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Finally, cow cheese

5 Aug

We have made cheese, but we always used our goat’s milk. Since we only have three milking goats, we had to save up a couple of days worth of milk to be able to get 2 gallons.

Now that we are milking our cow, it’s even easier. We’ve been selling the milk (a steal at $25/liter) and we still have extra, so we made cheese.

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We haven’t used rennet yet, but I can’t wait to try that. I think we will get a thicker coagulation. As it is, we use the berries of the trompillo plant, and it comes out really creamy and smooth.

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Someday, when we really get things going, we will be able to make a cheese-making room. But for now, we just take over the kitchen. I’d also like to try making aged soft cheeses, like Brie and Camembert. We’ve always got about a million things we want to do, and we are trying to do as much as we can “right now” instead of “someday when we have ….”, because we all know someday never comes.

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Mentally, we are taking a break from the garden this week. The animals of course need us daily. But we are talking about all the plans/dreams we have for next season, and still working on this season, and it’s good to just take a vacation once a year. So we won’t be harvesting lettuce this week, and we will try to restrain ourselves from planting anything. Just one week!

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Little chicken farmer

25 Jul

Leon is pretty much the hardest thing in my life right now. If you haven’t had a toddler in your life recently, you have no idea. If you used to have toddlers in your life, you have forgotten how terrible it is. Now I understand the “terrible twos”. I used to think it was about tantrums, but in Leon’s case, it’s all about GETTING INTO EVERYTHING QUICKLY.

I need a little person (one with lots of energy and agility) to just follow him around, making sure he doesn’t drink gasoline, spill acid on his feet, or climb 8 foot ladders (yes all of these things happened).

On the flip side, our busy little boy is proving to be very industrious. Yesterday morning, I let all the little chicks out of their coop, so I could move it to fresh ground. Then I had to catch them all and put them back in. Leon was watching all this from the bedroom window. His dad opened the bedroom door, and Leon RAN out, straight for the chickens, and began catching them and putting them in the coop.

It was amazing to see him understand the two-step process: not only catch them, but also put them where they belong. It was also amazing that his attention never waned. He saw the task through to the end. Yay, go Leon!

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So then later that day, we went over to the farm. I wanted to feed the hens tomatoes because we had a lot of extras and I showed Leon how to pick tomatoes and put them in a bucket.

He got serious about his task right away, filled his bucket, and then laboriously and with focus, brought the bucket over to the hens. I didn’t show him to feed them to the hens; I was busy doing something else, but Leon just knew. Seriously humans are amazing.

He’s a year and seven months and already earning his keep. This might work out after all.

Chicken tractor, chicken coop, chicken buffet

2 Apr

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We’re lucky down here in Baja California Sur that the weather is almost always really nice. My brother is staying with me, and he commented that “a really beautiful day is when it’s cloudy and they are so nice too look at. And then you realize it’s the first clouds you’ve seen in weeks”. It’s true! It’s always blue skies and 75 degrees.

Even still, we used to lose several chicks with each batch because we weren’t protecting them enough from the cold nights. So we browsed the Internet and saw this triangle design. I like it because it takes slightly less material than a square design.

You can see it is open on the bottom so that they are fertilizing the ground. And note the cabin at the back end where they keep themselves warm at night. We turn a lightbulb on in there for extra warmth.

We move it every few days to spread that rich manure out. We are going to turn that parcel of land into a garden soon.

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Here are our big chickens. Once they outgrow the little brooder we send them to the coop. They are snacking on fresh lettuce from the garden! We designed this cool feeding trough so that we don’t have to enter the coop everyday to feed them. It is adorable when they are all lined up eating.

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We use a similar design in the goat corral. Here you can see everyone eating from both sides. We cut fresh alfalfa from the garden if they don’t get enough free grazing time that day. They are in two different pens because we have to keep the babies from nursing at night so we can milk in the morning.