Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Departing gate #1

Yikes! I cannot believe how much time has flown by in the last few weeks. And here I am post less  and find myself just a few days away from picking up two of my grandgirls for a winter visit before their classes begin again.

There will be more of this during their visit and a slight promise of perhaps some of this

Which would be really great for them to get to be part of.  And we will be playing tourist going to
Which may look more like this
Please check back and I hope to have new adventures and photos to share. And if I don't see you until after the New Year celebrations please have a safe and joyful one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oh Christmas tree and scones and spinning

Twas the week, er 5 days, before Christmas and things are gearing up around the farm . Yesterday the 19th  husband Geoffrey and I took a drive up towards Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. Armed with a saw and the annual forest service permit to cut one tree we were on a mission. Our first stop about 40 minutes from home didn't yield a tree. Just and area of beauty that had few if any young trees in it. A quick U turn took us back from the direction we came and about 10 minutes later the boots hit the ground and we were off again. 
The boots are mine and after loosing sight of husband several times we finally met up in an area that had a nice selection of young Noble Fir trees.

And after a close inspection of a tree I had pointed out the harvesting began. Please note Geoffrey is harvesting I am the self appointed photographer.

Then after the tree was carried by the self appointed harvester back to the truck it was gently laid in the bed tagged with the appropriate sticker so we weren't pulled over for harvesting in a restricted area and we were on our way home.

Where I promptly jumped into making two batches of Cranberry-Orange Scones . One for the house and the other batch for my friend Janet across the way on the cattle ranch. Janet and her husband have been knee deep in calving season leaving little time for baking or sleeping or just about any other activity. Anyway I owed her as she generously gave me the cream from her Jersey milk cow Punkin to use in the recipe. 

Today I went to town for supplies and to finish up my Christmas shopping for the tree harvester pictured above. And no I can't say just yet what I got as it could spoil the surprise. But I had a nice surprise when I came home this afternoon to this. 

And it won't be long before I pull up a chair and do a bit of this. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016


From roughly 11 PM Friday night to 8 AM Saturday morning we had 2.6 inches of rain. Here are two seasonal creeks that run east to west on our front 21 acres. 


                       Mt. Shasta this afternoon peeking between the land and clouds.

Then there is what I have dubbed the Raspberry Parfait Quilt. Tucked away in the Priority mail due to reach it's much loved recipient on Tuesday. Not a Christmas gift a gift of love for a special Aunt.

Note the binding hence Raspberry Parfait title.

Lastly if you take a good close look you can see some of the lovely long arm quilting my dear friend Pam did.

And not to be overlooked

a lovely hand woven scarf for a special birthday girl. The warp is cotton and the weft is merino, silk and bamboo. A fun weave to be sure!

Dinner for Thursday and leftovers tonight. Irish Shepherds Pie yes lamb is involved and it was delicious!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy one more photo of Mt. Shasta from our road. I love the layers the pasture the trees then the moutains in the distance and the layer of clouds above that. The "poof" cloud to the left of center atop Shasta in the middle that little bit of snowy peak. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


I love this show and get a big kick out of Chip and Joanna Gaines of the DIY show Fixer Upper . So why the photo? To go with the post title of course. I got in and did some serious demo work in the doe barn the last few days Chip would have been proud. Note the photo below the far gate and existing division are no more. No small feat considering that there was a 4x6 with a 4x2 piece added to both ends and buried under about 6 inches of dirt and attached to both end post and a strip of fencing. Like I said I think Chip would say "you rock!"

Note that I left for now the second post on the left which was installed only for the gate but I find having the panel on it useful for hanging water buckets which tends to keep the water cooler in the summer and not as likely to freeze as in the winter. The post to the right of it is load bearing and I like to keep my roof on so it will stay put. It is also sunk about two feet down in cement. Not going any where.

First I kicked the barn crew outside. It is next to difficult trying to do anything with Pyrenees and goats in the area of intent. The Pyrs want to lie on your feet and the goats have a need to  inspect every inch of what you are doing. I am sure they are checking to see if we are up to code. I hope they don't ask to see my building permit!

Then after that was done I cleaned the entire area including the smaller pen to the right of the third photo. I then leveled out the area and gave it a spray of water enough to get it to stick together but not enough so as to leave surface water puddled. Then I moved pallets , feeder and lastly brought in a whole bale of straw to cover the entire area.

So everyone has a nice even surface to be on the dust is down and they have new sheets on their bed so to speak.


I also changed out my fly trap system . I found it at
you can purchase them and other essential livestock supplies online. I took a series of photos so you could get an idea of how it works and it is the 1000 foot roll. I usually find the need to replace the roll only once each year. We do have a cattle ranch across the road and the cattle free range. The flies tend to become an issue only during times when they need to be penned in close proximity such as branding times. Other wise we have the least fly population we have had in years at the other two locations that were much closer to neighbors.


The unit starts at the entrance of the barn and continues around in a U until it ends in a similar unit that it rolls onto. After replacing the full unit and all the nasty no good very bad flies go back into the box that held the new tape. The original unit that is now empty is put in place to become the receiving unit and the new roll is attached to the beginning point.         

