Sunday, December 29, 2013

goat granola treat

goat granola
I recently posted on our farm facebook page about my goat granola treat, the reviews are coming in and it appears there are lots of goats out there that are now fans of my granola :) I don't want to leave anyone out - so here is my *recipe*

Goat Granola Treat: 
  • 5lbs of whole grains (right now I'm using barley and rolled oats)
  • Enough molasses to hold it together. It usually takes about 1/4-1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons of kelp 
  • 1/4 cup of flax seed. I mix it all together in a feed bucket and cover it with a lid.
So the girls are receiving a fresh granola snack, I've found that not making more than a weeks worth at a time is ideal. You can use any combo of grains - the above combo is also sheep loved and approved! The only grains we feed this time of year are whole grains and we never feed a sweet feed mix so this treat is very much anticipated and loved by all the girls. And it not only tastes great but it's nutritious too!

my mommy loves me

top dressing their grain with a bit of a granola = happy goats
if your fingers are sticking together and covered in goat're doing it right
If any of y'all have any variations or reviews from your goats, please post them. I would love to hear the feedback! Cheers to a happy herd ~

The Chicken Chick

Saturday, December 28, 2013

the black sheep

Born to be scratched
This time of year the girls are so laid back and docile. Pregnancy seems to calm any nervous edge and they all want to come in for extra love and scratching. 90 or more percent of my ewes are not bottle fed but are dam raised. I actually tend to keep my contact with them at a minimum for the first few days after they're born, so I don't disturb that sweet mom and lamb bond. Sometimes nature is just best being left alone. So my bond with the lambs starts much later in their lives and so that bond is earned by trust rather than by luring them with a milk bottle. And I don't know if you've ever tried to make a sheep do anything but if you have, you already know that it probably didn't work out so well :) So making them be friendly or like being handled will mostly just frustrate you. The guys around here could probably write their own post about that!

I've actually found that with patience, the girls in their own time, come around just fine. But it does take a lot of patience. I take advantage of this time of year though when they're feeling lazy and extra affectionate, to spend as much time with them each day as possible. The girls will follow each other and even the most leery and skiddish of the flock eventually give in and come on in for a cheek scratch. Some seem to be just curious about the whole cheek scratching thing until they experience it, then they're believers! They love smelling my face, nibbling my hair and will stomp at my jacket with their hooves - like how come this isn't wool like mine. Ha. (I'm REALLY baaaad at sheep humor - told ya :) )
hmm...that chin scratching is looking kinda nice
fine..I'll try it out
They love following me around the field too. They will follow me anywhere I lead them and won't stop until I do and then it's right to my side and under my hands. Leading them seems to play an important role in the shepherd-sheep bond. They're loyal loves and it shows me too that loyal is what they want to be.
what is this thing and why isn't it scratching our cheeks
I've entertained the thought of getting a herding dog many times but honestly, so far I've not felt like we've needed one. The girls come when I call and will follow me into the barns and outside of fencing and into new paddocks and strange places. Our flock is still small enough that I can form or already have formed bonds with each of them. They all have names - the ID tags are for the guys, since the woollies all look like white sheep to them.

People are different and so are the needs. No judgment here. I'm often the black sheep in many ways and sometimes it suits me here on the farm too. But my woollies..well they like black sheep and so I fit in just fine with them :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

my tamalada

As promised..a tamale blog post. And I will start from, somewhat of the beginning...

I married young..I was out of diapers but you get the picture. I was from the southeast - hubby from the southwest. 2 different cultures. 2 completely different heritages and all wrapped up in 2 young naive little teenagers..I had no clue what I was doing. My first holiday with my new cultured family, I saw and ate tamales for the first time. And  yes, I even attempted to eat the husk..when I say I was naive, I mean I was like the naive-est of the naive. I was too young to appreciate it then but looking back I'm so thankful for the grace and hospitality my in-laws showed me. They're 2 of the most wonderful people on earth and forever deeply dear to my heart. So after a short course on eating tamales, I've spent these last 20 years trying to make them! I'm definitely still no expert but here's my process:

  • I cook a roast (we prefer pork but use the meat of your preference), debone and pick off the fat then put the shredded meat into another stew pot and set aside. If you can't find the ingredients at your local grocery store, a Mexican store will carry them all.
main ingredients: cooked roast, chile pods, corn husks & masa mix
  • Corn husks - start soaking in water for about 20 min and then drain. I soak them while I'm preparing the rest of the ingredients.

