Isn’t goat milk gross?

I get this question second only to, ‘Don’t goats eat everything?’

 This is going to sound like a strange opening sentence to my argument that goat milk is great, but, I don’t like drinking goats milk! To be fair though, I don’t drink milk no matter where it comes from. I have tried cow’s milk from the supermarket, cow’s milk raw, fresh from the farm, soy, rice and almond. So maybe I’m not the best judge. My kids(the human variety) however love milk (except soy) and say goats milk is the BEST! They would drink it by the gallon if I let them:) And that is a very good thing for several reasons.

Firstly, goats are easy to keep, unlike what you have probably heard. They make very little mess as long as they are in a well fenced yard. I use deer fencing over post and rail. If they do get out, which mine never do, they will strip the bark off your fruit trees and eat your lilies and any other yummy looking flower:) 

Secondly, compared to the cow’s milk most North American’s drink, goats milk is definitely the better option for multiple reasons. A goat eats way less than a cow. The average cow eats 100lbs of feed per day and over 50 gallons of water. Compare that with goats at an average of 1-3lbs of grain feed and 4-8lbs of hay. Two small buckets, filled twice with fresh water twice a day is enough for my 5 goats.  Then add in the amount of space you need for both. Raised humanely a cow should have at least 2 acres of good pasture and 60 square feet of barn space per animal. I keep five goats on a 1/4 acres with walks to browse daily when weather permits. They need 8 square feet of barn space at night. Mine do with a smaller space now, which in our cold climate works well. Goats need their feet trimmed every 6 weeks(depending on the terrain) and worming if you agree with the practice.  At least you don’t have to trim cow hooves! One last thing on maintenance, have you seen the size of a cow patty? There is just no comparison between that and the almost dainty nearly odorless droppings of a goat. The waste from a commercial cow dairy is staggering and the cost to our environment is devastating.

Thirdly, goats milk is better for you. I’m sure you have heard that it is easier to digest, but this is why. Goat milk has a more easily digestible fat and protein content than cow milk. Goat milk can successfully replace cow milk in diets of those who are allergic to cow milk. This is because 1-in-10 people who are allergic to the major protein of cow’s milk, alpha S1 casein protein, can tolerate goat milk and human milk because both lack this offending protein. It is more easily digestible because of the casein curd, which is both softer and smaller than that produced by cow milk. The smaller and softer the curd, the more easily accepted by the human digestive system.  I know several cases where cow milk intolerant kids have switched to goats milk without problems.

I will admit that there are disadvantages to goat milk. Because the fat content is lower and the curds smaller it is very hard to make butter or collect the cream. I have found that the yogurt isn’t as thick or tasty as other yogurt. Also, you don’t get nearly as much milk from goats. The average goat in full production will give about 6-12lbs of milk per day with a cow giving abut 5 times that much, but honestly what family needs as much as 60lbs of milk per day? Obviously, if you have the space and the wish to produce for more than just your family then a cow makes sense (sort of), but for most of us that just isn’t the case.  Two goats give my family of eight enough milk to drink and make cheese with some to spare.

Lastly, they are just abut the cutest animals alive. Once you have held a newborn goat, you will be smitten for life!

My 2010 Anthem

Amazing

I believe 2010 will be an amazing year, full of potential and promise.  I am moving into this year with vision and purpose and can feel that energy everywhere. 

 This song is my 2010 anthem and perfectly expresses how I feel, more poetically then I could, for sure:) (click link to hear the song)

This warm weather almost has me fooled into thinking it really is spring. There’s a part of me that relishes in the warmth and another that knows no snow means no water in the spring, and no water in the spring means dry, dry, dry.

We live on a teeny little lake. More of a glorified puddle really, but water nonetheless. Without the spring run-off it fades away into a distant muddy memory, and that’s a bit scary. We really have a feel for the whole ‘global warming’ thing up here in the once, Great White North. In the past 10 years it has gone from several weeks of -30 to -40 weather in the winter, to a few days if we are lucky. You may wonder why anyone would think -30 is a good thing, but it really is. Without it the pine beetle runs amuck and kills over 14.5 million hectares of our pine forest. The snow pack melts early and we end up with wicked drought.  As you can imagine when 14.5 million hectares of our forests are dead what an enormous risk drought is to us.

So join with me in a chorus of ‘Let is Snow, let it snow, let it snow’.

And maybe a little prayer.

Cluck Cluck Quack Quack

They love the warm weather!

Turkey Processing (not for the faint of heart)!

The only reason I am adding this post is because I have found posts such as this one invaluable. I thought I might add my extremely novice perspective to the list of available posts on the subject.

I truly belive if our family is going to eat meat then I want us to be as connected to the process as possible, even if it is graphic. I belive it keeps us ethical and conscious.

I raise my birds free range during the spring, summer and Autumn excluding when they are too small to survive freely. In the winter I do keep them in a coop/run. I don’t grow my meat birds the traditional way, quickly. I let the live in the sun on real grass and grow them longer. Yes, it does take more time and a bit more feed, but I feel better about it and my chickens can actually walk by themselves by the time I process them!

