Wednesday, April 11, 2012

the life i should be leading

Tonight when I got home from work I slid into my routine of chores like you slide into a favorite sweater, more comfortable and confident then before you put it on. I came inside first to walk the dogs and set down their dinner bowls, and then did the same for the cats and the dozen chicks in the mud room brooder. Inside my house right now there are six mammals and a dozen birds and there isn't a sound but the high-nasal snores of George on the dog bed by the crackling wood stove and the background chirping of new beaks plays as softly as the stream outside does when the windows are open on summer nights.

Outside the meat bird youngin's are nearly 4 weeks old and holding their own. They now scamper all over the farm from the pasture to the well. While milking Bonita tonight a little herd of meat birds came and started bothering us so I turned the teat into a squirt gun and shot a meat bird right in the feet. He squawked and ran off, and then ran right back to drink the milk puddle in the dry dirt. Lord, do we need rain around here. Ground is hard tack with little stubble of grass.

With all the 3-month old Freedom rangers in freezer camp, the farm sure is less frantic. 27 9-pound birds running around sure did make a scene when cars rolled by. I've been enjoying them with friends, giving them as gifts and eating them here at the farm. Over at Patty's we had one for Easter Dinner and it was perfect.

The sheep are in their main paddock and I hope a few will lamb soon. It is almost that time and every day I come home from the office or an errand I listen for those mama sheep chortle throat sounds and baby bleats. Jasper in is the pasture next to them and is loving this mild weather and open spaces. right now nights are no colder than the mid thirties. He runs around the fields, eats his hay, drinks his water down and is working off that pent up stall feeling. I can't wait till he and Merlin are in their new paddock together, something I hope to have ready by my Birthday weekend in mid July.

I ordered goat cheese rennet and supplies to make some soft cheeses from Bonita's gallon and a half of milk she is giving a day. I experimented with mozzarella tonight but it was a disaster. Too much heat, too little goat milk, and too much rennet made a suitable alternative for Styrofoam. But hey, fail again better next time! And next time we'll go for a proper chèvre.

Shearing is Saturday, and you're invited. Looks like three gals from the SCA will be coming and a few readers from the blog. Should be quite the day! If you are coming bring something to eat and share and some clean clothes and shoes to change into! Tim said if the Battenkill Race (huge bike race this weekend in Cambridge. HUGE) winds up and his photo work leaves him time he'll try to make it over to get some shearing photos.

I'd call that a day, friends. I am about to tune up my fiddle and enjoy a nice Guinness as a nightcap. It feels deserved tonight, as there's a properly running farm out there producing eggs, meat, wool, milk and the starts of green vegetables. Lately I feel like I am ever more comfortable with this land and work. I am handling the challenges they offer. It's part of the journey of learning a whole new lifestyle. It excites the hell out of me. I'm growing as a farmer, and growing into it. It feels like the life I should be leading.

Not much else to crow about around here...

P.S. My arms and hands are sore!.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome day! :) Jenna, I just had to tell you that we put an offer on a home with 5 acres. It's a manufactured home, but decent and big enough for our three teens. And it's a short sale so who knows how long it takes or how it will end up. But we are excited and on our way!! Thank you for the encouragement you give through your writing.

April 11, 2012 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Enjoy that pint, well earned :).

April 11, 2012 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

Goat cheese in just about any form is my fav. There is a local cheese company here called 3 brothers. Basically the founder thought about starting to make goat cheese while in an airport on his way home from the mainland. And now he sells his cheese @ the farmers market as well as a couple of stores and restaurants.

Not sure about regulations in the US for homemade cheeses but might be something to think about

April 11, 2012 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger PattyW said...

Atta girl!

April 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger goatgirl said...

Jenna, Try this

You will love it.

April 11, 2012 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger goatgirl said...

Jenna, Try this

You will love it.

April 11, 2012 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

That's a great photo of you Jenna!

April 12, 2012 at 1:05 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

There's so much to learn, isn't there? Good on ya!

April 12, 2012 at 5:42 AM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

Oh I do know that feeling. Learning something new and taking a new step towards self sufficiency always gives me that feeling.

