Archive for April 12th, 2013

April 12, 2013

Homemade yogurt the easy way!

I make about a half a gallon at a time, quart and half gallon masons work very well as containers.  First I heat my raw milk to 180. Yes, this does pasteurize it. No, I don’t like killing the good qualities about my raw milk but in the end, it gives me a firmer yogurt. Heating it denatures the proteins so even if you are using store bought pasteurized milk, heat it to 180 degrees. You can make totally raw yogurt without heating it, it will give you a bit runnier yogurt, which I also make often as well. I like both for smoothies, I prefer the firmer Greek style for eating and the runnier to put into pancake batter, muffin mixes, etc.

After my milk comes up to temp. (being very careful not to let it get too hot as burnt milk will be ruined and take a good brillo pad to clean your pan, besides.), I let it cool to 95-110 degrees (either on the counter or in a bath of cool water) and I put a good size scoop (soup spoon size) or two of yogurt from another batch and stir to melt once it cools to 10, not before, you may kill the cultures. If you’re starting your yogurt from scratch, use a store bought yogurt (preferably plain unless you want residual flavors) with LIVE cultures (VERY important) or a powdered yogurt culture. Powdered cultures can be found from any online cheese making source, Hoegger Supply, etc.

While the milk is heating, I heat up a pot of water to about 115-120 degrees (On occasion I leave it go to boiling, I haven’t had any problems using boiling water). When the water is at temp., I pour it into a mason jar and stick it in my “cooler” to warm it up. Once the milk/yogurt culture mixture is ready, I put that into a half gallon mason or 2 quarts and stick it all into the cooler. I leave the jug of water in, close the lid and let ‘er rip. I’ll check it after a couple of hours to be sure it’s still at the right temp. (112-114) and just let it sit until it becomes the consistency I like (6-24 hours). If the temp. drops below 110, I add a new jug of warm/hot water in place of the other.

Once your yogurt is at the consistency you want, add ins like strawberries, peaches, etc. can be mixed in. Add honey to sweeten if you like!

Yogurt makes the BEST pancake mix! The possibilities are endless!

smoothie

Yogurt Smoothie! Ingredients: raw goat’s milk thanks to my dairy girls, raw goat’s milk yogurt (made by yours truly =), honey, flax seeds, frozen blueberries, and frozen strawberries!

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April 12, 2013

Springy farm update

      The first real day in the garden in what seems like a VERY long overdue time! Strawberries were planted last week in barrels, the starts were given to us by a very generous neighbor, a much appreciated PIF (pay it forward).
     When we clean out the barn of waste hay and manure, we pile it into a big mound in different locations and it’s left to sit. It gives us absolutely gorgeous compost! Goat manure can be put straight onto the garden but with all the waste hay and bedding, we think it is a lot better when left to sit for 6 months to a year. This morning I hooked up the garden trailer to the garden tractor (riding lawn mower) and took several loads of this lovely compost to the garden to fill my raised beds for the herbs and potato pots.
     Despite the nasty ice storm we just had, nothing really seems to be too worse for the wear and we got a lot of moisture out of it to boot! I overheard someone recently say the tally was 1.5″ of rain but at least here at our place, if the buckets and bowls are any indication, it had to be closer to 2.5 if not 3″! That’s certainly a blessing!
     The grass is green, it’s a lovely spring day and just this morning -while examining the fruit trees to see if they were any worse for the wear (they’re not!)- I noticed the oats are about 2″ tall! Boy has this moisture just worked miracles for everything! It seems we got everything in at just the right time. The orchard looks amazing, the strawberries survived the ice storm and the blackberry bushes we got on clearance at Lowes for being frostbitten -despite being forgotten and left out during the ice storm, whammy #2-, they look just as dandy as they did before being frosted in ice! What’s (almost) worse, we left them in a vehicle for about 3 days after we bought them because we were lazy apparently. I thought, “OH NO”! when I realized they were still in there but come to find out, it had the greenhouse effect and those things grew new leaves and they looked lovely after a few days in the heat! You’d never know they looked dead only a few days before.
      The orchard was one of those things on the “someday” list. I am sure you know just the list, right? It’s not always easy to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but those ‘somedays’ DO come! Jeremiah just mentioned the other day how amazing it was that the ‘someday’ orchard is now a reality, just like that! It didn’t come without work, oooooh no. But, as my Grandma still says to this day, you appreciate things more when you have to work for them. How true.
     The pigs did such a great job tilling the garden in for us last fall, I seriously doubt it’ll need much more than a quick going over with the rototiller. One less chore, though secretly, it’s not a chore, I very much enjoy working the soil for the first time each year =).
     I so very much want to move the 2.5 month old chicks out of the chicken tractor and into the great big world but after the hawk attack several weeks ago that took one of my Golden Wyandottes, I am so reluctant to until they are bigger. I move that tractor several times a day (rotational grazing, so to speak) so they have fresh grass to chomp on but I know they’d very much like to be able to truly free range. Hard job, doing what’s best for them =).
     I cannot tell you how lucky and blessed we feel to be where we are at. This is a life long dream of mine, a continuation of life for Jeremiah and despite the days where it just seems like there’s entirely too much work for entirely too few people, there is entirely too little money or too little machinery, in the end, we have entirely more blessings than we probably deserve…it’s hard not to take that for granted sometimes.
     This weekend there are no farm auctions, at least none we’re going to. I am pretty sure this place will be 90% built with used items. We got a great deal on about 25 cattle and hog panels and not a minute too soon. We need to get fencing put back up between the main barnyard and the eastern oat pasture before the goats discover what’s out there and that’ll be the end of the oats and we need to finish up the fencing to the orchard. I also still don’t know what we’re doing with the pigs, we go back and forth. Some days I’d like to just send them off to freezer camp, other days I think we should move them out to pasture. I really would like the space to extend the garden for goat goodies. <sigh> One more slot taken on the ‘someday’ list, when we just got finished bumping one off, ha! This afternoon I intend to cook up a storm, despite how gorgeous it is outside! Having MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat, only entirely so much better tasting and better for us than military MRE’s =) made makes it so we can get so much more done without having to stop to come in to make a meal, or worse yet, GO GET ONE from town because I’m too tired to fix something.
     From my kitchen window I can see the does headed to pasture, Ann in particular lagging behind who may kid today -and a lovely day it would be!- and that prompts me to end this and get back to work. Have a great weekend!