Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Anyone know of any?  A friend of ours was asking, and I wasn’t sure what to recommend.

There are plenty of books devoted to the home cheesemaker.  But we’re looking for a book that covers home dairy animals – selection, breeding, milking, management, birthing, the whole shebang.  A section on home cheesemaking would be a plus.

A lot of our books are too generic, I think Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is probably the closest.  But I want something one step up.

If I was more experienced, I think I might write the book. 😉  Maybe one day …

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Nubian Dairy Goat from Dairy Goat Journal

Last week the CBS Early Morning Show had a segment on goat cheese featuring Bobby Flay and Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese.

You can view the segment here.

Part of the segment focuses on the versatility of goat cheese.  The ladies at Rainbeau Ridge have produced a cookbook with this focus, entitled Over the Rainbeau.  The book also shares its focuses on sustainable living.  I’ve yet to get my hands on a copy, but it is on my wishlist!

We had a friend over the other weekend who made a cheesecake using our plain chevre.  It was AMAZING, topped with fresh strawberries.  Don’t just use your cheese with crackers.  Experiment.  I’m keeping a photo log of every recipe we use that includes our cheese.  It’s fun, and tasty, to experiment this way!

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I had Wednesday off so HB suggested I head over to the market for Green Market Wednesday and the afternoon’s scheduled rain barrel workshop.  So I did.

The first part of the workshop presented a lecture on rain gardens.  Rain gardens are planned depressions in the ground that allow storm water to runoff and collect and slowly infiltrate into the ground.  When used properly, they can lessen the amount of polluted runoff water reaching streams and rivers by 30%.  Runoff water comes from parking lots, rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, roads, and other broad expanses.  Problems arise when large quantities of water, often carrying pollutants from pesticides, fertilizers, sediment, debris and other wastes  are dumped into streams and rivers.

I’ve become more aware of the local water situations living on a farm for a few years now with spring-fed creeks running through the hills.  Somethings cannot be controlled – our neighbors have a lease on the property fronting the road and we have no say in the choices of fertilizers and pesticides they use on land we do not own.  But we can attempt to make the correct choices on our own property.  And we may not be able to control the choices of our in-laws, but I can play a role in the choices HB and I make.

Anyway, back to the workshop.

Once the lecture was over, a gal from the local soil and water conservation group gave a quick talk and then we delved into making our rain barrels.  Literally, delved.  The barrels we were given were old pickle barrels, some (like mine) still containing old pickle juice.  For a person who does not like pickles, it was slightly disgusting.  For any normal person it was probably a little gross.  You tip the barrel to about a 45* angle, then bend over, shove your top half inside the barrel and find your bearings inside the dark and stinky abyss inside.  Lovely.

Creating the rain barrel was surprisingly easy.  Behold, the finished results:

The barrels come by way of a North Carolina pickle company; of course, the cucumbers weren’t American.  I’m sure the barrel isn’t made in American either.  Ugh.  This reminds me of the Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) article I read this morning on the future of farming.

The barrels come with a permanent top that fits under the rim (similar to a canning jar), but for the sake of the barrel we remove the lid and fit a screen under the rim to keep out debris.

Pictured below is the overpour spout with attached hose.  When the rain barrel fills, water will flow out of this hose and (for now) onto the ground.  The real plan is to have multiple barrels so that when one fills up, the water travels into the next barrel via the hose.  Cool, huh?

And of course, we needed a spigot at the bottom of the barrel.  I want to build a small platform to raise this barrel just high enough to fit a bucket and/or watering can underneath for easy filling.

Interested in attending a rain barrel workshop at the Lynchburg Market?  The next workshop will be held on June 12th from 11am to 1pm.  You can get more information from the market website.

Created just in time for an afternoon thunderstorm.  Perfect!

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Wow, there is so much to say with the latest events over the past few weeks since the last post.  Forgive me, dear readers (hello?  anyone?), but let me indulge you in the latest from Spring Mill.

Chicken: It’s What’s for Dinner

Two weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, we processed our old laying hens.  I debated about if it was something I wanted to share with the blog, but have decided there is nothing to be ashamed about.  We received these hens as day-old chicks, raised them with love and care, and in return they (unknowingly) provided us with eggs for nourishment.  I sold their eggs to my co-workers last year, so they provided nourishment not just to HB and I, our in-laws, but also to at least 50 other people when you count the eggs eaten by our neighbors, co-workers, friends and their respective families.  Amazing the impact of 11 little hens, isn’t it?

The hens were getting older, laying less, and eating what eggs they did lay – a habit we tried hard to break, but never could.  So we set up one Sunday morning, and processed the hens.  The first one was the hardest for me, and after that it became a respectful thanksgiving as we did each hen.  The processing wasn’t that difficult and it was actually pretty interesting.  In their death, these birds will continue to provide nourishment, and that’s another amazing aspect.

