discovered something this year that I should have known all along. My chickens having clean and cool water has always been a problem for me here in Arkansas. Well last year, my husband had made me a waterer with a bucket and some special nozzles that I had bought. And... I thought it was going to fix the problem but the algae built up inside it at a terrible rate. So I ended up using my same old big rubber tub that the chicken make such a mess in, it's always nasty.
So anyway I added a plywood circle on top of the bucket and at last, no more algae. This is after 3 days in the sun. Looks pretty clean and was not even hot. It lasts as long as the chickens don't jump up and knock it off the top. (Which they have done.) Now I have to devise a way to lock the circle on there that I can still get off easily.
That's all just a cool thing I discovered that has saved me a lot of scrubbing of buckets that I hate to do in all the heat especially. AND my chicken always have clean water.
I use Molly's Herbals worm formula's 1 and 2 as per her instructions on her website. The dosage for a goat regardless of their size is 1 Tablespoon a week of either formula 1 or formula 2. For 8 weeks we give formula 2 and on the ninth week we give formula 1 for three days in a row. Formula 1 should never be given to a pregnant animal, it contains wormwood, which is abortive. The schedule is on their website. I worry that my girls will not get the amount they should get when given dry in their food, so I mix the formula into dosage balls every time I dose them. I know it is a bit OCD but, there you are.
Recipe for Molly Nolte's Worm Balls
2 Teaspoons worm formula
1 teaspoon slippery elm bark powder
Molasses (I have never measured so I don't know how much I till I get the right consistency and it makes a big ball)
I just multiply by the number of goats I'm making doses for at any particular time.
Add the formula and powder to a food processor or bowl. I turn on the processor and drizzle the molasses into the food processor till it makes a ball. (I pour the molasses down the chute while the machine is running.) I know it looks disgusting but the goats love it! Then divide the dough into 4 equal parts. I actually weigh the ball and then do the math and divide and measure each portion by weight. Hey I told you I was OCD.
Then roll the dough into balls and then roll the balls in more slippery elm bark powder. If they are big goats I just give them the whole dose in one ball if they are little guys I might break it up into three little balls. Ok! the goats are a little spoiled. I have a tiny little Tupperware bowl for each goats dose and each gets their little treat on Saturday morning.
Pr*You can make them ahead of time and they keep in the frig. If your dog can get hold of them he will eat them. Ask me how I know. ... They love them. If you don't have a food processor you can mix it with the back of a spoon but I am far to lazy for that. I even tried a mortar and pestle, too much work.
*I buy the molasses by the gallon from Amazon.com as it's expensive to by it in the grocery store as much as I use. Can always use it to give as molasses water to a goat that has just had her kids. BTW. I can not take credit for this recipe because it came from Molly Nolte, Thanks Molly!
They get formula #2 8 out of 9 weeks and then the ninth week they get formula #1 three days in a row. Pregnant does should not be given formula #1 ever as it can cause abortion.
I have started making them in large batches as it frees up my Saturday mornings then I only have to do it every few weeks.
I think I have the instant pot pasteurization thing figured out. I upgraded my instant pot to one that does yogurt. I'm getting about 3 quarts in the morning to pasteurize and found that straight out of the goat it takes 22 minutes to bring the milk to 165 degrees. If I leave it for the whole cycle it will go to 185 which is fine for drinking but too hot for cheese making. So if I am saving up milk to make cheese I can use a timer and make it more accurate. I don't know why yogurt makers pasteurize at 185 for yogurt but this is much cheaper than buying a pasteurizer for upwards of 350.00 if you can even find one.
*On an added note: Here is my homemade cheese press. Wonderful husband priceless. Out of pocket cost was 10$ for the springs from Amazon. Thanks Bennie!
At first when I started drinking my goats milk we drank it raw and I think that is fine for most folks, but for some who have health issues there is a need for pasteurization. I am one of those who should not drink it raw, according to my Rheumatologist. So, I've been looking for an easier way to pasteurize the nearly gallon or so that we get from our girls every day. We only milk once a day so we could probably get much more but I just can't use that much.
Enter the instant pot. I found an article that goes over the process for using the pot. This is without scalding the milk and having to stand over it for 30-45 minutes stirring. Since Bennie is the one having to do it every morning I wanted it as automatic as possible. So far it is working great. The milk actually gets a bit hotter than it actually needs to. Correct pasteurization temperature is to bring the milk to 165 degrees and hold for 15 seconds and then quickly cool down. I tested my new pot doing periodic readings. On several batches with water and then milk. The pot beeps when the milks temperature was in the 169-170 range. I would like to keep it at the 5 degrees lower but this is acceptable the milk is not scalded and seems to retain its quality. I will definitely have to add calcium chloride to my milk for cheese making to help it make a good curd but this looks very promising.
