Sunday, June 22, 2008

Simple stitches

apron 002, originally uploaded by Anna's musings.

Hello there! We had the loveliest weekend here, and I hope that the last couple of days have been wonderful for you as well. With the beginning of a new week, I'm looking forward to many delightful homey activities (beside my usual routine): organizing, cooking, baking, trying out new recipes, and of course - my crafts.

Rose asked me how I'm teaching myself to sew. I must say I'm very, very late on learning this wonderfully useful and satisfying work - while many young women my age are already expert seamstresses, I'm just making my very first apron now. A couple of years ago I couldn't even fix a loose button! I'm stitching by hand, because we haven't purchased a sewing machine yet, but I don't mind, since I see it as useful practice. I'm making it from a light fabric, suitable for our hot summer, with a nice big pocket at the front where I can place notes, pens, and various household items.

Since I'm learning from scratch, I'm using a wonderful book that is intended for children, with clear instructions and illustrations for all the basic stitches made both by hand and with a sewing machine. It's just perfect for beginners, and I hope to keep it for our future children as well. I'd find it online and link to it if it weren't in Russian.


Another lady asked me a question about my homemaking journal, which I mentioned in one of the previous post. It's a simple notebook divided into a few sections, but it really helps me concentrate on my work and be focused. Here's a brief description of what it contains:

1) Home. This one holds my weekly shopping list, to-do lists, and of course, coupons. I compiled two master to-do lists for myself. One for basic daily chores (wash dishes, make sure laundry is caught up, take out garbage etc...) and one with reminders for shopping/cleaning days. I also compiled a master shopping list, which I can check if I'm confused about the weekly shopping list. This section also contains a few FlyLady tips and inspirational homemaking quotes. That's a section that helps me 'stay tuned' in the more basic things.

2) Long-term projects. Here I keep a list of all my projects that take a longer time to complete, and are less crucial to basic household management. For example: re-organizing the kitchen cabinets, polishing silverware, mending clothes; and also, my crafts list and blog post/other writing projects ideas. This is a section I check out if I'm left with some idle time on my hands; it usually turns out I have numerous planned projects I just forgot about.

3) Food. Here are my menu ideas and new recipes that are waiting to be tried. After I tried them, they will be copied to my recipes notebook - much better than having them sticking out from every corner and then getting lost eventually.

4) Expenses. I'm still working on this one, but here I plan to write out our budget, a list of things we are paying for, grocery bills and other bills, and a summary of each month's expenses which I can later compare and see if we are improving or struggling in certain areas.

As time goes by, I hope my homemaking journal will expand and contain sections for gardening, raising children, and more.


And finally, TheRetroHousewife sent a question about the recipe for my homemade tomato sauce. I usually don't stick to a certain recipe when I make it; most often, I start with chopping an onion and sauteeing it until golden, in a small pot. Then I add the desired amount of ripe, red tomatoes, thinly chopped, and let it all bubble and simmer until the tomatoes let out their juices. I can then add, depending on taste and mood, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, chili sauce, etc.


Now, I have a question for you ladies as well. My husband and I are thinking of buying a goat for a supply of fresh milk, and we also want to try our hand at cheese-making. We already received a few tips from a kind neighbor who has a small goat farm. Has any of you ever owned goats, and if you did, what was your experience?


Laura Brown said...

I can't offer any advice on keeping goats, but I just wanted to mention that goat's milk is a lot lower in vitamin B12 than cow's milk, so if you are going to rely on a goat for your main source of dairy, you should make sure you get plenty of B12 from elsewhere (eggs if you eat them, fortified cereals or supplement pills).

Good luck!

Mrs. Anna T said...

That's right, Laura. I just checked out USDA, and according to what I found, there's 1.07 mcg of B12 in a cup of cow's milk, while in a cup of goat's milk there's only 0.17 mcg. An important thing to keep in mind, especially for those of us who are vegetarian.

Lily said...

Goat's milk also tastes very different than a cow's milk. Make sure you like the taste before you decide to invest.

Last year I had a friend who gave me lots of free goat's milk, and I made yogurt cheese with it. Chevre is also very good and extremely easy to make. I can send you some recipes if you'd like.

