Friday, January 30, 2015

Excessively Cheesey Post

When you are farming, well actually this applies to anyone who is alive and breathing, you will have your share of ups and downs. Life will hand you some pretty crappy cards and sometimes some pretty sweet ones too.
Always, always, ALWAYS try and soak up those sweet ones.

Despite the frigid cold wind that is screaming in my face "IT IS WINTER!!!!!!", I am happy for the nice warm day yesterday and also for the fabulous cheese we pulled from the cave this week.

My first cheddar since I took a class at Nature's Harmony was a cheese success!

This really made my week too because clothbound cheddar is quite labor intensive to craft, and then you must consider the affinage. This cheese was a young 3 month old. It really should age 6 months, and the next wheel will do just that.

Rose helped me flip cheeses yesterday evening and so I took some low quality cell phone pictures to share of some cheeses I am excited to try!

Of course my helper just had her bath and put on her winter gown, but she was excited to help me.
Here she is holding my Christmas Parmesan. This wheel is rubbed in olive oil every week and will need to age 12 months, hence the name. I made it in mid December and it has  a long time left for aging.

This huge wheel is a Fontina that I am rubbing with a special brine solution. I have no idea how it will taste when it is done aging 3 months, but it look great from the outside!

This is a cloth bound cheddar I just made about a week ago. It is wrapped in cheesecloth and rubbed down with lard, rendered from forested pork we raised.

This cheddar has aged just a tad longer, a mere 6 weeks so far. It has quite a bit more mold growth.

This is a smaller wheel of cheddar, but it is also clothbound. This wheel was made in November and is now just over 2 months old.

I occasionally brush them well to get some of the excess mold off.

I am going to remember this yummy cheese from now on and whenever I have a wheel that flops! I actually have an Alpine Tomme that is almost ready and I have high hopes that it is also delicious.
I have been incredibly busy working on homeschooling, de-cluttering the house, making cheese, and trying to get some sewing done.
I have been hand dying embroidery yarns and plan to get some in my Etsy shop soon!
Here is a sample of what I have made with these beautiful yarns. If you like to hand embroider, stay tuned! I am also sewing up a couple of bags for the shop. I also have a couple of other goodies I sewed up for my Etsy debut.
Everyone stay warm today! It is REALLY cold and windy here today, which will make hlding Athena for the farrier today a brutal task! Thankfully she is not my horse but Indiana's. I will remind Indy to dress warm! :-)
Happy Friday Ya'll!!!!
We are off to milk the cows!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I am happy to announce that our calf is getting stronger each day. No doubt the super nice, spring-like weather we had the past several days contributed! It might have been too nice since I see little leaves budding out on my Japanese Maple tree. Cold, rainy weather is headed this way again tomorrow.

We also have a new milk cow, although she is not *ours*, but we are keeping care of her and milking her.

Valentine belongs to my farmer neighbor. She calved a little over a week ago and lost her calf to the elements. She had no problem calving and she is young and sound. Because my neighbor doesn't have time to milk a cow, he offered for me to keep her. This was perfect timing since my cows are getting low in production and I am making lots of cheese these days.

Valentine is a large cow, especially compared to my other ladies, but she is super nice. In fact we joke that she is half cow, half hound dog.
She really took to Devin over the weekend and follows him around until he scratches her neck.

Like most new milk cows, it took a couple of days to get the *milking* routine down, but she is good as gold now.

She's a welcome addition to the farm, and we are really enjoying her milk! Now, if we could just get spring to arrive early!

Happy Hump Day Ya'll!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Tale of Two Calves: My Crap Fest Week

The thing about winter is that I do quickly get sick and tired of the cold, the brown and dormant grass, the naked trees and the cold.
Winter for me is really a long, drawn out tortuous season. I really despise it all, and I am not even in a very wintery state!
 Before farming I could spend my weekend lounging around, reading books and baking fabulous desserts. Not now. Now I worry about freezing milk lines and insulated coveralls.
As much as I love the outdoors, I do not like being outside several times a day to remind myself that it is.....cold.

                                                 *House Lamb Flicka is still sweet as ever!*

One day I will grow up and appreciate the changing of the seasons, blah, blah, blah. Until then I will gripe and complain.

