Thursday, July 30, 2015

Using up the Yummy Goat Milk!

      I've been using the goat milk like crazy around here! Everything from chevre, to cake! It is so good! Just ask Winterlynn and Riley! They couldn't get enough of it when they were here! I just haven't mastered mozzarella yet. I will keep trying. Or a creamy cheese. It turns out more like a course ricotta. I will keep trying with that as well. Right now though, I'm using goat milk in recipes instead of store bought milk. It's a season, just like eggs. Sometimes you have a lot. Other times, none. I still have to buy the guys milk. They don't like drinking goat milk. Ugh! I've made creamy potatoes, a chocolate cake or two, bread, waffles, just to name a few. I'm so thankful I have learned how to milk the goat by myself! It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. Maybe less at times. That includes getting the goat out and fastening her to the stanchion, and taking feed over to the other goats while she's on the stanchion. I can't forget about them! She gives almost a quart at a time. I don't know if that's good or not, but it's working for me. I milk her twice a day. I've even been able to sell a gallon here and there. For pet consumption only, of course.

      We had the girls here last week. I was so happy to see them all! We got a surprise day visit from Yasmine and Layla! Hurray! I don't get to see them as much lately. Soon three out of four of them will start to school! I won't get to see them for sure then. Except on occasional weekends. 

      The weather has been extremely humid and hot this summer! We have gotten showers on an almost daily basis; thus the reason for the extreme humidity! It's not good on a body! Especially one that is prone to headaches! They come on slowly and turn into a pounding! Glad I have some otc med to stop them! I think I'm almost over the poison ivey! It has been so itchy! Along with chiggers! I put DE on my ankles today in hopes of deterring them. The 'farmy' homestead life! I love it!

      Ya'll stay in where it's cool! Don't overdo it in this heat! Blessings from Bama!

It's mating season for snakes. I caught two of these together in the hen house!

Homemade salsa from our tomatoes.

Creamy potatoes from goat milk.

Bread baking in the Sun Oven.

Momma and baby. I'll get to milk her before too long.

Fresh hot bread from the Sun Oven.

Me milking. I wear these shoes outside everyday. They work pretty good at protecting my feet from fire ant bites. The hat is my signature.

The Udderly EZ Milker works really good! Faster than hand milking, but I can do either.

We had to modify the stanchion since it was made for Nigerians.

Lemon cheesecake cooking in the Sun Oven. I've been using this a lot! The cheesecake did not turn out good. It was a lemony, sweet, goaty tasting thing! I did not like the course texture either. Cheesecakes are supposed to be creamy!

Yummy spaghetti sauce made from fresh-picked tomatoes!

Randy is doing the "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" on Riley's back!

Homemade soup made with fresh-picked tomatoes and store bought produce.

Yasmine wasn't 'in' to the swimming pools this day. The other girls had a blast! They hardly even notice the big pool is gone!

Of course a golf-cart ride is always to be had when Uncle Randy is home.

It's so hot, the rooster and hens hide in the shade.

As well as the goats.

A five gallon bucket almost full of tomatoes, was picked from my garden!

Almost seven quarts of tomato sauce from the five gallon bucket! This is the first time I've canned my own tomatoes!

A nice, big pumpkin.

A different pumpkin. They look like they're almost ready to pick!

A moon and stars watermelon.

A sugar baby watermelon.

A kakai pumpkin. I found out about this one from watching John Kohler's Grow Your Greens on youtube. They are good for seeds. I thought the chickens would like them.

More tomatoes that will need to be picked soon.

A cantaloupe.

Fried, green tomatoes, anyone?

I picked those ripe tomatoes. Not enough to can, but good for eating and cooking with. Or I may cut them up and put them in the freezer to can later.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I Am Thrilled to Introduce Ya'll to Our Newest Homestead Members!

      I've been goat sitting since April. I have to admit, I have grown attached to these little critters! They are Nigerian Dwarfs, relatives to the ones we sold earlier this year. So it got me to thinking about becoming a goat owner again. This time, I wanted a larger goat that I could get more milk from. I started searching and found nothing. More searching. Nothing. Seems no one around here has Nubians for sale. I don't even know if there are Nubian owners around here! I started looking further away. Several came up outside the Atlanta area, but that would be about a 3 hour drive or so. I kept looking. Still none here. I found some on this side of Atlanta. Still a bit far. More looking. By this time, I'm putting in an ad in search of Nubians. In two separate places. No answer. I finally found a place that was only an hour and a half away. Bingo! The right goats at the right time! And delivered to our property! That was a God answer! For us and for the former owners! We ended up with two does in milk, and a beautiful doeling! I have been on cloud 9 ever since! It's such a wonderful thing to have God answer your prayers! Even if it's not exactly when you ask for it. He knows the right timing for everyone! So if you're praying and it doesn't seem like God is hearing you; much less answering you, keep on praying! He is listening, and He will answer you when the time is right! 

      Randy is having to assist with the milking process. I believe in time, I will be able to do it by myself, but he is so very helpful. He doesn't actually milk her, although he tried a time or two. He gets her out without all the other ones coming out. That is a job to hold all the other goats in there, all the while, letting only Bambi out! He gets her onto the milk stand and stands there keeping her occupied while I milk. The first time was terrible! I barely got two cups of milk! The milking has gotten easier and she now gives us a quart, twice a day. I love this process! Tomorrow, I'll be making mozzarella! I'm excited about all the things I can make with the milk. I have some buttermilk culturing now that I will use to make chevre. Then I plan on making ricotta with the leftover whey. I hope there won't be much waste of anything. What's leftover, I'll feed to the dog and chickens. 