The resultant whey (from cheese making)can be used for many healthful things...refer to the book called 'Nourishing Traditions' by Sally Fallon. This book is a definite 'must have' if you have access to fresh milk.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Yep, taste is also something that must be taken into consideration. I've heard goat's milk can be sour, but it isn't so with our local goats. My husband purchased a bottle so we can taste a sample, and we loved it. I suppose it depends also on the area, breed, and nutrition.

Elizabeth said...

The apron looks beautiful! :) Your own goat? How fun! :)

deb said...

I've had goat milk before and it didn't taste very different in my experience then cow's milk. From what I have read it is the presence of a male goat that makes some goat milk taste radically different then cow's milk.

Also, goats milk is digested(can't remember the reason why) faster then cows milk. So, it is very good for people with digestion problems.

There is a lot of great information on the web about goat milk.

Sometimes I visit a woman named Peggy who owns a blog called Hidden Haven. She has several goats. They are like dogs and come to her when she calls, wagging their tails. I don't know if all goats are like this or if she just has abnormally good animal skills. LOL

Finally, if you really don't like goat milk you can look into Dexter cows. These are small cows that were bred in Ireland to live off an acre of land.

Michelle Potter said...

Anna, I was just curious since you've mentioned more than once that you speak several languages. What language do you speak at home? Is it English, or something else?

Mrs. Anna T said...


I was born in former USSR, so I grew up speaking Russian at home, and Hebrew at school. My husband was born in Israel, so we speak Hebrew at home.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had your gift for languages!! Ive tried so many times and I just cant get the hang of it. My daughter and I are learning sign language together though. Thats at tip that will help you when you have children. Teach your baby simple signs. When my daughter was 8 months old she could sign the works milk, more, eat and a couple other simple ones. Its awesome when your baby can convey their needs by out right asking at that age!!


Green Eyes said...

I admit I've never owned a dairy goat in particular -- although, like you, we are looking into acquiring one -- but I have raised other goats for many years when I was a child. I LOVE them. They have the most vibrant and loving personalities... and yes, they can often turn into "dogs" who just want to follow you around!

Linda Marie said...

Nice apron! It has a very nice colour. It takes a lot more time to sew by hand, but I think it is a bit more fun, and I often make fewer mistakes if I sew by hand since I get more time to think.

I'm afraid I haven't had the privilege to know any goats. We have sheep during the summer (they arrived today and I can hear them through my open window) but they mostly take care of themselves and we do not milk them. I have tasted cheese made from goat milk though. It is quite different from other cheese both in taste and "feel". Not bad, just different. I think those allergic or sensitive to lactose usually get along a whole lot better with goat milk, which is a plus.

Bbowzwife said...

I'm afraid I can't offer any advice about the goat. I can however convey my envy that you live in an area where that is an option. I'm deep in suburbia and can't keep any livestock and it saddens me from time to time. However, I do have a question: Just how many languages do you speak?? And were they required in school or are you self taught? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

We own goats. We started with them when we found out my eldest son had a dairy allergy - goats milk is very easy for the very young child to digest.
We found out at first some things about goats. They need a very secure pen to live in or they will escape. They need a good supply of proper food, as a goat will eat pretty much anything, and if they are left hungry, they may eat things that are harmful to them. One of our goats escaped and ate an entire newspaper once! Also, depending on the type of goat they may need their tails docked or other types of care. make sure you know how to take care of your breed of goat first, or that you can afford the vet bills.
Good luck!


Anonymous said...

We have goats, and love them. They are the personality of a dog and will provide much for you.

We just experimented with goats milk sherbet -1.5 cups goat milk, 1/3 cup of sugar 1.5 cups of your fruit juice...(we use fresh squeezed limes or oranges) Yummy

Kelleigh said...

Hi Anna,
All the best with your sewing adventures! I like your ideas for the apron, especially the pockets for a notebook and pen. That would be very useful! To my shame I still cannot sew. Today I’m going to attempt some stenciling - I have three small blank canvases on which I hope to produce some art work to hang on an empty wall in our hallway.