  • Take about 10 red chile pods (more if you're using a roast bigger than 5lbs) and boil them in water until soft - about 15/20 minutes. When they're soft I pluck off the stem and put the entire pod into the blender, I also add some of the water they were boiled in to make it more sauce like, rather than paste. After the pods are pureed, I put them through a strainer to catch the skins and seeds while the sauce runs into a container. I like to add a few seeds then to the finished chile sauce but this is preference - I think it adds a little extra heat and the hubby likes it hot.
if you make a HUGE mess making the red chile're not alone, so do I.
  • I then add the chile sauce to my stew pot of meat and simmer until the meat is softly shredded and the chile sauce has cooked down.
red chile meat
  • I use Tamal corn masa mix for the masa. I follow the instructions on the bag - using lard instead of margarine and broth from the meat I cooked, instead of water. The masa will need to be very spreadable, so you may need to add more broth or water if needed to get a soft consistency.
masa mixed and ready to spread
  • Now you're ready to make the tamales - get your corn husks out of the water and I pat dry a bit so the masa can be spread a little easier. Lay the corn husk out flat and spread about 3/4 of the corn husk with masa - I like a thin layer of masa but make sure you get the husk covered (think spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread). The thicker the masa, the thicker the tamale. Which means you may run out of folding room depending on the size of the corn husk. You will also run out of masa FAST. So I prefer thin. Once you have your masa spread - add a chunk of your chile meat to the middle of your masa. The idea is to have the masa completely cover the meat once it's folded. We like a lot of meat so I'm generous with it as long as it fits in the middle of the masa..I fill it up. Keeping in mind that masa needs to be on all sides of the meat, now you fold.
(these pics are of an already cooked tamale since I forgot to take pics of them while I was actually spreading & folding :-/..)
fold the right side towards the left, making sure the masa covers the meat

then fold the left side over towards the right

then the bottom is folded up
  • Repeat until all your meat or masa or corn husks are gone. Since my steam pot is on the small side, I usually make just a couple dozen tamales at a time. But I prefer to make dozens and dozens at a time and then freeze the extras (after they're steamed). They're just as tasty reheated!
place the folded end side down into the steam pot
  • You will need a steam pot of some sort - I just use the one I can with. Steam for about an hour until the masa is firm. The more masa in your corn husk the longer it takes to cook. After they're done, peel the corn husk off and eat. Once you get a taste for tamales, you will always crave them. At least that's my story.
the perfect holiday meal served with rice or refried beans ~ cheers to the tamalada
 What Wikipedia has to say about the Tamale
PS. If after you've filled all the corn husks you wanna fill and still have red chile meat left over - roll some up in a tortilla. It is AMAZING.

the people that instilled in me a taste for authentic Mexican food and who chose to love me like a daughter - mom & dad Gonzalez

Sunday, November 24, 2013

a simple farmer's morning

steer and bunny feeding makes no difference how much we try to keep bunny in his on the ground hutch, he will chew, dig and squeeze through everything and anything he can to get back in with the steers. Love knows no color or size..and so he has earned the name Lucky bunny.
definitely a lucky bunny

flock check
breakfast with my girls
Willa Bee
sleep, play and eat
Mischa the 6 year old Lhasa Apso who started out as a foster dog from the city last year..has now, by choice, found his calling being a farm dog. He's a permanent member of the family and assists me daily, in all things farm related..he loves getting dirty, eating chicken poop, sunbathing in the field and is a pro at herding chickens and lambs who have wondered too far from the flock..there has never been a more contented dog.
the feathered and fuzzy
best fence jumper on the planet
morning conversation..Missy Kitty & Ziggy
One of my favorite farmer unknown. 
 I am a simple farmer, working hard from dawn to set..And I never seem to reach the end of the toil and troubles met. I never have a "dull" day - and in all my years of toil, God blessed me with persistence - to master beast and soil. At times it seems an endless chain, the links so strong and tight...but when times get worse - I never quit - I just buckle down and fight. And when God does choose to reward me, it comes in the simplest form...In the beauty of a newborn lamb or the soil so rich and warm. And the family that He gave me, like the growing of the grain...fills my life with meaning that could never be the same. And in times of peace and solitude, as I watch the setting sun...over fruitful fields both rich and green, I can say, "A job well done".

Friday, November 8, 2013

milkless body butter made by the milkmaid

that's a catchy post title huh :) Well I am the milkmaid..milking the goat & ewe girls, toting it, straining it, refrigerating it and then there's all the things that I make with it. Since we allow the girls to dry off naturally during the winter months so they can relax and prepare for their spring leaves us milkless. And it only seems fitting that some of my body butters would then be milkless too. But do not think that this body butter is anything less than heavenly just because it lacks milk. Where I omitted milk, I have added organic shea butter and our own spring fed farm water. I've been configuring this formula for some time now and the latest versions are on the thick-like-butter side and smooth and moisturizing. I don't make a body butter without my favorite jojoba oil and essential oils too - the warm vanilla also contains some of my homemade Mexican vanilla. And last but not least, I've designed a lovely label and put my Alpine girl Gidge smack in the middle - just so you don't forget that even though it doesn't contain her milk, it is still all things beautiful and as always, naturally milkmaid made :)


Eliza sweet talking Gaston


Saturday, October 26, 2013

homemade laundry soap

If there is something I can make instead of buying it already made..I'm going to do it! Laundry soap has to be one of the most economical things to make vs. buying You may not get that Tide or Gain smell but is that really such a bad thing? All those fake scents aren't what they're cracked up to be anyway. 
 I used to sell buckets and buckets of my goat milk laundry soap at the farmers market and here's how I make it!