*update: I have tested it with timing the process and found that if I process 3 quarts and set a time for 22 minutes that it will be at just 165 and we can stop it then. So All he has to do is set the timer and the milk is perfect. I know that for cheese making that I should probably have it do the 145 degrees for 30 minutes. Meh, that is way too much trouble. I think that if people can make cheese with grocery store pasteurized milk mine will work. I'll just add CaCl to the batch. It does still make a skin on top but that is no big deal , it is a compromise but, unattended pasteurization is great.
In order to pasteurize with this method the instant pot it needs to be a model that comes with the yogurt function. The bonus for me is that I get a really good appliance that makes a super tender and tasty pot roast and great roasted potatoes as well. More on that later. Win Win!
I would like to say that I like making mozzarella, but alas I do not. I am not up to burning my hands so much and it is just requiring a lot more work and time than the 30 minutes promised in all the you tube videos that I watched. Evidently, i am a slow learner.
I did find a recipe for mozzarella that says that I need to culture it rather than use the citric acid method. It is on the curd-nerd website. It uses thermophilic culture and sets for 2 days. Way more my idea of what to do. There is a link to stretching the curd properly on the site that demonstrates thier way of stretching cheese. I think I'm going to try it. I have made great pizza with both my painful attempts as making mozz.
I do like making cheddar cheese which from the first looked harder by far than the mozz making. The standing and stirring put me off when I read the directions. It turned out to be ... not so bad. the first batch was stirred curd and that is too much work. Next I did the true cheddaring method. The term was kind of strange but Gavin Webber in his video on how to make cheddar explains it very well. Well there's more to it but watching the video explains the process well. I don't own a finished cheese press but I bought a small cheese mold and follower and improvised. In short I used two food safe five gallon buckets and put the mold, loaded full of the curds, and the follower in the first bucket. Then the second bucket went on top, nice and straight, and I filled this bucket with my hand weights that heaven knows I never use. Worked great! The cheese looks beautiful. I do want a larger mold that will give me a wider cylinder.
I found a you tube video that demonstrated how to make chevre. I really like this method of making cheese. It is less actual work than mozzarella by far, and farmers cheese. You let the milk come to room temp and add the culture, stir, and let it sit. Lazy woman's cheese. The way she demonstrated how to do it in the video just made it so easy. I used my big stainless stockpot and three purchased molds. The molds made me not have to fight with the cheese cloth/ butter muslin cloth and hanging the cheese. The ingredients are as follows for the fancy Chevre:
1 gallon milk used goat milk (Yea!)
1 packet direct set mesophilic culture
1 drop rennet
1/64th of a teaspoon Geotrichum Candidum
(most of my stuff came from Cheesemaking .com)
After waiting nearly 22 hours I scooped up the curd and dished it up into the molds. No messy draining in cheesecloth. I used the plastic molds that are like little strainers. They went in a plastic container I had with a rack in it and I left for work took 5 minutes. This time I am going to age the cheese. putting I sprinkled ash (activated charcoal) on the little wheels to form the rind she talks about. I've got a good friend with a new wine cellar and I carried them over for their aging. By adding the Geotrichum Candidum my yield seems greater than with farmers cheese simply judging by the amount of whey that was left in the pan. It does taste better as well I was told by tasters that it was creamier and tastier.
Bennie has been feasting on them. I think the most successful plants were the Black Krim. We did have some Cherokee Purple but they are and have always been thin as far as harvest goes. No one bothered to tell the Black Krims that they were gourmet tomatoes and they just keep on producing. The irrigation was, and still is, great. Arkansas just gets too dry in July and August.
We have had a bumper crop of cucumbers this year. I grew a variety from Johnny's seeds called maxpac that is supposed to be resistant to all the cucumber vine diseases that I had last year and they have produced wonderfully. I put up at least a dozen quarts of pickles. Plus a gallon of fresh pack cucumbers. I will do another dozen and then call it done. The only complaint I might have about the Maxpac would be that they are a fatter cucumber than I would like.
I did not do any green beans and will have to try some fall beans. I don't know if the neem seed meal trick will work on whatever eats my bean type crops. I think it's leaf hoppers and they might require a row cover for pretty beans.
I made chevre cheese for the first time and am in love with the cheese. I think it tastes way better than the cheese I bought at Sams. I've made it three times now and two times it was perfect, once I forgot the rennet. Major fail, The chickens were happy because they got the whole vat. Thank God for chickens. More on the chevre later.