Let's add to this dreary winter 2 calves that went down. TWO!
These were not little, young baby cows either, but rather 10 month old, 300-400 lb calves.
The first calf went down and we figured he had pneumonia. We treated him as such, but he never really was able to get up on his own. After a few days he couldn't stand up at all, even though he was still eating and his rumen was working and he was alert.
The next cow went down a week later. Same symptoms, same story. By this point we figured it was a mineral deficiency. Selenium maybe or magnesium. We got injections from the vet and started treating them.
Unfortunately the first calf that went down died. His legs were so weak and atrophied that he could not get up or stay up at all.

                                      *Indiana thought Flicka needed a cow girl look*

The second calf to go down is able to get up with a little assistance. We walk him around and he can walk well and eats and drinks. We are keeping him in a large stall, though, because if he goes down again it would be difficult to get him to the stall. We are still treating him as if he has a mineral deficiency and hope he will make a full recovery.
                           *Down calf #2 is up and walking and I hope making a full recovery!*

In the meantime, I have distributed lots of high magnesium salt and salt with selenium to all of my livestock so they can lick it free choice. After one day the salt buckets were empty and I refilled them. Today they are still licking up salt, but not as vigorously.
Did this solve my problem? I hope.

                                *Molly is still my beefy heifer calf. At 6 months old, she is big!*

I was very happy that my calf was up and walking and acting like himself this afternoon. Very happy. In fact, despite my disgust for winter, today I was appreciative of the improved health of my calf and stayed outside longer than usual to snap pictures with the kids and the animals.

                      *Willow loves to wrestle and play with her steer calf Brownie!*

Here's hoping for a week that continues upward!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Molly Green

The latest edition of Molly Green is out! If you are not a current subscriber, please go ahead and subscribe. You will not be sorry!

This edition has some fabulous homesteading and homemaking articles.

My article on Ricotta Cheese is on page 50.

Today we are experiencing another blast of cold Arctic air. Stay warm folks!

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New Year: 2015

Today is a new day, new year. I am happy to be here greeting the start of another trip around the sun.

We had a nice Christmas, despite the fact that all but 3 of us came down with the blasted flu virus. It was not quite the Christmas I had planned or hoped, but since when do things go exactly as planned? I have learned to be flexible and to be grateful for the good things that do come my way.

Now the New Year is here and like many folks I am busy plotting a way to make this year more. More productive , more organized, more successful.
I already have a new notebook filled with all the calendar pages, organizing pages and goal pages to make this all become reality. (cough, cough)

I have decided to really focus lots of energy on a few main areas:

1. School. I have a few main goals for each child written down and theses have deadlines to be accomplished. For example, Quinn has her ACT this spring so we will really be focusing on her prep for the test. Setting school goals is a great way to see progress as you educate your children too.

2. Budget. There are few house projects that really need to be finished up this year. I am focusing on really cranking down a good budget so these can be possible goals for us. In addition, this is a year we really need to purchase a tractor. That is a huge expense and I will be working to pay down a few debts quickly so a tractor can be possible.

3. House Organizing. This is a constant, especially when you have kids. I tend to be fairly well organized and have made great strides the last few years to de-clutter. I must admit, however, that 2014 was a year that I let many things fall into disarray. It happens. This year I came a across a blogger who has a plan for a weekly de-clutter and organizing plan. 52 Weeks to an Organized Home is a very attainable challenge and goal. I printed out the monthly calendars and will be getting started on this goal!

4. Fiber! This new year has brought a new opportunity with my fiber sheep! A good friend and I have collaborated to start a new venture. Farm Girl Fiber. We are hand dying lace weight yarn to use in color work embroidery. All of the fleece from my sheep are being spun into lace weight and we will begin dying that yarn as soon as it arrives. We are hosting an open house in a week at our newly renovated studio and hope to begin classes and groups to focus on color work, embroidery and other fiber arts. You can follow us Facebook too!

5. Cheese and all things cow. I have long term goal of one day making cheese on a larger scale. This year I will focus on increasing my herd by one or two cows, making 3 fabulous cheeses consistently, and increasing my cow knowledge. This might even include a 3 day class on Artificial Insemination of cattle as well as reading more books on sustainable farming and rotational grazing.

I hope everyone has a fabulous New Year! Today I am fixing a simple meal of beans and cornbread so that I can sit back and relax and perhaps work some on my new goals. We will take 1 more week off as a school break and then hit the books once again.

I didn't get around to sending out Christmas cards this year but we did take out annual family photo.

Happy 2015 Ya'll!

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