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.