Search This Blog

Monday, October 15, 2012


I picked up my buck from Thorndike, where he had been housed since I got him last October.  Ike (Patina M & M Eye Candy) was out on pasture when we got there, and it took a few minutes to get him.  Charlie, my friend and goat mentor, transported him in the back of his capped truck, and Ike was very good all the way home.  In hand, he was strong and had managed to pull Charlie right over before he got out ot the truck.  At my barn, though, Charlie was ready for him and safely and quickly got him into his new stall. 

Ike was not happy.  In Thorndike, he'd shared space with four wethers; here he was by himself.  My does came in to say hello, as I opened Angel's stall so they could all touch noses. It's a wonderful thing to have a buck around before a doe is in heat!  All four does came into heat, well-synchronized within 6 days, Leah and Beatrice first, and Violet and Cassie the next day.  So much tail wagging and bleating and how-do-you-do's I haven't seen before, and oh! how they all liked Ike!

It's so early that I didn't want to breed the does yet.  As I considered, though, Violet had not settled last year.  She was open but had a pseuopregnancy.  I didn't want to breed her too late to rebreed her if necessary, so when she showed signs of heat, in she went with Ike.  He thought she was the nicest sight since he'd arrived, and covered her twice in 30 minutes. I left her there overnight. 

Next morning, out she came and Ike was devasted.  "Oh, no!  Alone again!  How could you do this to me!" 

Two days after he arrived, Shawn led him in and out for me, and the following day I was on my own. Ike and I have come to an arrangement:  he doesn't run away from me, and I lead him out to the buck pen, where the does can hang out with them if they wish.  The rest of the time he pretty much spends standing on the roof of his shelter, watching for them; or hanging out by the gate where his fellow captive, Angel, says hello from the paddock.

He's a good boy, very well mannered.  He never tries to butt me, doesn't try to pull me now that he knows I'm the Bringer Of Good Things, and is altogether a well-behaved buck, if a bit smelly.  Truth to tell, I don't mind the buck smell like I thought I would, and I even find myself considering keeping a buck here permanently, maybe with company.  Maybe two bucks so I always have alternate bloodlines for my does.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A First Foray into Soft-Ripened Cheeses

After watching a video on YouTube, i decided it was time to put away my fears and tackle Camembert cheese.  It was remarkably easy, but the final outcome is still to be seen.  That shouldn't take very long, as it ripens for only 3 to 4 weeks.

First I had to sterilize all my equipment.  I did this by putting measuring spoons, stirring spoon, modified whisk (thanks to Jim Wallace of for this tip), ladle, stainless steel measuring cup, and long bladed knife, all in my stainless steel 1 gallon cooking pot, covering as well as possible with the lid, and steaming everything for 5 minutes.

Goat milk generally takes lower temperatures than cow milk, so next I heated 1 gallon of raw goat milk to  86° F.   Once it was there, I sprinkled 1/4 tsp of Flora Danica, 1/8 tsp of Penicillium candidum, and a tiny pinch of Geotricum candidum over the surface of the milk, let it set for a couple of minutes, then stirred it in well, covered it, and l let it set for 90 minutes.

I generally use DVI cultures from The Dairy Connection, but I've also purchased cheesemaking supplies from New England Cheesemaking Supply, TheCheesemaker, and Glengarry,, and there are many more places to find what you need, so shop around for the best prices (including shipping) and order what you need all at once.

After it had ripened, I diluted 6 drops of double strength vegetable rennet in 1/4 cup cool water, and stirred it thoroughly into the milk.  I let it set until I had a "clean break" at about 60 minutes.

Now it was time to cut the curd.  I did this with my long knife for the vertical cuts, and then switching to the wire whisk for the horizontal cuts, making 1/2 inch - 1 inch curds.

 Here's where Camembert  is so much easier than other cheeses I've made!  No stirring, no heating!  Just let the curds settle for about 10 minutes, remove the whey until it barely covers the curds, and ladle the curds into prepared molds.  I had bought one brie/camembert mold, but needed two, so I got a piece of 4-inch inside diameter PVC pipe, drilled some 1/8-inch drainage holes in it, cleaned it up well, and voilĂ ! another mold!

The curds should be ladled slowly and allowed to drain.  I alternated between the two molds and had just enough to fill them both.  I set mine on bamboo sushi mats, set atop of shallow pans to catch the whey as it drained.

The curds drained quickly.  After an hour, put another mat on top, pick up the mold, and quickly but gently flip it. This was easier than I anticipated.  The curds quickly fell to the bottom to continue draining.  The cheese is flipped 5 times, with an hour in between.

Here they are, both of my cheeses, as I lifted off the molds after the last flip.  They hold their shape nicely and are ready to be salted lightly on all sides.

And here's one salted wheel just before I put it into a cool, humid room to form a rind.  The cheese needs to be turned every day and kept at the correct temperature (45°F) and humidity (90%) to ripen the interior.  Since I have a primitive setup at best, it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

My cheese "cave", for the present, is a styrofoam container with holes in the top and a wide bowl with water in it to keep the humidity high enough.  Time will tell if it develops properly.

Monday, October 1, 2012


After watching Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, I got inspired.  I've never felt so good as when I was eating mostly raw foods, and somehow I've gotten away from that in the past year or two.  So, I borrowed my friend Doreen's Samson Juicer, and did a 10 day juice fast.  I dropped 6 pounds in 10 days, but that was a side benefit.  The real purpose was to detoxify my body and reset my eating habits.  A week after the fast ended,  I was still juicing daily--and sometimes more often than that--and I felt better, though still rather low on energy.

A couple of weeks later, toward the end of July, my new Jay Kordich Powergrind Pro Juicer arrived, and I returned the Samson.  The PGP Juicer is quite a different animal from the Samson.  The juice is clearer and sweeter, and I get more from the vegetables that I juice, but the Samson is clearly superior when it comes to juicing greens.  The Samson is also easier to put the vegetables through, but there's added time spent cutting everything up into much smaller pieces.

Powergrind Pro Juicer
Each juicer has its pros and cons, and the PGP is no different.  It defiitely took a while to adapt to it. It took a week or so for me to figure out how best to feed the hopper so nothing jammed.  Since the PGP centrifuge rotates at only a fraction of what other brands do, it's a bit fussier..  On the other hand, because it rotates more slowly, and grinds,too, there is little heat generation, preserving the nutrients from the vegetables.

So far, I've made juice at least 5 days out of 7, and don't really think much about what combinations to use, since they all turn out delicious.  Today I made a cucumber, carrot, and apple juice.  Tomorrow I need to use up some of the celery and greens in my garden.  Maybe I'll throw a tomato or two in there just for good measure.  Or a piece of lemon--that goes very well with greens.

Buying a juicer and juicing daily is probably one of the best decisions I've made for my health.  It's easy to do, fills me up, and my energy is way up there.  Most days I have a blender drink (smoothie) for breakfast, juice throughout the day, and one regular meal.  Since I seem to be on the go most of the time, it's nice to know i'm still getting good nutrition into my body, even though I'm not sitting down for regular meals.