Friday, November 25, 2011

a thankful heart

a few of the love and joys of my life
Because it was never promised that we would go through life without difficulty, pain, hardship and without tears...we are however, promised unconditional love. Love when we feel we aren't deserving, love when we're lonely or too weary to show it in return and even love when we're angry, hurt or resentful. 
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 3:4-7
With my heart now comforted I think I'll sink back in my favorite chair, under a cozy throw and enjoy a few more sips of hot tea. Discovering joy through out the journey, no matter how rocky the road, is a priceless find!

Monday, November 14, 2011

a goat nanny for the week..

Mr Cash and the girls, Maple & Lilly
So what does a goat farmer do when asked if they would allow their buck to service a couple of sweet little does...well, I cleared out a paddock and said, bring in the girls! I knew Mr Cash would be delighted at the first whiff. And this time of year, he can smell a fertile female from a long ways away!  Mr Cash is a handsome Chamoisee French Alpine with a black dorsal. His black dorsal really has some height to it and the scur that grew back, after the dehorning, looks like a neatly arranged horn hat that sits perfectly between his erect ears. Quite irresistible to a couple of does I would think. He urinates on his face and curls his lip with the anticipation of the girls entering his paddock - it's possibly heaven on earth for Mr Cash. The girls were not nearly as excited as Mr Cash, they were ready for home at the very moment they arrived. And so my goat nannying days began...doing all I can to make a couple of frightened girls feel welcome and at home. In no time at all, Mr Cash was quickly put in his place..anxious or not..the girls were in charge! And without hesitation, Mr Cash complied. He eats when the girls are done and escorts them on strolls around the paddock, he stands patiently in line at the water trough and waits his turn to bask in the sunshine on the favorite patch of clover..he may be a goat but he's also a gentleman. He sure has lightened the load of my goat nanny duties. And now that the girls have completely adjusted to Mr Cash and our routine, it's time for them to head home. Mr Cash did his job and the girls will be mama's to some pretty little Alpine kids come Spring.

Mr Cash and his horn hat

the babies are here!

 9 perfectly shaped pink noses, 36 precious little paws and all the sweet puppy breath that I could ever dream of...all made their way into the world on Nov 9. Reina takes her mama job very seriously, many humans could take a lesson or 2 from her. It's a beautiful thing to watch! Soon enough they will be the guardians they were born to be but for now..they'll snuggle with mama and sleep the day away. Darling aren't they?!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Don't let that innocent face fool ya! It's been confirmed today that Reina has been sneaking in to see Scout, he does have that irresistible charm. And girls will be girls, so now she is expecting another four-legged brood on Nov 9. 

Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies.
Gene Hill

Monday, October 24, 2011

Good Morning Coffee Cake!

With the now much cooler crisp Fall mornings it's officially the season for the coffee cake breakfast! 

Here's my favorite - not so - secret recipe:

Coffee Cake
Main Mix:
1 c Sugar
2 c Flour
3/4 c Butter (softened)
Cream together and take out a 1/2cup - then add to the main mix:
1 c Milk 
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pour into a greased 9x9 pan. 
Topping: Take the 1/2 c Main Mix and add:
1/2 c Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 T Butter (softened)
Sprinkle over top of cake - Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. 

I substituted the milk with Sheep Buttermilk and used Sheep's milk Butter - I also added a couple tablespoons of oatmeal to the topping. In the past I've added walnuts and substituted the butter in the topping with maple syrup. Quick, easy and always delish ~ Cheers to cake!

Coffee time!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Another Birthday

Birthday dinner with Derek and friends

17 years ago I started my journey into motherhood, where has the time gone? It seems like a 100 years ago and yesterday all in the same moment! Derek sweet it is to think of the darling baby he used to be, but after 17 years, things haven't changed a whole me it's still easy to see that endearing newborn that had my heart so deeply in love that I thought I'd never come down from cloud 9. Through a mop of hair, a few struggling whiskers and a much deeper voice, I now look up to him when he speaks and can in an instant be moved back into the clouds with pride of the boy he once was and the fine man he has become. Happy Birthday Derek! 

