Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Traditions

Friday was such a delightful day as we hurried to decorate the kitchen, make soup, and set some bread dough to raising. The grand daughters with their parents were arriving around noon to have lunch and carve pumpkins from our garden.

Pronghorn Antelope fawn

As we hustled about in the kitchen, we watched a group of antelope in the yard eating the grass under the snow and the willow branches that had fallen in the wind storm. No matter that we see antelope every day, it still is a special thrill when they are up close. This bunch was at times twelve feet from us when we peered out the garage door to take pictures.

Our grand daughters have never carved pumpkins and so my husband and I thought it was high time to rectify that. The oldest grand daughter, who's four, took part in every phase from the drawing to the carving. The youngest, who's nine months, dug inside the pumpkins to pull out the stringy pulp and seeds with her chubby little fists. The rest of the time she spent peering inside as her mother scraped with a serving spoon. But the middle grand daughter, who's three, wasn't impressed with the feel of the pumpkin on her hands and soon abandoned the cleaning project for a cute baby doll and blanket.

This made it pretty hard to get pictures of her with her pumpkin until we were done carving. Unfortunately, the only shot was this one and you know what her mother was saying. The same thing every mother repeatedly says to children at this age.

There father was excited about the prospect of making pumpkin pies after they used them for Halloween when I told him of our family tradition. Every year with our young children we carved pumpkins on the day before Halloween and then put them out on the porch on Halloween night with a candle inside. Then as we turned the porch light out after the trick or treaters had gone, we hauled in the pumpkins. The next day we cut them up, cooking them in the oven, and pureed them for pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie bars. I made up the bars by using a favorite bar recipe bottom, cooking it part way in a cake pan, and then poured my pumpkin pie filling mixture over the top. When baked I cut the creation into bars. It freezes well and goes great in lunch boxes adding a warm homey taste of fall.

Have a Happy Halloween!!!

I loved the paintings of Halloween on Check it out, she is a very talented artist.

(My daughter has requested that I not use facial shots of her children in my blogs or I'd show you some real cuties.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goat Butter Cookies

Goat butter on bread was fine but for reasons unknown to me, I was uneasy baking with goat butter. Silly, I agree but today I was determined to change that. I hoped. That is if all went well. Butter cookies might not be the best choice but I figured it was sink or swim. That's what I felt in my bravado mood.

Then I began to question my decision as the dough is traditionally shaped into a log and a well is formed lengthwise down the center into which jam is placed. After the logs cook, you slice them crosswise while they are warm. The dough has a tendency to spread out a little and since goat butter has a lower melting point I began to wonder if the logs made of goat butter would be too flat and spread out? I could turn the oven down I reasoned but then I wouldn't know what happens at 350 Fahrenheit so I decided, if need be, I'd turn the temperature down on the second batch of cookies.

Then I thought of my mini muffin tin. The cookies couldn't spread out and the muffin tin would make cute thumbprint cookies. Since I needed to go do livestock chores, I reasoned that placing the dough in the refrigerator while took care of the stock would also help keep the cookies from spreading. A tip I read about in the Cook's magazine. I just can't remember why they said it works.

The results were wonderful and my butter cookies may never been in a log shape again nor made with the store's cow butter. I'll give you my recipe in case you'd like to give them a try and after that I'll tell you the new conclusions I've made about making butter with the blender. It's all because of Linda's comments at the bottom of the butter blog.

Butter Cookies
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup goat butter
1 egg- large (not pullet, though lots of us have an abundance of those right now. Sorry you'll need to go pester one of the older hens for an egg.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Cream the above together then add.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix and put in the refrigerator for an hour or two. About the time it takes to do livestock chores if your not cleaning sheds etc.

Then decide whether you want to form two logs or thumbprint cookies. I made my thumbprint cookies by rolling small pieces of dough into balls and pressing down on them forming a thumbprint. Inside this impression I put home-made blackberry jam. You can use raspberry, strawberry, or whatever kind is your favorite.

Bake at 350 Fahrenheit until done or 15 to twenty minutes for the logs. Don't over cook. The cookies dough should just be showing a blush of brown around the edges. Mine in the photo were slightly over cooked. The longer they cook the dryer they are.

The butter for the cookies wasn't pasteurized and since chatting on the blog with Linda I decided to try and make butter in the blender. The first two batches of a quart at a time of cream went to the butter stage without a problem. The third quart I put in must have been thicker because it went to the whip cream stage and just sat there. Turning up the blender speed did not move it and tapping the bottom of the blender pitcher on the counter to reposition the whip cream did no good, so it ended up in the butter churn.

Also, today while the cookies baked I separated more cream with the electric separator. This time I wanted to know how big a deal it was putting the cream through the separator again after I had removed it from the milk. I have to say if I was just going to make butter I wouldn't put the cream I got from the first separation through the separator again. I had an inch and a quarter less cream in my large bowl after the second separation. The less heavy cream would probably do better in the blender when making butter.