I’d be interested to hear how you find keeping a goat if you go ahead eventually. The idea of keeping a goat (and making yummy goat cheese!) is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Presently I buy goat milk at the supermarket (I am allergic to cows milk). I can’t offer any personal experience, however here is a link to a website with a few idea -Goat milk recipes by Jackie Clay

Re B12. I was a long term vegan and developed a b12 deficiency. It took me 12 months to recover after a series of b12 injections. Most people can get enough b12 from a vegetarian diet - I'm one of those unfortunate people that probably do not absorb B12 adequately from dietary sources.

Re goat milk flavour. It's my understanding that the flavour of goat milk can be adjusted by changes to the goat's diet! Could be interesting to experiement with? ;)


Persuaded said...

i have no idea about the goats, although the possibility does sound intriguing... i'll be following your goat related posts with interest!;)

i do want to commend you on your sewing, my dear. i did learn to sew as a youngster, but hated it passionately until i became an adult. my skills never became anything more than rudimentary until i started enjoying the process...all that to say, even though you may be starting "late," your skills will probably increase very quickly because of your great attitude. oh, and i think starting with a child's book is the best way to go, and i also think an apron is the perfect starting project... so i guess my approval knows no bounds, lol

enjoy your day m'dear((hugs))

Terry said...

Oh, Anna, the apron looks wonderful. As for being late learning to sew, I'm 36 and want to learn how. It's never too late, right! I hope I'm right. I'm actually pretty intimidated by the thought but am determined to learn how. My husband is looking for a sewing machine for me, but I am really impressed with what you did by hand. Really lovely! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Anonymous said...

I raised dairy goats for some years on my farm in the States before I emigrated to Australia. Owning a goat can be a great deal of fun, but there are, of course, concomitant responsibilities.

A goat, particularly one who is being milked regularly, will tie you to the home. The goat must be milked twice daily, as close to twelve hours apart as you can manage. This will assure you the longest lactation period between breedings, and prevent diseases of the udder like mastitis. You can't just "skip" a milking, or leave feed out in large quantities for a goat to eat at will if you have to be away for a weekend (in fact, this is a good way to kill your goat, as they will eat until they develop bloat and die). To have good milk in good quanities, your goat must be cared for and fed regularly, on a schedule.

Something a lot of new goat owners don't think about is what to do with the kids when they are born. Of course, a goat won't give milk until she has kidded. Most goats have twins. They generally breed in the autumn, and give birth in the spring. Unless you want to be up to your neck in goats, you will need to decide BEFORE YOU GET A GOAT, just how to dispose of the kids, particularly the male ones! It isn't always easy to sell them or give them away, and having a bunch of male goats on a property will lead to complete chaos, as they are very bright and very mischievous. Male goats can grow very large, and are strong. They can be aggressive. If you, like some goat owners, decide to neuter and keep your male goats as pets, they will have to be fed, and that will rapidly make your goat milk cost a great deal, as you will be supporting animals that do not contribute anything.

Since kids are necessary for milk, you will need to be sure how you will dispose of the kids, and that everyone in your household is in agreement about this - otherwise, you'll end up with people upset when kids are slaughtered or sold. I've known many goat owners who ended up with enormous herds because they couldn't bring themselves to do either.

Goats do not willingly eat or thrive on grass! This amazes new goat owners who think the goat will keep the grass cut. Instead, the goat ignores the grass and eats all the shrubbery. By nature, goats are browsers, and eat shrubs and plants we consider weeds. If you have an herb garden, they'll lovingly devour it. They won't eat grass unless they're starving.

To produce quality milk that doesn't have the characteristic "goaty" taste that has given it a bad name, you must feed your goat properly. This means quality goat feed that is formulated for goats. They will also need dry hay of good quality. Pasturage is nice, but you need to be sure your goats aren't eating things that will pass a bad taste to the milk. The rule to having good milk is to remember - garbage in, garbage out. If you feed your goat bad quality hay and let them eat every bitter and strong tasting weed in the world, you're going to have milk that tastes terrible - and not much of it either.

