August 27, 2014

The Herb Garden in August


Now that it's August, the herb garden is finally looking established, full and green. I enjoy going out there each day to water each individual plant and see how they're doing. It's almost like visiting friends. I brush my fingers against the rosemary, the different basils, the catnip and mint; they smell so good.


The grasshopper population has declined. I'm sure they've laid their eggs in the ground for next year's invasion, but at least for now, there aren't as many of them and my plants are finally able to grow and thrive.


I have four kinds of basil this year: sweet basil (genovese), dark opal basil, cinnamon basil and purple basil.


The cinnamon basil has gone to seed. I've been pinching off the sweet basil flowers so it will continue growing leaves that I can harvest, but I let the others "do their thing".


Do you remember when I confessed that I've never been able to keep rosemary alive? This plant has outlived my expectations and still looks great.


I was a little worried about planting catnip, but the outdoor cats have ignored it. Whether or not a cat likes catnip is a genetic thing.


Calendula



Marigolds


I finally spotted a dozen little paprika peppers on this plant.


The lavender plant is just beginning to bloom again.


Lemon balm

I planted oregano seeds; they sprouted and grew to a grand height of about a quarter inch, where they remained for two months and then died. I've replanted the pot and hope for better success.


A dear friend sent me a birthday card made of handmade paper with flower seeds embedded in it. I kept the inner card but "planted" the handmade paper in a pot in the herb garden.


Soon there were little seedlings, and now they've grown tall and the zinnias are blooming. There are small purple flowers as well but I'm not sure what they are. Verbena maybe?


Not all the flowers in the herb garden are herbs, but they are all delightful, lending cheerful color to the variety of green leaves and the sweet and spicy scents. I'm enjoying the addition of the container garden. I hope I can overwinter the perennials in the house so that I can enjoy them again next spring.

You might also enjoy:
The New Herb Garden
The Herb Garden in June
The Herb Garden in July
The Herb Garden in August


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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August 26, 2014

A Slice of My Life




Do I dare say that Scooter is housebroken?
We made it seven days without an accident, then had to reset the counter,
but it's been another five consecutive days without an "oops".

~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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August 25, 2014

Chèvre Cheese


August is National Goat Cheese Month. I've challenged myself to make a different kind of cheese from goat milk every week - some that I've made before and some that are new to me. The kind folks at Hoegger Supply Company, my favorite place to buy goat supplies, said that sounded like fun! They have provided the cheese cultures and other supplies I've been using. My many thanks go out to them.

My Nubian goats - Phoenix, Ziva, Firefly, and Felicity - are providing the milk I'm using to make the cheeses.


This week I made chèvre cheese. The French word for goat is chèvre, and this is a true goat cheese. Strangely enough, although I've owned goats for over twelve years, I've never made chèvre before. I decided this was the time to do it. I used the recipe on the Hoegger website.

Chèvre is a soft cheese that can be substituted for cream cheese. I don't use cream cheese much in my kitchen, but that's partly because I don't ever think to buy it. This could open up a whole new world for me - cheesecake! It's also a very easy cheese to make, it just takes some time, most of which is spent waiting.


To make chèvre you need:
5 quarts milk - I used raw, whole, goat milk
Liquid rennet
Mesophylic cheese culture
Cheese salt (optional)

Equipment needed:
Stockpot that holds at least 6 quarts
Thermometer
Long spoon
Cheesecloth
Strainer

I started with 5 quarts of cold, raw goat milk. I poured it into my sterilized stainless steel stockpot and heated it to 86°F. While the milk was heating up, I measured 1/3 cup of filtered water into a small bowl and added 3 drops of liquid rennet, and set it aside until needed.


When the milk reached 86°, I removed it from the stovetop and added 1/8 teaspoon of direct set mesophylic cheese culture. I stirred once around the pot, then added 2 Tablespoons from the diluted rennet in the bowl and stirred again. The rest of the diluted rennet was discarded. I set the pot of milk on the back of the stove and left it overnight. The directions suggest letting it sit for 8-12 hours.


In the morning, 10 hours later, the top of the liquid was a smooth layer of curds.  With a ladle I carefully moved the curds to a cheesecloth-lined strainer.


The curds nearly filled the pot, all the way to the bottom - there were a lot of them - and I had to move them to a larger piece of cheesecloth in a bowl because the cheesecloth-lined strainer I was using wasn't large enough to hold all the curds.


I tied up the corners of the cheesecloth as I usually do, but the ball of curds was much too large to fit in the pitcher where I usually drain cheeses. I left it in the strainer in a bowl to drain for several hours, then when the ball was smaller I hung it in the pitcher.

The directions say to let the whey drain off for 8-10 hours, and that the cheese is ready when it has the consistency of cream cheese. I let mine drain for 9 hours. It's a little drier than I'd like, so next time I will check it earlier. Yield: a little over 32 ounces (2 pounds). This is a very productive cheese.


As well as using it like cream cheese, this cheese can be seasoned with herbs and spread on crackers or crusty bread.

How easy is that? Need some cream cheese? Make some chèvre!





National Goat Cheese Month
Week One - Lemon Cheese
Week Two - Ricotta
Week Three - Mozzarella
Week Four - Chèvre - this post



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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August 24, 2014

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- our grandson's second birthday
- the landscape is still green in August
- that it's been a less-hot-than-normal summer
- homemade pizza
- the fall garden
Silver Sunday

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and His ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
I Peter 3:12 NIV

~~~~~

August 22, 2014

Friday Follow-Up

This week:

-- We had visiting cows again, three black heifers that wandered up and down the cross-fencing and then went through the pond and into our hayfield. When we moved here, our new neighbors were quite upset that we had goats. "They'll be out all the time" and "they'll be in the road," we heard. I think it's quite comical that my goats have not been a problem, but the neighbors' cows have been. We've had cows on our property belonging to four different neighbors. To be fair, my horses did escape once and visit a neighbor's hay meadow, and our dog wanders all over the countryside.


-- The mozzarella I made topped a homemade pizza on Monday night. Fern wanted to know how I made it. I use the recipe for my Italian herb bread for the crust, topped with barbecue sauce instead of pizza sauce. I grated the homemade mozzarella, then added sliced leftover chicken from the night before, peppers - sweet, bell, and serrano - and onions from the garden, and baked it at 350F for 20 minutes or so. The cheese melted beautifully and the pizza was delicious.

-- I know that disbudding goats is a hot topic, with a lot of passion on both sides. This is why I disbud my kids: this week I sold one of the buck kids, Ezekiel. As the buyer picked him up to carry him to the truck, the kid threw his head back and banged the top of his skull into the side of my face. I heard a THUD, and ended up with a sore jaw, a bad headache, and a black-and-blue patch on my face. Can you imagine if he'd had horns? Can you imagine that instead of my face, he'd hit a child or grandchild? I know we all have our reasons for disbudding or not disbudding; this is mine. Let's not judge each other for our decisions.

-- Cracker, our coyote-chasing dog, killed an adolescent raccoon yesterday behind the barn. My riding buddy and I witnessed the short tussle from horseback. Cracker was the clear winner, and had not a mark on him. He watched the corpse for awhile - maybe he thought it would come back to life as a zombie or something. It was kind of creepy to think that the raccoon was in the brush less than 15 feet from the round pen where we were riding.


-- I hadn't ridden Ella in a couple of months, but she acted like I'd been on her the day before. Have to love a horse like that!

~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
  Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email
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