Monday, November 28, 2016

GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING . . .





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

COMPANY, COWS AND RAIN


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 http://www.burney-falls.com/
We stopped at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park https://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm and Subway Cave http://californiathroughmylens.com/subway-cave-old-lava-tube-lassen-national-forrest/

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 http://www.cheesemaking.com/ 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


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Quilt Top and Sunday Recap



A quick peek at the new quilt top. I was hoping to get a better shot of it but this was the best of the lot and I know a few of you were wanting to see the finished project. Well not the quilt as a whole but the top. It is in the end 51x58 or so. It is much brighter in color than what you see but the colors are pretty much true. The backing is also a batik in hues of green and purple. I promise a better posed photo of both front and back when it returns from the long arm quilter in a few weeks.  






I took  a lot of photos on Sunday morning of adventures in cheese making and I am putting them together in a bit of a tutorial blog for those with an interest in cheese making. I have been testing the cheese making waters for about 27 years . I enjoy the process and the end results. Not  to mention the treat of goat cheese right in your backyard so to speak. Here is a peek at the finished project and stay tuned for the next blog post in short order for a photo step by step to easy always tasty goat milk   mozzarella cheese.
Also on Sunday big doings at the neighbors ranch. Punkin a Jersey milk cow had her calf. So I popped over for a  visit with this sweet 2 day old bull calf.  That is the bovine style of "discrete nursing below.

                                                                                              

Today around the farm love was in the air. Little Trouble a 18 month doe came into heat and she was happy to be escorted to spend a bit of time with this good looking fellow who you may have seen  before Walnetto Farm Sundance Kid aka Buddy. 
Trouble's photo is a bit old and she has since become a bit more trim and dairy looking. Losing some of that baby fat so to speak. If all goes well kids are due on or about April 4, 2017.

Hope to see you tomorrow for the marvelous mozzarella post and will leave you with what was seen outside my kitchen window today at sunset.

 





 



                   
                                                                                   






Friday, November 4, 2016

This is the week that was!


WOW! doesn't even begin to cover it. This has been the most jam packed week in a long time. Multiple trips into Redding and that is not my favorite thing to do.  It has not as much to do with Redding proper and the folks residing there but more to I hate doing errands as adventures are much preferred and when I take time to leave the farm well I simply loose time. Because what gets left undone is still waiting for me when I get back.

I have to admit it wasn't all hurry up , catch up and work. Had a quilt shop day with a friend and then lunch at a great restaurant. I don't eat out often unless I am visiting family in Fresno or on a trip with the grand girls. So it was a real treat.http://www.freshfiregrill.com/#about I had a Fire Bowl with chicken Teriyaki , brown rice and Asian slaw. Great fire sauce and another sauce milder and sweet. Toss in a nice Pumpkin Ale and life was pretty good.

I am currently in up to the eye balls on getting the quilt top put together as Judy reminded me while cutting my fabric selections that the first Saturday of each month is bring in your finished quilt top and get 20% off your backing fabric. This is an easy pattern and I will have it done by late morning tomorrow and off I will go back to http://www.blueirisquiltshop.com/ to pick up my backing. Then the top will go down to Madera https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madera,_California where my good friend Pam lives on the Quilt Farm. Pam and her family began their dance with dairy goats by purchasing  animals from my herd that was  back in 1997. We have been good friends since and I have watched her three girls grow up from 2,4 and 6 years to the present. Pam is in addition to being a goatherd and a flock of lovely laying hens is a long arm quilter. She will work her magic on yet another top for me. I will be sure to snap some photos before I send it down to her and after it is all quilted and I get the binding on before it gets shipped off to the recipient.

So there is my excuse   reason for the disappearing act of late. Don't forget that tomorrow the winner for Leigh Tate's e-book Honey Bee Tales and Postscript will be drawn tomorrow also. Please check out Leigh's blog http://www.5acresandadream.com/ always very informative and you can  see all her e-books also.

Leaving you with a photo taken on Wednesday of three mama cows with their calves. Calving season has begun at my neighbor and friend's on the ranch that they work . From now you will see updates on the going's on including photos to come of Janet's milk cow Pumpkin with her new bull calf. Stay tuned !