April 12, 2012 at 6:36 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

The count at our house right now is 5 mammals, 8 chickens, and it feels pretty good. I'm missing our other two mammals (Weez and Frankie are traveling), so it's not quite perfect. Yesterday I stayed home from work and ended up helping build the chicken coop. Today it's back to the office, and it makes my soul a little sad.

You're our inspiration, as always. Maybe someday... well, actually, we're moving towards the life we want every day, so someday is now. It's just a gradual process at this point. Enjoy the hell out of it!

April 12, 2012 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

My grandfather used to milk many(20+) goats a day, French Alpines to boot. They were excellent milkers, and we had a barn that had separate jugs if needed and an inside loafing pen. When it was time to milk, the goats would line up in order- I kid you not in that loafing pen. That's the milk we drank- we also chilled it right away. We used giant Mayonaise jars. My grandmother would scoop off the cream, and voila, milk for us. The goats were very cool.

April 12, 2012 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Goat milk makes amazing mozz, but it's delicate and very tricky. 30 minute mozz doesn't work for me at all and the longer process only seems to work about half. the time, but when it does, it's so worth it! If you like, I can send you the process I use. Also, if you get the chance, be sure to make some whey ricotta. It is straight from heaven! Rikki Caroll's book is great for treatment of goat milk, btw.

April 12, 2012 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

I am glad you gave your fears the time they needed to reassure you that you are doing good. I believe that if you are not heart-pumping terrified at least once during an adventure, you're not doing it right! Good on ya!

I can highly recommend making a batch of goatmilk soap with one of the gallons. Goatmilk and lye - lard, olive oil and coconut oil. Nothing more nothing less. You can vary oils as you feel froggy but you have to stay within certain ratios that I am not good at yet.

And someday we'll use tallow or lard from an animal we raised for that added feeling of self sufficiency. Yay us!

April 12, 2012 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

good stuff Jenna! I love reading your blog and I become immersed in your every day comings and goings I can almost smell it! I will be coming up that way with my Mom on Mother's Day weekend to visit Maria at the Art Gallery in Greenwich, maybe I will see you there?!

April 12, 2012 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger 10a said...

Wow, a goat gives you 1.5 gallons of milk? Every day? That is pretty impressive.
Processing all that will keep you busy I think?!

April 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

It is a wonderful thing to sit back, look around, and see that you are leading the life you set out to lead. And it's inspiring to the rest of us out there to hear about it. Enjoy! You work hard for it.

April 12, 2012 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

When you're on the right path in life, the challenges seem like a fun way to stretch our capabilities. Good on ya, Jenna!

April 12, 2012 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger kimberlesk said...

Thx so much for sharing your day on the blog! I look forward to reading about the goings on at your farm everyday. I don't live on a farm, but I know I'd love it! I'm really itching to get gardening, but it's still too cold at night in PA. So I'll have to settle for raking up the remnants from last fall and mulching. My pond is green, but the fish seem to be doing well. Please keep sharing, I enjoy reading about it so much! Sounds like you had a great day -- hope you enjoyed that well-deserved Guinness! Cheers!

April 12, 2012 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Were they 9 lbs preprocessing and 5ish after?

April 12, 2012 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Yes! though most were upwards and closer to 6 pounds and over, but you lose 2.5 pounds to feet, guts, feathers and the head on big birds!

April 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

You wear me out! ;>))

April 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Sara Thompson said...

We would often turn our extra goat's milk into lemon cheese (or an equivelant). It uses up a gallon of milk and gives back a soft cheese and whey for baking. We've used the cheese in place of ricotta, cream cheese and regular cheese.

April 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

How's your goat milk tasting, Jenna? I chuckled when I read your P.S. ;) Oh how I remember that sore feeling when I first started! But soon you'll have some nice looking forearms, and you'll have to start being careful when shaking hands with folks! LOL.

April 12, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

Glad it's going so well. :)

April 12, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Jenna, You look so happy on Merlin! A good horse will do that to a girl. Have a good time riding him.

April 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM  

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