletal structure on the back of this poster and probably an ‘overlay’ of the ruminant digestive system! Perhaps, the kids would like to actually take on that project – as part of the learning process???
I have not YET ventured into the world of HARD or PRESSED cheesemaking since my on-going love affair with my goats. Did you know that cheese is basically milk, a starter culture & rennet. The difference between one cheese and another is the temp the milk is heated to, the type of culture added and the way it is ‘processed’.
HARD cheese takes the home do-it-yourselfer to the next level of cheesemaking, requiring pressing (to force out the whey), waxing and aging under controlled temp and humidity. I’m told, you could use a spare refrigerator to duplicate a make-do cheese cave? But, I don’t have a spare refrigerator…
Awhile back, a fellow goatie told me of herbed cheese curds she delighted in when traveling to and from Wisconsin to visit a daughter. Hmmm…why can’t I attempt to make a HARD cheese…just short of pressing, waxing and aging?
I have made my herbed cheese curds (with my goat milk) three times now, and appears to be a big hit with everyone who tastes it! Once again, add a different herb for a different variety…it’s great for snacking or tossing on a salad, etc.
If I can do it, you can make it too!
You’ll need 1 gallon fresh goat milk, 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk (a mesophilic non-heat loving culture; this is your starter), 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet and 1/4 cup cool water.
Warm milk to 88 degrees F. Stir in 1/4 cup buttermilk and allow milk to ripen for 1 hour, maintaining temp at 88 degrees. Add 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet to 1/4 cup cool water and add to milk. Hold temp at 88 degrees and allow to ‘set’ for 45-minutes.
Curds and whey should be visible. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes and allow to rest for 20-minutes. Stir gently while increasing the temp from 88 to 98-degrees ~ slowly ~ over a 30-minute period.
Then, keep stirring gently at 98 degrees for additional 30 – 45 minutes until the curds no longer have a custard-like interior. Allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pot.
Pour off they whey; drain the curds in a colander for 10-minutes. Place the curds back into the pot and gently break-up the curds with a spoon. Add 2-teaspoons cheese or kosher coarse (non-iodized) salt. Mix well.
Keep the salted curds warm at about 98-degrees by placing the pot in a sink of hot water for 1-hour stirring every so often.
After the salted curds have set for an hour, drain off any liquid. Add fresh minced herbs, garlic, etc to taste and stir gently (you want the curds to remain in tact). Place herbed curds into a colander lined w/cheesecloth (I used a ricotta ‘basket’ mold).
Allow to drain for 2 – 3 hours, stirring once or twice to keep curds separate. Refrigerate and enjoy!