      It's gotten really hot again so I'm having to stay inside until the sun begins to go down. Then we still have heat and humidity; and mosquitoes! I get eaten up every evening when we milk the goat! Oh well, it's worth it for me! Just like getting chiggers to get blackberries! I have poison ivey too! I think I got it from petting the goats, since they eat it! Got to take the bad with the good sometimes!

      We saw all the girls this past weekend! I am so glad we spent the weekend hosting them! They are growing up so quick! I don't know when they'll be over again, but I'm looking forward to seeing them soon! I hope ya'll are staying out of this heat! Stay hydrated as much as you can when you do have to be out in it! Have a great week! Blessings from Bama!

Meet the girls: Trixie, Dixie, and Bambi! Bambi is the light colored one I milk.

Going to be made into cheese tomorrow!
What sweet faces! Yasmine with her icecream cup and Riley with her playdough!
Lulu giving her Mom a hug since she hasn't seen her since the day before! Mommy's girl!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Well Hello! July Fly!

      I have never seen so many flying around as I have this year! They are all over my garden! It's fun to watch the chickens try and catch them! Sometimes they actually do! It's really hard to believe that it's already July! We have been working really hard here on the homestead the past several weeks! Hard work makes the time pass quicker. Heat, no rain, high humidity; in spite of all this, we accomplished much in the garden. The weather has chilled a little the past couple of days, with clouds and some rain. It finally came a good downpoor here yesterday! I could see and hear the storms all around but they never made it here, until yesterday. Funny how rain does that! My garden was like a dust-bowl! Randy came in all dusty after tilling a new spot the other day. Now I hope it's not muddy so I can plant the okra. Okra will produce until the last frost so that gives it quite a long growing season. I'm thinking of planting more green beans as I haven't had a good amount to deal with this year. I was gifted enough to can 9 pints, however. That was a blessing!

      We haven't gotten to see the girls in so long! I miss them all terribly! I'm hoping they will be here Friday and Saturday for the Fourth. I made them some homemade chicken nuggets and I'm hoping they will like them. I've been fortunate enough to put several bags of chicken in the freezer. I cooked the chicken in the Sun Oven and it turned out great! Shredded chicken ready for whatever I desire to put it in! For the Fourth, I we are cooking chicken this time. Chicken is so much cheaper than beef; and we love grilled chicken, any part! We will also be making Randy's popular homemade vanilla ice cream! Everybody LOVES his ice cream! We do have rain predicted but it is so spotty sometimes, I don't think we'll get rained out. Randy has a back-up plan if we do. Put up the canvas awning! That will work nicely.

      I have been picking blackberries for the most part of June. Yes, I have the chiggers to prove it! You know I can't pick wild blackberries without getting them! I just learn to live with them until blackberry season is over. That won't be much longer, as they are winding down. We even have a few blueberries on our bushes. Not enough for a pie, but handfuls to eat here and there. In a few years, we'll have plenty!
The garden is producing quite a lot of squash! I really love squash! I've found a recipe for zuchinni fritters that is delicious! I'm going to try squash the next time I make them. I think they will freeze nicely. We are also gathering cucmbers and tomatoes. The tomatoes we don't eat, I'm cutting up and putting in the freezer until I have enough to can. That might take awhile, but I'm fine with that. Just to know I'm canning my own home-grown tomatoes makes me happy!

      We've had quite the episode with our chickens lately! I had advertised three roosters for sale on Craigslist. The black one came up missing and after a day, I realized he wasn't coming back. I edited the ad to two roosters. The next day, a hen was missing. Long story short, we lost five chickens including another rooster. I finally removed the ad since no one was responding anyway. I hated losing those chickens! One was my pet! So we decided to get another dog. I found a brown lab on Craigslist. The people decided to let us try her out because I wasn't sure how she'd interact with the chickens. We put up electric wire around the perimeter of the chickens so they'd be totally enclosed by electricity. The dog worked out well the first couple of days, running off whatever was sneaking in to eat the chickens. The next day, she got reall curious about the chickens and decided to scoot under the fence to check them out. I didn't realize it, and when I got there, she had one in her mouth! She didn't kill it but I thought she may have killed some of the others, as there were a variety of feathers  all over the ground! Thankfully, they all survived! Poor chickens! Needless to say, we called the couple and told them she didn't work out. I was already attached to her. I'm so glad the electric wire seems to be keeping the fox at bay. I hope he doesn't find a way to get in again! Our collie was so valuable in so many ways! I don't know how we'll ever be able to replace her!

      Ya'll have a great Fourth of July! Stay vigilant in these dark days! Let you light shine in the darkness! Blessings from Bama!

I could hardly believe when I saw this wisteria blooming again! It smells so good!

How do you like these racoon paw prints in the chicken water!

Yes, it's that time of year again! Canning green beans!

Nine pints.

A recent gathering from our garden.

Squash and pumpkins. I finally got the pine straw down!

Another view of the garden. I'm so glad to have gotten all that pine straw down!

I love watching them grow!

Our second butternut squash!

These are better boy tomatoes. They sure are good!

I think this is called yard long cucumber.

Looks like straight eight.

Squash, tomato, pepper, eggplant. I'm so happy with our garden this year!

I guess it's time to see if there are any potatoes in these towers.

The new spot Randy tilled. It wasn't muddy, just damp. I got it weeded, planted okra, and pinestraw put down.

The last of the blackberries.

A purple daylily!

Beautiful butterfly bush flowers! 

A beautiful, double daylily!

Isn't this a lovely color?