Proverbs 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Amelia's Baby!

Our little ornamental peach tree in full bloom!
Just when I think I have this farming thing down I get a curve ball. 

On Saturday morning I checked our three pregnant goats.  They all ate their breakfast well.  (Sometimes a goat won't eat if they are in labor.)  Amelia and MiniBell did not seem to be in labor at all and went out to graze... but Milky Whey seemed a bit uncomfortable.  She kept getting up and down and changing position alot.  Often a sign of labor.   Her udder was full and tight and her ligament had been very loose for a day or so already.   So, I had Carolyn go out, check on her and observe her every hour.  About the third time Carolyn went out to check, she came running in saying... Milky Whey was fine but Amelia had her baby!  We had not even been checking anyone in that pen! 

It is Amelia's first time to be a mom...
and she had one very healthy, adorable, sturdy buckling.
He looks a lot like her!

I took him away, milked out Amelia and bottle fed him the colostrum.  We will be selling this little guy as soon as I am sure he is nursing well and dehorned.

Amelia is one of my experiment crossbreed goats.  She was the daughter of one of my wonderful full sized La Mancha milkers, Twinkie, and a very good Nigerian buck.  Her udder is nice for a first freshener and her teats a good length for hand milking.  She gave about 20 ounces of colostrum and is milking about the same amount morning and night right now but her milk has not come fully in yet. 

Her full sister, Mini Bell, is due any day, as well as I guess, a very uncomfortable Milky Whey.  So... busy, spring, farm life has started back at full throttle.  I will be milking three goats twice a day once they have all freshened.  The only baby I might keep this year is a baby out of  Milky Whey, if she has a strapping large doe born to her.

I love spring on a farm.  The trees are getting buds and little green leaves.  The grass is growing.  My dad and William are supposed to mow this after noon for the first time this year.
First tulip of the year in my yard about to bloom!

First asparagus!
Garden helper and inspector.

I pray all is going well on your little patch of ground where ever you are around the world.

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sourdough Bread (from real starter)

We have ground wheat into flour and regularly baked all things yummy and tasty with it over the last many years.  But the one thing I was always afraid to make was real sour dough bread.  I thought it would be to hard to keep a culture alive, especially if I did not feel like baking.  I thought it would be to  much work and very hard to do. 

Then one day I read a study done in Europe on people with Celiacs disease.  People who have to eat gluten free as it causes an auto immune response that harms their stomach and digestive tracts so much.  This article was of interest to me as Zeke has to eat gluten free with his autism.  If he eats gluten, he becomes angry all the time and lashes out with no inhibitions to stop him, has trouble concentrating to do his school work and his tummy hurts often when he eats gluten. 

In the study, I read that many people who had Celiacs could eat REAL Sourdough Bread, made from wheat with a starter, with long fermentation times.  Because... if prepared correctly, most of the gluten is either eaten by the culture or broken down enough thru the fermentation process that it did not cause harm to those that consumed it.  This intrigued me.  As we spent a huge amount of money every month on gluten free products for Zeke to eat and most of them he ate, but they did not taste delicious to him.  So I thought on this for a long time, still reluctant to give it a try because of all the work I thought was involved.

One day a friend and I were talking and she had gotten into making real Sourdough bread from a starter.  She had been very successful keeping the starter active and alive and baking with it for many months.  Ah ha!   A real person to learn from and talk about it with.  I told her about the article I read and asked if she would sell me a part of her starter.  Thank you so very much "J" for gifting me such a precious thing!   Once I had the starter, I went ahead and gave it a go.  Some of the recipes did seem complicated but I did find a few that seemed easy for me to incorporate into our busy life. 
Actually, the recipe I use is very easy and basically I am just babysitting the dough most of the time waiting for it to reach the right size when it rises.  I only physically touch it a few times. 

In most recipes you add the starter to half the flour for the recipe at night and through the night the starter eats on that flour.  Then the other half in the morning.  Let it rise once and baked it. The first batch I made this way did make Zeke have issues and I thought this experiment was a total wash.  But I gave Zeke a month back on a total gluten free diet to get back to base line and then tried again.  My theory was that we needed most of the day to break down that gluten and not just one rise but two.  So made it again having the dough work for a longer period of time and rise twice.  Glory to God!  He had absolutely no reaction to it and I have been baking Real Sourdough bread every week since that time. 

Now, I must put a disclaimer in here telling you, if you have a medical reason for not eating gluten, ask your doctor and try this at your own risk.  But for Zeke, it has worked with out reaction for many many months and this has saved us a lot of money by making bread for him this way and not buying gluten free breads and baked goods anymore.  Actually, It is almost the only type of bread I make now, my whole family eats it!

So here is the recipe that works for us!  Now they say not to use metal in this whole process as it damages the starter.  So I have a large ceramic mixing bowl I use to make this bread and wooden or rubber utensils.  Also you will need to find a place or someone to get a starter culture for making this.  There are places online to either purchase one or a few places tell you how to grow one of your own.

Real Sourdough Bread

The night before:
4 1/2 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour (we use soft white)
3 3/4 cups warm water
1 cup real lively sourdough starter

The next morning:
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 table spoon honey
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
5 cups whole wheat flour

On the night before you wish to bake bread mix together the 4 1/2 cups flour with the 3 3/4 cups warm water with a plastic or rubber whisk. 
Then I whisk in my starter culture.
Whisking it in well to make sure it is incorporated well and wet and fluffy.  I set that aside and cover with a clean tea towel.  I actually don't measure the starter.  I just put in what I have in my jar, it is a cup or more.