A New Beginning

The day after we processed the hens, the next set of chicks arrived.  This time we ordered 30 pullets, half of which are Americanas that lay the beautiful “easter” eggs in shades of blue and green.  The other half are a mix of brown egg layers, Columbian Rocks, Red crosses, and Silver-Laced Wyandottes.  The picture above is taken at one week of age.  They’re living in their brooder in the coop and thriving.  We ordered them from Mt Healthy Hatchery in Ohio.  We ordered our previous set of laying hens from them as well, we love the quality of the birds.  Now, if only I could find a few meat birds to raise as well… 😉

A New Addition

Last week Xenia kidded a beautiful little doeling, who we named “Bette Davis” to keep up the year’s theme.  She is a sweet, spunky little girl.  Despite wanting to bottle-raise, we’ve decided to let Xenia raise her.  Our work schedules just don’t allow time for midday feedings.  Now I’m trying to decide when to introduce her to the rest of the herd.  Bette is so much younger than the other kids, I don’t want them to bully or injure her with their roughhousing!

The Never-Ending Project 😉

The goat barn is coming along well.  We’ve fenced in the small barn lot surrounding it and putt up two of the three gates.  We’ve started some of the interior wall work, and once that is finished will complete the outer front wall.  Then! we will be able to move the goats out there.  How strange it will be to not wake up to them “baaaaa”ing out my back door!

A Bit of Beauty

Our rose bushes are in full bloom and I’m in love with them.  Every year they get better and better.  These were $6 tea rose hybrids we picked up on a whim at WalMart a few years back.  I love the blooms – one blooms a buttery yellow, the other blooms a pale yellow with pink-tinged petals.   Walking out to the chicken coop and seeing these lovely plants makes me smile.

An Education.

Today is the first day the dairy goats and kids have been turned out with the wethers in the big pasture with Huck.  There were some antics at first, but now everyone has settled down and enjoying the field.  Yes, and I said with Huck, my horse.  After nearly 9 months of stall rest and controlled exercise we got the “go ahead” after his last ultrasound to put him out in the pasture!  Last Wednesday was his first day out, and he is LOVING it.  I think he enjoys the goats out there too.  Sweet Roll and Donut stay with him full time – in the pasture during the day, in the barn lot at night.  They often curl up together (the wethers, Huck doesn’t curl up with them) and sleep in the stall at night.  Huck must be picking up skills from the goats – when we climb a big hill/mountain on the trail he breaks out his “mountain goat walk” and cruises up them. 🙂

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Two years ago today, I married my best friend and we never looked back.

I don’t think either one of us saw where our life together was going to lead, but we welcome the surprises each day holds.  We take on adventures, hand in hand, and conquer.  And if we don’t conquer, at least we tried.  Together.  And we’ll likely try again.  One of us is always able to pick up the reins and carry us forward.

We have both faced successes and disappointments.  With the help of each other, we persevere and try to revel in the small things.  Together we have raised baby calves, baby chicks, and baby goats.  We’ve produced our own food, and I’ve canned more in the past three years than I ever thought I could.  We thrive on our little part of the farm and hold dear the friends that doing so have brought us.

To HB, I can say nothing more other than

I love you more and more every day.

♥ Happy Anniversary! ♥

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Epic Video

A friend sent this to me, and I thought some readers might enjoy it as well.

It’s a Samsung commercial for the UK, but it is so clever I couldn’t help but smile and giggle.  I love border collies and love to watch them work.

You can view it here, on YouTube.  Unfortunately I can’t find a link to embed it.


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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Library of Congress has uploaded to their Flickr account numerous photochroms of Ireland from the 1890s-1900s.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Cliffs of Moher, April 2006

The first picture is the LOC’s photochrom.  The second is from my second visit to Ireland.  The Cliffs of Moher is my absolute favorite place on earth.  I would have married there if I could.  It’s beauty astounds me and leaves me speechless, and the sense of scale you have by looking off those cliffs is unfathomable.

Blarney Castle, County Cork

Blarney Castle, April 2006

Blarney Castle is home to the Blarney Stone, and it is said that by kissing the Blarney Stone you will be given the gift of gab, or better termed “eloquent speech.”  I’ve kissed the stone twice – which, by the way, you have to lay on your back and hold on to a bar while two attendants hold onto your body as you stick your head into a recessed area to kiss the slab of bluestone while you look down a 30′ drop. 😉

St. Stephens Green, County Dublin

St. Stephens Green, April 2006

St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful public park in the heart of Dublin.  During my last visit to Ireland, I arrived in town a day before my parents arrived.  I was studying in Sweden at the time, and stupidly forgot that although my parents left on April 16, they wouldn’t be in Ireland until April 17!  So I arrived on the 16th, stayed in a hostel, and wandered Dublin alone.  It was great fun and I made a friend out of my roommate at the hostel.  While wandering Dublin in the (traditional) light rain, I stumbled upon this park and enjoyed it immensely!  I took my parents back the next day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Now, if you’re around Lynchburg, go to the Community Market and pick up a loaf of Irish Soda Bread from Lorraine Bakery!!  I know I will! 🙂  For now, I’m off to Anita’s to play with her baby goats!

ps.  I now wish terribly for a third trip to Ireland. It is, seriously, my favorite place on Earth. Well, aside from the Norwegian fjords.  They’re pretty amazing too.

