While we are experiencing a balmy 67 degrees today here in Tennessee, my family and friends in Iowa are preparing for winter’s first blizzard, and I have to admit I’m jealous. There is something to be said for a good old fashioned blizzard, the kind where you’re snowed in for a day or two, where you have time to sit by the fire with a good book and a cup of tea and listen to the wind howl outside. A real winter serves a purpose, it forces you to slow down, regain your focus and energy for the upcoming spring planting and spring babies. It allows you to take a deep breath and enjoy a few simple pleasures like reading, knitting, or whatever you don’t have time to do the rest of the year.
Growing up on a farm in Iowa, I remember being snowed in sometimes for days on end, sometimes losing power and my dad would hook up the generator twice a day so we could milk the cows. I loved trudging through the snow and drifts sometimes 3-4 feet deep to help my dad milk, and the barn was always warm from the heat of the cows and smelled of sweet alfalfa hay. After the animals were all taken care of with clean fresh bedding and full bellies, we went back to the house and stayed by the fire playing games or reading. Those are wonderful memories.
Now I live in the South where the winters are mild and you just feel like you should be outside doing something all the time. I miss a Midwest winter.
This photo was taken on my parent’s farm in Northeast Iowa a couple years ago during a winter visit.
Several weeks ago I made my first hard cheese. I went with Gouda as I had advise from a friend that it was a good one to start with, and it was. Not too complicated, although I was kind of frantic about keeping my temperatures correct. Hopefully it’s a forgiving cheese. For this one I used half goat, half cow milk. I’m not organized enough to take pictures of the process, but here’s the finished product. I think the waxing looks a little weird, maybe because I used a brush instead of dipping it. It’ll be ready to try in a couple days. I made my second hard cheese last weekend, a farmhouse cheddar, using fresh cow milk from our cow share as I have no more goat milk. The two books pictured are my resources and I highly recommend them if you’re interested in making your own cheese.
This weekend we took Basil to a nearby farm to be bred and got to use my new goat tote for the first time. Love it! It’s so easy to put in the truck bed and way more efficient than hauling a big trailer around for only a few goats. Basil is 8 months old, so this will be her first breeding. My plan was to have her bred to an Oberhasli, but that didn’t work out so my only choice was to breed her to an Alpine. Her kids will likely have the Ober coloring but will not be registered as Oberhasli. At this point I don’t plan to keep her kids or the Ober/Alpine cross kids from my Alpine does, but we’ll see how everything plays out. I’m very much anticipating Fanny’s kids, which will be purebred Oberhaslis. I can’t say enough about the Oberhasli breed, they’re beautiful, sweet and their milk is the sweetest, creamiest I’ve ever had. I’ve dried everybody up and am done milking for the next few months until the three older does kid in early March. Basil will be due in mid May.
The last few days the temperatures here in Tennessee have been in the 70s! How can we NOT ride?
We’ve redesigned our soap labels, what do you think? We’ve also added new scents to our soap shop, including oatmeal lavender, calendula citrus, mint, and lavender mint to our existing inventory of rosemary mint, lavender and oatmeal honey. Our artisan soaps are made in the old fashioned cold process way in small batches. Hand-milked, hand-made, hand-cut, hand-packaged by my daughter and I.