It's the Chinese new year and this is the Year of the Dragon.
Lots of tradition and superstition go along with the coming of each new year. To celebrate properly and ensure prosperity in the new year, traditional foods must be prepared for the celebration. So, if you choose to celebrate the coming of the Dragon, be sure to whip up some of these fine dishes! I see a few I'm going to make ;)
I've got 2 more sets of twins, born late last night and then early this morning. All are healthy. I guess I better get after building the goat milking stand.
Here's a closer picture of the new cheese press. it's just 2 layers of 1" pine with the top piece with holes cut in it to help the dowel rods be more stable. The rods are screwed in from underneath and glued in the holes as well. I coated it all, top and bottom with the edges too, with that poly acrylic sealer. So far so good. It's simple but functional. It really doesnt need to be fancy at all, just as long as it holds the weight and stays level for the press time. This one does so it's all good.
There was a nasty storm that rolled across Illinois yesterday and I was right on the bottom edge of it. All we got was a little bit of rain mixed in with some sleet briefly. This morning, the water isn't frozen so we missed all the nasty for sure. Muddy, yes but ice? Nope! Dolly goat was kind of kiddy last night. She's a stand offish goat and she was following me and she was standing in places she normally avoids. Her milk bag is huge too. I can't remember ever seeing her bag that big before and she's given me twins before.
I'll be doing all the last minute floor scrubbing soon, the cheese class starts at 11 this morning. The milk is already on the stove, heating up for the culture. I whipped together a new cheese press yesterday. It's not exactly what I had in mind but it's close. 1" pine doesnt take the hole drill as well as I was hoping it would. It will work tho and that's all I'm worried about at the moment.
Last night, I took a neighbor of mine to town so she could get prescriptions filled and pick up some groceries. Of course, just like the majority of people in this area, she wanted to go to Walmart. OMG, you all know how much I HATE wally world! But, being to good neighbor I am, I put up with it. After a few minutes of her filling up her cart with that nasty, pre prepared frozen food, I had to walk away. I couldn't take it anymore. So, I wandered over to where wally world normally has the seasonal stuff and it was full of cheap chinese crap on clearance. It depressed me as I wandered thru the isles where I was expecting gardening stuff. WOOHOOO, paydirt! on the back end of each isle was a hanging box of garden seed! It was all Burpee seed so the majority of it was hybrid but I did pick up some bunching onion seed, some fennel (which I have never planted before) and replaced some seed that I had crop failure with last year (melons). I was feeling pretty darn good now since I satisfied that urge to have new garden seed and I picked up one of those candles that smells like wild roses too ;) As it burns, it makes the house smell like the wild roses I dug up from the roadside and planted out front of the house a couple years ago. The goats munched them last year, I hope they come back from it. I met back up with my neighbor and tried not to look at all the crap food she had stuffed in that cart and just reminded myself of how much I love being a homesteader!
Sissy goat slept all night, (thank you Sissy goat) and this morning, she's bouncing around, drank half a bottle, peed on the floor and left me a pile on the towel. She's warming herself in the space heater. She turns from side to side so she can warm up evenly, LOL. What a little dandy she is! I'm sure she's going to be a distraction come cheese making class time, LOL. Just too cute!
Little Sister is hanging in there and seems to be improving every day. Wish I could have gotten a picture of them all this morning, the kittens were all snuggled up with Sis and Shadow cat was laying on top of all of them. Sis is up to around 3 oz of milk a couple times a day and she's got plenty of energy in between. She's almost got her sea legs for the wood floor and is only occasionally looking like Bambi on the frozen pond ;)
Havent managed to get much done around the farm this week, the weather has been a bit nutty and Little Sister is taking up some time. I am planning on trying to get a new cheese press built (new design) and some shelves for storage and a table I can sew on.
I've got a cheese class to teach on Saturday, so far 2 students with possibly a 3rd. Lots of floor scrubbing to do before then!
Jelly Bean and Little Sister last night, both looking good. Thought maybe the weaker JB would do okay since he was trying to stand and seemed to be getting stronger. Guess not since he passed on sometime in the night. Little Sister is full of herself this morning and has been bouncing around since 5am! During breakfast time, I noticed Yoda cat had made himself at home on a kitchen chair. I'd say he's pretty comfortable!
Not too much planned for around the farm this week but the usual farm living and maybe some new cheese experiments. Can't never tell what I might think up and create around here....
