Sunday, January 30, 2011

Funday Sunday: Crockpot Yogurt!

Yes you read that correctly. I just made yogurt in the crockpot. Isn't that awesome?! I really feel all Suzy Homemaker like right now. It's a good feeling. I ran across this idea on another blog and felt the need to try it myself. You see I've been have a mini battle with the yogurt producers of America. I stand in the yogurt isle for at least five minutes just searching. What do I search for? The perfect yogurt. I look for a yogurt that is low fat, low sugar, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial colors (and possibly organic). It doesn't exist. Really it doesn't. Trust me. So I'm making my own. You know what? It's super easy and I'm mad at myself for not doing this earlier. Especially after buying all those Yo Baby Organic yogurts for the kids when they were babies. Oh how much money I could have saved had I made my own whole milk organic yogurt.....in my crockpot. Oh well. On to the recipe!


Crockpot Yogurt

Use a 4 quart crockpot. Plug in your crockpot and place it on low. Add half a gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2.5 hours.

Unplug the crockpot and leave covered for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, scoop out two cups of milk and place in a bowl. Add half a cup of plain yogurt (purchased from the grocery store....this is your starter). Whisk the milk and yogurt and pour back into crockpot. Whisk it all together.

Put the lid back on, keep it unplugged and wrap the crockpot in a heavy towel or two for insulation. Let it sit overnight or for 8 hours.


After 8 hours you have yogurt! Just mix in frozen fruit, fresh fruit, jam, honey, whatever you want.

Notes: I used 2% Organic milk and it came out fairly thin. I like thicker yogurt so next time I'll use whole milk just to experiment with. Also you can add a packet of unflavored gelatin when you whisk in the yogurt starter to help thicken it up. Some people also experiment with fat free powdered milk to thicken. I'm going to try this next as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A little bit of crazy

I had to update the animal bar at the top of the page to include the goat babies. And of course I had to draw at least one of them flying through the air. This is something I've learned since having goat kids for the first time. Their little tiny hooves hardly ever touch the ground. They run, they leap, they twist in the air making little tiny farting sounds. They've got a bit of crazy in them.

Wesley and I went outside today since it was a balmy 55 degrees with no wind and lots of sun (it was a beautiful day). I let the goat family out of the shop and they followed Wesley and I out into the yard. I sat down in the grass watching the baby goats do their afternoon gymnatics. Wesley came over and sat in my lap. Then a few minutes later I see a goat baby flying at me at turbo speed out of my periferal vision. They like to launch themselves at my head for some wierd reason. I think, if they could, they would both perch on top of my head. I stopped the first attack. The second goat baby threw itself at my back trying to spring board off of me. It caught me off guard leaving an opening for the first kid to turn around and come at us with a head on attack. He jumped right over us using Wesley's head to spring off of.

There were many tears shed. I'm pretty sure Wesley thinks they are trying to eat us. I try to explain they are baby animals and have a ton of energy.....much like Wesley. He's not going for it.

They are fun little animals. Part Nubian, part Boer, part crazy.
My favorite "air" picture

Gearing up for the attack.

Rear end has a mind of its own.

Dym is such a good Momma.

Cute but crazy

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's wrong with this picture


Yep, that's a naked baby on top of the toilet. She climbed right up there after her bath while Sean was busy drying off Wesley. Told you she was a climber. Doesn't she look proud?

Monday, January 24, 2011

My three year old informant.

I try to avoid it but occasionally I have to take the kids with me to the little grocery store a few miles away. It's just a Mom and Pops store where you pay high prices for the convenience of not driving all the way into town. I had Wesley in the cart with Greta in the seat of the cart. I'm rolling through the store trying to avoid "him". The older male store worker that always seems to find me and my children.  It's like he has radar for little kids and seeks them out to fill them with candy. It is really nice, he's a jovial older man but lately it's been a hassle. Around isle five (of a ten isle store) he sees us and immediately disappears into the back of the store. He returns with a handful of different colored Tootsie Pops (you know, the lollipops with the tootsie roll center). Wesley sees him coming and gets all excited. He lives for candy. The older gentleman strolls up and offers Wesley a lollipop. Wes picks a green one and proceeds to unwrap and become totally engrossed with his prize.  The gentleman then focuses his attention on Greta, offering her a lollipop. I tell him she's not old enough. He doesn't understand. He tells me "she'll just get a little messy Mom, no big deal". I tell him she's too young for candy, doesn't have enough teeth and so on. He still doesn't understand. Finally, Wesley looks up from his prize, leans over in front of the guy and says "It's a choking hazard".

