Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Late in the Fall, the goats give less milk volume, but the milk they do give contains higher butterfat. Our little Nigerian Dwarf goat, Coco Puff gave the highest butterfat percentage, a whopping 9%, though Ol' Mimzy put in a personal best at 8%.

It took us four days to save up the milk from all the goats to make enough cream for the pound of butter for this recipe! It was a lot of work, but the cookies are so good, it was worth the wait. They are thin and crispy, and pretty when held up to the light!

1 pound fresh goat butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar. Sift dry ingredients together and mix into creamed mixture. Roll into small balls and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yummy Granola

I really like making yogurt and ice cream from my goats' milk. I had been buying granola to use as a topper. It was really hard to find granola without ingredients I was allergic to, so I found an easy recipe and modified it. This tastes great when still warm and crumbled over ice cream!

2 cups of oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup honey roasted pecans
1/2 honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp goat butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried mangoes, cut in small bits
1/2 cup dried blueberries

Lightly oil a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan, and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oats and coconut onto a foil lined baking sheet and place in the oven to toast for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for about one minute, or until the brown sugar is dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Quickly add the oat mixture to the sugar mixture, add dried fruits and nuts, and stir to combine. Turn the mixture out into the prepared baking dish, and compress top evenly. Bake 25 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Store in an air-tight container for up to a if this will last a week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fun at the Winter Market!

It's been a while since I wrote a post! I had a really great time selling cheese making kits at the local farmers' market with my 4H club this summer. I also did pretty well with my entries at the County Fair.

I signed up for the local winter farmers' market, and have some fun new do-it-yourself kits. Besides the cheese kit, I have a bubble gum kit, and hand-milled soap kit. The bubble gum kit seems to be the most popular.

My mom and I have also started making goat milk soap and a pure olive castile soap. It's a lot of fun picking out different scents, and discovering what people will like. So far, orange blossom goat milk soap and peppermint castile are the favorites.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Song For Coco Puff

Sometimes our first freshener Coco Puff is naughty and kicks while on the milkstand. We thought up a funny song to help us laugh throuth the battle. We changed the words to "Down By The Station". The tune is used for "Little Bunny Foo Foo" also.

This is for the dairy goats who need to be trained,
whether in California or even up in Maine:
Stand nicely on the milkstand and nibble up your grain!
Kick with your feet and you will be meat
on the bar-be-que!

Down in the milkroom early in the morning,
see the little dairy goats all in a row.
See the tired milkmaids filling all the buckets,
Puff! Puff! Don't kick! Or you'll go!!

Of course this is all for fun. I don't think I could really eat my little Coco Puff!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Solar Cooker Experiment

One of my projects for 4-H this year was to build a solar cooker. I looked around on the internet and found a Heaven's Flame design. It looked easy to build, but I saw the shiny part was not pointed at the food. How would that work? I decided to give it a test.

Testable Question: Will the Heaven's Flame solar cooker produce a higher or lower temperature without the upper reflectors?

Materials: I used a 12x12x12 inch cardboard box. I bought four bags of potato chips with bags that were shiny inside. I had black spray paint and some tape, and an infra-red thermometer. The weather was 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and clear with very little wind.

Procedure: I first cut the corner seams of the box so the sides would angle out, and the bottom 'oven' would be 12x12x6 inches. I sprayed the inside of the box black. I set it out in the driveway, tilted toward the sun so there was no shade in the bottom. I took some temperatures. The driveway surface was 137 degrees in the sun, but in the shade it was 76. Within 10 minutes the bottom of the box was at 186 degrees! I measured every 5 minutes for about a half hour, and the temperature stayed between 175 and 186. I next taped the potato chip bags on the sides of the box, shiny side out. I took temperatures again. Surprise! The temperature was 200 degrees, ranging 190 to 200 for the next half hour.

Results: While the the temperature inside the cardboard box with just black spray paint was hotter than it's surroundings, once the reflectors were added, the temperature increased by about 15 degrees.

Conclusion: The Heaven's Flame solar cooker produces a lower temperature without the upper reflectors.
Additionally, we then used the cooker to make some oatmeal raisin cookies:

Solar Cooker Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or raisins
1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl, then drop by tablespoonfuls on a black non-stick pan. Our cooker's temperature ranged from 190 to 200 degrees, and it took about 2 hours in the middle of the day to become firm with crispy edges. Rotate the cooker every 10 or so minutes for optimum temperatures. Results no doubt will vary!