Actually, double crap. Today started out that way. I woke up late to get the cheese started for the class I was teaching today. I switched what I intended to teach and made due. Then, my son came in from milking for me and said the cow has a cut on a teat bad enough it will give us problems milking. Then, just as my students were arriving, hubster and son came to tell me Noma goat was in labor. 2 1/2 hours later, a prolapsed Noma is dead and we have twins delivered via c-section. The creamy colored kid was pulled out first, she's doing great. The second is a bit weak but is holding on. From the looks of it all, the kids are premature. This is not what I had planned for kidding season this year. Not a good start overall for the year even.
Not on my top 10 favorite list, waking up to cold, muddy and spitting snow. Last night I milked the cow in a t-shirt and this morning the floor is cold enough to warrant fuzzy socks. I can't help but wonder what's on old Mother Natures mind when she throws crazy weather like this at us.
Yesterday was the second cheese class. I had 3 students for this one and I'm really enjoying the reactions when the milk turns into real cheese. One student had been trying to make cheese with a pretty good book of recipes and had not found success with it. It brought back memories of me trying to make cheese by following those recipes I have and all those nasty wheels of cheese even the dog wouldn't eat. As we went thru the process of cooking the curds down, i could see the "light" come on and I knew that student would never see failure again. I'm finding it to be a very rewarding experience and I'm really looking forward to the next 2 classes I have scheduled. Not sure how I'm going to get thru it all physically tho, it really wipes me out. The interesting thing about it all is the conversation during the class. There's more people than I thought out there worried about commercial foods, our economy, what's happening in our country and what our future holds. I think that some folks in our country are circling back toward the old ways, a Renaissance of sorts. Not necessarily a bad thing in my mind.
Well, I better get to the farm chores, I might have baby goats out there and I need to make a lasagna with all this store bought milk ricotta cheese I have sitting in the fridge.....
Happy happy joy joy! Visions of Stimpy cat from the cartoon dancing around, LOL The power company guys are really coming thru with the wood chips for my "back to eden" garden plan. I'm excited because I know this will work out great here and really improve my gardens. Just not having to sit there and watch the weeds grow like crazy every time it rains because it's too muddy to go out in it and weed is going to make me very happy.
So much for my pretty truck! I big fat doe and her 2 buddies ran out in front of me Sunday night. I stomped the brakes and moved over as far as I could without getting in the ditch and got her head with the dually flare. Spun her around and she flat sided the wheel well. Oh well, it's better than staying in the path I was driving, hitting the 2nd in line with the front end and having the third one smack the side of the truck. This is the 5th deer I've whacked since November 1st. 19 years I went without hitting a deer and now all this. Go figure! The real kicker was she fell down, flopped around, got back up and ran off!
No baby goats yet. I guess they're all waiting for the nasty weather to get here. Why can't they kid when it's nice instead of when it's freezing cold? Kid watch continues....
I just went outside and herded up some wayward goats in a t-shirt. This is what it looked like last year at this time. Brutal cold, snow, ice, just plain unpleasant. Today it's sunny and comfortable outside in a t-shirt. We've had weird winters like this before and I'm not really complaining, I just know the other shoe will drop before long and I will miss this really nice weather!
Not too awful much has been going on around the farm. Just the same old stuff that happens in the winter months. Lots of cooking, animal tending and piddling around.
Of course, the seed catalogs are coming in now and I find myself day dreaming of spring. As the month of January drags by, I will be chomping at the bit to get seeds started in the hopes that we won't have a repeat of last years' spring. Ah, but don't be fooled by my dreaming, i already have a couple plants going strong in the kitchen, waiting for warmer weather! The blackberries Coley sent me are primed, in some good compost and waiting for the spring weather to get here. The raspberries my neighbor gave me are right next to them, waiting just as patiently. The cherry tomatoes are on the floor, in a bucket, trying to be patient, flowering anyway, LOL.
I'm even thinking about planting a new raised bed with some market veges, hybrids from Gurneys or Johnnys Seeds. While I'm not fond of hybrids for myself (can't seed save etc) I'm not against F1 hybrids for market uniformity and big harvest. I'll have to decide quick tho since seed starting time is just a few weeks away. If the weather stays like it is, I'll have that raised bed done in no time!