But I have noticed that my whip cream doesn't separate out in the refrigerator into whip cream and a liquid in the bottom of the container when stored for a couple days. It remains as if I just whipped it. So for whip cream, I'm going ahead with the second separation.

What's your opinion?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blue Monday On Tuesday

There won't be much of a blog today since I'm having a blue day, normally what I have on Monday but Monday I had to go to town and so I had to postpone my blue Monday to Tuesday. Not making any sense? Well, I don't understand myself either but I do know that after the stress of Sundays where I have several responsibilities at church, it will be followed by a blue Monday. It's the sensory overload of just being around a crowd of people hence, lots of movement, sounds, and colors. My hypersensitive system goes into overload and begins to break down. You couple all this with the fact that I'm consciously overriding my autistic behavior with purposefully normal mannerisms and I'm exhausted physically and mentally on Mondays. Or rather today which is Tuesday, since I had to make a brief eighty mile trip to the next town on Monday.

That's why I usually blog on Tuesdays because Monday is my detox day. A down day where I'm depressed and don't accomplish very much. Sometimes, nothing. But on these quiet days where I do a little house work, sew or spin, read and just allow the stillness to calm my frayed nerves, then my soul is renewed so I can once again function for a short while in society. Without my down time, I begin to dislike everything and everyone. Intellectually, I know my mind is lying to me and it is just the rantings of an over wrought brain. None the less, these thoughts are still damaging. I don't speak when these thought pervade my mind for fear of saying something mean and I crave - and often do - curl up in a ball in the corner hiding from the pain the world unknowingly inflicts upon me.

Few people believe that I'm Autistic since I'm good at playing normal. My family knows otherwise. Though they don't ever see all I am for I hide as much as I can, even from them. After all, I figure they shouldn't have to suffer because of my autism - but they do. For there are days I can't make phone calls, and on a good day, I can handle only making a few. Some days I can't go out into public and sometimes I don't get things done because I'm too busy recovering from a sensory overload. Yet they love me despite my quirks and they tolerate the times I can't control my repetitive speaking or my fixations. Unlike most autistic people, my fixations keep changing. One week, it's what makes goat milk wonderful and the next it's what are the boy and girl part of a flower. Kirk personally prefers when I become fixation on food. Like the time I was determined to find four outstanding very different tasting cheese cake recipes.

I think that's why I love blogging. It gives a focus to my need for knowledge and motivates me to do things so I can blog about them. That helps stave off the depression as my attention is diverted. It also allows me to meet you. Your walks of life fascinate me. You lead lives I can not and it's fun to peek into your world and see what it is like. You also feed my need for knowledge. I really do love people and when I can meet one or two in a calm environment like around the livestock, it is a real treat to visit. So when you comment on my blogs, I love it. It gives me an opportunity to converse with you in a relaxed atmosphere.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


A friend gave me a few pumpkin plants in May that she had started indoors. I put them in the garden and when they grew large, I became excited about having a Halloween party with the grand daughters. One where they could pick their own pumpkin from Grandma's garden patch and carve them with Grandpa on the kitchen floor. The scene would be something right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Then Wyoming turned cold early and snow fell, and fell, and fell again, and all the garden produce was forced indoors.

Last weekend when the grand daughters came for a visit, the two oldest had to choose their pumpkin from a pile on the laundry room floor.

As I watched them intently studying the pumpkins, I remembered why I quit raising them after our children grew up. I've no root cellar. How I'd love one. Our small garage won't even do, for the eighteen below or lower temperatures penetrate its walls and freeze whatever is inside. The only place else for pumpkins, squash, and potatoes is the basement floor. We've a coal and wood stove in the basement and the warm temperature does not allow us to store produce for very long.

Do to this limited space and the warm surrounding, I've been making for years buttercup squash pies. I like pumpkins but I love buttercup squash. It is more flexible too. You can make it into soup, breads, pies, and eat it baked
in the oven with brown sugar and butter. My love of this sweet rich squash surpasses the pain of tip toeing around it for several months.

When I was raising pumpkins, I didn't have a front loading washing machine. Now every time I want to do laundry, I have to move two pumpkins to open and shut the door. What a hassle!

It was snowing outside on Tuesday and I needed to do laundry. No way was I going to move those pumpkins again and again. Instead I decided to can them even though they were a little lighter orange than I'd like.

After washing the outsides, I placed them on a cutting board slicing them in half. Then scooped out the pulp for the chickens and put the seeds in a colander.

The pumpkin halves went in the oven on a lipped industrial cooking sheet that has a small amount of water in the bottom with the oven set to 350 Fahrenheit.

In the sink, I ran water over the seeds in the colander while my hands worked through them in a rapid milking motion to dislodge the pumpkin membranes that stuck to them. A couple minutes later they sat on the stove in a pot of water with a generous helping of sea salt. I'd like to tell you the exact amounts of seeds, to water, to the sea salt but I've no idea since I've never- ever measured. Not even long ago. Take from that, that it isn't rocket science and come up with your own formula. Try a little batch at a time if your worried about the results.

