Monday, March 29, 2010

Siding a bit

Hello again,

Today it warmed up real nice and was sunny. In some places it felt too hot to even be wearing a sweatshirt but I'm sure it didn't get above 60. Andrew got sunburned on the neck!

Dad went to town for a few things this morning (about 11:30) so I rode along with to get dropped off at the church to vacuum. I got back around 2:30 and had a few slices of mom's fresh baked bread. It was worth waiting to eat lunch just for that!

Andrew and David stained siding all morning and most of the afternoon so they came in streaked with cedar colored pants and shirts. When I asked if those were their painting clothes they said, "They are now!"

This afternoon I finished a mineral feeder that can sit outside and be moved around to different pastures without letting the minerals get wet in the weather. It's not as nice as a molded plastic one that rotates in the wind, but at least it didn't cost me anything.
Sandy used the shingles as sandpaper to scratch her itchy neck.

Jonathan transplanted some of the seedling tomatoes into six-packs this afternoon so they have more room to grow.

In the picture above, Dad and David are standing in front of some newly placed siding boards munching on string cheese as a snack.
NEWS: We now have a regular pick-up schedule for customers in the Minot area. They will take turns coming to the farm to pick up milk for the rest of the group.
Let's see. There are 36,567 people in Minot, each of them probably could drink a half gallon a week, so 18,283.5 gallons of milk per week, so all I need to do is get about 610 more cows milking and I'd have the whole city supplied with fresh milk . . . . . maybe in a few years.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Favorite Tune

Here's a short clip of my favorite tune. Playing music is like most anything else, you get tired of the same thing over and over again so this won't be my favorite forever.

It is nice that there is no end to the combinations of chords and melodies so you can't get tired of playing if you keep learning new songs!

The instrumental is called "Indigo Blue." I learned it from a CD recording by Tim Stafford.

In case you're wondering this is an example of flatpicking!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Mozzarella Recipe - works every time!

Peter's Mozzarella Cheese
Two gallons whole milk (more cream makes the cheese whiter and more moist)
3 Tsp. citric acid (dissolved in 1 cup water)
3/16 Tsp. Lipase powder (dissolved in 1/4 cup water and let sit for at least 10 min.)
23 drops vegetable rennet (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)
1 1/2 - 2 Tsp. salt (cheese salt is preferred but kosher salt or sea salt works too)

1. Measure out 3/16 tsp. lipase powder and stir into 1/4 cup water (there is no 3/16 measure, but a heaping 1/8 or a little less than a 1/4 is close). Do this first so it can sit while the milk is warming.

2. If using cold milk, warm with low heat on stove. When temperature of milk is 55 degrees F, stir in dissolved citric acid and dissolved lipase.

3. Turn heat to medium or a bit higher. Add diluted rennet when milk reaches 90 degrees. Stir just enough to mix rennet into milk. Let sit without stirring until temperature reads 100-105 in center of curds. Thermometer may not read correct temperature when placed near edge of pot.

4. When curds are hot enough (100-105) take pot off stove and let sit until curds begin to pull away from sides of pot and whey is clear.

5. Gently scoop curds out of whey with a ladle and/or slotted spoon into colander. Do not dump as this will damage the curds and make the cheese tougher. Save the whey by setting a large bowl underneath the colander.

6. Remove whey from curds with your hand by pressing and folding. If you intend to to another batch, wash the dishes and start it now. You can leave the lump of cheese in a bowl out of the way until both are ready to dunk.

7. To dunk, take reserved whey and put back into large pot. Heat on high to 180 degrees stirring frequently to avoid burning the bottom.

8. When whey is 180 degrees, set cheese lump into hot whey and leave for 1 minute. Take out of whey and turn inside out with your hands.

9. Set in whey for 35 seconds. Take out and turn inside out, kneading the cheese to get the hot outside turned inside out to allow the uniform heat throughout the cheese. Set the cheese in again for 35 seconds (this time it will be very hot so expect your hands to get red!).

10. As the cheese is soft and workable, add the salt and knead into cheese evenly. A final 10 second dip will smoothen out the cheese so you can form it into a ball and package or you can eat it while warm. Wrap cheese in wax paper and set in refrigerator until cool, but not too long or the wax paper will stick to the cheese. After wax paper is removed, place in plastic bag to keep fresh.

Swiss Milking Stool

Here's something I put together out in the shop. It just happens to work very well!

I turned the leg on the lathe and carved the top out slightly to make the seat a bit more comfortable. The leg is secured in place by a mortise and tenon joint with a wedge glued in.

The stool is strapped on, as you see above, so it moves with you. No more fumbling around to scoot the 5 gallon pail closer when the cow steps back.

P.S. Next post: my mozzarella recipe

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to Normal - after a busy week

I would have blogged more this past few days except the camera was a few hundred miles away.
Well, we've had an interesting series of events that happened recently. I will try to fill you in on all that happened.