The next day: the first thing I do is  TAKE A CUP OF STARTER OUT of the mixing bowl before I continue.  Yes, the whole bowl is the same thing as starter now.  So I take a cup out now before we add in any other ingredients, so I have starter to make the next weeks bread.  I don't  measure but just scoop some out (a cup guess-ta-ment) and put it in a small clean jar with an over sized lid, that I just set on top of it, so it can breathe in the fridge.  I set it in the back of the fridge till I need it the next week. (If you don't use it to bake with in one weeks time, you are supposed to feed it to keep it alive.  Just mix up a 1/2 cup wheat flour to a half cup warm water and mix in the starter.  Put it back into a new clean jar and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so and then place it back in the fridge. That's all you do to feed it!)  I have actually let mine go two weeks one time with out feeding it and it made perfect bread anyways.  So I guess it is very forgiving.

After you take out your starter and put it up you can proceed.  Mix in the salt, soda, honey and olive oil and then one cup at a time, mix in the flour. 

I use a wooden spoon for this but when I get to the last cup I have to oil my hands and kneed it in because it is so thick. 
I do this right in my mixing bowl till well in-incorporated oiling my hands as needed to keep the wettish dough from sticking to them.

I then cover my bowl again with the towel and set it aside to rise till doubled. 
This will take different amounts of time depending on how warm it is in your house and how active your culture is.  But for me it takes a few hours.

I then oil three bread pans and oil my hands. 

I divide the dough into three equal parts and kind of stretch and fold under a few times till I have a nice longish dough ball/log and place each one into a pan. 

I cover these three pans again with the towel and let them rise till they are to the top or slightly over the top of the pan.  This also takes several hours.
Preheat your oven at 425 and when your oven is hot put your loaves in for 20 minutes.  Then turn the oven down to 375 and let it bake till it sounds hollow when tapped on.  For my convection oven it is only another 20 minutes and it is done to perfection.  (so for me, in my oven the total baking time is 40 minutes all together) Some peoples ovens bake cooler than mine so have to bake it 10 minutes longer.

Once out of the oven, turn the loaves out to cool evenly on a rack and once cool, cut into slices and store. warm out of the oven with a huge slather of fresh salted butter.  YUM!
This bread does not last long around my home but I hear it keeps longer than most breads as it is a true sourdough bread.  I  also hear that as it sets out for several days it makes wonderful toast and great croutons.  But again.  It does not last that long around here.  :)

I pray all your spring plans for gardens and farms are coming along nicely!

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Beautiful Springish Day!

Today was a beautiful day.  It felt just like a perfect temperature spring day.  We had to take the day off from home schooling and go out into it.  I cleaned out many of my raised beds and started preparing them for planting.  William and Zeke helped me with two of them, we got a lot done.

I had planted two of these barrels with bunching onions late last summer and wow did they grow and get happy thru the winter.  I have been harvesting them as I need them in the kitchen and they just keep multiplying.

We had a few unusually harsh spells this winter.  Much of the things I could usually winter over outside died.  But while I was cleaning all the dead stalks out of the mint bed there were little new mint leaves emerging!  So we still have mint!

I also cleaned out all the dead ferns from the asparagus bed and found this two inch tall little guy.  ;)

I am planning on making a chick order this week.  I am still sticking with White Leghorns.  As they work the best for our large family on our tight budget.  The feed to egg ratio just can't be beat.  I always keep 2 or 3 Silkies around for hatching out eggs as well.

Our chicken area has not had a break from chickens for at least 13 years.  So we decided to get a whole new flock this go around and give away our current flock in a month or so and let that whole area have a good rest.  While it is empty, we will repair any fencing and the coop in places and clean and disinfect things really well.

In the goat area of our farm we are eagerly expecting kids soon!  I gave away my goats that were in milk last fall so have had the first break in many years in milking.  I have missed the fresh milk but on this particularly colder than normal winter, I was grateful most  mornings not to go out and sit and milk twice a day.

Milky Whey should freshen first.  She was much wider than this but as you can see in the second picture her babies have dropped down almost into position.  :)

I think the next one that will freshen is MiniBell.  She and her sister Amelia are a mid-sized goat.  A cross between a full sized LaMancha and a Nigerian Dwarf buck.  It is both Mini Bells and Amelia's  first freshening and I can't wait to milk them.  Mini Bells first new little udder is coming down and growing as her due date approaches.  No, she is not about to get sick.  I could not get her to stop following me so I could photograph her so pulled some privet down for her to eat.  I caught her with her mouth open!
 Her little udder, growing larger every day.  I am very happy with the teat length of both her and her sister.  Great size for hand milking.

Amelia is Mini Bells twin sister.  (Amelia was born with the Nigerian Dwarf ears.)  Amelia must have been bred a bit later as her tummy is not quite as big.  She would not hold still either.  Here she is battling for privet with her sister.

 Amelia's udder is just coming in now.

I really want to get Calfy bred for fall/winter milk but she has not come into heat at all.  Neither has the other goat I was wanting to breed for then, Plenty.  I might get a break from milking again next winter if I don't get one or both of them bred soon!

Here is Calfy.  Very curious about my cell phone camera.

I really love goats and think that they are wonderful creatures.  They have great personalities.  Especially when bottle raised.  They are very functional on a small farm for forage control, fertilizer, meat and milk.  Great little animals!

Pray your spring farm planning is going well!

Blessings and Happy Farming!