Because everything in my life is often done in a hurry, the candles were quickly inserted
into a cake that was too warm..the unveiling wasn't too surprising but did make us all smile :-)

        "A boy's best friend is his mother."-- Joseph Stefano

Saturday, September 24, 2011

..A wise woman builds her home

Even though the season of motherhood does not end, it does bring seasons of change. Seasonal changes that can be joyful, worrisome and challenging. The recent seasonal changes in our home have caused me to reflect on my heart as a mother. With 2 teenagers and a preteen growing up together under the same roof, we have our fair share of dramatic moments. I came across a site recently that spoke to and encouraged my heart. And I simply wanted to share this poem with you in hopes that if you're in need of some motherly encouragement, that it will find you and speak to you in whatever season you're in.

If I talk to my children about what is right and what is wrong, but I have not love, I am like a ringing doorbell or pots banging in the kitchen. And though I know what stages they will go through, and understanding their growing pains, and can answer all their questions about life, and believe myself to be a devoted mother, but I have not love, I have nothing.

If I give up the fulfillment of a career to make my children's lives better, and stay up all night sewing costumes or baking cookies at short notice, but grumble about lack of sleep, I have not love and accomplish nothing.

A loving mother is patient with her children's immaturity and kind even when they are not; a loving mother is not jealous of their youth nor does she hold it over their heads whenever she has sacrificed for them.

A loving mother believes in her children; she hopes in each one's individual ability to stand out as a light in a dark world; she endures every backache and heartache to accomplish that.

A loving mother never really dies. As for home-baked bread, it will be consumed and forgotten: as for spotless floors, they will soon gather dust and heel marks. As for children, right now toys, friends and food are all-important to them. But when they grow up, it will be their mother's love that they will remember and pass on to others. In that way, she will live on.

So care, training and a loving mother reside in a home, these three but the greatest of these is a loving mother.

For more inspirational chapters of a mother's heart, check out this lovely site A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Friday, September 16, 2011

Apple Harvest

Canned Apple Pie Filling
The end of the canning season is officially upon me..the apples are falling from the trees and it's time for the last of my harvesting. Each year, I can and freeze a little bit and a lot of everything. Apples are the one thing, I can a lot of. Applesauce and apple pie filling are a must have. Once I got used to having them on hand, it's been impossible to go without! I like to use firm, tart apples for filling but have and will use any apple I can get my hands on.

Here's my apple pie filling canning process:

1/4 cup lemon juice (or use cream instead for a caramel like filling)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
cinnamon to taste
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 pint box of apples that have been cored/peeled and sliced

Combine juice (or cream) and cornstarch in kettle, turn up the heat and whisk until smooth and thick, then add the remaining ingredients in the order as listed above. Mix well and turn off heat. Your filling is now ready for the canning jar. If you're freezing your filling instead of canning it, leave the apples on the heat for a bit longer until the apples start to soften - then freeze. 

Makes 1 pint of filling - You can double, triple and quadruple it until get you get your hot water bath filled.

Hot water bath method - 20 min for pints and quarts. 

Ball Blue Book Apple Pie Filling:
6lbs of apples
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice 

Now that you've canned some pie's a recipe where you can use it!

Caramel Apple Empanadas:
Shells: Combine
4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Cut in:
1/2 c butter

1 1/8 c milk
2 tsp sugar
1 egg

Divide dough into walnut sized balls and roll into 4/5" circles - fill half circle with filling - Fold half and seal into half moon - deep fry! Makes approx 30 turnovers

Caramel Apple Empanadas
 For a tasty dinner you can also fill these empanadas with seasoned, browned beef and serve with pico or salsa. If I'm filling them with fruit, I glaze them after wards with some homemade icing.!

