Monday, May 30, 2011

The Milk Man

As a midwife and breastfeeding mom, it is slightly annoying to be married to a man who thinks he knows more about lactation than I.  For example, when Pearl was a few weeks old, I tried to hand express some milk into a bottle for her.  I was filling the bottle drop by drop when Glenn walked over and saw my technique.  He rolled his eyes and said, "Can I just do that for you?"  I turned my back to him but still had to listen to his comments.  "No, start closer to the top, then move down.  You have to squeeze the nipple now."  For those of you who don't know Glenn, he really isn't a pervert.  He has just been milking sheep at a local dairy for the past four years.

Now that we have two lactating goats, everyone here on the farm has had a chance to learn how to express milk.  Oliver and I learned together, each taking on one teat.  We managed to add a little milk to the bucket before Serio ran out of grain and became restless.
Glenn had us step aside to finish the job.  He moved so quickly and gently; the bucket was half-full before Serio even had a chance to complain.  All I could think was, "Wow, I truly am the luckiest woman alive.  My husband can milk a goat like a champion."  Even Serio was impressed.  Just look at her expression.  Glenn is so good, we have all decided he should get up each morning to milk the girls.  You don't want to waste a gift like that.
We have been enjoying the fresh milk and keep finding new ways to consume it.  Below you can see Pearl eating some delicious goat cheese that Grammy and Glenn made over the weekend.  Oliver loves to have his daily glass of goat milk.  It tastes so much better than milk from the store.
This morning we decided to make yogurt.  First, Glenn collected a couple of quarts from Leche.  We measured out the proper amount.
Next we put the milk on the stove to heat it to 185 degrees.  This ensures that the milk is more sterile when we add the cultures to it.
After the milk cooled to 112 degrees, we added the yogurt culture (a mix of two bacteria).
We then placed the milk in an ice chest with a heating pad.  It will stay there for the next six hours.  We hope we will have some yogurt to try tomorrow morning!
My next goal is to try to make soap for The Beneficial Bee skin care line.  We have several jars of frozen milk waiting for the moment when we decide to take on that challenge.  Thank you to Serio and Leche for providing us with all of this beautiful milk!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bear Attack!

After a long night of barking and loud bangs, I can now confirm we have a large black bear on the property.  Monday morning was spent collecting evidence, clearing bodies and building barriers.

After analyzing each bit of evidence (eye witness and forensic), we were able to piece together the night of "bear terror."  We believe he started on my parents' side of the property.  A barbecue earlier in the evening may have attracted the bear to their trash cans.  The bear left hind footprints in the mud as he stood to knock over the garbage.

After eating some fish, our bear went to check out the chicken coop.  Here you can see he tested the front door with his paw, then put his front paws on the roof of the coop to peer in.

Our hens are old, tough broads.  They were more excited about the chicken food the bear had strewn about the yard than their near death experiences.  

Pooh then walked over to our side of the property to check on his friends, the bees.  This is where our bear had the most fun.  He devoured tons of bee larvae and left the adults hanging on for dear life.  The number of dead bees on the ground was staggering.  The bear had to have been stung countless times.  

I called Glenn at work to tell him about his bees.  He rushed home to try and save all of the bees he could.

The bees were loud and angry, but Glenn was only stung once.  Here is a picture of some brood that was devoured by the bear.  Glenn built a fence around his hive and we are hoping the bear won't be able to knock it over.  It will be a miracle if Glenn's girls survive this attack.

A neighbor called to let us know he saw a bear trying to get into his house the same night.  The neighborhood is now on high alert.  We are all hoping that the bear wanders back into the woods.  In the mean time, we are keeping the chickens locked up tight and have Lotta keeping the livestock safe!  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sadness on the Farm

Country living isn't always perfect.  Some days are glorious and others can be tragic and difficult.  Unfortunately, we had a tragic day yesterday.  I got home from work last night at seven and noticed Serio was separated from the group in the shelter.  I handed Pearl off to my dad, grabbed my birthing supplies and ran out with Oliver to check on Serio.  I took this picture right as we entered the shelter and the flash helped me see that the baby was coming out breech.

Her body was limp, so I immediately started pulling her out.  I did a full neonatal resuscitation, but could not manage to bring her back.  Glenn and I think she may have died in the birth canal about a half hour before I got home.  I sat in the shelter with Oliver and Serio and cried.  We don't have any cute, frolicking kid pictures to share with you this morning; just one of a mom saying goodbye to her doe.

Thank you all for entering the contest.  I'm so sorry it didn't turn out the way I was expecting.  Congratulations to Jenny for getting closest to the due date.  I will send you your lip balm in honor of Serio Junior (named by Oliver).

I don't want you to leave this blog completely sad, so I will close with some pictures of our chicks.  Oliver and Glenn are showing the difference in size between our fancy chicks and our meat chickens.  These chicks are the same age, if you can believe it.

Pearl is developing some self control and can now enjoy the chicks without trying to squeeze them!