All I can tell you is that I boiled them a few minutes, how many I've no idea, and then drain them in the colander. Then place them onto a cookie sheet and set them aside while the pumpkins finished cooking. The pumpkins are done when you can press down on the tops of them and they give easily. The seeds I baked at 250 Fahrenheit and cooked them until they had light brown spots on them.

The lighting on top the stove gave them this lovely pumpkin color.

While the pumpkin seeds roasted, I scooped the pulp out of the pumpkin shells and packed it into pint sized jars to pressure can at 12 pounds pressure, because of our altitude (over 5000 feet), for fifty minutes. The pumpkin pulp is very moist.

My canning book said to cut the pumpkin up into cubes, boil them, place them in the jars, and pour boiling water over them before pressure canning. No way!! I'm not loosing all that pumpkin flavor into the water. So, I came up with a way to can pumpkin minus all that watering down. That is what I've shared with you. I curious though, how do you can your pumpkin?

I've always just done the plain salted pumpkin seeds. It would be fun to branch out and experiment with maybe a Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper spiced pumpkin seeds. Do any of you have some great recipes or advice? I've plenty more pumpkins to experiment with.

This is in answer to Linda's question on the Creamy Butter blog.

Linda, I separated some milk again today. Wow, two times in a week. Just a gallon this time and I had a generous three-quarters of a quart of heavy cream. The kind where I've put the milk through once and the cream from that through once again. I hope this answers your question.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the Antelope Play

A buck keeping his does closely gathered.
This is the time of year when the Pronghorn Antelope bucks gather does into a sort of harem since it is breeding season. It isn't an easy task as they chase around like a cowboy on horseback gathering cows in a pasture. Invariably when a cowboy moves off to bring a new cow into the herd, a few ornery ones already gathered will see this as an opportunity to sneak off. The same thing happens with a buck's does, only they do it any time the buck's back is turned whether he is off gathering a new doe or not. It ends up being lots of quick ducking and diving across the prairie at high speeds for a Pronghorn Antelope can run up to 60 mph and turn really quick. Don't believe the statistics of 53 mph because I've clocked several going 60 just on the other side of the fence while I was driving down the road. And it isn't an easy task for a doe to nonchalantly slip away. The buck is expecting it and he has a 300 to 320 degree field of vision. Plus, the ability to see as if they were looking through a 8 power set of binoculars.
These pictures are taken right behind our house.
But it isn't every buck that joins in on breeding season for the older bucks aren't willing to share and it's a competition t
o see how many does they can acquire and retain. The does aren't too impressed by the younger bucks. And their lack of skills ends them up in a 'out of luck' herd where the inexperienced gather and I would imagine console one another. The kicker is these are the same older bucks that the younger bucks were in a herd with in the springtime while the does banded together in preparation to give birth.
Note the fawn between the buck and doe.
This fierce competition means that another buck's does are fair game, if they can cut them from the herd and run off with them. The older more experienced and aggressive bucks gaining the most does. It can be quite entertaining to sit and watch the antics. This shenanigans is exhausting for the animals and they can't run off too many calories before winter, so after a while everyone calms down and the does stay with their bucks.

I wonder if it is the same one that was in our yard when I walked home from doing chores. I'd had the back fence down and the fawn wondered in. I didn't notice it until I'd come around the corner of the forging shed and it was under the clothes line. It was too late for me to undo the fence before it made a dash to escape the yard.

After running back an forth and trying to find a way to go under the gate, which is the natural instinct of an antelope, it widened the gap between the gate and the post and slipped through. Notice the big puff of white hair on its rump. That is an alarm as the hairs stick up when they are scared. The bucks in particular, snort with a loud exhale of air as you get near them and it is a warning for the animals in the herd. If you don't heed the noise and move away from them, they will run off.

This little one was born late but within a few hours of birth it was dry and ready to run. A Pronghorn Antelopes gestation is 250 days, long in comparison to their 110 to 130 pound size. Elk are 240 to 260 days and weigh in at 500 to 700 pounds. That tells you how developed these little ones are when they're born on the wide open prairie, where their big eyes keep the coyotes in sight and their long legs keep them at a distance. We have more Pronghorn Antelope in our county than anywhere in the world.

P.S. Linda, I'll let you know the answer to your question later today. I separated yesterday but I discovered the milk pitcher measure and the quart jar weren't anywhere near the same. I had to finish canning some pumpkins and get supper for my hubby. The pitcher is full of milk ready for the corrals this morning and I'll empty it and figure out approximately how much milk makes how much cream. That is after I babysit my grand daughters at their house for the day then I'll let you know.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Creamy Goat Butter

Fresh Goat butter

Making butter from cow's cream is a fairly easy task but making goat butter adds a few new twists to the process. So, I thought you might like to see how I make mine and while I'm showing you, I throw in a few interesting facts along the way.