Giving credit where credit's due: The Empanada recipe was given to me by my honorary sista and dear friend Holly Hammond, she's incredible in so many ways - the kitchen being just one of them!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going, going...granola!

a little bit of goodness
 So let's make granola ~ be as creative with your ingredients as you'd like! After all there's no bad granola. Here's what I put in mine today:

6 cups Oats
1 1/2 cups Walnuts (chopped)
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds (raw)
3 cups Bran (and/or Wheat) Flakes
Mix in a large bowl then start your syrup coating in another bowl.

Syrup Coating:
3/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Honey
1/2 cup Butter (melted)
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
Add to your dry mixture and coat well - pop in your oven at 250degrees for 1 hr. Stir granola every 20 min or so for an even crunch and to prevent burning. 

Delicious alternatives: Shredded Wheat, Rice Crisps, Pecans, Cashews, Almonds, Raisins, Dried Cherries - Blueberries - Strawberries - Bananas - Dates - Apricots & Apples, Coconut, Wheat Germ, Flax Seed and Mini Marshmallows for the kid in you :)


Keeping that breakfast cupboard stocked is an on-going's another pancake/waffle mix recipe that fills up that large piece of Tupperware I never thought I'd use!

10 cups Flour                                    1/4 cup Sugar
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour                5 tablespoons Baking Powder
2 cups Oats                                       1 tablespoon Salt
3 cups Cornflakes (crushed)
Mix well - store airtight and when ready to make pancakes...add 1 cup of Milk, 1 Egg and 1 tablespoon of Oil to every cup of Mix.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Merry Mitts

With my hands always exposed, lending, mending and nurturing...they often get neglected and are in need of some extra care. After taking an in depth look at some of the balms and salves on the market, I thought to myself - there has to be a better way! So many chemicals and ingredients even google's never heard of. So I sat down and did some research...and came up with a natural, healing antiseptic salve. Using some of my favorite organic oils which include Myrrh, Tea Tree & Jojoba. My mitts are now merry and my mind is at ease! And because I love to share, Merry Mitts is now available in trial size tins at all our Market locations!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mad science..

After investing in a lab kit and a small microscope recently, I find myself anticipating quiet evening hours...when the homework and dinner dishes are done and I can sit down with some fecal samples and float to my heart's content. Who knew looking at poo would become such a fascination for me!?! I had no idea! But this way of tracking and identifying the parasite levels in our livestock has been very beneficial and I must confess, addicting. Another season for this Shepherdess and who knows what I will throw under the microscope next!

Here are a few helpful links if you're looking into floating fecals for your farm because we know, where there are goats & sheep...there are parasites!

Fecal Test Kit

Ruminant Parasite Egg Chart

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earthquakes and hurricanes...

What a week this has been! 5.9 earthquake complete with felt aftershocks followed by hurricane Irene. We are thankful to report that all is well on the farm - no harm done to any animals or structures (just a few rattled nerves). And we have added, the much needed rain, to our thankful list! It seems to all happen at once around here.

Ziggy the very smart goat, found a dry spot to enjoy the sunshine!
We are delighted with this week's forecast...sunshine, sunshine, sunshine! And the cooler evenings remind me that Fall is in the air. Our bucks are starting their rut and the girls are laying it on for them - the breeding season is just around the corner again. We have a couple of lovely French Alpine bucks for sale, they'll be ready to be herd sires soon. You can check them out on our For Sale page if you're in need of a sweet boy for your girls.

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting 
and autumn a mosaic of them all."
-   Stanley Horowitz

Monday, August 8, 2011

Of course you can make your own buttermilk..

 One question I'm asked so often...can I make buttermilk from milk? Absolutely! Here's my easy peasy process...ENJOY!

REAL Buttermilk:
Take your cream jar out of the frig. Stir in 2 or 3 large spoonfuls of clabbered milk (see below). Stir well. Let sit out for the day on your counter - uncovered - either cover with a towel or leave the lid VERY loose. Check periodically to see if it has thickened. You may have to leave it overnight. Use this thick cream to make butter. The resulting "buttermilk" will be thick and yummy and excellent for baking or culturing cheese.