Some amusing extraneous data: On the hottest day so far this year (a record breaking 98 and heat index 102), the surface of our black goat Mimzy stupidly sitting in the sun was 107. The surface of our light brown goat Jezebel wisely sitting in the shade was 94. Some water collected in a black flowerpot was 162, which then was pasteurized. Good to know!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's Butter, Baby!

Once we saw our new cream separator would work, we decided to try making butter. We put 4 gallons of milk, which is a whole day's work for our goats, and got about a half gallon of cream. The cream turns into butter by whipping the cream so the membranes covering the butterfat break down, the fat sticks together, forming butter.

We first tried using a hand mixer, which worked but was very messy! We then used a food processor, which also worked, though after a while the motor got hot and melted the butter! We had to add ice to the final batch.

Once the butter came out of the food processor, we soaked it in ice water to remove the last bit of buttermilk. We then scooped them up with an ice cream scoop and put them in the fridge. We weighed the butter with the barn scale. The half gallon had made a pound of butter!

After testing the butter on a piece of hot toast, we decided to make Scotch Shortbread cookies.
Here is the recipe:

1 cup fresh goat butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a hand mixer. Add vanilla and salt. Slowly add flour, one cup at a time, mixing to form a smooth stiff dough. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a foil-lined cookie sheet, or into shaped mini-muffin pans prepared with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool before removing from pan. Makes about 20 cookies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Making Goat's Milk Whipped Cream

I always wanted to try goat's milk whipped cream and butter. My goats make very rich milk, especially Mimzy, but cream separators are usually very expensive. I found an inexpensive one on eBay. It came all the way from Ukraine, and the instructions were in Russian!

There were enough pictures to figure it out, so we started by warming two gallons of Mimzy's milk to 85 degrees. I started turning the handle quickly. I had to make 60 turns per minute! My mom poured the warm milk in the top and magically cream came out one spout, and milk came out the other. The two gallons made just two cups of cream!

It was a hard choice then. Should we make whipped cream or butter? Whipped cream!! We used a hand mixer to whip the cream, then added a cup of powdered sugar. Yum! We'll make butter next time, though it will take Mimzy two days to make the milk!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Last Sunday was the first day our 4-H club was at the big Sunday Market. I was very excited! The day before I was very busy putting together my products and painting my sign.

I had cheesemaking kits, recipe booklets, and cheese wax. My cheesemaking kits have freeze-dried cheese culture, a vegetable rennet tablet, and detailed instructions. I have five different recipe booklets. Each booklet has stories about one of our goats and recipes for either milk, yogurt, chevre, cheddar, or gouda. We have little tubs of beeswax for use on cheese too.

I also met lots of nice people who wanted to buy goat milk to drink or make soap. I really like talking to new people and selling fun things, so I had an awesome time! I can't wait for next week!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lucky Goats

I always felt lucky to have my goats. Since we've had goats, we've met new people, earned some extra money, and learned tons of new things. Well, what happens when you have extra luck?

Last week when we came home from the grocery store, we discovered an extra goat in the pasture! He was a little Pygmy wether and was very cute. He was obviously a lost pet. A neighbor saw him wandering in the road and thought it was ours because we have goats.

We walked him on a leash all over the neighborhood, but no luck in finding the owner. We called another goat owner, who called another goat owner, who said they could take him, but could give him back if the owner was ever found. Luckily, just as they were ready to pack him off, the owner arrived and scooped him up with a "Come on Fuzz-butt!" It turns out he had wandered most of a mile!

The goat owners standing there were pleased he went back to his home, but wouldn't be empty handed. They returned the next week and bought our last two baby goats, a little buck and doe from Mimzy. They are very excited to now have dairy goats, and named them Tootsie Roll and Remy LeBeau! Lucky people. Lucky goats. Lucky!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Zombie Tomatoes!

We had warm weather in March we thought would last. We bought 36 little tomato plants. They mostly interesting heirloom kinds like Purple Cherokee and Hillbilly.

We planted them upside down, which I don't think they liked. We had some extra black tubing for drip irrigation and we hung that over the top of the pots because tomatoes like lots of water. Well, they got lots of water, but not from our drip tubing.