"I'm waiting! Milk me and quit taking pictures." Leta let me know as I waited and waited for just the right shot as she stood in the milking stanchion. Note her lovely beard, very characteristic of a Saanen doe.

The picture of Leta begins our story of butter making for of course you need milk and in our case it comes from our goats: Leta, Pudge, and Chicory.

This pail of milk is courtesy of Pudge and even though I've been careful, a speck of hay has fallen into the bucket and a stray white goat hair or two may be hiding in the froth. That's why the next stage is straining the milk. I use a commercial pad that is designed to fit inside my goat milk strainer. If the thought of foreign matter is upsetting to you, don't worry, goat's milk is extremely high in antibacterials for the first hour after milking. Long before the hour is up, those strays are no longer in my milk. I figure those antibacterials have to be pretty good for my digestive system. That's why I try to drink a glass of fresh warm goat's milk every couple days.

On the left a cow milk filter and on the right a goat milk filter.

The large milk strainer on the left is to accommodate the average 6 gallons of milk a day that the average cow produces. Where as the average Nubian goat produces 3 quarts of milk a day and so the goat milk strainer on the right is much smaller. This is why we have Saanens who produce on average a gallon to two gallons a day. Ours give a gallon and a half to two gallons a day at the peak of their production cycle. Chicory, the Nubian, is a year old and therefore has not established a milk production pattern but was purchased because Nubians give more cream than Saanens.

Lest you cow milkers race ahead of me, I need to warn you that making goat butter is a bit different than making cow butter, partially because goat's milk is naturally homogenized. Which means, with your goat's milk there won't be but a light skimming of cream that will rise to the top of your jug, unlike the inch or two of cream that sits on top of cow's milk. The reason is goat's milk has smaller protein molecules and fat molecules making it far more easier to digest but alas a more challenge to make butter with.

My table top milk separator. The cream comes out the top spout and the milk the bottom one.

But now some of you are wondering how do I make butter with only a light skimming of cream that rises to the top of the milk jug? Well, a milk separator if you want a serious amount of cream. I had a huge antique hand crank separator when all the kids were home but I've not the stamina nor desire anymore to crank and crank to rev the machine up to speed and keep it there. Nor, do I want to clean the fifty some parts that went with it. So I purchase a electric counter top sized one this last spring. I can tell you about how to get more cream to rise to the top to collect but it doesn't come anywhere close to what you get with a separator.

Before I place the milk in the separator, it has to be warm, about 98 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time I get the milk to the house, the milk has already cooled down below this temperature. It is a mile and a half walking distance to the corrals and back. More if we drive. I figure since the milk is already too cool to use the separator, I might as well put it through the strainer and keep it in the fridge. I prefer to collect a couple milkings worth before I use the separator and have to clean it. This means first heating the milk in a large pot on the stove but I'd have to do that anyway.

I'd like to say I do this every couple of days but I don't, even though we have more than enough milk, especially this time of year, since the bump calf is weaned. The bottom line is my health at this time does not allow me enough energy. So I'd rather feed the excess milk to the pigs and chickens. Then make butter and cheese when I can push past my lack of energy. Once a week is about as often as I separate. I don't make butter quite that often, though I probably will as soon as a few more of our fall chores are done. Too much to do with too little time. Doing things this way gives me about 1- 3/4 quart of heavy cream a week.

As a tip to first time butter makers. Goats produce more cream as their freshening progresses. Since our girls kidded in April they are producing quite a bit of cream now. And in hopes that my doctor will someday in the near future figure out my rare health issues, we purchased a Nubian because of the higher cream content in their milk.

I prefer extra heavy cream. To get this I separate the milk. Then the cream that comes from this first separation, I put through the machine one more time. The skim milk isn't very skimmed then and definitely does not look like the stores blue tinted, watery stuff. But non the less, I feed it back to the pigs and chickens giving them a boost of calcium hence, more nutritious meat and eggs for us. Milking only once a day now cuts down on milk production to where I can manage it and lessons the strain on my two old goat's bodies. I'd like them to last as long as possible.

This heavy cream, I usually pasteurize. Yes, I said the dirty word but according to authorities they recommend if you keep your butter more than two or three days, that you pasteurize your cream for safety. Well, actually that probably isn't the real reason I do it. Its that long wait it has to make in the fridge, usually a week, while I decide whether it will be used for whip cream, Alfredo sauce, cream biscuits, or butter. Butter is what happens if it isn't used for other things.

My next process in making butter is to take the chilled cream from the fridge. It needs to be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (where as with cow's it' 60.) Experience has taught if it isn't cold enough, it doesn't make butter even when it has started to clump. If the cream becomes too warm, it unclumps and become all liquid once more. I've never had cow's cream be quite so fussy. But their are health benefits to goat's milk that makes it worth it. We'll talk about those in another blog.

My butter churn ready to crank.