Clabbered milk is a staple in my kitchen. I have a jar of it sitting out all the time. Whenever I use any, I just add a bit of milk back into it.
Clabber is naturally soured milk. Take a 1/2 quart of fresh milk and leave it out (cover with a towel or cheese cloth, but it must be able to breathe). Wait for it to clabber. Depending on the temperature in your house this could take one to three days. You are looking for it to be thick like pudding. It will smell very sour and while you can use it at this point, it's probably too sour. Dump half the jar out and replace with fresh milk and mix. Let that sit a day till it "clabbers" again. It won't be so sour now. You could even dump half of this and make a 3rd generation if it's too sour. I leave mine out, but it can be refrigerated. When I need some, I scrape the clabbered cream off the top and toss that, then spoon out whatever clabbered milk I need and refill the jar with fresh milk. Just keep the little clabber garden going. What do you use it for?

  • Starter for cottage cheese
  • Starter for sour cream
  • Starter for cultured butter
  • Add texture to baked goods such as pancakes, bread, muffins.

Cheaters Buttermilk:
Simply add vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid to your Raw milk and let sit for 10 min until thickened. You can't use it for a starter, but it works great as a substitute for the real thing, when you're baking!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

From feral to farm

Meet Hunter & Trigger, once city roamers and now true country boys! Our farm may have been the only farm on the planet that didn't house a feline until now. So with the mouse population growing by the hour, we took the opportunity to transplant these ferals into barn help. After a couple of weeks of settling in, it seems as if they were meant to be farmers..bouncing right into their duties, taking advantage of anything that resembles a napping hammock, cleaning up after a messy milker, rubbing a weary leg or giving a satisfied purr every time someone enters their quarters... it's hard to imagine life in the barn without them now. It appears even the mice have taken a liking to them..hoping that changes soon!

A few reasons why farm life seems to suit these tabbies:
The naps

The company (& their massages)
The action

(Joan Brocklehurst)
When in the barn, on nights of storm
As icy draughts pierce every nook
The farm cats sleep the hours away
Snug and warm in their nests of hay.

When moonlight paints a tranquil scene
Abroad they prowl on hunting bent
In search of rabbit, bird or rat -
A welcome meal for a hungry cat.

In meadow warmed by summer's sun
They roam at ease by hedge and stream
To seek a fledgling or a vole
Or track a field mouse to his hole.

The vixen screams from copse afar
Her cries ring shrill on the wintry air
The farm cats raise their listening heads
They sink once more to their strawy beds.
Why chase mice when you can nap...the end

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Milk bounty
 The refrigerators are full and overflowing...these days every person and critter gets milk for dinner! With some of our girls giving 2 gallons a day each, milk is at it's peak. About half the milk we get goes into cheese, then our shareholders pick up their milk, then the rest is all for farm use...there's milk bread, milk infused dinners, ice cream, milk bone dog treats...milk everything! The doggies here, do not complain and neither do the hens - they will follow a milk bucket anywhere! Raw milk is a staple in their daily diet. They cheerfully partake of the bounty without a single complaint.
Jewel, the Cavalier who owns us, anticipating her milk treat
On the other hand, the humans here on an average day, spend about 6 hours - milking, feeding, cleaning and tending to the personal care of all the farm creatures. A goal in the future would be to milk just once a day, wow - wouldn't that be a treat!?! Some of the farm milk recipients may protest but I'm doubtful any humans would. When the milk season is at it's peak, one may notice the farmers tend to be dragging. After all getting the milk out of the girls and into the fridge is only the beginning...a cheesemaker's work is never done!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Me, Cheese & 5am

There's nothing like the smell of whey first thing in the beats coffee hands down. The rest of the family disagrees however, which leaves me thinking it must be a cheesemaker thing. Cheers to cheese!

the whey

the curd

the fabulous Feta

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sheeps Milk Cheese if EWE Please

Sea of Eve

Sea of Eve is extremely flavorful. This cheese is enhanced with local hot peppers and not overwhelmed by them. Bathed in sea salt and then aged, the end result is a creamy textured cheese with a mild, balanced flavor finishing with a hint of hot summer peppers
If you haven't tried Sheeps Milk Cheese's an opportunity to broaden your pallet and delight your taste buds! Sheeps Milk makes a beautiful creamy cheese with a mild balanced flavor that pairs perfectly with your favorite bottle of wine and also makes a delightful table or cooking cheese. Don't just take this Shepherdesses word for it though...try some for yourself!