I just about died laughing on the inside.

The guy finally got the clue. Then disappeared into the back of the store and returned with gummy bears. *sigh*
I had to explain to him again (this time without the help of Wesley) that they too are choking hazards. He looked defeated but once again went to the back of the store. I did my shopping at warp speed trying to get out of there before he returned with jelly beans. I got to the checkout stand before he found me the third time. This time he looked victorious while holding a string cheese. I had to give him credit, he really tried. It was sweet. Greta enjoyed the string cheese. I might forget to bring the kids with me next time I shop at that store.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

She may not walk......

......much at all, but BOY CAN SHE CLIMB!







Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Milk Maid

I would have laughed had you told me a year ago that I'd be milking a goat twice a day. Yep, I am officially a goat milker. I get up before it's even light out and go out to milk Dym. Then when Greta takes her nap at 2 I go out again. I'm hoping I can get down to just one milking a day but for now I need to do it twice. I've learned so much in a week in a half. I've learned to take certain information gained from books with a grain of salt. For instance, every ounce of information I read said to leave the baby goats with their mom for two weeks before milking her. They will keep her milked. So that's what I planned on doing. I hadn't built the milking stand because I thought I'd have time before I needed to start milking her on a daily basis. Turns out the two week rule is good for some goats, but my goat needed to be milked from day 1. By the third day each side of her udder was the size of a bowling ball. The babies had a hard time latching on because it was so engorged. I couldn't get her to stand still to even let me milk out a little bit because it hurt her. It was a bad situation. It took many people, some brute force and some tired hands but poor Dym finally got milked out. She had blood in one side of her udder. There was fear of mastitis (a painful inflammation of the udder) so I ramped up my daily milking, ordered a mastitis test and watched it like a hawk.  After two days of milking her twice daily the blood went away. The mastitis test (California Mastitis Test) was negative. Looks like all is well. I hope.

I might add that Dym is challenged in the udder department.  She has very pendulous teats. Her teats are only about 3 inches off the ground (one actually dragged the ground in the beginning). She's extremely hard to hand milk, it was taking me an hour and twenty minutes to milk her. It was exhausting to say the least. But I knew how uncomfortable she was so I religiously went out there twice a day. It was after a week of this I was offered the use of a milking machine. It's a Surge Bucket Milker and it works wonderfully.  They first started making them in the 1920's, it's pretty neat using an antique to milk the goat. The contraption here on the left is attached to an electric motor and vacuum tank and that's it. It's fairly quiet and takes less than ten minutes twice a day and I'm done.  Thank you Jessica's Mom for letting me use it! I really don't know how I'd manage without it.

Now when you let the goat out of her pen she rushes over and jumps up on the milking stand. Even when it's not time to be milked. I just love that goat, she's such a sweetie. Especially because she's letting me learn all of this on her. I'm only milking the one side that had the problems, the kids are keeping the other side drained. They won't even touch the side I milk, just sniff it and turn their noses up.

So here I am with the weird dilemma of what to do with a gallon of goat milk every day. A gallon out of just one side, isn't that insane? I just can't seem to wrap my mind around actually drinking it. Maybe it's because there was blood in it, maybe it's because I see that teat being drug through all sorts of nasty, but I just can't do it. I've never been a raw milk kind of person. But I really want to be that kind of person. The self sufficient person that gathers eggs, milks the goat and eats produce out of the garden. Maybe pasteurizing it is the key. Maybe then I'll want to drink it? Or maybe I'll keep dumping it down the sink. Oh who knows.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sled Slider


Our snow is nearly melted and we'd only been out to play in it twice so this past weekend out we went for some sled time. It started as just a ride up to get the mail and then it was discovered that it was the perfect mixture of ice and packed snow. Perfect for sliding. You'll see what I mean after you see the video. The kid had a blast.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekly Winners January 9-15

Her newest love is a dinosaur hat. She "roars" now.