One of my plans this year in to build a much bigger run then I have now. I feed some grain during the warm months and kitchen scraps and 16% laying pellets in the winter. Hubby and I want to start mixing our own feed, but haven’t done the research yet.

On to the Processing.

I only had two turkeys to do today so it was quite simple. I laid out a tarp to work on as I planned to skin rather than pluck due to the size of the birds. I laid a large piece of plastic with sawdust on it to catch the blood under the cone.

Dan brought the Turkey down from the coop by the feet. This calms (or completely terrifies the bird) so they don’t move. He placed it head first into the cone.

I held the legs while he slit its throat. That is the worst part for me. We let the blood drain into the sawdust for at least five minutes before I began skinning.

My dad, who is a butcher, suggested I start by facing the turkey towards me  breast side down. Then slit from the neck down to the tail. 

After this I flipped the turkey over and repeated the cut on the breast side. The skin came of the breast side easily.

I had to use my knife more for the backside, which resulted in a few cuts to the meat. I chose to remove the bottom part of the wing and left only the meaty part. It was pretty difficult to get the skin off the wings. The rest of the skin came off quite easily. I am quite impressed at how quickly it went from start to finish. These were my first Turkeys, and having only processed Chickens once before, I was a bit intimidated.

But if I can do it, anyone can!

Ode to the Seed Catalogue

January always means seed catalogues for me. I love seed catalogues. I live in a zone 3-4 and it can sometimes be a challenge to grow here. Our season is short, but I almost always find something new to try.

We can’t plant in the ground up here until the end of May, so I don’t plant my seeds indoors until early March. That gives me some time to get my orders in by the end of February. I am always so grateful for the catalogues this time of year because a winter person, I am not! When I drool over seed catalogues I can almost feel the warmth of the sun if I really really try.

So back to what I will be ordering this year… One of my favorite places to order from is Salt Spring Seeds, and this year they are offering a Zero Mile Diet Seed kit. I have always wanted to try these plants and this is an economical way to do it.

‘This kit is for gardeners or groups of gardeners eager to become more self-reliant in food. The 13 seed packets contained in it are Red Fife Wheat, Purple Barley, Hulless Oats, Wren’s Abruzzi Rye, Golden Flax, Quinoa, Amaranth, Heritage Bean Mix, Carlin Soup Pea, Winnifred’s Garbanzo, Russian Kale, 20 Lettuce Blend, Ardwyna Paste Tomato. Included in the box, apart from the seeds, is a 20-page comprehensive growing and recipe guide. A treasure trove of possibilities for the ardent grower!’~Salt Spring Seed Company

Tomatoes

Chiapas Wild

Orange, currant-size with excellent flavour. Tiny leaves. Sprawling plants. 5-foot vines. Prolific. Ancient variety. Doesn’t ramble like some wild varieties. Great producer. Disease tolerant.

New, Canadian Collection

Salt Spring Sunrise: red, midseason. Savignac: mid to full season. Quebec 314: large cherry size. Doucet’s Early Market Quebec: early. Dufresne: full season.

Bali

Medium, very ribbed tomato, marbled pink, yellow and red. Juicy, unique, complex flavour. Huge producer. Beautiful slicer. Looks like flower petals. From Bali. Rare.

Ardwyna Paste

Long, fat and tapered. Good in large containers and greenhouse. Excellent flavour for sauce. Few seeds. Early and abundant production.

Letuce

Berenice 

Green Oak leaf type with dense heads. Stands up to heat well, so expect full season production.

Dixter

Burgundy/Red Romaine type, which is slow to bolt, has great texture and can be used in baby leaf production.

Rouge Grenobloise » a sanctuary seed

A French Heirloom.This Batavian type produces a good sized head, with a fine red colour. Excellent full season production and cold hardy.

This heirloom dates back to the late 1800’s. It has a bronze/green colour, which is a real stand out. This is an ideal summer variety.

Trocadero » a sanctuary seed

A rare loose butterhead type, with compact heads, it stands well in all conditons. A mid-green colour.

De Morges Braun » a sanctuary seed

Very rare Romaine type from Switzerland. Has apple green centers with pink/bronze outer leaves.Tolerates all weather conditions and has excellent flavour. A stunning salad addition.

Oaky Red Splash

Grows tall with red splashes on a bronze background. Heat tolerant. Pink stems. Another winner from Frank Morton.

5 Colour Silverbeet

The original heirloom from Australia, with the leaf colours pink/yellow/orange/red and white. Excellent as baby greens or at full maturity. A real stand out for flavour and in the garden.

January King Cabbage

(Brassica oleracea) Hardy winter cabbage that withstands severe frosts. Crisp, crunchy, green/blue heads have excellent flavour.

Spinach

Lush greens, high in iron. Best planted in spring or fall.

Spice-It-Up Salad Blend » certified organic

Red mustard and arugula add excitement to this tangy mix. Frilly mizuna and a selection of tasty lettuce round out this blend. Summer salads never tasted this great!

