Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cheese Season and Butter Season

My dairy goats have just changed from butter season to cheese season!

The butterfat in their milk changes seasonally. In the Spring, there is lots of milk to feed hungry baby goats, but the butterfat is low. In the Fall, the amount of milk they give is less, but the butterfat content is higher. This changes what we can do with their milk during the year.

In the Spring and Summer, we make lots of fresh chevre cheese, but once the milk becomes very rich in the Fall, the cheese won't set. This is our signal to make as much goat butter as we can and freeze it for later. Once the goats have babies, we start back in with cheese.

Some of our goats are not pregnant this year. If we continue to milk them regularly, they continue to produce milk. In January or so, they suddenly begin to produce lots more milk and their butterfat content drops, as if they had babies. It's always a bit of a surprise.

While butter cookies and buttercream frosting are awesome, I've really been missing my homemade mac and cheese!

Monday, January 2, 2012

An Upcycled Cold Frame For An Early Start

The weather has been pretty mild so far this winter, but I am thinking a cold frame will help plant seedlings get an early start.

There are lots and lots of plans for cold frames on the internet. They are pretty much a sloped box with a glass or plastic lid. The walls of the box keep out icy winds, and the glass top works like a greenhouse to keep the tender plant starts warm.

I found a free sliding glass door at a window company that was pretty worn out as a sliding door. It is really heavy so my mom helped to move it. The frame is from two 2x12x8 foot pieces and a 2x6x8 foot piece, cut to fit the size of the door. The slope is just the difference between the back 2x12 and the front 2x6. I left the bottom open for drainage.

I'll try some early salad greens, peas, and some nasturtiums. If I replace the glass door with a screen door later, I might just be able to sneak some basil past the wild bunnies!