Willow's Wool

Willow's Wool is a semi soft sheep milk cheese with mild buttery tones that ages to perfection with a nutty finish

Honoring Eve & Willow, two lovely twin ewes who willingly grace our milking parlor everyday with a bountiful yield of creamy delicious milk. Their gentle nature and unmatched beauty is a priceless treasure to know!

                             The Wonders of Sheep Milk Discovered
by Julie Daniluk R.H.N. (Registered Holistic Nutritionist)
 Why should a consumer choose to purchase sheep milk based products? The advantages of sheep milk products are numerous.
In a recent study, 83% of patients preferred sheep milk over any other milk substitutes including; soy, goat and rice milk. 99% of those patients were found tolerant of sheep milk over an average of 34% tolerant to soy, goat and rice milk. It was notable that the severity of the allergy symptoms were relieved by simply substituting sheep milk where ever the patient would normally use cow milk.
 Apart from its incredibly low allergenicity and remarkable taste. The nutritional value is truly something to be excited about!
Sheep milk contains twice the percentage of calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc than that of cow's milk. Plus sheep milk fat is 25% MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides). These healthy fatty acids are easily digested and not stored in the body as fat. They prefer to be burned as fuel. MCT's do not raise LDL (bad) cholesterol. 
 Sheep milk contains approximately 5.5% protein in comparison to 3.7% in cow milk.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Local Fixins'

the breakfast of champions

Supporting our neighbors by keeping purchases local! The blueberries and the pork sausage were found at the South Hill Farmers Market and the rest was all straight from our farm. You can almost taste it's my pancake recipe so you can! :)

Sheep Cakes:
3 cups flour 
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3 farm fresh eggs (fresh makes the difference)
3 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 cups sheeps milk  - barely blend, pour onto hot griddle and add blueberries before flipping! YUM!!

I highly recommend checking out the markets in your area for fresh food, you'll be so glad you did!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Masterful Mozzarella

I'm not sure if there is anything better than fresh, warm goats milk mozzarella! There's a quick & easy way to make it...and then there's the way that takes a bit more time but reaps LOTS of yummy benefits! Because I'm time challenged much of the time, I went with the quick & easy method and used the 30 Min Mozzarella Recipe today...grab some milk from your goat (or your neighbor's goat :)) and give it a try! 

the stretch

still stretching

the delicious results

a goats milk mozzarella completed pizza!

I usually re-use the whey from all my cheeses and make Ricotta or Crumbles but the whey from the 30 Min Mozzarella Recipe will need to be recycled by feeding it to your farm critters - my doggies love it too. 

Friday, June 3, 2011


Honeysuckle and  her happy airplane ears
Two years ago a flighty, airplaned eared doe complete with huge horns and 2 wayward neck waddles joined our lovely dairy goat herd. I did not know her breed, genetics or personality. Her entry to the farm is a story all in itself, but that one I will save for another day. 

With her wild, untamed spirit and her hair the color of honey, it was obvious to me that her name should be Honeysuckle. From the very moment she stepped off the truck, I was determined to not only milk her but to tame her as well. I had so much to teach her! And so the teaching began....when I called her to the barn, she would run the other way...sneaking up on her also proved to be the wrong approach. And so I turned to bribing her with sweet grain and alfalfa, but wooing her grew tiresome. She still would not budge. After months of this routine and feeling unappreciated, I gave into her determination and let her be.

