Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coats on Goats

The Goat Goddesses
 Besides my role as a Shepherdess, I'm also allowed to be a part of a lovely herd of French Alpine dairy goats. And as often as these girls can, they remind me how honored I am to be in their midst. Being a Shepherdess, goats often perplex me at times...they're whip smart, quite snobby and truthfully they run the farm! They tell me when they're ready to be milked, with just the right amount of pressure and hands MUST be warmed first, grain must be filled to the brim of the bucket...Heaven forbid the grain runs out before the milking is over and last but not least...a bit of cheek scratching MUST complete each and every milking and they will let you know when you can stop! Twice a day these girls run me through this routine...and this a good average day. With so much winter snow on the ground and in the forecast - the good average days are something of the past. Snow is much like water to these fair maidens...they really bulk at being wet, cold, dirty or inconvenienced in any way. Mother Nature is really letting these girls down right now and they are letting me know it! In my efforts to keep a contented barn, all the girls now have a winter wardrobe. A warm insulated blanket for each of my goat goddesses...I know soon they will be asking for one in every color with the wool fabric like the ones their sisters, the sheep, have. But for now, on this blustery winter day, these girls are quite content with their new getup and we're experiencing some peace on earth! Merry Christmas friends!


I really wanted the hot pink one
A festive link of some cute kids Happy Holidays

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grass Fed Lamb

Newborn twin lambs soaking up some sunshine on a cool Spring morning
Grass Fed Lamb...that phrase may have some appeal to many people...but possibly the least of all who it appeals to is the Shepherdess. How hard it was to take some of my Spring lambs to the Processor this morning. There's a few down sides to raising animals and this is one of them. With a sad heart, some tears and lots of reasoning - I said good bye to these beautiful animals that I delivered and have lovingly cared for these past 6 months. Instead of continuing to think of their future, I'm choosing to look at their past. Sadly for so many animals their short lives on this earth are bleak and pain filled. I'm thankful for little lambs who have content days full of frolicking in green fields next to their mother's side - never an empty belly or a hurt gone unnoticed and untreated.

Early one hot summer morning while making my rounds, I drop all that's in my hands and run to the side of a fallen lamb. A raging fever had set in, he was severely dehydrated and was too weak to lift his head. I swooped him up in my arms and carried him back to the barn - it was touch and go for a couple days, but  with care and weeks of neither of us giving up, he rejoined his family in the field and grew to be the biggest of all the lambs with piercingly bright eyes - eyes, that with one look could see right through you. Each day I would make a habit of visiting him in the field and he, so trusting and bold, would come to me and nibble clover and sweet alfalfa from my fingers. A dear bond between a Shepherdess and her sheep, no words can explain it. Saying good bye to this little lamb this morning was indeed a tough moment, but never did he waver. Still trusting his Shepherdess to the very end. Every day this flock teaches me something, heart to heart moments that last a lifetime. How very blessed I am, but the blessings are not without some hardship. I'm thankful indeed for little moments in the past to reflect on, that remind me to count my blessings instead of my sorrows. Without them, I surely would not be the kind of Shepherdess my little lambs need me to be. To love them, lead them and let them go... 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful for Cheese...

Goat Milk Garden Havarti
 Happy Thanksgiving friends! How sweet it is to reflect back and see just how much I have to be thankful for. 

With cooking, eating and the festivity of gatherings behind us - I'm back to CHEESE. Making cheese brings out the creative, artistic and humble side of me - all things I'm thankful for as well. I'm always experimenting and working on discovering a cheese with a new and unique taste or texture. With all the experimenting, there are sure to be MANY fails. But on the occasion, there are a few victories too. To my delight, earlier this year, I discovered Havarti...and wow, do I love it! This is not a traditional Havarti, this has a bit of a smoother texture but still that buttery flavor we expect and love from a Havarti. I decided to add some organic dried herbs to lead me back to my garden that I enjoyed so much this summer. I have yet to find a soup, a salad, a cracker, a sandwich or a wrap that it doesn't compliment. I've also heard rave reviews from wine enthusiasts. An all around lovely cheese! So with a 1 1/2 gallons of goat milk (some cream removed for butter), a wonderful Mesophilic culture, my hubby's homemade cheese press and a lot of patience...we have Goat Milk Garden Havarti AND a 1/2lb of Goat Milk Butter! If you're interested in creating your own pressed cheeses at home, here's a simple plan for a Homemade Cheese Press . And now it's time to head back to the kitchen...

Cheese press and butter churn

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wow - A Blog!

A gratefully grazing flock of ewes
There's a place for my followers? Wow - now I know why I waited so long to start a pressure right:)I do get the itch to write every now and then, with mass numbers of journals and eye wear laying around the house..I've decided to lay down the pen for a bit and share some of my journeys publicly. At times I tend to drag on about the details, but my first entry will be short and sweet! 

With the season of Fall all around me, the colors sing melodious music to me and the farm animals. With the leaves fading and falling to the ground, the goats see a leaf buffet stretched out across the fields. Leaves being one of their favorite treats and now finally within their reach, they snatch them up 2,3 and 4 at a time. The snatched up leaves uncover blades of tender grass that remained untouched by recent frosts. The goats joyfully move on, leaving the grass while preferring the drying leaves. The sheep seize the opportunity and graciously graze the newly uncovered patches of deliciousness - savoring each bite. Sheep and goats living so beautifully and harmoniously together, joy and grace all wrapped up in 1 pastured moment. So often I fret about future bounty of grass, then God sends me a wistful little goat that uncovers an opportunity that was under my nose the entire time. I'm reminded of a delightful saying by Barbara Johnson that states, "Don't waste today's time cluttering up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles! Allow your hours of stressing to be turned into showers of blessing." Perspective is everything! So whether your the goat or the sheep, the opportunity is there and there's much to be discovered. Enjoy your day dear friends!