Retuning cheese making

From the beginning, my desire to make cheese was rooted more in a desire to find a way to preserve milk I might actually have in excess at my farm than any other thing. That is, I never set out to make true Cheddar or Ricotta. Instead, I want to make Innisfree cheese using time-tested … Continue reading Retuning cheese making

From the beginning, my desire to make cheese was rooted more in a desire to find a way to preserve milk I might actually have in excess at my farm than any other thing. That is, I never set out to make true Cheddar or Ricotta. Instead, I want to make Innisfree cheese using time-tested methods.

So far, my effort has been a mixed bag, partly because I’m not listening to what the milk is telling me. On the other hand, I have learned a lot from the mistakes I’ve made and have a much better idea of how to proceed.

For me, moving forward means going back to what started me down this path, and that means rereading Sandor Katz‘s excelled writing on the subject. His approach is fundamentally what I am trying to do, and I’m working to reapply his simplicity to what I am doing.

If you are interested, I highly recommend his book Wild Fermentation (affiliate link). It is simple, straight-forward, and an excellent primer for anyone looking to make a variety of fermented foods, including cheese.

DLH

100% whole grain

We have wanted to transition to using flour that we grind ourselves, and I just recently used the last of the King Arthur flour, so have been searching for recipes that use 100% whole grain flour. So far, we’ve been happy with the buttermilk biscuits and hamburger buns. I have recipes lined up for pita, tortillas, bread, pizza crust, and bagels – will report on those as they happen.

The thing I’ve noticed is that once the dough is mixed, it needs to rest (anywhere from 2 hours to overnight – the recipe will specify). This allows the moisture to soak into the grain, and you end up with a lighter end product. This means you need to plan a bit more, but the end product is worth it!

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Five years on: Disasters, reevaluations, and the straight and narrow

There are few things like a disaster of one’s own making to cause one to reevaluate. We’ve had more than a few disasters, big and small, since we came back to Innisfree on the Stillwater. They kind of come with … Continue reading

There are few things like a disaster of one’s own making to cause one to reevaluate.

We’ve had more than a few disasters, big and small, since we came back to Innisfree on the Stillwater. They kind of come with the territory of taking over this kind of an enterprise and learning on the fly.

While disasters can sometimes be setbacks and can also be demoralizing, we also use them as a chance to evaluate what we are doing and come up with ways to do them better, not just to correct a specific mistake but also to ensure that our approach is the best one to use.

The result is a cycle of disaster, reevaluation, and recommitment. It would be easy to give up when things go wrong, but nobody ever said what we are doing was going to be easy. Instead, we figure out how to do what we are doing better and move on.

In the end, that’s the only way to succeed at farming.

DLH

Did it myself

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This is one of our new mineral feeders for the cows. We were looking at purchasing one, but they run about $150 or more for a decent one. My reaction? There must be plans out there to build your own, and for much cheaper. And – I was right!

Don’t be afraid to ask around to see if people have stuff lying around that they want to get rid of for free or cheap – I called our local tire repair place to ask about the tires (fully expecting to pay for them), and he said come take as many as I wanted for free. He has to pay to have them hauled off, so that was money he would save. That sure beats $30 each on Craigslist – and having to drive to Ft. Loramie!

Moral of the story? If you even think there might be a way to do it yourself – there probably is. Do the research to see if you have the time, skills, tools to make it, and compare that to what it would cost to go buy the same thing. Sometimes you’ll make it yourself, and sometimes it’s more economical to go buy it (I bought my beehives, because I don’t have the woodworking skills yet to build them).

COST BREAKDOWN:

Blue barrel – $10 off Craigslist (plus driving to Englewood)

24.5″ semi tire – free (plus driving to Covington)

4 bolts/4 nuts/8 washers – about $15 (plus driving to Menard’s, buying the wrong bolts, and stopping by the hardware store in Covington on my way home from teaching)

Labor – about 1 hour for 2 feeders

A little bit of electricity to drill 4 holes in each barrel, and to cut out the 18″ hole

Instructions – YouTube

 

A breakthrough

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Yes, that is Lucy. Outside. Without a leash.

Lucy loves to be outside, preferably in an area that has no fences around it to impede her progress. With a road, river, neighbors, and coyotes, this was a problem – she would bolt through the door and be on her merry way, with us slogging after her. She would eventually come back, but it wasn’t a good situation.

After a visit to Skyview K9, we learned a few things to help calm her down, and added those to our own things that were working. And since it’s warming up out, and we are outside working, it was the best time to start the experiment.

One morning, I let her out, went about the morning chores, started doing some other work. She was tearing around the fields, and I noticed she would stop and look for me, or even come up to where I was working – just checking to see if I was still there.

We’ve been doing this almost every time we are outside and it’s been going great. She’s getting to run around, we don’t have to chase her down – winning on all sides. I keep a pocket full of little dog biscuits (yes, homemade!) as an occasional reward, as well.

She’s still hyper, but we’ve noticed a definite increase in calmness – she knows she’ll be able to go outside and run around.

Dogs can learn. Even hyper, baggage-laden ones like Lucy.

Almost ready for the bees

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Took a few hours on Saturday afternoon to get the beehives painted. I’ll be picking up the bee packages on the 30th, and everything needs to be ready to go by then! I’m going to put one more layer of paint (there are 2 on in this picture) today – there will be a need at some point to touch up or re-paint them, but I’d rather have it done before there are happy little bees living inside!

After the last coat of paint, the next step is to re-assemble the hives in their new home in the chicken yard. That may sound a little strange, but it really is a good location! There are 3 fruit trees that are less than 10 feet away, and water is close by. The chicken house is a good distance away, and very few of the hens hang around the chicken yard anyway – there are too many other good places to roam on the farm.

I’ll put the hives up on cinder blocks to keep them off the ground – damp is not good for the wood or the bees, and it will give good circulation on all sides of the hive.

Here goes with another “farm experiment” – and hoping we’ll get some good honey out of it as well!

Training the new kid

Minnie and Malachi had their first real “together time” this afternoon. It was interesting to watch Minnie “training” Malachi on how to act like a Pyr. As you can see, there’s lots of rolling around, paws waving, mouths open, but the only uncertain moment (for me) was when Malachi grabbed Minnie’s ear a little too hard, and Minnie put him on his back in about 2 seconds. She stood over him and growled – he yipped and went into the submissive pose. And it was over. I guess I’m still the pack leader – Minnie looked at me to make sure she wasn’t in trouble for her response.

As unexpected as Lucy’s arrival was, I’m glad she came – it was a good indication of how Minnie would respond to new dogs on the farm. With both Lucy and Malachi, her reaction went through stages, starting with “are you kidding me?” and moving to “ok, let’s wrestle!”

Plus, Minnie had a good teacher when she was a pup – my mom’s Golden Retriever, Buddy. He had no problem with flipping her on her back when she grabbed his ear too hard. Once she grew bigger than he was, it was a different story, but the training stuck. Now Minnie has her apprentice to train in the ways of the force.

Working with fabric

IMG_0464Thanks to my friend Diana, I now have a reason to use my treadle sewing machine for something besides mending clothes and making dog toys! She introduced me to In the Patch Designs, owned by my new friend Phyllis. If you love wool and fabric, this is the place to go in Troy OH. Phyllis hand dyes all of her wools and they are fabulous. She also has fabrics (like the ones you see here), patterns, notions…there’s a lot in this little shop.

I picked up a stack of 5×5 squares and have been playing around with making coasters – you’ll be seeing them at the farmer’s markets this year.