Wesley trying to feed the kids some leaves. He enjoys them more while they are in the dog kennel ever since they knocked him over.

Exhibit two, more with the dino hat.

Boundless energy, springs in the legs, eat everything.....baby goats are fun!

Roar!
Sled time with Mom.

First leak of the year. Let's keep track shall we? We used to pay $12 every time we got a leak. Now Hubby fixes them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Conversations with a three year old.

Wesley was just asking about what a hospital was and I was explaining to him that a hospital is where sick people go.

Wesley: "When I get sick I'll go to the hospital."


Me: "Yep, and when Mom and Daddy get sick we can go to the hospital too."


Wesley: "And when Greta gets sick she'll go in the trash can."

Explanation: FAIL

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blasted Mobility

You might recall back in August that my husband got a vasectomy. Actually it was done on August 13th,  Friday the 13th (should have been our first clue). If you didn't get to read that delightful post, HERE it is. It was a day we all won't soon forget. So here we sit exactly five months later and I think we can officially consider it a "botched" vasectomy. No, I'm not pregnant thank the good Lord. You might need a brief history of "after vasectomy care" to understand why I might refer to it as botched.

1. Bubba goes and gets a vasectomy.
2. Two months later Bubba provides a "sample".
3. Lab uses microscopes to search for mobile swimmers.
4. Bubba gets an all clear from the doctor.
5. Bubba no longer has the ability to procreate.
6. Yippie! No more Bubba Jrs.

This is what we all thought would happen. A fairy tale ending to our reproductive life.

So Hubby provides the "sample" to the lab two months after the procedure. The nurse calls back with the news that there are 0-2 mobility. That means that in the sample provided there are still live swimmers. Ok. Bummer. She said come back in a month to provide another sample and in the mean time ejac evacuate as many swimmers as possible. November 13th rolls around, time for another sample. The nurse calls with the exact same news. 0-2 mobility. Said to try again next month.....and be sure to get out as many swimmers as possible. Hubby makes it his part time job to follow nurses rules on a daily basis (I'm a cool wife, but I'm not that cool). December came and went with the same results. This time nurse said that he'll have to talk to the doctor if another month has the same results. We're thinking exploratory scrotum surgery. Fun times!

So today was yet another sample day. The fourth sample. We were both a little anxious for the test results to say the least. The nurse called and said it was down to 0-1 mobility. She talked with the doctor and he said in rare cases it has taken up to a year to get a clean, non-mobility sample. *sigh* So he goes back with yet another sample in two months. This has been a frustrating experience and we will be oh so happy if and when it's over.

So far I'm not really an advocate for vasectomies.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One man bucket brigade

It's officially winter. There is snow on the ground and temperatures got to negative three degrees yesterday. Yeah, -3. That's freakin cold! Part of owning animals is planning ahead for these super cold months. Having hay stored up, feed bins filled (in case you can't get out of the driveway), and water deicers installed. This year I actually planned for the freezing water situation. Usually I'm hauling buckets of water to and from the house spigot to fill up the horse tank but this year I actually used my brain and coiled up the hose and stored it in the shop. So yesterday I noticed the horse tank had gotten down far enough that GoatMan might find it difficult to get water. I got my unfrozen hose from the shop, hooked it up to the house, turned on the water and waited for it to come out the other end. Never came out. I could actually hear it freeze as it was traveling down the hose. There goes that idea. So back to the one person water bucket brigade. Bummer. Good workout though.

Since this is the first winter having chickens I decided to try out one of the heated water troughs for them. There really is only one or two on the market so the options weren't great. I decided to go with the cheaper one. The reviews were mixed, many said it broke or leaked but quite a few said it worked great. For $37 I thought even if it worked for one season it would be worth it. Unlike the horse tank deicer it only uses 100 watts, which is like having a light bulb on 24/7. Definitely something that won't run up the electric bill. It's super nice not hauling water to all the animals. I'll have to agree with the reviews saying it's not very durable. I've already managed to break it and I've been pretty gentle with it. A little duct tape over the hole and it's back to working. We'll see if I get another winter out of it though.