I have a hand crank butter churn but there again my laziness or maybe it's my screaming tennis elbows that dictates that I first put the heavy cream, not more than a quart at a time, into my Kitchen aid blender and push the mix button. The second you hear the motor start to bog down slightly, turn it off. The butter becomes pretty expensive if you have to buy a new blender. By now, the heavy cream is whip cream. This I place into the butter churn while I finish up the rest of the cream in the blender. Then with the two batches in the butter churn, I begin to crank rapidly.

Whip cream from the blender into the butter churn.

I've used the butter churn exclusively without the blender, only a few times and learned I had to keep some ice cubes on hand. Because unless you can crank faster than myself, butter may not happen since the cream rapidly warms up. To get around this, I placed my butter churn inside a pot of ice cubes floating in water after I'd churned a little while. I've read that you can get the cream too cold and that impedes progress also but that hasn't happened to me. If you don't have a butter churn you can do small batches by shaking a jar half full of cream. I've done that a few times also and prefer the churn since it does two quarts at a time.

You will have arrived at your destination when the cream becomes grainy, thick, and sticks to the sides of your butter churn. The butter churn will also be much harder to crank and I'm not referring to the fact that I may have grown tired. The dasher in the butter churn will also by now be make a different sound than before. The results won't be yellow like cow's butter because goat's are more efficient at converting carotene to vitamin A.

This grainy mixture is then dumped into a strainer and I let it drain into a the milk pail so I can use the buttermilk to make bread or feed back to the chickens or pigs. Don't confuse this buttermilk with the stores as it is not cultured. You can of course do so if you wish and that's a project I'm going to try sometime.

My instructions say to pour off the buttermilk from the butter churn and pour in water the same temperature as the butter so it doesn't melt and keep cranking. Repeating this procedure a couple more times. But if you've read my blog for a while, you know how well I follow directions. I did try it and didn't like doing it this way so I improvised. My way is to gently paddle the butter for a couple minutes in the strainer and then remove my milk pail and pour cold water over the grainy butter. This thoroughly rinses out the buttermilk that can cause souring. Then after turning the water off, I continue paddling to remove the water from the butter. I've never removed every drop but I do my best and this is an area I wouldn't mind having some tips on. They say a butter paddle does wonders. I need to buy one.

The half pints are butter and the quart is buttermilk.

And then I place the butter in these handy 1/2 pint wide mouth canning jars and put it in the fridge or into the freezer for future use. You never know with me.

My conscious tells me that I had better tell you that the instructions, I kind of follow, say to use up your unpasteurized butter within a few days. That is another reason why mine isn't unpasteurized. I need more flexibility. I must confess, I've yet to bake with my butter. After all, I started consistantly making butter in the summer and maybe you bake a lot then but I don't, so that little experiment is coming up hopefully this week. I love blogging. It is a real motivator to get things done so I can blog about them.

Also for those of you that want to try souring your cream before making butter by setting it on the counter overnight, the instructions say to use unpasteurized cream because it has some protective chemical in it that impedes unwanted bacteria where as pastuerized I guess welcomes them. I've never done this because remember, my cream usually sits in the fridge while I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do with it. I figure that's kind of aging it, isn't it?

Can you make butter without a cream separator? Yes, but you won't be making very much. A Mother Earth News blog said that it took five days and they had maybe a pint to shake in a jar to make butter. It didn't say how much milk that took. If you leave your cream uncovered in a wide dish in the refridgerator, more cream will rise to the top. Be careful not to have foods in the fridge with strong odors or the milk will absorb them. I've done this a number of times so I could have a little cream for whip cream. But, if your really serious about butter, you'll have to at least buy a separator, if not a butter churn also.

I'd love to hear about your butter making experiences.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hay Isn't Just For Horses

Most everyone knows that hay is for horses.

Bess here is extremely picky about hers.

And of course most people know that hay is for cows and Tinker Bell here bellows loud and clear if you are not fast enough to bring hers.

While Tinker Bell is hurrying you along, Chicory is bleating in a most irritating tone but after all she is a Nubian and they have many opinions, most all of them a complaint.

But did you know that hay is also for pigs? You heard me, pigs. Yes, we have been feeding our feeder pigs hay for years. As you can see they love it. Sophie and Ellie Mae here have scarfed up all the weeds that grew in their pen and now munch on luscious hay. It isn't their only food source for we frequently hear the clank of the metal lid on their self-feeder as they chow down on the grain inside. And today, they're smacking there way through damaged apples from our trees. But first they had a warm drink of fresh goat's milk.

You could say we feed them a smorgasbord diet. It keeps them happy and well nourished. I figure a variety is best and so when the garden was going strong, they were given produced from it and then as I tucked it away, scraps from my canning. So you can see they eat what's in season. During the winter, I'll get around to cleaning the freezers and give them all the older vegetables. But right now, they are eating hay that was just baled and they are given all they'll eat which is about a couple inches from a small square bale each day.

