Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting back into dairying mode

If you haven't seen already, we FINALLY have a new goat.  Her name is Siren and she, my friends, comes with milk.  It's fabulous and I'm so happy to have a chance to make cheese again.  Tonight, it's chevre.  Chevre is one of those soft, fresh cheeses that really is a cinch to make.  A gently warmed milk, a little culture and rennet, allowed to set and drained into delicious cheese.

I'm not going to tell you how to make chevre, there's only about 100 blogs that already do that.  If I come up with some creative uses for it I'll post about it though.  We usually mix it with some ranch seasoning for salty crackers or honey and vanilla to use on grahams.  I like to top pasta with it sometimes and it subs nicely for cream cheese.

A lot has happened in the last month or so.  We've been hatching out babies: goslings, ducklings, and chicks.  I had to buy a few chicks to add more blue egg layers.  I have lots of white, brown and olive layers but I was down to just 1 blue layer named Eagle.  The thing about blue egg genetics is that you have to have two blue gene copies to get blue eggs.  So had brown + blue = green all day long but I couldn't hatch out more blues and I really don't want an Amercauna rooster.  They just don't make great meat birds and part of my goal is to only hatch out babies we have a plan for- either meat use or eggs layer use.

I'm counting on one of my goslings to be a gander, as it turns out (no surprise), African geese are monogamous so as I was trying to hatch eggs, all of Lucy's eggs were infertile and all of Bertha's eggs were fertile.  So I was throwing out half the eggs.  Now we have 6 goslings hatched and I think we are stopping there.  We still have never had goose to eat so hopefully we'll love the meat and it will be a new staple for us.  

I'm still not a big fan of duck but I do eat it and we are hatching lots of duck this year.  My husband and son really like roast duck, so I'll learn to like it in time I'm sure.  I think I want to make some sausage out of it this year.  It's such a strong flavored meat I think it will stand up so some spices well.  The thing is about free range duck is that they reach adult size in about 8 weeks and that's our fastest meat source right there.  They also do it with a pretty small amount of feed when they can range.  Since everyone eats from the same feeder , I can't say what percentage of what they eat is forage but since spring through fall I'm adding animals and my feed costs drop when the grass gets to growing well, I'd say they are getting a pretty high percentage from our land.

The turkeys just started laying.  I was starting to think they were duds.  They still might be, I've yet to witness a successful mating so they could be just laying infertile eggs.  I hope not, that tom turkey's days are numbered.  He attacks everyone.  If it was just us adults I probably wouldn't care so much but he really goes after my son and that's where I draw a line.  I have one of my broody hens, who happens to be evil, testing one of the eggs so I can candle it for fertility.