Archive for “at Fat Toaster Farm…”

Goats Milk and Cheese Adventure with Whey Bread

So, after our first foray into learning how to milk goats, we acquired 1.5 gallons of fresh raw goats milk and needed to do something with it. The following was that adventure.

First, we poured all of it into a large dutch oven and brought it up to 160f degrees to pasteurize the milk we wished to consume. We dipped-off the amount we wished to use as milk, and left the remainder still heating to the suggested cheese-making temp of 180f. We then followed the recipe link below:

How to Make Goat Cheese

Notes: I only added salt-to-taste to the finished product. I did not add herbs or garlic, as I considered the possibility of using it in a pastry context. I’m also planning lasagna… mmmm…

Upon the cheese-making-venture’s completion, I had a couple of quarts of whey left over. Waste not, want not… so, I looked for good recipes that might utilize the whey and go great with the soft ricotta style cheese I had just produced. That is when I adapted the recipe below for my own purposes:

Buttermilk cluster rolls

And here is my adaptation. Tested DELICIOUS!

Goat Milk Whey Roll Cluster

Makes 12 to 18 rolls, depending on sizeGoat Milk Whey Roll Cluster Bread

6 to 6 1/2 cups (750 grams) bread or all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 envelope (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry or instant yeast, or 1 15 gram cake fresh yeast
1 tablespoon warm water
2 cups goat milk whey (leftover from cheese-making)
1 tablespoon sorghum molasses

Glaze:
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Topping:
1-2 tablespoons seeds (poppy, sesame, flax) or grains (cracked wheat, rolled oats)

Bloom yeast in the tablespoon of warm water for 10 min (use a small dish).

Mix flour and salt, add in bloomed yeast and molasses (honey or maple syrup make great substitutes). Mix gently until ingredients are combined thoroughly. If weighing the flour, the texture should be about perfect. If using cup measurement, add flour slowly to assure the right dough texture. I found that 750 grams was less than 6 cups, but it depends on density.

Knead dough for 10 minutes on floured table. Place dough back in bowl and allow to proof (rise) for around 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.

dough after first proof

Dough after first proof, I made a double batch. The egg carton is there for size comparison

Turn out proofed dough on a floured table and cut into equal size rolls. Make nice balls, and place them in a greased dish (spring form pan, or any walled baking dish). Allow for a bit of space between the rolls, as they will increase in size. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof (rise) for another hour or so, or until double.

Dough before second proof

Dough before second proof

Dough after second proof

Dough after second proof, egg washed, seeds on top

Preheat Oven to 425f degrees.

Beat egg in a small dish and add in 1 Tbs of water. Brush the egg wash on the top of the proofed rolls. Sprinkle with your favorite crushed grain or toasted seeds.

Bake the rolls for around 30 minutes, or until rolls are firm and spring back when tapped. Tops will be dark, but check often to prevent burning. The whey causes very quick browning near the end.

Brush tops with melted butter for the ultimate in deliciousness. Serve warm with homemade ricotta-style goats milk cheese!

The finished product(s)

The finished product(s) hot out of the oven!

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Winter Calves!

Both of our Scottish Highland heifers were bred to CD Poseidon (a white loaner bull) in late winter/early spring of 2010. Nine months later the ladies have given us two lovely calves!

Lindsay and Solsti

Lindsay and FT Winter Solstice ("Solsti")

Our first calf came from CD Can’t Touch This. The calf was born on the day of her namesake 12/21/2010… “Winter Solstice” is a white heifer calf born in the snow on one of the coldest days of the year. Later that night we were treated to freezing rain, and (despite our best efforts) “Touch” and “Solsti” spent the night under a tree in our pasture… in the full wind and snow/rain. Considering that this was our first Highland calf, we were worried that the calf would be distressed by the lack of a warm place with a roof. The calf was still wet from the birthing process, but weathered the first night (and many thereafter) with no trouble.

 

Zach and Clover

Zach and FT White Clover ("Clover")

Our second calf came about a month later. CD Copper Penny gave birth to “Seamrag Bhàn” (Scots Gaelic), also known as “White Clover”, on 1/30/2011. We came home from church to find “Penny” near the hay feeder building giving birth. The feet were out, and (although unnecessary) I was able to assist to quicken the birthing process. “Clover”, a white heifer, was also born in the snow… around 12 inches of it. The sun was shining, but the cold wind was incredible. 48 hours later we got another 18″ of snow dumped on us, and yet the new calf seemed not to notice. She just played happily… bouncing about… and slept next to mom.

 

Both calves were named by our facebook friends, and Solsti was born just in time to be featured (along with all the other critters on our farm) in a photo gallery show at Coopersville Farm Museum in Coopersville, MI. by Peg Alofs Becker.

FT Winter Solstice

FT Winter Solstice - Photo by Peg Alofs Becker

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Back in Spring, Lambs were born!

I know it is the middle of August, and clearly I’m behind (as usual) in my blogging. I thought you might be interested in our lambs from this spring.

Our Jacob sheep ewes all twinned this year, and in addition we obtained a Shetland ewe with young ram lamb at the side… so in total, we had 7 lambs on the farm. All three of our Jacob ewes lambed when we were away, and without incident. They are wonderful mothers, and their lambs are now happy and healthy. My only complaint? Of the six lambs born here this year, five were pesky boys.

Cecilia was the first to lamb this year on 4/3/10. She had two very healthy 4 horn rams, Calvin and Hobbes.