As soon as we got everything set up, we got several hail storms! Then it was cool and rainy for a month. the last straw came with hail in May! They aren't exactly dead, but I don't think they will make tomatoes either. Maybe they are zombies and will eat us instead of us eating them. Ahhh!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Milk and Honey Cake

This is my new favorite cake to make. It's easy to make and I can use the milk from my goats. I even made this for my mom on Mothers' Day!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh goat milk
6 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. prepare a small bundt pan with cooking spray and flour. Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Separately, combine milk, oil, vinegar, and honey, then add to the flour mixture, stirring to mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until center is firm. Cool well before removing from pan. Serves 8-10.

I put a lemon glaze over the top:

1 cup powdwered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 teaspoons water

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add the lemon extract. Add the water one teaspoon at a time, stirring in between spoonfuls, until the mixture is smooth and forms a thick but pourable glaze to pour over the warm cake.

I also made this cake for a cooking competition in 4-H. We were to make a recipe using foods from the Northwest. My goat milk is of course produced in the Northwest, and I used some local honey. I won a blue ribbon! Here's a picture of me talking to the judge.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Peak Week!

Dairy goats usually give milk for about 10 months. The first 2 months, they increase the amount they give, then slowly decrease.

Last week, our high producer Jezebel, has been hitting her peak milk production. Her record so far is 9.2 pounds of milk in one morning, and 15 pounds for the whole day. This equals a little over two gallons per day, and makes about 2 pounds of cheese. Flopsy has been producing well too. She tips the scale at a little over 10 pounds per day, or a gallon and a half, but boasts a magnificent 7% butterfat content. Mimzy and Coco Puff will reach their highest numbers in a another month, and Betty gives just one quart of her mystery milk, but at nice 5% butterfat content.

We couldn't resist taking Jelly's picture after all her hard work! What a good goatie!

Friday, April 23, 2010

4-H Biz Kidz At The Sunday Market

I joined the Young Entrepreneurs 4-H Club in our county. The club has a deal with the Sunday Market, a big farmers' market that goes all summer downtown. The kids in our club have to think up a product to sell at the market.

I can sell goat milk at home, but not at the market. I had to come up with a product that might use my goat milk and was easy to package and sell. I came up with three! I thought of powdered cheese cultures, recipe books, and a class on how to milk a goat.

It's been a lot of work to put together the packages, recipes, and brochures, but I think they will do well. Our club was invited to show our products at a meeting with the professional vendors from the market. Here is a picture of me talking about my product at the meeting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jezebel, The Fridge Buster

One of the interesting parts of owning dairy goats is to measure how much milk they give. We signed up with a group called Dairy Herd Improvement, who keeps records of our goats' production. We send milk samples and the weight of the milk from each goat per month to their lab in Salem, Oregon. They measure the butterfat and protein content, and bacteria count, then send the results on to the USDA's database in Provo, Utah.

Our best volume producer by far is our Toggenburg, Jezebel. I sat all afternoon yesterday with a calculator adding up the total weight for all of 2009. Wow! Jezebel gave a whopping 2300.8 pounds of milk. That's over a ton! And, that was even with her baby sneaking quarts in the afternoon when she thought no one was looking. What a good goatie!

One of Jezebel's nick-names is the 'fridge-buster', because she gives so much milk. But, it's also because three heavy glass half-gallon jars full of Jelly's milk cracked the plastic shelf on the refrigerator door, sending them all crashing to the floor. She truly busted the fridge!

Goat Cart Training

Goats are very strong, and of course sure-footed. One of the cool uses for goats around the world is as pack animals, and pulling carts. Here is a fun video of a pet goat pulling a boy in a homemade cart.

In the late 1800's it was very fashionable for children to have fancy carriages pulled by goats in Central Park in New York City. President Harrison even had a goat cart for his children on the White House lawn.

Training should start early, and it does take lots of time and work to get it right. Our baby Nubians, however, have conned us into letting them ride the cart. I think we'll have to start over with some baby Toggenburgs!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How To Make Yogurt

I love yogurt! I think there are a thousand different ways enjoy it. My favorites are yogurt with cereal and of course, frozen yogurt.