When her first set of kids arrived, I dreaded introducing her to the whole milking routine and wondered if it would even be possible. After all, I have to be able to catch her in order to milk her! My determination kicked in again and this time I had no plans of giving up. 

One particular evening, I prepped the parlor for milking as usual, stocked the feed buckets and headed for the girls pasture. I noticed Honeysuckle near the gate, like she was waiting for me. Odd I thought. As I neared the gate, she started to bolt in the opposite direction and then in one brief moment - while stopping dead in her tracks. She turned around to look at me - ears straight out to the side and with a piercing gaze she began walking towards the open gate. Still as a statue, I stepped aside as she then walked through the gate and into the milk parlor. Shocked and confused as to what just transpired, I immediately went to praise and dote on her. She quickly gave me that Honeysuckle stare that undoubtedly said, don't press your luck lady. And so I did not...from that day on Honeysuckle and I have a casual milking relationship only. She tolerates giving me milk if I do it the right way...which is her catching, no touching, no wooing sweet talk. She's all business and to think, it took her a whole year to teach me that!

2 days passed due with her 2nd set of kids and finally in labor

On one of the hottest days so far this year, Honeysuckle goes into labor. The labor long and intense, the stifling heat and humidity...and then to everyone's relief, the babies arrive!

Baby Pippa

Baby Patriot
Honeysuckle showing off her pride & joy

When you're 2 days old, this is all that really matters

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Summer Love Story

Derek, Megan & Holly - my love story
8th grade graduation

The flies, swim suits, heat, humidity and longer days are here...veggies in the garden, herb beds are lively and thriving...but summer is not officially here in our house, until school is out! Two half days left of hitting the books...then summer is officially official! Summer is the shortest and busiest of seasons for is out, soft ball is winding down, baby animals are all on the ground, garden is in full swing - which means..weeding, picking and preserving is endless! We won't even mention the mowing and extra farm work. How I love this time of year though, I look forward to having the children (ahem..young adults) home...laughter mixed in with silliness everyday...watching them be the people that I'm so proud of. If I could write a love song...this is what would inspire it!
This has nothing to do with
the summer love story, we are just
relieved the shearing is done!

Meg up to bat

Monday, May 16, 2011

Udder Wash

When I was looking into getting started with making our own udder or teat wash, I found so many different and sometimes controversial recipes! A few important facts I really wanted to cover with our udder wash, was to use little to no chemicals while still getting rid of the bacteria and of course for it to be completely safe and healthy for our goats and sheep.  Just in case you're interested, this is what I came up with and why.

What you will need:
32oz of water (I use our well water that's been heated to a pasteurization point. Even though many feel it's an unnecessary step when adding GSE, I have my own thoughts on using pasteurized water for homemade health products. I say use your judgment ;))

30 drops of GSE (grapefruit seed extract)

7 drops of Lavender essential oil. 

A 32oz spray bottle

I mix all ingredients in a measuring cup and then pour into a squirt bottle and give it a shake. I always shake well before each use. Spray each teat thoroughly and allow to sit for a few minutes before wiping the teats dry with a clean/dry washcloth. I have a stack of washcloths that are used only for teats and wash them after each milking.

I chose GSE because of it's proven antibacterial qualities. I also chose to use Lavender essential oil for similar reasons... Lavender essential oil is not only antibacterial but an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic too. In my opinion, every medicine cabinet should house a bottle of Lavender essential oil. It's wonderful stuff...not to mention it's a natural deodorizer and makes everything smell so lovely as well! Maybe that's why the goat and sheep girls are always wearing a smile when they leave the milk barn.

I also have a handy homemade udder salve to use as needed for dry or sore teats. It contains 1 cup of coconut oil and 30 drops of peppermint essential oil. Heat the coconut oil to a melting point and add the peppermint essential oil, then pour into a small container. Use with care on nursing mama's, since peppermint essential oil has been known to cause scours in kids/lambs and calves.

These 2 products have worked so well for us and our milking flock and herd. No mastitis, clean milk and the girls udderly approve...hooves down!