Where did the nice weather go? right out the window! LOL Just a couple days ago it was a balmy 65F and today, it's not topped 35F with a nasty wind blowing all day. I feel like Mother Nature has a cruel sense of humor sometimes, LOL
Speaking of sense of humor, I still have mine. It's taken a beating the last couple of years and I wonder sometimes if I've lost it but nope, it's still here! Life sometimes isn't even close to as nice or easy as I would like it to be but I can't ever bring myself to quit or give up so I'm just stuck with it. Some day, it's got to get better. You blog readers and your comments really help me to keep going and keep a smile. Thanks ya'll.
I got this neat little box from a blog reader, it had something in it called "eggies". The idea is to use these "eggies" to hard boil eggs out of the shell. anybody who has ever taken fresh eggs and made hard boiled eggs knows what a total pain in the butt it is to get the shells off them. So, I read the directions and gave it a whirl. Simple as it can be, just assemble the eggie holders, put your raw egg in, close it up and put it in the water. They float around in the boiling water and cook. When they're done, they just pop right out. Instant, no peel hard boiled eggs. I diced and boiled a potato, added a chopped onion, a little home made mayo and had lunch.
Thank you Larry! A wonderful gift and a way cool new "toy" to play with!
It's been a pretty difficult year, 2011. I'm pretty happy to see it be done and over with. There's plenty to look back to and reflect on. I started last year with the coal mine holiday party and that nasty food that gave me the 3 day migraine headache. But, the morning after that party is when we got Lucky goat!
January of 2011 was bitter sweet, with Lucky coming into our lives, the deep financial hole we suffered in, the crappy weather(plenty of snow and cold) and plenty of good food.
February came along with more snow and cold, kittens, seed starting, Polar Bear attacking Lucky goat, more financial troubles and canning experiments.
March came in "like a lion" with more nasty weather, the arrival of Daisy calf, lots of seed sprouting, the dehydrating experiments, plenty of good food, more financial troubles and the "super moon".
April was a rough month for the farm. Polar Bear killed all of the kittens, attacked Lucky goat a few times, the cold weather, the pouring rain, the seedlings all over the kitchen, the storm blowing part of the old barn roof off, the start of the flooding and my old girl Dusty dying on me.
May started with the box of dead stevia plants that arrived from Maryland via Alaska (good job USPS!) The garden tilled but the weather not allowing it to be planted, the daughter graduating college tons of baby bunnies and that sneaky rat snake sucking eggs!
Then came June and the beginning of the really rough living. Hubsters illness, the constant breakdowns of the haying equipment, the garden planted and growing, the surprise 7" of rain that drown the potato crop and of course, more financial problems that haven't gone away but instead, gotten worse.
July rolled in on me like a mack truck. Spud arrived, more equipment breakdowns, more financial troubles that really hammered us, more hubsters illness, weeds growing like crazy in the garden, horrible heat and humidity and my stressed out-got too hot episode.
August came with lots of canning work, dehydrating, the truck wreck, the goats wiping out a large chunk of the garden, the goat-napping, Steve arrived here to learn about farming, the lightning that ruined the tree, more equipment failures, more financial troubles and more snakes!
September rolled in with me realizing inviting Steve was a huge mistake. Lucky goats silly antics with the corn stalks, more doctors appointments, more financial troubles, the pitiful peanut harvest, the truck problems, and lots of good food.
October started slow with me trying to shape Steve into something useful(didn't work out at all (he was asked to leave) finding out Steve was even more messed up and more false than originally thought, lots of good food, getting some straw sold from a craigslist ad, the goat auction, Coley sent me blackberry clipping, the huge argonaut squash, tons of veges to can up and dehydrate, the farm expo and making new friends and lots of cheese making.
November started out with a severe emotional event. My neighbor had that horrible wreck, the oven element fried, plenty of cheese making, some cold and sloppy, muddy weather and a horrible start to deer season.
December came and went almost like slow motion. The weather wasn't really nice, the mud was constant. At least the critters were all healthy. had some tooth and gum problems, some surprise financial troubles, some nice snow and lots of good food.
So, in review, the high spots of the year were the critters and the produce with the low side being equipment failures compounded by constant financial troubles, hubsters 6 month illness and inviting Steve to help around the farm. Now, let's look forward to this new year being so much better.
Yes, all of 2013 and part of 2012 are missing from the blog. You can thank Mike H for that. Almost all of those posts were about our great friendship and our partnership in farming. You all know how that turned out!