People have making yogurt for 4,500 years. It is made by culturing milk with a bacteria called Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, which occurs naturally in Bulgaria. The bacteria eats the sugars in the milk leaving an acid which thickens the milk. People in warm climates make yogurt to help preserve their milk. There is a very long but cool article about yogurt at Wikipedia.

To make yogurt, we pasteurize two gallons of Flopsy's milk by heating it to 162 degrees on the stove. Then we cool it down quickly to 110 degrees by floating a plastic tub full of ice on top. We put one tablespoon of store-bought yogurt in each one of 8 super-clean quart-sized canning jars, add a little honey, and fill almost to the top with the warm milk. We put the jar lid on tightly. The yogurt needs to cook for 8 to 12 hours at a constant temperature of 110 degrees. There are lots of ways to do that. We found the quart jars fit in our old food dehydrator. We leave it on overnight, and it's done in the morning.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Second Batch Of Baby Goats For 2010

Flopsy, our fashion goat, always has to make a splash with everything she does. Last year she had her babies on Mothers' Day, with coyotes howling down the street. This year she had her babies exactly on her due date, with a huge full moon, and a raging thunderstorm outside.

Same as last year, she had a flashy, colorful buckling, and a little doeing. Last year's doeling was patterned the same as Flopsy, but this year her doeling is sleek and black. The doeling surprised us by being 'polled', or naturally hornless. Wow!

We named the babies Storm and Spyke, after the X-Men characters. In the X-Men stories, Storm has magical powers to create thunderstorms, which might explain the wild storm on her birthday! Spyke, can produce bony spikes to throw, and since the little buckling is the only one with horns here, that name fits pretty well too.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

If My Goats Were Criminals

To pass time during our milking chores, we make up silly stories about our goats. Each one has a different personality, and it's fun to imagine them in funny situations. Here's what we think each one would do if they were criminals.

Jezebel, our herd queen, is strong and confident. We can see her driving a Hummer through the gates of a top secret military base to steal classified files and the formula for weapons-grade cheese. She could certainly butt her way out through the guards with her adamantium-reinforced skull.

Flopsy is our glamorous fashion goat. We can see her arriving stylishly in a limousine at an after-hours club just after stealing millions in jewels and furs. Everyone would know, but be so mesmerized by her dazzling beauty, they would forget to call the police.

Betty is all about speed. We see her stealing prototype sports cars to race on her private track, just for the rush. She would never be caught, because with her super speed she can never be caught.

Mimzy is our naughty old woman. We can see her loading her pockets with extra bananas at the salad bar and sneaking them all back to her RV. If ever questioned Mimzy has perfected a really pathetic look, that somehow gets her out of everything.

Coco Puff is our super-smart Ninja goat. We see her using Ninja skills to gain impossible entry to a high-tech corporate facility to steal computer codes for video games and iPhone apps, to sell on the black market. She is so clever, no one would be able to tell that she was even there.

I wonder if the goats find all these stores funny, or if they are just amused that we are amused somehow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Mysterious Mimzy

Mimzy's registered name is Fantasma, and she has a 6*M production award on her pedigree. This means she is the sixth generation of her line to meet ADGA standards for producing milk. Her milk is very high in butterfat, and makes the best caramel sauce.

We got her as a three year old and she had lived at two other farms before. She startles easily and forgets what to do a lot, which makes working with her difficult. Deep down Mimzy is really just a sweet, goofy old thing.

Since Mimzy is older than our other goats, she is nicknamed the "Old Woman", although at five years old, she's really not that old. We joke when we see she's frustrated with us, that she will pack up her RV and drive off to Las Vegas for bingo and salad bar buffets.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Fast And Fearless Bette

The Sensational Bette is one of our Toggenburg dairy goats. She's our sports star because she likes to run fast and jump high. I love to run and play with her all through the pasture.

Betty has a longer coat than her sister Jezebel, and some long fur on her back legs makes it look like she's wearing shorts. We call these her sport shorts! Since she is a Swiss breed of goat, maybe her shorts are really lederhosen!

Mysteriously, Betty gives us nearly a gallon of very rich milk per week even though she's never had babies. She's our 'go-to' goat for morning hot cocoa when the other goats are dry. Her favorite treats are Honey-Nut Cheerios, and Gatorade, which makes her lips pink as if she's wearing lipstick!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Cute And Crafty Coco Puff

Coco Puff is our experimental mix of a Toggenburg goat and a Nigerian Dwarf goat. She shows the small Nigerian size and classic Toggenburg color pattern. This makes Coco a first generation miniature Toggenburg goat.