No it isn't meant to be a filler. High quality alfalfa is an excellent feed though not meant to be fed exclusively but in combination with grains. Our hay is a blend of third cutting alfalfa and orchard grass. The alfalfa hay aids the digestion system and this causes our pigs to eat more grain. Hence, gain weight more quickly. This is a US Agricultural fact proven by a number of experiments. I did read a US Agriculture Department experiment with Sweet Clover hay and it said that the hogs ate more of it than the alfalfa hay and so they ate less grain. This equated to a lower weight gain than those fed on alfalfa and grain but was still a good deal. This feed program isn't just for feeder pigs but has shown excellent results with sows farrowing a healthy litter.

My hay feeding doesn't just stop with the beef, horse, goats, and pigs but continues on into the chicken coop. Hens need a high protein diet also and alfalfa hay supplies part of that need. It also helps lower the bad cholesterol levels in your eggs. And sometimes even more importantly, it keeps the girls occupied scratching it apart to pick through for food. You know how cantankerous the hens can get when they are cooped up and bored. They form these high society groups that exclude others to the point of picking on them, sometimes to death. So I bring scraps to them from the kitchen scattering them about and throw in a flake of hay now and then.

The only thing I don't feed hay to is the mouse patrol- the barn cats. They enjoy the hay stack for its comfort and warmth but prefer a nice bowl of goat's milk.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Canned Milk

As promised, this is the canning instructions from the Dairy Goat Journal magazine that I use to subscribed to. How many years ago that was I don't remember but the paper stuck in the notebook is yellowed and brittle. That should give you a clue.

Mary Jane Toth was the author and her column was about cooking with goat milk.

I make no claims as to the safety of the following methods for I have no knowledge of the science of canning and I'm just passing along what I collected. I do know that I've used the pressure canned milk for probably twenty years but always in cooking. That would add a safety level. Because I pressure can milk every year, I've long since quit looking at the instructions and had forgotten that the paper included a water bath method.

The instructions are typed as they were written in the magazine.

By Mary Jane Toth
Pressure Canning Milk
Fill the clean jars with strained milk, leaving an inch space for expansion. Put on the lids and rings and tighten down gently. Place jars in pressure canner. Add water to a depth of 2-3 inches, put on pressure canner lid and tighten down. Heat until the pressure is at 15 pounds. adjust heat to keep it as close to 15 pounds as possible. Keep at this pressure for 10 minutes. It is important that the timing bit begin until the pressure has reached 15 pounds. after 10 minutes is up, turn off the heat, allow the pressure to go down before opening the canner. Carefully remove the hot jars of milk and set the jars on a towel or cloth. Allow to cool undisturbed for 24 hours before moving them to storage.

Hot Water Bath Canning (milk)
This is my preferred method of canning. Fill the clean jars with strained milk, leaving 1/2 in ch space. Put on the lids and rings, tighten gently. Place jars into a large kettle or canning kettle. Fill with hot water from the tap up to the necks of the jars. Cover and bring to a boil. Start timing as soon as the water begins to boil. Boil gently for one hour. After time is up carefully remove the hot jars of milk from the canner, set on a towel or cloth and allow to cool undisturbed for 24 hours before moving.

To those of you that wondered about my silence after your comments. Well, for two months my blogging site would not let me. I have to wonder? Did Bard's foot hitting the button on the computer's tower two different times while I was typing a new blog fix the problem? For it was right after that that I could once again comment.

Answered Prayers


I could have done without the adrenaline rush on Saturday and the last couple of days of stress that ensued because of the wreck. For I'm hardly a thrill seeker since I have a limited store of adrenaline and take medication to make up for my inadequate supply. Yet even if you aren't short of the hormone like myself, an emergency that sets your heart racing and your mind scrambling for a solution to keep death abroad, probably isn't something you seek.

So when I slowly drove past our friend's pens after doing our own livestock chores, I wasn't expecting anything but horses placidly chewing on a round bale of hay. I'd been asked to glance over as I passed to see if all was well. The owners were gone to South Dakota to a funeral. That's when I noticed Cricket, a black filly, that wasn't theirs but was being house in their pen. She was laying on her spine, her right pastern hung up, pinned at the top of the fence and wedged between two pipe fence panels. Her eyes were starting to roll back in her head and I knew I didn't have much time before she'd die. Horses can't remain on their backs for long because they need to stand often in order to place pressure on their hooves forcing the frog inside to pump blood back up through their legs.

With a hefty blow from both hands, I hit her hoof upward but it was stuck fast and I knew I was going to have to move the fence panels up and angle them differently while at the same time removing her hoof. I prayed fervently, "Lord, I need some help and fast. I can't do this alone.", and just as I completed my prayer, a burgundy colored suburban came into view. I waved for help like a panicked maniac, no clue who was behind those tinted windows. A gentlemen stepped out and headed toward me. Surveying his size, I thanked the Lord once more for sending me someone who could obviously help with the heavy work ahead of us.

(The spot in the metal panel where Crickets leg was caught.)