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Today, work was just one of those days.  One of those days where you say to yourself, “I’m going home and drinking a beer.”  And here I find myself, not one, but two, beers later.

Jenna wrote on Monday about a similar situation.  Maybe without the beer.  She didn’t mention it.

I came home this evening to HB making dinner and all the barn chores needing completion.  I started with feeding the dogs, since it was raining and Hershey was outside (Chester, with his bad back is on indefinite cage rest and attends work with me daily).  Then the chickens, then letting Huck into the barn lot for exercise.  I fed Huck,  milked Jacqsonne, fed Abba and Memphis, fed Xenia, fed Sweet Roll, cleaned Huck’s’ stall.  Then I fed the cats and wrapped up the night putting down fresh bedding.

It’s amazing what having 20+ mouths to feed does to your perspective.  It gives you something worth doing.  Otherwise, like Jenna, I likely would have come home, curled up with a snack and a beer (well, pre-HB, that would have been the case), and snoozed the night away.

So to all the animals out there on the farm that depend on me, thank you for keeping me in line. 🙂

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Last week, a Charlottesville-area television station had a short segment on local goat dairies.  Included in the spotlight were Night Sky Farm of Brookneal, Caramont Farm of Esmont, Goats R Us of Blackstone, and Iron Rod Chevre of Earlysville.  You can view the clip on the Edible Blue Ridge website.


It’s been a very busy week, so I apologize for the lack of updates.  I worked all through the weekend, and on Monday I had the opportunity to spend the day with Jennifer Downey at Night Sky Farm (link above and under the “Favorites” tab).  It was a wonderful, informative day.  I arrived in time to “help” with the morning milking of 13 does and her wonderful Jersey cow, Emily.  Jennifer has a wonderful team of helpers and the milking runs like a well-oiled machine.  While the does were milked, I learned about udder structure and mammary attachment by viewing a variety of udder shapes and sizes.

Once the milking was complete and the machines were cleaned, we headed up to see the “nursery” where all the older kids are kept, ranging from 4 days to several weeks old.  Part of the reason for the trip was to inspect prospective bucklings — HB and I are debating over purchasing our own buck for the upcoming breeding season,  “borrowing” a buck from a friend, taking does to a buck, or investing in artificial insemination (the least likely option).  Jennifer has 2-3 buck kids that have potential AND come from completely unrelated bloodlines from our does.  We just need to decide what we want to do.  And decide quickly!

Once we had played with the kids, we went to the make room where I got to learn a little about her cheesemaking process and pasteurization.  We wrapped up the day with a visit to her bucks and junior herdsires.  The young bucks were really cute – still on the small side, and so curious.  I adore the way bucks seem to have the little tuff of hair on their foreheads.  The buck our Toggenburg, Xenia, is bred to has a big curly forelock.

Let me just say, that while the day was very educational, it was just a lot of fun to see all the goats and watch them interact, soak up some sun in the pasture, and play with the KIDS!


Today my mother in law had surgery to remove a small growth in her breast.  She was diagnosed just over a month ago, and after a series of tests finally had the tumor removed.  Her surgery went well, and we’re hoping that the pathology reports will come back next week with clean margins.  We spent most of the day at the hospital, but were able to come home and within a few hours HB had put the floor on the goat shed for the hay loft.  I stayed inside to do a few chores and clean the barn a little.

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Haven’t been on the farm much this weekend – I got the opportunity to take my horse down to vet in NC to have him check for ulcers on the cheap ($70 sedation cost for a $500+ procedure) and before I knew it, he was loaded on the trailer and we were on the road.

We confirmed my suspicions that he has developed gastric ulcers and so I will be doing a lot of reading on management to prevent their development!  In the meantime, I’m saving up for the treatment which a course of ulcer medication for about a month.

We also confirmed with a second vet that he does in face have 2nd degree AV block – basically his heart regularly drops a beat.  It’s common in athletic horses, and typically goes away once the heart is at a working heart rate.  I’m re-evaluating my stethoscope which is crummy, but I hadn’t heard this.  Or maybe last year he was already fit and it wasn’t an issue like it is now, 6 months into an 8-month rehab with a lot of stall rest?

Either way, Huck has provided some new interesting developments.  You can follow the developments more at Huck’s blog. The farm is running on auto-pilot and Jacqsonne continues to do well.  All the goats are doing well.  Hard to believe we’re just a few weeks out from kidding!  HB picked up old telephone poles to use as the base supports for the new goat shed.  Saturday afternoon a friend came over with his backhoe to level a spot for the shed.  HB’s picking up concrete as we speak and the plans are to get the base supports up today!

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