2 boxes of washing soda (arm & hammer - 55oz)
1 box of borax (20 mule team - 76oz)
1 large 8oz or more bar of soap (I made my own goat milk bar of soap specifically for laundry and used only essential oils to scent or left it completely unscented - if not using a concentrated laundry soap bar, you may need to add another bar of soap)
1 cup of baking soda (if you do not like baking soda, you can easily omit it or add extra's like oxy-clean in addition to the baking soda or instead)

I used a stick blender to grind the grated soap and a little borax together to get the soap to a consistency I liked. Then added all ingredients to a bucket and mixed well with my hand. This will fill a 2 gallon bucket and be over 190oz of laundry soap. This is not detergent, so it is mild, non-sudsing and safe for all washing machines. Even the front loaders. And it got really special rave reviews from those that were looking for that gentle but sufficient clean for clothe diapers.
1 tablespoon will wash 1 normal sized load - heavily soiled load may need 2 tablespoons. Wallah and you're set for laundry soap for a loooong time and depending on where you get your'll spend less than $20 for 2 gallons of it which will wash over 400 loads. And you have complete control over your ingredients. What is not to love about homemade!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

harvest celebration farm dinner

In celebration of our milking season coming to a near end, we held a small community fall harvest dinner here at the farm. We provided the chili, drinks and of course a little cheese and all who came were asked to bring a side to share. A really fun evening of friends, neighbors, family, moonlight, warm fire and really great food! Apparently I was too busy chatting and relaxing and slacked on the picture taking. But here's a few of what I did take and also a little about the stew pot and our pork chili...and just in case you want to make chili for a small army sometime in the future, I've included the recipe!

After weeks of looking and looking at used pots, we finally decided to start our own heirloom hand me down and purchase a brand new cast iron 18 gallon pot.

It needed to be seasoned but what an awesome pot and just the size I had in mind. It is obviously way too huge to fit in the oven for seasoning, so we opted to season it on an open fire outside. We greased, heated and cooled it several times before the pot itself no longer smoked when it was hot and the inside of the pot was smooth enough to cook in. 
greasing the pot

seasoning the pot
We will likely keep repeating the process a couple more times before the pot is seasoned the way it needs to be. But in the meantime, we will cook in it!

ingredient #1 - our own pastured and milk fed pork

 ~Pork Chili~
10 pounds of pork roasts (cooked separately and deboned - add only meat to your pot)
I used a 10lb bag of pintos and 3lbs of navy beans 
(soaked overnight then drained - navy beans are a natural soup thickener)
15 gallons of liquid (combo of the broth from the pork, water and chicken broth)
15 chile and banana peppers (diced)
6 onions (diced)
12 garlic cloves (diced)
1 large bunch of cilantro
cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne & red pepper to taste
~ We sat the pot on rebar over an open fire. We used cinder blocks to run the rebar through for the pot to sit on - the heavier the rebar the better..cuz this pot is HEAVY. You could also hang it over the fire but the rebar & cinder block set up was the simplest for us. Once it's secure and sitting evenly, add all ingredients to your pot. You will want to get the liquid to a slow boil, so build your fire up and then let it die down to adjust your heat. We simmered the stew for 7 hours and it was perfect. 
our son Derek was the chili stirrer and kept the fire going

the finished chili with lots of added all natural smoke flavor...delish!

Happy Fall Y'all!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

chicken & dumplings

 It's chicken & dumplin' weather here this week. And what warms you to your bones more than a hearty homemade soup that's been simmering on the stove most of the day. Mmmm mm. Even though I've improvised the soup, this is how my mom always made her dumplings. As a little girl, I can remember watching her do this. Watching her at work in the kitchen are some of my favorite childhood memories and this was one of my favorite meals that she made! And the majority of the time, the fryer she used was one that we raised and processed ourselves..which is a whole different story for another day. But if you need a good dumplin' ya go!

2-3lb whole fryer
1 gallon or more of water
chunk carrots, celery, onions & minced garlic
~In a dutch oven, if you have one, simmer all together for a couple of hours or more until tender. Remove chicken, debone and then return meat to your stock.
Add to your chicken & stock:
4 potatoes - diced
salt & pepper to taste
(you may need to add more water at this time, depending on how long you've simmered your chicken and how much water has cooked down. Use your judgement)
~Simmer until potatoes are tender. While potatoes are cooking, make the dumplings.
cutting the dough into square dumplings
dropping the dumplings into boiling soup
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of water (or a little more if needed for the dough to hold together)
~Roll out about 1/4" thick and cut into squares - drop into boiling soup and cover. Simmer for about 20 min. until done.
Cheers to tasty food ~

This post is part of the Clever Chicks Blog Hop
The Chicken Chick