First of all, we were asked to play a few songs for the regional Marketplace for Kids event down in Bottineau last Tuesday. We chose a few gospel and a few instrumental songs songs to play there and practiced up for that. We were also asked to sing the Star Spangled Banner as the flags were presented in the morning.
It was a blessing for us to be able to pass the gospel message to more than 250 school children by singing songs like Dust on the Bible and I'll Put on a Crown and a few others. You could tell by the faces of some of the teachers there that they weren't too impressed by the topic.

We stayed there for a little while and then Dad, Mom, Andrew and David hopped into the previously packed car and headed off to Fargo for the homeschool convention. Jonathan and I took the truck home from there with the instruments and sound system.
I'll have to say, being home for a while without the rest of the family is not as much fun as it sounded like at first. Jonathan and I would have liked to go to the convention too, but there is so much to keep up on here that there was no way that we could find someone else to do it all.

I don't know a whole lot of what went on in Fargo as I wasn't there, but from what I heard from them when they got back (last night), it was a good convention. Kevin Swanson was the keynote speaker and along with other workshop speakers Buddy Davis was there. Yesterday morning they and our friends the Kenneys had a brunch with Buddy Davis and his wife. Dad had fun talking to him. He has done some exiting things such as participating in exploration trips in search of Noah's ark, digging up dinosaur bones, creating life-size model dinosaurs, working for Answers in Genesis, and lots more. He did some workshops on how he puts together a realistic dinosaur model that Andrew and David went to.

Andrew and David are busy reading some books they bought at the convention. I think they are all tired from the week. Dad and Mom visited with Mr. Swanson for a while also and heard some good things from him. We listen to his radio program quite frequently.

Another interesting thing that happened, was Dad flew to Washington D.C. for a Homeschool Legal Defence Association meeting that he attended. HSLDA payed for the flight and other expenses to get people from all over the country to learn from speakers there about the bills introduced in congress affecting homeschooling. All of the bills are, in some way or another, taking away the right for people to teach their children at home.
While there, Dad went to the capitol and sat in on some discussion in the House chamber about the "health care" bill and got to meet with some of the congressman's staff members about homeschooling. He also talked to Senator Dorgan (Senator from ND) briefly somewhere in the capitol. Dad took a few pictures but they haven't been developed yet. One was of the Supreme Court building as they drove by. He also saw the White House from a distance.

While Dad was out of town, Mom and the boys visited someone that used to be our neighbor

when we lived in Fargo. She is 103 years old! She even remembered David and Andrew's names after not seeing them for three years.

They also showed her our website and the pictures and she was really interested in all that was on there. Imagine what it was like 103 years ago! I think a lot has changed in her life time.


That was all the interesting things that didn't happen here. Jonathan and I didn't get much time to do a lot of fun things (like playing music) while we were home. We had to keep up with all the little kids in the barn that needed tending to and just chores alone took all morning it seemed like. I spent a lot of time figuring out the mozzarella cheese and now I think I've got it down pretty well. We had been using milk that didn't have much cream on it for the cheese but now I know that it needs cream to be more moist. I wrote out the recipe that works for me for a reference. I quit using the microwave (thanks to Heather's note!) and got it to work just fine.

Mom made a whole bunch of food and muffins for us before she left so we were well fed. We did make pizza and bread sticks one evening and put more cheese than crust on the pizza. Delicious!

If you didn't read Jonathan's blog post about the coyote you had better check it out! If you're not tired of reading already.

There's another thing I'll be posting about soon - when I get around to taking a picture of it.

That's all for now.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All done kidding

This afternoon the last goat had two kids. We now have a herd of 22 goats, including the little guys. We had eight does that kidded within the last week and a half or so. None of them had triplets but a few of them only had one kid. We are a little disappointed in the male/female ratio. Nine bucks and three does. I guess there's some more chevon for the freezer!

We have not had any birthing problems (at least with does that are more than a year old) so we usually don't get up to check for kids in the night. At least not when it is this warm out! I think our mineral lick has also been helpful in preventing problems with birthing or worms. We use a recipe containing: Thorvin kelp, Redmond salt, diatomaceous earth, and copper sulfate, besides offering a sulfur lick on the side and adding Shaklee basic H in the water monthly just in case.
We finally took John (the buck) out of the main pen and stuck him all by his self on the other side of the fence. He was "blocking" the door into the barn so the cow couldn't get in to be milked.
I guess it's time to eat supper and then go milk. When that's over with I've got to finish making butter.
P.S. I made mozzarella again today with four gallons of milk and this time added lipase. It definitely made the cheese softer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How many goats do you have? Ummm ahhhh hmmmmmm. . . I'll have to go check!

Yesterday a few of the goats kidded. The mothers were twins that were two years old. One of them had twins and the other had a single kid. One of the kids is not doing real well but is still alive so we have it in the house.