Russian Red Kale (aka Ragged Jack) (Brassica oleracea)

Easy to care for and extremely winter-hardy. Beautiful, purple-veined variety. Flavour improves after the first frost. Delicious in winter salads or steamed. Very high in many vitamins and minerals. Planted by July, kale gets to a good size before cold sets in. Use spring flower buds like broccoli.

Four Kale Mix

(Brassica oleracea) A mix of our 4 favourite kales: Red Russian, White Russian, Frilly and Squire.

Rainbow Chard (Beta vulgaris var.)

Extremely popular, recently introduced variety.

Blue Pod Desiree

Large rectangular soup pea similar to Holland Brown but has vibrant purple pods that making picking a delight. Makes delicious, full-bodied soup.

Summer Pea » certified organic

Great shelling bush pea. High yields. Withstands extended summer heat. Self-supporting.

Beka Brown

Beautiful golden yellow bean. Always early and prolific. Great flavour. Matures early to mid-August.

Long Island Cheese

(C. moschata) Large, buff-coloured, flattened, ribbed shape. winter keeper. Tender skin and thick, flavourful bright orange flesh, soft when cooked.

Sibley Hubbard (C. maxima) 

An heirloom variety winter squash, produces 8 to 10 pound elongated football shape fruits. Slate blue colored skin, with some orange tinge on soil side. Very hard skin. Excellent storing squash. Said that they taste better if you store and wait until after New Year’s to eat them.

Styrian Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo styriaca)

Naked (hulless) seeds are eaten raw or toasted. Sprawling plants produce about six 15-pound pumpkins. Light-coloured flesh can be used in zucchini recipes, pumpkin soup and stir-fries or be grated into winter salads. Will ripen even in cool wet summers.

Table King Acorn

(Cucurbita pepo) 70-90 days. Gray-green ribbed, 2-pound fruit. Thick, pale-orange flesh. Excellent flavour gets even better with storage. 5-8 fruits per plant.

Round Zucchini (C. pepo)

Round ball shape. Nice green skin with some creamy white stripes and flesh. Good production on bushes that don’t spread, so ideal for home gardens and market speciality growers. Good steamed when small and excellent for grilling once they reach baseball size.Mature fruit can be stored as a winter squash.

St. Valery Carrot

Special heirloom from the famous Vilmorin Garden in France. Very popular in the late 1800’s and earlier. Expect bright orange 10-inch roots, that are smooth and very sweet. Rare.

Laurentian Rutabaga

Popular Canadian variety with deep purple crown and cream yellow base. Uniform 5-6 inch almost neckless roots are very cold-hardy and excellent keepers. Pale yellow flesh. Sweet refined taste and texture.

Onion: Perennial Bunching (Allium fistulosum)

Also called Welsh Onion. Great for salads and cooking.Bulbs are small and store well.Leave some in the ground over winter, for very early green onions.

Winter Party Onion » certified organic

(Allium cepa) Consistent quality storage onions in mix of red, white and marbled colors with red, rose or white skins.

Early Wonder Tall Top Beet (Beta vulgaris)

60 days. Leaves dark green with maroon tinge. 18 inches tall. Dark purple 3″ flattened beets, good for greens and early beets.

Detroit Red Beet (Beta vulgaris)

Highly esteemed, reliable, nearly globe, dark beet. Main crop canner for home gardens. With mulch, will winter in the ground at the coast. Heirloom from 1892.

Chantenay Carrot (Daucus carota)

Especially suited for heavy soils. Rich orange colour, very sweet and juicy. Large stump-rooted variety.

Harris Model Parsnip (Pastinaca Sativa)

Plant direct from end of March to early July and leave in ground mulched until after first frost when this delicious root becomes sweeter. Bright white and about ten to twelve inches long the Harris parsnip is ideal for oven roasting or tasty winter stews.

Potatoes

I ordered all my seed potatoes from Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes and was very pleased with both the service and quality. I tried six varieties and all were fantastic. I experimented with fingerlings potatoes and we all loved them. They are very flavorful, and they were fantastic in stews with skins on. They have also kept well. We stored them all in paper feed bags with a fan to circulate the air in our cement basement. We will be building a proper potato bin this year in the root cellar, but the bags were just fine. I haven’t yet decided which potatoes to try this year. 

Looking forward to spring!

 

Welcome

I would like to invite you to our farm. All 2.5 acres of it! We have spent the past few years on a huge learning curve. Our curve has included gardening, raising milking goats, food storage, raising animals for food (a completely new concept), and fence building. Lots and LOTS of fence building!! These pictures give a better idea then my words ever could of life around here. On this site I plan to include information about how and why we did/do what we do.  As well as a journal of our adventures into 2010.

Some of our future plans include;

Cheese press creation, both to use ourselves and to sell .(hubby’s department)

Goat cheese,  soap making

Build a root cellar

Fix fences, build more

Raise pigs and chickens to butcher in the fall

Double garden size

Start some plants from seed (onion, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower). I tried this last year without great success. I didn’t have enough light and my tomato plants were leggy.  I have some ideas to fix the problem and will let you know how it goes.

Store LOTS of food for winter.

Thank you for coming along!

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