It is a myth that goats can eat anything without ill effects. Many new goat owners have killed their goats feeding them moldy hay or turning them out on pasturage containing poisonous plants. Goats do not instinctively know which plants are poisonous, contrary to myth. Goats do not eat tin cans. (You'd be horrified by how many people think this is so because of cartoons with goats eating tin cans!) Goats can develop a condition called bloat when they eat things that are inedible, or overeat. This is a dire situation that requires veterinary care. Bloat can kill a goat in a matter of hours. I lost a beautiful Nubian goat when he got into a barrel of rabbit feed and gorged himself, developed bloat and died before I could get the injection from the vet to give him.

You will need to learn to check your goat's feet and trim them if necessary. If you can keep them in pasturage where they will climb on rocks, this won't have to be done as often as it would be if you kept them in a barn situation, or on soft turf. The hooves can be trimmed with narrow bladed garden clippers. There are sites online that give you the specifics for trimming goats' hooves.

Some goat owners remove the kids from their mother at birth and bottle feed them with the mother's milk, while others allow the kids to nurse for six to eight weeks and then wean them so that the goat can be milked and the milk used by humans. It is essential that the kids have the first milk the mother produces, at least for the first several days, as it contains colostrum, which gives the kids immunity to disease. The first milk the doe produces after kidding WILL NOT TASTE GOOD, as it is full of this colostrum. This is another way the myth that goat milk tastes terrible got started, by eager beavers who couldn't wait a couple of weeks for the milk to be free of colostrum, milked the goat right away and got a mouthful of very strong, hormonal tasting colostrum!

Milking is something that seems very difficult at first, but becomes automatic and routine very quickly (you'll be doing a lot of it!) It is best to milk with minimal movement of the hands. You do not pull on the teats the way you see people do in the movies, as if they're ringing in the new year! Instead, you pinch off the teat, circling it with the thumb and forefinger, and then progressively tighten each finger below it as if you were slowly making a fist. This pushes the milk down the teat and out. Gently pushing up against the udder encourages the goat to let down her milk, as this mimics the butting motions the kids make when they are nursing.

A goat will need to be "dried off" a couple of months after being bred, so she will have sufficient calcium in her system for her developing kids. Goats will need to be bred every year, so you have to plan for an annual three month period where your goat will not give milk. Most owners who have goats for household use have two does, bred at different times, so there is always a source of fresh milk, but this means you have a lot of milk when they're both milking, and you have double the feed bill and work!

Lots and lots and lots of research into goat care and management is essential before getting a goat. Fencing is a problem, because goats are wickedly intelligent, and are infamous for getting out of any fence. Chain link is the best. Electric fences never worked for me. You could see the goats deciding who was going to be the one to take the shock for the day. Then that goat would run into the fence, get zapped, and then, while the fence was recharging, the others would run through the gaps!

Goats can be very destructive if allowed to run free. They will eat all your shrubbery, chew on everything wooden in sight, jump on your car and come in your house if they get half a chance. Mine used to break the windows if they saw us inside and wanted to get in to join us. Want trouble with your neighbors? Have an uncontrolled goat. Tethering a goat is not a good idea, as some will fight the tether. Many goats have died of strangulation from fighting their tether. Fencing that works is a must with goats! Goats also must have shelter, particularly if you have cold winters. The minimum would be a shed with straw or sawdust for bedding. The soiled bedding must be removed daily. Remember, odors in the barn mean bad taste in the milk. If you milk a goat near something with a strong smell, the milk will pick up the odor and taste bad.

It's a good idea to visit someone who has goats and see just what goes into the daily care and milking. Check around to see if there is a male goat in your area who can breed your does (females). You don't want to keep a buck (male). During the autumn, they go into "rut", and secrete a powerfully strong smelling substance from glands in their head. IT REEKS! This is the smell people associate with goats, and it will contaminate your clothes and your goat milk! This is why so many people say goat milk tastes bad - the foul smell from a male goat in rut has tainted the milk. Milk is very delicate and absorbs odors quickly, as anyone who has kept an open carton of milk in the fridge near an unwrapped cut onion can testify! Also, male goats determine the females' readiness to breed by drinking the females' urine. It gets all over their heads. This is not a pleasant smell to have around, and an affectionate male goat will want to greet you by rubbing his head on you!