All the chicken are finally in their forever coop and run after restocking my flock this year. I tried a few other breeds Bielefelders, Columbian Wyandotts, and Bress. I really like the Bielfelders and the Wyandotts. I can't say I've been impressed with the Bress chickens they seem to die more easily. Sometimes after I storm I might find one that just fell off the perch. It is unusual to have a high chicken mortality for me but this year I have had a lot of chicken deaths. The babies that were sent were just not that resilient. All were not purchased form the same hatchery either. I don't know.
The Ruth Stout experiment is still going strong. I am finding that I still have bermuda grass and several other weeds coming up thru the mulch anywhere I did not get the cardboard thick enough. But on the whole it is working out great.
I installed irrigation. I spent a whole 50$ and put it all together myself. It will never regret it and I don't know why I didn't do it before. The tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash are growing the best they ever have.
I had a terrible several days with the hornworms. The chickens got plenty while I was handpicking them. They are nasty. I may have found the best way to battle them. I put neem seed meal under the plants and after about a week I have seen no new damage. I know it worked on the squash bugs last year treated the same way. Maybe I'll get some red tomatoes?... We shall see.
I am trying kefir as a tonic and probiotic I've been all over the internet reading articles and comments about how beneficial it is and was frankly a bit discouraged because it did not taste as good as I expected. I ordered my kefir grains for an amazon seller and started in with my sweet fresh raw goats milk. The directions say to throw away the first few days Kefir as the grains recover from their journey thru the mail system. I choose to pour it on my dogs dinner for those nights as I couldn't see wasting it. The first result I noticed was that Chesters hot spot that I had been treating was looking pink and healthy the next day. Considering that usually it costs me a 200$ trip to the vet. Unbelievable. Bennie said after the kefir that I gave him his licking didn't irritate the sore as much. ... Maybe? So I've been giving it to both dogs for about a week at least till I'm sure he's healed. The sore is almost covered with new hair now. I've been paid in full for the purchase of the grains just with that.
Last night I tried the concoction I got the recipe for on a you Tube. In a quart jar add 3 pints kefir and a cup of berries or fruit. I used blueberries. Then a sweetener I used plain sugar. I left it in the frig for 4 days. It was delicious! I got a winner. So good can't wait to try more recipes.
I know her method has a lot going for it. The hay does disintegrate into beautiful friable soil but the caveat is that it does take time. I read her book and it tells about how her plowman was taking too long to come to her garden and she grew impatient and just threw hay on top of the soil. With my practical mind I see that she was not starting with new ground. This was ground that she had been working for years and I'm working with ground that was semi lawn and full of clay mixed with gravel.
Bennie ordered top soil and spread it but I always question the quality of introduced top soil. I sure it would probably be considered dead. The hay I spread last year has not all melted into the ground so I know it has a long way to go to develop the organisms I'm looking for. We put down Azomite and lime last year with the top soil but it will need it again this year. I'm putting the soiled hay and wood shavings from the goats in the garden and that is well laden with lime.
I would like to see more earth worms in the soil when I do dig, The ones I find are really big but they are not plentiful. I am spreading more of the old hay we got last fall, some of it is really falling apart. I think the secret is keeping it wet. the wetter the bale the more mushroom spawn and crawly things. A pitchfork is definitely a welcome tool. I certainly did not want to pick up that stuff even with gloved hands. My plants will certainly like it.
Last year I may have gotten 10 tomatoes for my efforts. Lots of green ones and of course lots of cherry tomatoes from the one cherry tomato plant I put in. It seems everyone I talked to about tomatoes last year could not get tomatoes to ripen. So I'm not taking it to heart. Not sure what the problem was. I'm trying Black Krim this year and Cherokee purples, who are notorious for not producing well in my garden. I have hope for the Black Krims though. Most likely, I will buy some non heirloom from the nursery when I get in there and drop them in for insurance.
This is the first year at this new place that the raspberries I planted have survived. I have Anna golden ones and Autumn beauty and one other one I can't remember. So many died at my hands I hate to count. I have mulched them with hay and given them multiple feedings of coffee grounds mixed with crushed egg shells. The Breakfast of Champions. Time will tell.
The Anna's came from root stock I bought on Ebay for like 10$ including shipping that said it would do 5 foot of row. I got two really healthy nice looking plants coming up. I'm happy win win. It's almost time for them to whither and die, so I'm bracing myself. But seriously, my hope is that they will do well and multiply. I'm thinking that with 7 viable plants I might eat my own raspberrys yet.
Melinda and Bennie Pepper
We work in technology but are homesteaders at heart. We're trying to set up our homestead with productive systems that are sustainable. We have Nigerian Dwarf goats and chickens and are trying to garden and raise fruit trees.