Everyone seems to being keeping warm enough out there. I went out before I went to bed around 11pm last night to throw some extra brome hay in with the horses and they were just pigging out in their shed. Those little mini's have several inches of fur to keep them warm. The baby goats and their mom are staying warm in the shop. Even after it hit -3 last night the shop was still sitting at 34 degrees according to the thermometer. And those little kids were nestled down deep in the straw keeping each other warm. Let's hope this frigid weather moves along quickly, I'm already dreaming of spring.

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Snow

We got our first snow of the season today. It's only three or four inches but it doesn't matter to a three year old. Wesley was glued to the window watching it snow this morning, so excited to go experience it. I'd say he was more excited about snow than he was Christmas morning. Strange. We got out there and Greta started crying almost instantly. Poor dear wanted nothing to do with the white stuff.

It probably wasn't the best time to bring out my ski mask I found at the store. It was the only ski mask they had. She wasn't going for it. That wasn't my best move, it is pretty scary. I swear I'm not trying to scar my children (Wesley thinks it's cool).

It's iron man if you couldn't make it out. I found it in the boys section. It's warm, therefore it's awesome. I need warm when out feeding the animals. Greta thought I was Satan. Note to self: no ski mask while Greta's around.


Overall, not a stellar first snow day of the season. We'll do better next time it snows.......possibly by burning the mask.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I hope the burning flesh smell leaves my car.....

I'm going to leave the breeding of animals up to the professionals, I'm clearly not cut out for it. Tonight for instance. Bet you didn't know baby goats have to be disbudded at only a few days old. I guess I should back up, disbudding is done so that when the goat grows up they won't have horns. It kills the emerging horn bud...or something like that. I've had horned goats before, I don't want horned goats ever again. Then again maybe I just have a mean horned goat. Anyways, I digress. I've been looking for someone to disbud these baby goats for about a week now. I called a vet before they were even born and was told they would do the procedure but once I got them there the vet said she didn't feel comfortable doing it. Grrr. So I started my search. I ended up putting a plea out to Craigslist looking for someone to disbud these kids. I posted the ad yesterday and not a day later I found someone willing to do it. Don't you just love Craigslist?

So this evening I separated the bawling kids from the bawling momma goat and off we went with them in the back of the car. I have to admit I had no idea what I was in for. Well, I mean I'd done a lot of research and knew the general idea but I just didn't know it would smell that bad. This guy that contacted me had done hundreds of disbuddings so I felt comfortable knowing he knew what he was doing. From what I've read if you do it wrong you're likely to have a brain damaged goat. Often they act brain damaged anyways so I can't imagine actually having a special ed goat. They put each one in a box with nothing but their head sticking out then placed a circular hot iron on each horn bud, holding it there for several seconds.  Meanwhile the poor baby is screaming it's fool head off while smoke pours out filling the room with the most awful burnt flesh smell. It was seriously nasty. The iron cauterizes the flesh so there is no blood or anything, and the kid is left with these two rings on top of it's head. It took maybe two minutes from the time I walked in there to when he was done with both. It was impressive. I loaded them back up in their dog crate in the back of the car and off we went for home. By the time I got home the car smelled like burnt flesh and I was happy to get out. Let us all pray the smell dissipates.

So yet another experience I can add to the list. I hope this is the one and only disbudding I will ever have to participate in again. They don't seem to hold it against me, they just love to be held and loved on. They are happy as long as they are in a lap.


Isn't my Mom cute?

My Dad holding a kid, that little one didn't want to leave his lap.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Introductions

The Boys: "What ARE those little furry bouncing creatures?!"