Goats are fun, but goats are a lot of work, and since having goat milk means dealing with goats giving birth, there can be heartbreak involved. You might have to assist a doe in labour by doing internal manipulations of the kids should there be a problem with them being in the wrong position, if you don't have a vet nearby who will come right away if there is a problem. Sometimes kids and does die, no matter what anyone does. Vet bills add to the overall cost of your milk.

You must factor in ALL costs for keeping your goat healthy and happy into the milk you receive. Most goats do not give more than a half gallon of milk a day at the height of their lactation. You might find that by the time you factor in feed costs, vet bills, inoculation costs, fencing and upkeep of pasturage that your milk is costing you a great deal indeed! I knew someone who found that the goat milk they were sure would be a cheapest way to supply their family with dairy products was costing them five times what milk would cost at the grocery store! Some folks just put the goat out to eat whatever, but they end up with milk not fit to drink. Sometimes having a goat is not the most economic way to acquire dairy products, and you would be better off seeking out a source of fresh goat milk in your area instead.

Goat milk is highly digestible because the fat globules in it are very small and evenly dispersed. This means that it takes a long time for cream to rise on goat milk, as opposed to cows' milk, which has large fat globules. Most people who keep one or two goats for a home dairy can't collect enough cream to make dairy products like butter without the cream going sour first. I must say that whipped cream with goat cream is incredibly good, but you'll need a LOT of milk to get enough cream to make butter with. Goat cheese is easy to make, with varying recipes for simple to complex cheeses.

Proceed with caution when making a decision about keeping any sort of livestock. It can be costly, it will tie you down more than you expect, and it can be heartbreaking. Do lots of research and ask someone who is NOT interested in selling you a goat, but who keeps goats, about the process. People who want to sell a goat, particularly an unwanted male goat, will tell you it's really simple, you can feed them anything, keeping the kids, even the male ones, is okay, that a male goat will not stink, etc. I know. That's what I was told when I got into goats! Boy, was I told a pack of lies.

If you do find a goat is for you, you'll find them fascinating, loving, rewarding and aggravating critters. Just look before you leap.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Never owned goats myself, but chickens are massively easy. Ours freerange, so all they really need is a supply of good water, a couple cups of chicken feed, and a place where they'll be safe from wild animals at night. Oh yes, plus some nice nesting boxes. They'll just automatically (in most cases) lay in the nesting boxes. They also eat ticks and several pest plants. :)

In my area, milk is getting expensive, but eggs more so. Such a tiny investment and we get our own fresh!

Stefanie said...

Cool Apron! Remember when you are learning to sew that is IS O.K. to make mistakes and mess up on things. That is how I have learned some of the best lessons sewing. And when you go to get a machine, invest in the best quality you can afford, there is nothing more frustrating for beginners than a cheap machine or one in ill repair. Keep us posted!

Rachel said...

Make sure you keep it away from your car, as they like to jump on anything, and will scratch the paint!

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

I know nothing about keeping goats, though we are also looking into keeping one, plus chickens as well, but do know about making cheese. Cheesemaking is super easy and very fun, once you get the hang of it. I tried it after growing tired of calling companies every few months to assure that the rennet they used was of the vegetarian variety and all additives were gluten free. Making my own was much less time & trouble. :o) The first time I tried mozzarella, I somehow made a mistake somewhere in the process, ending with a hard stringy mess, rather than stretchy, soft mozzarella. The next time my end product was yummy and just right. Now I make nearly all of our cheese, but occasionally will purchase from a local family owned dairy here, where I also attain our milks.

Ewokgirl said...

To add to the comment about teaching babies to sign, make sure that you teach any babysitters what the signs mean! My sister taught her daughters to sign as babies, which worked great for her, but when I watched the baby, we both became frustrated because she was signing to me, and I had no idea what she was telling me!

