farm fresh [cheese curds]

Oh my, how I’ve MISSED you!!!!

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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????

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This batch was ‘seasoned’ with fresh dill and one clove of garlic! YUM!!

Kid Disbudding Box

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.

Kid Box

source

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).

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You can build your own with their ‘free’ kid disbudding box plans!

Build Your Own Plans

After all, we want happy goats!!!

…take five

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!

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Corey’s triplets about 12-hours old, Gimli in the middle.

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Goat kids on parade!

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Exploring the great outdoors!

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Happy goat family.

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Looking for a good home soon!!!

Leaps and bounds…

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).

The challenge…

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!

Mayday Mayday Mayday

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!

photo courtesy University of Missouri

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photo courtesy apartment therapy

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!