All in all a very well spent two days. The girls are tucked in for winter and to test it out we are waiting on some snow today. We had a low of 19 at six in the morning and had a good hard freeze. The clouds are gathering the temp is currently about 30 and another cuppa is in my future.

Friday, December 2, 2016


We are having a few days of no rain . None until Sunday afternoon and then it is on again and the temperatures are going to drop like a rock with snow possibly down to 2000 feet we will see. We love snow at the farm makes for winter wonderland.


At least until it melts. Then is just becomes well messy!

So today I did a considerable amount of barn things. Moving around hay and stacking straw to keep those goat toes warm. I started the day with some pressing issues such as making bread, grinding ham for ham salad and trying my hand at toasting raw sunflower seeds in a recipe from my friend Debbi in Idaho. 

Starting with this loaf of whole wheat, sunflower (not the toasted ones), quinoa and flax seeds. It takes about 16 hours from start to finish but is well worth it!

 Then using my late  mother-in-love's (a more gentle and appropriate term for her) very old hand grinder. My Mama had one but I have no idea where it landed after she passed. I am fortunate to have this one and use it often.
And while grinding the ham for the ham salad the Honey Roasted Sunflowers from Debbi's blog toasted away in a cooler oven then the 500 degrees needed for the bread in the above photo. They are wonderful with coconut oil, raw honey and a bit of Redmonds mineral salt mixed with the sunflower seeds. Check out Debbi's recipe on her blog
More happening tomorrow in the barns and will get photos to share. Have a wonderful evening and weekend!

Monday, November 28, 2016


The first thought that may cross your mind is the woman has gone over the top! And you well could be accurate about that. But not right now and yes I know Thanksgiving was 4 days ago but I was out of commission. That head cold I wrote so smugly about a week ago Sunday launched itself on Monday despite my elderberry efforts and became the "every five years illness " that I seem to get whether I need it or not.The upside was even as this event progressed I continued the elderberry and I know it has lessened the symptoms. The downside was even so I had to keep on with chores and regular life and this unwelcome "gift" caused a large drain on my energy. Which meant little more than what needed to be done got done.  So now I will post what I had intended and also say we as a people of this country and other countries need  be thankful for those things we hold dear daily as well as on special occasions.

I will also post a few more loom photos. And before it is shipped off to the lucky recipient I will get a final photo for you.

This photo is taken from the rear of the loom looking forward toward the heddles and reed.

The next photo shows the reed clearly at the top. The center warp threads are each securely thorough a heddle each and the warps threads on either side await their turn.                                

    Thanks for the visits I see from a lot of folks around the USA and other countries. Glad you stopped by and I hope you will stop by again. As I get back to my usual energetic  self I will get more post up about what is going on at the farm.  


Sunday, November 20, 2016


Well wishing that I had left a note after the last post. One that said "see you all in just shy of two weeks." The road to Hell is lined with good intentions and I had no clue that after that post I would be hit with a whirlwind of company , errands and weather.

Jessica the third daughter of a dear friend came to spend her 21st birthday with us. What an honor to be asked to be the detestination for a young ladies 21st birthday.  When I first met this family it was over a goat. The three girls were 2-4 and 6 years. Today they are 21-23 and 25 years. It has been a delight watching these girls grow up. In Jessica's case she had moved out and found herself living in the big city. She needed a place to relax and get some "real country " in her weekend. And that we did!

Saturday included pastry and coffee's over some girl talk at a local coffee place. And some shopping in old town Cottonwood.
Sunday we hit the road and headed up to Burney Falls . Located in McArthur-Burney State Park
We stopped at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park and Subway Cave

Finally arriving at Lake Britton inside Mc Arthur Burney State Park to eat our picnic lunch and hike including a trek to the falls.
Then on Monday prior to taking Jessica to the Amtrak we stopped at our neighbors Janet O'Connor who works and lives on the Armstrong Holiday Ranch. The heifers and cows are home again and calving  has commenced. Giving Jessica an opportunity to bottle feed an Angus heifer calf born about a week early. She is doing well and growing like a weed. Then it was onto the train with good-byes and come back soon!
Tuesday and Wednesday brought a catch up days to start getting ready for the rainy weather that was to begin on Saturday early morning as in after midnight. Thursday and Friday were dedicated to errand running so I could be home on the days of really poor weather. Friday afternoon while feeding I noticed that the neighbors has popped over to the fence to say "howdy". I really think they were checking out the alfalfa the goats were enjoying.
It poured did I say poured? Somewhere between 3.5 and 4 inches. Exact totals not yet accounted for. Love it and the weather left time for beginning a new weaving project. Slaying the reed in this photo on a gift for someone special.
While we under the weather literally so was I. Finally figured out I have a bit of a sinus issue going on. Nothing that can't be worked through but sucks just enough energy from you that a nap sounds good just about any time of the day or night. Amped up the Elderberry intake and I am feeling better already.

We are expecting one and one half days of sun and highs in the 50's lows in the 30's then more rain. Sure wish I could figure out how to get this down to my friends and family in the San Joaquin valley. They could certainly use it! But inclement weather brings more weaving time for me and pictures to come for you. Win win!

So stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Got Goat Milk? Make Cheese!

Remember the old saying "when life gives you lemons make lemonade"?  Well when you have a herd of dairy goats it gets kicked up a notch to "when goats give you milk make cheese". Especially when you have a herd of hard working girls that have been line bred for years to put a minimum of a gallon a day in the bucket. 
I have been making cheese for about 27 years. I have made both soft such as chevre  and whole milk ricotta which is made from using whole milk and heating to a high heat then adding apple cider vinegar to cause coagulation resulting in curds that are separated from the whey and put in a mold or container for use in everything from lasagna to cheesecake. I have also dappled in hard cheese's including cheddar, jack and a few others.
 But in the end I continue to produce three basic types. The chevre which can be used plain or with herbs. The whole milk ricotta and mozzarella. 
My first introduction to cheese making came  through purchasing my ingredient products such as rennet, cultures, cheese press, cheese cloth and so on from New England Cheese Making and I still purchase most of my needed ingredients and supplies from Ricki Carroll and the crew there
I was hooked on this and a long standing love affair with stainless steel . What could be better then fresh cheese and butter plus other dairy products for one's family? So take a photo journey with me and let's make Goat Milk Mozzarella! 

The recipe I am using is from "Home Cheese Making" published earlier under "Cheese Making Made Easy". The earlier book is not as large in content as the second . They are both from Ricki Carroll and I still have the early edition.

1 packet direct set thermophilic starter or 5 ounces prepared thermophilic starter. 
 1/2 -1 teaspoon lipase powder dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water(amount dependent on taste)
4 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water 
Please note: The stage of lactation effects the curd stretch in step 7. Therefore you may find the need to use less in earlier lactation and more in later lactation.
1 teaspoon liquid rennet( or 1/2 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
Cheese salt for salting to taste 
Step 1 : I use a 5 gallon stainless steel pot with a glass lid. To which I add the raw fresh goat milk. I   DO NOT pasteurize my milk. Our family has used raw milk for 31 years now and no one has ever had an illness caused by raw milk consumption. Please educate yourself about this issue and then make a choice for you and your families . Two gallons of  milk is then heated to 86 degrees and the culture is  added to sit for 2 min in the milk with an addition of lipase powder to enhance flavor then thoroughly mixed.Cover and let ripen for 45 minutes.   
Step 2 : Toward the end of the ripening in another container place the remaining 2 gallons which has remained refrigerated and mix with the appropriate amount of citric acid. The cheese made on Sunday had 3.5 teaspoons of citric acid added to the 1/4 cup of cool water as it is late lactation milk. Lactation in goats is usually 10 months therefore can be divided into thirds. Early lactation is from freshening date ( the day of giving birth) to 3 - 4 months mid lactation is from 3-4 months until 6-7 months and the remaining months until drying off (ceasing to give milk) at 10 months. 
Step 3: Add the chilled milk to the warm milk and gently bring the temperature back to 86 degrees. 
Step 4: Add the diluted rennet to the milk and stir gently with an up and down motion for 1 minute. Let set for 15 minutes, or until the curd gives a clean break. Which is if one inserted a clean finger into the curd at a 45 degree angle and you have a clean and clearly division around the finger and curds you have a clean break.    
Step 5: Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes and allow to set for 5 minutes. The cutting should be vertical , horizontal and on an angle from top to bottom of pot. When cutting the curd look for when cutting the curds the edges that they are sharp and retain their shape. 

Step 6: Drain the curds in a colander for 15 minutes.

 Cut them again into 1 inch cubes. 
Step 7: Warm 1 gallon of water to 145 degrees. Place a handful (3-5)of curds into water to soak until their internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
Step 8: Using your hands, stretch the handful of curds  with upward motions until it is smooth and shiny. Work quickly if the curds become difficult to stretch dip it again in the hot water until it is flexible and stretching can continue. You will note as you stretch the cheese will take on a brilliant shine and stretch further. You can add your salt to taste as you stretch.
 When your curds have been stretched to your satisfaction you can shape them in a ball and put into a bowl of ice water until firm.
 Finished product
 I highly recommend using the heavy kitchen gloves for the stretching. Saves your pinkies from 145 degree heat. I also individually wrap the balls and put them in a freezer bag and store up to 6 months while retaining the moisture and stretch of a fresh ball. In addition I have found this recipe easy to halve while retaining the positive traits of a whole recipe. 

Keep in mind that as overwhelming this may seem at first time and practice are great teachers. The first time I made cheese was the same as my first time out with canning. Both the ingredients and myself were all over the kitchen and as I slowly cleaned up I found myself wondering "is this worth it"? Now these many years later I can judge a stretch by touch and shine . I can tell a water temperature by touch  and just how long to hold those curds to get them going again without the thermometer for internal temperature. Just as my large animal veterinarian Dr. D said when questioned about how long after you graduate does it take to become good at what you do? Answer: "Why do you think they call it practice?" 

Three of my favorite go to books: 

  And one of my favorite dishes with the mozzarella