I ran for the tack shed as he approached to grab a pitch fork and shovel. Meanwhile, he tried to move the hoof upwards while I was hauling the tools back - but it didn't budge. I handed him the shovel and we worked our way underneath the fence and began to pry it loose. The manure packed up against the metal panels was frozen to the ground. Once the fence was loosened, we torqued it at the joint to try and find more room but it just pinched her pastern tighter. So my male assistant asked for a bar in case we had to bend the fence and I ran once more for the tack shed. Upon my return, I suggested we tilt the fence more horizontally and see if that wouldn't work. It did and the filly was freed.

(Her pastern was caught just above the top pin that connects the fence together and it was resting sideways.

But laid up against the fence like Cricket was, she couldn't get her feet under her to stand and we needed to restore circulation in her legs fast. Leaning with my back then progressing down to holding the fence up with my foot, my assistant grabbed a back leg and I a front and slowly, lest we twist a gut from rotating her too quickly, we rolled her over. She remained dazed and didn't fight our efforts. I was grateful for that but it also meant she had been in the fence a long time and we were running out of time to save her.

We pushed her on to her chest and waited a couple minutes to see if she would rise on her own. She didn't. So we once more got under her the best we could and heaved upwards encouraging her to stand. After a few attempts Cricket was on her four legs weaving unsteadily. When she walked off swaying slightly, I thought the hard part was over and I thanked the gentlemen profusely for coming to my rescue. He said he was just driving by so that his kids could look at the animals. I knew it wasn't a coincidence that he had come at just that moment when I needed him so desperately.

He left and I hadn't even had the presence of mind to find out his name. Probably because I wouldn't of remembered it. I'm terrible with names at the best of times and my mind was focused in on the two year old filly. Walking off to go get a halter to put on Cricket so I could assess her injuries and pour whatever kind of antibacterial I could find in the tack shed on the wound, I noticed from her pastern a steady stream of blood shooting out four inches before falling to the ground. It hadn't been there a few moments before. The restoration of circulation to her legs had set it off.

I realized the first panic was only a warm up and now I was terror stricken when I realized she'd severed an artery. How I wished I hadn't released my rescuer so soon.

I grabbed a halter to restrain her and while I bent down, I cooed reassuringly, "It's okay girl. Hold still. You've got to help me. Whoa... girl." and I probed into the wound with my fingers to find the bleeder and pinch off the flow of blood. Slipping my hand that held the lead rope into my pants pocket, I flipped open my cell phone, the one I'd felt prompted to bring that day to chores, and dialed our home phone. With the phone pressed against my coat collar and ear, I gave instructions to my husband while I tried to keep Cricket from walking off and my fingers clamping down on the artery.

Kirk walked around the house collecting items as I named them off, "The Betadine is in the bathroom closet. The vet wrap in the livestock Rubbermaid containers in the basement."

"What do you want to stuff in the wound?" Kirk asked and another rush of adrenaline surged through me as I couldn't think where the gauze pads were and doubted there was enough.

Then inspiration illuminated my thoughts and I told Kirk,"Grab the roll of paper towels."

Continuing to send prayers heavenward, I pleaded, "Lord, help me to save this horse for Travis. He loves her so much."

And the sweet little filly remained calm, though occasionally, she grew restless took a step away and my fingers slipped from the wound. I wanted to hold her leg up and better control it but she was too unsteady on all four feet. I couldn't ask her to try to stand on three. So I just continued to sweet talk her and press on the artery the best I could.

(Monday's wrap where we used up left over rolls of vet wrap. The turquoise area is the pastern.) (This picture was taken on Tuesday. Most of the swelling is gone.)

When Kirk arrived, he became my assistant handing me the supplies as I asked for them. I packed the wound with paper towels and wound vet wrap tightly around the cut to form a pressure bandage. To our relief, the green vet wrap did not turn crimson and it appeared we had stopped the flow of blood.

As Kirk held her halter, I jumped in the car and headed for Travis's house. I don't know his cell phone number and they don't have a land line. His wife was home but the situation was beyond her and Travis was on a trip a long distance away. So I called the vet and he assured me that I was proceeding correctly and asked," How deep is the wound?

"I don't know. There's too much blood to see. Deep enough to cut an artery." I replied.

"Good point." he said and didn't ask anymore questions.

He did instruct me to keep the bandage on until the next day and advised me at that time to disinfect it, then cover it again. Luckily, the profuse flow of blood cleaned the wound and a few hours later Kirk and I returned to check on Cricket in the box stall that we'd placed her into. Her leg had started to really swell and the vet wrap was gouging into her flesh. Slitting the bandage down the front of her leg to remove the pressure, I then wrapped vet wrap over the top, far more loosely than before, keeping in mind the leg would continue to swell.

It didn't appear that Cricket had damaged any tendons or ligaments and we thanked God. The situation could have been worse. I don't know how she didn't break the leg. She had to have been playfully rearing at the horse in the next pen.

Jackie came home from the funeral and we doctored Cricket on Sunday and Monday. Today, her owner should be home and taking over her care.