I've been learning to sew, as I mentioned on another post of yours. For anyone who is trying to learn on her own, I highly recommend going to the library and just checking out books (or videos if they have them) on sewing. You may not be able to learn well from just one book, but multiple books can give you all the information you need. I just taught myself how to sew mitered corners a couple of weeks ago from an issue of Threads magazine. There are tons of resources out there with lots of pictures to help you learn.

Wanda's Girl said...

Hi, Mrs. "Ruby" T!

Goats are highly social animals, so they don't thrive alone. Get a pair if you can. Also, they need a pen, b/c they can't be tethered or tied up in any way. Let me know how it goes!

His love,

Anonymous said...

first, i have to say, i love your "married" posts! they are so nice and peaceful, and so encouraging.
i love goats! we had some growing up, never on a large scale though. the taste of the milk is mostly affected by what they eat, in my limited experience. i was only a child when we had goats, but i can say that it is important to have a plan in place for breeding your milk goat from time to time to keep the milk coming, and also a plan for what to do with the resulting kids. also, goats are herd animals, so it would be good to get two, at least. there are smaller breeds that give more manageable amounts of milk.

Mariya said...

It is so odd to have stumbled upon your blog. I've been reading it for several months now and have had so much fun following your life since you've gotten married.

All this time, I've marveled at how similar our situations are. I've been married for a little over a year, trying to live frugally and building my home. I too turned towards a more orthodox outlook on life several years before my marriage. Except in my case, I went back to my Catholic roots. My husband and I cannot wait until we have our own property so that we can buy a goat. (By the way, home cheese making is relatively easy, I learned it from my mother, but there are excellent books out there.)

Now I've discovered that you're also from the former USSR. This little piece of information has put your experience in a whole new perspective for me. It sometimes seems to me that young women from the former USSR have been damaged the most by the combination of feminism and communism than even American girls of the same age.

Please please post the link to the book. We are expecting our first child and that children's book sounds like the perfect addition for our bookshelf.

P.S. My husband forbids me to have my own blog (in a very loving way, for my own good, of course), but even he enjoys it when I share little tidbits that I glean from reading what you write.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I have no experience with farming but here are two excellent blogs of women who do that are also wonderful keepers of the home. They are not the same religion as you, so some of the information on there will be about religion. But they mostly talk about their goats, caring for them and include detailed recipes for cheese and such.

Here they are and (her blog is on the left scroll bar)

Many Blessings :)

Anonymous said...

I had a student who had a herd of goats. he was such a sweet young man but, even though he looked clean, he smelled strongly of goat. It was bad enough that I was going to mention it to his folks (he was being teased) but when they came to parent teacher night...well they had the same odor. Goats have such pretty faces, but visit a dairy before you buy.

Anonymous said...

Some breeds of goat are prone to prolapsing when they give birth, so I'd try to get a goat that has already given birth a while ago as opposed to a pregnant one. Otherwise, be aware that they will probably try to eat everything except what you want them to, teehee.

Rose said...

Anna, I was tickled pink that you replied to my query. Thank you. I am encouraged by your response re sewing as I am thirty years on from you.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

About goats, I don't know if anyone mentioned this but you should have a separate, clean place to milk them unless you want risk yourself and the milk having a goaty barn smell.

Personally, I think you'd do better spending the time, effort, and money elsewhere. Be prepared to run your life around the milk schedule, and unless you have at least two goats or more and are successful at staggering their breeding there will be months when they are dry, yet you are buying feed for them and cleaning the barn after them anyway.

Green Eyes said...

Anonymous' in-depth comment on goat-keeping was very informative, but I do have to interject that, at least during the 10 years I kept a herd of goats, we NEVER lost a kid or doe in birth-related circumstances, nor required any such related veterinary care. Nor did we offer them any feed, except during the winter. Since I never milked them, I can't say for sure if their milk tasted any good, but they surely "thrived" and were sleek and healthily fat. Maybe they were just a robust crew?

They also didn't seem to mind the cold much (or at all), although we have mild winters here. They DID absolutely HATE rain, though. Cows and horses will usually continue to graze through a decent rain, as if it's not even occurring, but if my goats felt a sprinkle they were running for their shed.