Nigies are famous for rich, creamy milk and Toggs are famous for uniquely flavored high production. I wonder what Coco will have when she freshens in April. She's already given us a whole bag of cashmere that she grew over the Winter and shed this Spring.

Coco is fast and smart. We call her our Ninja goat! She could get over a four-foot tall gate when she was just four weeks old, then kicked a hole in it with her Hooves of Fury! Hwaah! Now she uses her stealth skills to sneak past us and into other goats grain buckets. Coco Puff doesn't let her small size get in the way. Look at her taking on her arch-enemy, Flopsy. One tough Puff!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Fabulous, Fashionable, Flopsy

Flopsy is by far my favorite goat! She has the most beautiful fur and long floppy ears. When you try to pet her ears, however, she pulls back with a look that says, "They are too beautiful for you!"

Flopsy doesn't give as much milk as Jelly-bel, but her milk is higher in butterfat and very mild tasting. This makes for the best hot cocoa, yogurt and of course, ice cream. It's very easy to milk Flopsy, and only takes five minutes for a half gallon.

She is also the very sweetest goat, and gives great hugs. She will also give me a pony ride, though not for very long because I'm getting bigger now. Here's a funny video of me milking Flopsy and going for a ride!

The Sensational Jezebel

Jezebel, although we sometimes call her Jelly-bel, is one of my Toggenburg dairy goats.The Toggenburg breed comes from Toggenburg Valley in Switzerland. They have been bred for over a hundred years just for cheese because their milk has a unique flavor.

Jelly gives us the most milk of all our goats. Her record last year was over two gallons in one day! She takes the longest to milk because she gives us so much. And, yes, her cheese is yummy!

We call Jelly our herd queen because she is always first at the gate for treats and is quick to tell the other goats who's boss. Secretly, though, she is very sweet and loves a good shoulder scratch.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beeswax Is Amazing!

A friend of ours sent us some beeswax to coat our cheeses while they age. I did some research and found people have been using beeswax for thousands of years. I also discovered the bees work very hard to make it.

The beeswax comes from special glands on the female worker bee who is in charge of building the comb to hold the honey. The bees have to fly 150,000 miles for every pound of wax. When the beekeepers go to harvest the bees' hard work, they find one pound of beeswax for every ten pounds of honey.

Once the beekeepers clean and filter the wax, it can be used for candles, cosmetics, furniture polish, and preserving Egyptian mummies. It can even be used to coat cheese!

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Baby Goats Of 2010

My Toggenburg dairy goat Jezebel was first to have her babies this Spring. There are three more goats expecting. She started at 11:30 P.M. The veterinarian came at 12:30 A.M. Everyone was finally finished and very, tired by 1:00 A.M.

Her babies were two little boys. One was dark brown and white, and the other was a rare solid white with blue eyes! We named them Tony Stark and Rhodey, after characters in Ironman.

The next goat to have babies is my favorite goat Flopsy. I'm sure they will be beautiful like her, and I'm excited to have Flopsy's milk for cocoa in the morning again.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Joined 4-H This Year

This year I was finally old enough to join 4-H. Last year I was still able to show some things at the county fair in open class foods. I got first place ribbons for Flopsy's chevre and dulce de leche, and second place for a photo of her beautifulness.

This year I went to an over-night at the extension office, learned canning and cupcake decorating at Super Saturday, and am learning about different animals at monthly meetings. I gave a presentation on how to make vinegar cheese and won a Reserve Champion ribbon!

Summer will be busy. I signed up to sell cheese kits at Sunday Market, and hope to show some vegetables, and maybe some of Flopsy's cheese!

How I Became A Goat Girl

When my parents moved to the country, I got to research which animals would be best for our property. I first thought of a pony, but after reading up on goats, I decided they would be a perfect fit.

Luckily we found a goat breeder nearby. We worked very hard building a place for them to live. By the time it was my eighth birthday, I got four baby goats.

My favorite goat is Flopsy, who is the most beautiful Nubian in the world! She has beautiful mahogany fur, makes awesome cocoa and yogurt, and even lets me go for a ride.

My goats are very fun and I have learned a lot from them!