NOTE: The paper towels worked awesome as they were very absorbent and didn't stick to the wound. A huge advantage for if it would have adhered, the wound would be ripped open and start to bleed again. Paper towels would work great soaked in Betadine to pad a wound. (I used Scott's paper towel. Don't know if cheap paper towels would be as good.)

If you have read the James Herriot books you will remember they used sugar on prolapsed uteruses to shrink them so they could stuff them back in. I was having a conversation with my doctor, (not vet), on Monday and he recommended that I use a mixture of sugar and Betadine on the wound. He said they made a commercial product that mixed sugar and iodine and it worked wonders. So always game for an experiment, Jackie and I placed sugar on a gauze pad and poured Betadine over the top forming a type of poultice. Then clamping the mixture over the wound we wound vet wrap to hold it in place. The swelling receeded substantially. Now I think one could just use a simple antibiotic on the wound. But I'm filing away that trick to use in future emergencies.

I haven't forgotten about the canning goat milk recipe but I wanted to post this before the day is over so check tomorrow for the recipe. I'm typing it right now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Weather Is Frightful

"The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful..." is still singing its way through my head but what do you expect?

This is our weather forecast for the next few days. So I'm keeping the fire stoked with lots of wood and coal. Meanwhile, my husband is up on the mountain hunting elk, deer, and blue grouse. No thank you. I'm not staying in a tent with weather that is most likely worse than it is here. I don't care if the wall tent does have a stove. My average body temperature is in the 96's as it is. I'd freeze.
To me it seems all wrong for him to go all that way to shoot a deer when we've good sized bucks eating out of our garden.

Alas, if only we lived out in the country and not the last street in town with the prairie on our backside, then one of these fat sassy boys would be in our freezer.

Oh well, I guess I'll use the worry wart skills my mother ingrained in me and pray Kirk stays safe while he sets up camp, hunts for two days, and awaits the arrival of our son. He is scheduled to fly in tomorrow from his trip scuba diving in the Bahamas. Won't that be a shock, from the warmth of the Bahamas to below zero temperatures on the mountain?

I'll just stay here and can some more milk and chicken breasts. The canned goat's milk makes wonderful sausage gravy for a biscuits and gravy breakfast. It also adds richness to my home-made caramels at Christmas time. I use it instead of the evaporated milk my recipe calls for. And though we don't drink it, I cook with it for the three months that the goat's are dry before they kid. I know you only have to keep them dry two months but my girls are old and I figure they can use the extra months break. It also gives me a break from milking twice a day.

The chicken breasts I buy at the store. Unfortunately, we don't have the facilities to raise more than a few meat birds of our own. These boneless breasts cost me $6. 97 for three pounds and yesterday I used two packages divided amongst six wide mouth, pint jars. So it adds up to around $2.32 a jar not counting electricity. Which since I usually do this on a cold day, I chock that cost up to warming the house. It is more meat than I previously got in a can and for less money. What the cost of canned chicken breast is now, I've no idea.

With this we will make sandwiches just like you do canned tuna. I add a little mayonnaise, diced dill pickle and onion, and a sprinkling of celery salt along with celery if we have some. On top I place a few slices of Jarlsburg cheese and grill it between some home-made artisan European style bread. It makes a quick lunch with chips or soup. This mixture is also good on lettuce for a salad.

The idea originated from our buying canned chicken breast instead of tuna for sandwiches and then after a year of this and a price hike on the item I said my favorite old line from what movie I can't recall, "Anything they can do, I can do better." So I did. This philosophy has held true on almost everything. But not frozen cheese cake.Mine tastes better but won't freeze. Don't know if it is the preservatives, or chemicals they use. Anyone out there had success? I'd really appreciate your secret.

So as I thought about it, I decided that I liked the taste of grilled chicken, instead of fried or broiled so now I place my raw chicken breasts on our gas barbecue grill and cook them to just barely done. If they are slightly pink inside that's okay.

Then I cut the breasts into three pieces and stuff them into the jars. If you have a family then you might want to cut the pieces smaller so you can fit more inside each jar. With just the two of us, we can get at least four sandwiches out of a pint so I don't pack the jars really full. Pour boiling water over the chicken in the jar and process at 10 pounds (- 12 at our elevation-) for 75 minutes. I've gotten creative with some jars and added spices, chicken bouillon, and onion before processing.

What is Bard,( our son's dog) doing while I can and the weather outside is frightful. He's underfoot chewing on stuffed snowmen. To be precise, Annie and Arnold. He has the nose chewed off poor Annie and the hat off of Arnold. They were given to him by our daughter who felt her children had way too many stuff animals. Bard loves them and hauls them everywhere. His dog toys have been ignored.

Yes, he is remaining on his leash at the corrals as he repeatedly lunges toward my chickens. Sheds had to be bedded and the coops given sawdust to help ward off the cold. Poor animals don't have their winter coats yet. It is suppose to be fall and I forgot and wore cotton socks instead of my wool ones. By the time I got home my toes were bright red and stinging.