This morning when I went down to milk, I found the mother of the two previous mothers licking off her two kids that were born a few hours before. Those two are up and doing really well now. Just before lunch Jonathan went down to check on the goats and found another set of twins had been born by a different goat. I guess they all went into heat about the same time last fall. There is still four more goats that are expected to kid soon.

I haven't blogged for a while since I've been working on a handout for our cow-shares. If you want to see it, here is a link to the pdf:

Let me know what you think of it, please!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm a Cheesemaker!

Hi everyone,

A few days ago Mom showed me how she makes mozzarella cheese. Yesterday she and I used up six gallons of milk in an afternoon making it. We started doing two gallons at a time (instead of one like the recipe calls for) in a bigger pot to save time and it seems to work just as well that way, not saying that it works well every time though. Now I'm looking forward to making other types of cheeses!

We do most of the heat treating in the microwave because it is faster and less messy but I did one double batch with the method of dipping it in the whey. The cheese turned out just as well for me that way as with the microwave but it took more time.

After I had done a few batches, Mom did one that turned out perfect! Really tasty. We've been keeping a record of how each batch turns out and what we did different so we can look back. There is still so many variables that it is hard to say what made the difference for sure, but Mom used less citric acid and one drop less rennet.


A neighbor stopped by this afternoon and talked with us for a while. He likes to talk, but he did have something interesting to show us.

He works out in the oil fields in western ND and had brought back a little bottle of oil straight from the ground. It was runny, not thick at all or lumpy, and he said it stays runny even at negative 30 degrees.

He said it takes a month and three million dollars to drill an oil well but after that the money just rolls in. Somebody he met was making $1200 dollars a day from just letting an oil company put three rigs on their land and pumping. He also said that there is so much pressure in the ground they don't really do any pumping it just sprays out of the pipe system into their tanks.

The sample he had brought, he said would run in some tractors straight without any treatment needed. That would be nice! North Dakota doesn't really refine much oil so we don't get any lower gas prices by all the pumping.

Time to go get ready to milk,


Monday, March 08, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Fun Projects for a Saturday

Hello again,

I just came over here from starting the wood stove so I am still keeping an eye on it as I write.  The air pressure is low so there is not a very good draft. 

Today it was really nice out.  A good day to get a bunch done outside and upstairs.  Dad and David taped some sheetrock on the upstairs kitchen wall this morning and in the afternoon Dad installed a second window in the kitchen.  I did a bit more sanding on another cabinet and stained the base of one of the wall cabinets.  Jonathan was in the shop for part of the day re-wiring an old chick brooder hood.

Of course David had to get us all to have a snowball fight.  The snow was just right for snowballs, and along with the warmth, the driveway got a little slick.  Paulette and another friend came over this afternoon but had to try three times to get up the muddy hill at the base of our driveway.  Hopefully we will be able to get the road shaped and graded this spring, soon!  We are going to have it run up on the crest of the hill instead of where it is now so that it is a little bit more level. 

I guess it will be time to start some seeds pretty soon.  I think we know pretty much how much of everything we are going to need so it won't be too hard to plant it all.  Some of it will need to be started later on so it doesn't get too big before the hoop house is warmed up.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Busy Evening

I guess it is time for another post.

Yesterday evening got to be a little busy over here. I had one cow-share customer scheduled to pick up some milk and cream later in the day so I went over to vacuum at Metigoshe Ministries after lunch. When I got back, I went upstairs and varnished the first coat of lacquer on a cabinet and got the milk and cream ready for the person coming. It ended up being about 6:00 before she arrived but I gave her the milk and she left.

A little later, Jonathan came out to the building where I was working and told me that we had gotten a call from someone from Minot saying he was going to come later on and pick up his milk and eggs. The man said he said he would try to get here about eight p.m. We got a few gallons ready for him to pick up and put them in the refrigerator upstairs.

Then, we got a call from someone that was on the road a few miles away saying that he was coming to pick up 4 quarts of cream for a friend of his. Thankfully we had all the cream ready and he picked it up and left. It was just about time to milk, so I had Jonathan get the milking stuff ready to go for me while I was out giving the man his cream.

Later on the other guy came and picked up milk and eggs and then left.

I sure am glad that we had enough milk and cream on hand to supply everybody!


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

How to keep a cat from thinking out-of-the-box


A few nights ago I woke up to the sound of little kittens crying for their mamma.  Our house cat, "Funny Face" had a litter of five kittens a few days before but we had kept her and her kittens in a cardboard box in the bathroom.  She had quietly carried them one at a time under my bed a few days before.  They hadn't made any noise for the first few nights so we left them where they were.  When they started making noise, we decided we should take them back to their box in the bathroom. 
The cat didn't like the idea very well and every time we would put them in the box she would drag them back under the bed.  We tried stacking different things in the path where she would have to go to get to her spot but she found other ways in--squeeze in between the potato sacks and boxes.

Andrew finally came up with the cure.  He set a battery powered radio tuned to static near where her nest was.  She decided it wasn't very pleasant any more and has stayed in the box ever since.