Calvin, Hobbes, and Cecilia
Zach and Cecilia's CalvinTop photo – Calvin, Hobbes, and Cecilia

Bottom photo - Zach and Calvin

Baby was the second to lamb with a ram (Bocelli “Bo”, 2 horn) and a ewe (Andrea, 4 horn) on 4/8/10

Baby and her lambs, Andrea (top photo) and Bocelli (bottom front)

Baby and her lambs, Andrea (top photo) and Bocelli (bottom front)

And Finally, Roberta came in third a fitting three weeks later with two playful ram lambs on 4/29/10. We dubbed them Conan (2 horn) and O’brien (4 horn)

Roberta with Conan and O'brien

Roberta with Conan and O'brien

And finally, Jasmine, our black Shetland ewe and her white lamb ram. We named him Jasmine’s Aladdin, but his nickname is “little ramb lamb” forevermore. He is now a wether who will live a long life on our farm as a fiber animal. He is a big fuzzy puppy dog of a sheep, and the highlight of anyone’s visit to our farm.
"Little Ram Lamb" Aladdin

"Little Ram Lamb" Aladdin

Of course, it is August as I write this, so all of the lambs have grown significantly.  Many updated photos can be found on the “For Sale” page!
Zach with "Little Lamb Ram" in August, 2010

Zach with "Little Ram Lamb" in August, 2010

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Spring sheep shearing 2010

Our saga began on Friday night as we picked up a friend’s pickup truck complete with a rack/cage in the bed perfectly suited for sheep transportation. It had been raining all week, so we had kept our sheep in the barn for several days to stay dry. My dad arrived at the farm just in time to help me load my three Jacob ewes in the truck. We backed the truck into my barn to keep the ladies dry overnight.

8am rolled around very quickly, and we gingerly drove the sheep over to Hillside Jacobs in Sparta, Michigan where we were going to shear my sheep, Gary’s sheep (Hillside), and one of Gary’s brother’s flock of Columbia sheep.

Setup was relatively simple. The professional shearer needed a 6′ x 6′ footprint, and myself and a few other guys worked to keep the sheep flowing around him. On one side, one of Gary’s brothers helped get the unshorn sheep from the paddock. The shearer took about 4 minutes per sheep, and when done, I grabbed the freshly shorn sheep, brought it over to get a quick vaccination shot (tetanus and a few others), and then returned her to the paddock.

Click here to see a video of my ewe Cecelia getting sheared

Once the fleece was off the sheep, it was carried over to a skirting table where two ladies (Gary’s wife and sister) worked hard to remove the bad or soiled wool and categorize the wool quality. The wool was bagged in individually marked bags so that hand-spinners could know what sheep their wool came from. Wool from the stomach area as well as the rear is usually discarded. Jacob wool is highly prized by hand-spinners for its natural two-tone color and generally good quality.

The shearer worked from around 9am until nearly 5pm without an extended break. Many spectators joined the fun over the course of the day. The Columbia sheep, over 200 pounds, were certainly a huge task when compared to the Jacobs or Shetlands that Gary and I had. It was a busy day, but filled with great learning experiences.

A late lunch was had by those remaining, and we drove our newly naked ladies home to their warm barn.

Lambs are soon to be on the way!

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a brief editorial note…

So, this is the point at which I will apologize for not writing chronological entries. My original hope was to document our farm experience from day 1 onward… however, it has simply become my excuse for not documenting what is going on now in lieu of keeping this blog chronological. That is just dumb.

Hopefully I can “catch up” later… but for now, I’ll simply try to post.

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Finding and deciding on animals…

Lindsay and I spent a fair amount of time deliberating on what animals should populate our farm. Here is a short list of the animals we’ve considered (in order of size)

chickens
guineas
rabbits
ducks (Indian Runner Ducks)
peacocks
sheep (Jacob Sheep)
goats (many varying breeds, for milk and meat)
llamas
alpacas
cattle (Highland Cattle and others for milk/meat)
bison
donkeys (protect sheep)
horses (draft… mostly Belgian)

For now we’ve decided on chickens (starting in spring ’10), Indian Runner ducks (starting in spring ’10), Jacob sheep, and Highland cattle.

To read all about the qualities of the Jacob sheep and Highland cattle which brought us around to getting then, simply read through their breed information pages. In the most basic sense, in both cases, they were hardy low maintenance animals that calved/lambed easily with little or no assistance. Both were ancient breeds with a “threatened” or near threatened status (number of their breed in the world is low) yet unique and worth preserving.

Here are some various reasons that we haven’t yet, or may never have some of the animals I listed…

  • guineas (still on the “someday” list… possibly Spring ’10)
  • rabbits (someday soon)
  • peacocks (still on the “someday”” list)
  • goats – for now, on hold. Goats can breed with sheep and cause pregnancy that does not carry to term. Goats are also more mischievous, and frankly, I’m not convinced I want the hassle…
  • llamas/alpacas -they spit, they require shearing like sheep (but they are three times the size… so that becomes a logistical issue), and they are generally mischievous. Lindsay loves these, so hope stands for them despite my objections.
  • bison – extremely large and wild. Bison are amazing creatures… beautiful, majestic, truly american… but at the same time, they are totally wild, require specialized fencing, and they are not domesticated… therefore dangerous. Not exactly a “starter farm” animal.
  • donkeys – still a possibility for the future… I love how they protect sheep.
  • horses – my grandfather always had Belgian draft horses, and they were amazing gentle beasts. I hope that someday I can have some of these amazing horses, but for now, more learning must be pursued and more experience must be acquired.

Obviously, more thought has gone into these decisions than just a few sentences can describe, however, these were our primary reasons along with some hope for the future in some cases.

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