The Kids: "Hey Mom, what are those three things over there that keep staring at us?"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kids petting kids

Looks like the strawberry bed is loved by kids of all ages......and.......species. Bear with me on all the goat posts, it's really all that's happening around here. :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Greta at 15 months

My little girl is growing up at super speed now that she turned one. I can't believe she's 15 months already. It dawned on me that she hasn't been into the doctors for a well baby exam in quite some time. I really think those visits are worthless but she was due for her second flu shot so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. The doctor was going through the list of questions "Can she stack two blocks?", "Can she say three words?", I was saying yes to all of them. Then she gets to "Is she walking well?". I answered "Nope, not yet". The doc was shocked. I had to explain that Greta's older brother wasn't walking until 15-16 months and that I wasn't worried at all. The doctor then did a bunch of typing on her little lap top and I then remembered why I dislike well baby visits so much. The unneeded worrying. I know my child is right on track for her development, I don't need them telling me any different. I'll get off my soapbox now.

As if Greta knew something was up, she took three steps yesterday on her own. I'm so proud of her! Go Greta!

 Greta 15 month percentiles:
Weight: 24 lbs 4 oz (66%)
Height: 30.25 in (39%)
Head Circumference:  48.5 cm (97%)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Goat Lactation

Nothing is ever as easy as it looks. A goat gets pregnant, gives birth and then you milk it.  I read all I could about milking goats. Watched YouTube videos of milking.  It seemed pretty straight forward. Yeah not so much. I planned on building a milking stand, which is pretty much just a short table with a stanchion that holds the goats head locked while milking (or hoof trimming or vaccinations). But of course this got pushed back as do so many projects around here. I thought I could just milk her without one until such time as I could build one (it was set for this weekend). Turns out you can't just tie a goat up and milk it (well at least not Dym). She did everything in her power to not be milked, including kicking over the milk bowl countless times, moving every time I attempted to milk and even turning around trying to drink the milk I had gotten out of her. After four days of trying this (and her udder becoming engorged and HUGE....think beach ball), I called in reinforcements. My friend Jessica is a milking pro. She milked her Jersey cows while growing up and worked at a dairy in college so she's informed on the lovely art of hand milking (cows at least). So yesterday was the day of reckoning. We tied Dym up short on a fence and I held her head while Jessica went to town on her udder. Dym once again danced around but we were able to get over a gallon out of her....and she still had more to give.

We discovered how much a milking stand was needed. So last night at 8 pm after the children went to bed I headed out to the shop to construct one. I used scrap lumber and 2.5 hours later I had built the ugliest milking stand ever. You know what though? It WORKS! Woo hoo! I just got in from milking her again today and it was 100% easier than yesterday. She stood there and let us empty her udder (Jessica was back to help, thank you Jessica!). Got another gallon and a half today. That is one high producing goat. Poor Dym feels so much better and can actually walk around (you try and walk with a beach ball between your legs). You might wonder what I'm doing with over a gallon of goat milk a day? I have no idea. I'm dumping it for now. That's another post though. Please learn from me though....if you plan to milk a goat build a goat stand before she gives birth.

Stunning isn't it?

Dym demonstrating it's functionality, Jessica demonstrating milking.

Dym: "Do. I. Know. You?"

I put the stand next to the kennel because I knew she'd be calm being next to her kids who were out soaking up the rays. Aren't they cute?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Funday Sunday: Key Lime Pie

I don't have many resolutions this year. Just two really. First one is to get more organized. I want to de-clutter  the house, and put what's left in it's place. Second resolution is to be more creative in my cooking. To achieve this goal I plan to incorporate at least one new recipe a week into my meal menu. I've started subscribing to a new cooking magazine and can't wait to jump right in. Hopefully I'll get to share some winning recipes here on the blog over the next year. I thought I'd start with a recipe I discovered before the Holidays. Key lime pie sounded delicious and I ran across this one and had to give it a try. It got five star, glowing reviews on allrecipe.com and it only has three ingredients (besides the crust): two cans of sweetened condensed milk, half a cup of sour cream and key lime juice (and zest). That's it, that's all. I'm actually eating the last piece as I write this, the pie disappeared in less than a day. Way too good to not try.



Ingredients:

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup key lime juice (they are out of season right now so I used three limes....worked great)
1 tablespoon grated lime zest


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime rind. Mix well and pour into graham cracker crust.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. DO NOT BROWN! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired.
 Enjoy!