Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A couple of photos from around here, today

 I don't know what these are called, but I think they are beautiful. I picked them this morning, put them in a jam jar, and let them brighten up my day. 
"Come play with me in the sandbox." Two little human companions were very obliging. :o)

Now back to work... on schedule today: cleaning the refrigerator and ovens, cleaning a pot for Pesach kashering, and other things too numerous to mention! Wish me good speed, because I need it, as practically there are only a couple of "work" days left before Pesach.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Closer and closer...

As time continues to roll on unbelievably quickly, brining us ever closer to Pesach, I find myself with far less leisure on my hands... but I did seize the chance to read this lovely post, forwarded to me by Kate. Thank you, dear Kate, for taking the time to indirectly encourage me, and others like me, who found themselves deep up to their ears in a job they were not at all trained for (mothering, homemaking, sometimes living in a very remote corner). 

Perhaps it's too early to tell, but I think I can cautiously venture to say that my Early Pesach Experiment had been a success. We have just a little over a week left until the holiday, and I am feeling much more at peace, and much more satisfied with the amount of work already done, than I normally do at this time of the year. Today I rolled up my sleeves and dug deeply into the girl's room; I wish I had thought to take "before" and "after" photos to show you; but anyhow, I freed up a lot of space - and that's before getting rid of any of the things that will shortly be put up for adoption.

For a bit of pre-Pesach fun, check out this comic

Also, it's a good moment to acknowledge two superb gifts from my husband that have made these past few weeks a lot easier: a new vacuum cleaner and a new refrigerator. Cleaning the refrigerator is always one of my least favorite Pesach tasks, and it feels very nice to know that this year, at least, I will be able to skip it.

Also, this article provides wonderful information about everything Pesach - chametz, non-chametz, what is necessary and unnecessary in pre-Pesach cleaning, etc.

I'm wishing you a lovely week, and to my Jewish readers, happy Pesach in case I won't be able to update again before the holiday!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My lovely busy life

Life is always busy around here, and at this time, most of all I just enjoy living it, immersing myself in productive and satisfying work, interwined with leisure just enough to give healthful breaks. I like the best those days when,  even though a lot of work is accomplished, all is done without rushing or stress.

But as we approach Pesach, I always gear myself up for a few extra-full days, with so much additional work to be done...

... The washing machine is working non-stop, churning out load after load of bedcovers, couch covers, curtains, winter clothes, and other things I am busy folding and putting away.

... Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning is going on ceaselessly; kitchen cabinets and refrigerators are lined with new clean paper.

... Closets are re-arranged, with summer clothes pulled back down from the upper shelves, soon to be used again; bags of clothes to be given away are assembled.

And of course there's all the usual stuff going on: cooking, dishes, taking care of the animals, and now, milking goats and making cheese as well; meal time, story time, bath time with the girls; and a myriad other things that happen and are called life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Strawberry season

... is short but sweet.

Like so many good things in life, strawberries won't keep for long. You have to grab them while they are good and enjoy them while they last.

Don't they look like they are just calling for a big bowl of fluffy whipped cream to go alongside them?

Today we are experiencing one of the typical spring heat waves, when one can hardly breathe and sinks into a torpor... which is not at all a good thing when Pesach cleaning is supposed to be in full swing. I am crawling along, waiting for the heat to break and hoping (optimist that I am) to get a good bit of cleaning done in the evening, after the heat wave dies down and the girls are asleep.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Mrs. T

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The beginner cheesemaker

I just thought it might be interesting for you ladies to take a little peek into the kitchen of a beginner cheesemaker. 
Here's a pot full of fresh goat milk. 

I heat the milk and pour a glug of white vinegar into the pot - I don't measure, just watch for the moment when the white curds begin to separate from the greenish whey. Then I strain it all over a cheesecloth (I use a clean old cloth diaper) (one that was only ever used for burping).

And here's the freshly made cheese, in a recycled cream cheese box. It's rather thick, with a high percentage of excellent quality fat, and is great in sandwiches and on toast. Today it went splendidly in cheese fritters, which we had for lunch.

Three cheers for delicious home-produced food!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The merry milkmaid

Well, perhaps the new milkmaid was not so very merry when she got a butt from a goat and a good-sized splash of milk onto her clothes! 

... But she's getting the hang of it, never fear.

To begin with, I was in denial about how soon I would have to begin milking. The general advice I read was, "you can't drink the milk a goat produces for the first two weeks because it contains colostrum and it tastes unpleasant, so don't worry about it, just leave the kids with Mom and they'll take care of it." By the way, when my husband's aunt heard you "can't" drink the milk a goat produces at first, she laughed and said that when they were children, they would take this milk and make soup with it, and that it was considered a delicacy. They would do it every time a goat kidded.

Well, as our does only have one kid each, and as I noticed the kids favor just one side, I did begin milking the other side straight away... and while we were at it, we thought we'd taste the milk. I mean, what could happen? Guess what... it was delicious. A couple of times we've already made a very simple cheese by heating the milk in a pot, adding a dash of lemon juice to make it curdle, and straining it to separate cheese from whey. We had it with our breakfast this morning and it was very nice. 

So now the main problem is to get the goat to stand still while we are milking her, especially our first-timer. Oh, she gets a snack and it helps somewhat, but she still dances around trying to avoid me and the milk pail. We did not build a milk stand because my husband believed it isn't strictly necessary, and my in-laws assured us they always did just fine without it, but now I see it really can make life easier. We also received some hilarious advice such as, "put on your rubber boots and squeeze the doe's hind legs into the boots together with your feet so she won't be able to move". I still can't decide whether that was a joke or not. 

Updates from the milk and cheese front hopefully coming soon! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

And she takes the cue...

"My friend has already kidded, isn't it about time I did the same?"
 This time, I noticed the doe was in labor, and thought I'd stay for the birth... I'd only quickly dash to the house and do the dishes... and of course, when I was back she already almost finished cleaning the kid!
 It's another little male, and doesn't he look like the twin brother of our first? Snow-white, blue-eyed, and adorable. They were both sired by the same buck. 
To tell you the truth I was a little disappointed not to have a doe kid as well; I was really looking forward to a little doe to raise from birth and keep with us... oh well, perhaps next year. But the important thing is, the kiddings went smoothly and now we can breathe a sigh of relief until next kidding season. Also, since there's only have one kid per doe, hopefully this will mean plenty of milk left over for us (we don't separate Moms from their babies; they will have free access to milk, and we'll only take what's left).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Saturday morning surprise

The day of first kidding has been excitedly anticipated here ever since we found out our does were pregnant; I have read about a hundred lists titled "how will you know your doe is about to kid" or "signs of imminent labor in goats", but didn't see any of them in either of our ladies. I knew they were close, but figured it would take some time still, perhaps a week or two. 

Well, was I in for a surprise!

Yesterday morning, just as Shira and I went out to open the door of the goat house, we saw one of our does already very busy cleaning her new baby. It's a little male, snow-white and cute as a button. 

We ran (in rapturous delight) to tell Daddy about the new addition to the goat family, and of course I milked (sorry for the pun) the occassion for all its educational opportunities. I showed the girls the umbilical cord and the placenta, which was delivered soon after the kid. 
 And here's the little buckling nursing off his mother. She really did me a kindness by kidding without giving us any hint beforehand, because otherwise I probably would have stayed awake all night with her, biting my nails... 
Now we are preparing to see another kid or two (from our other doe) any day. And of course we're looking forward to the beginning of milking, in a couple of weeks or so.