Posted 374 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
I have been very interested in using pigs to work up our stale fields but the price of feed has kept us from experimenting with them since our first time back in 1995. We also have established a fairly steady flow of waste dairy products from our families various dairy hobbies. We have been told stories about how amazing pork is when the pigs have been fed dairy products and we have been very anxious to try and raise them again. This past summer we finally got an opportunity to see just what those little rooting machines could do.
Our youngest son usually raises pastured poultry but this year decided he would try his hand at raising a small number of weanlings. The idea was to keep one for ourselves and market the rest for freezer pork. Our local provincially inspected plant is equipped to process pigs.
The first stage of the project was to access weanlings. There aren’t many small hog farmers anymore but we were successful. They arrived on the farm the end of April at about 50 pounds. We kept them in our empty hen house for the first month. We lined it with puck board so the pigs couldn’t chew through the walls. From our earlier experience with pigs we knew they greatly enjoy chewing on wood. To minimize boredom we also gave them a basketball. That also minimized destruction. By the time they had discovered how to get their noses into the cracks in the floor their outdoor pen was ready and the weather was warm enough for them also.
We decided to feed the pigs differently. Years ago we had them in a stationary pen and fed them chop. This time they were going to be in a portable pen (pig tractor) enabling them to dig and eat fresh greens. In the warm months we have an abundance of whey, buttermilk and skim milk which is a favorite food of pigs. My son made porridge out of pea screenings, kitchen and garden scraps along with a vitamin/mineral supplement from the feed store. During canning season the pigs quite willingly ate all our scraps. We were rewarded for making them happy with amazing digging machines.
We chose our goat and sheep pasture for our experiment. It was originally seeded in the 1960’s so when it just didn’t grow this year we really weren’t surprised. This ground was root bound and compacted. The first few weeks they had to be on the same piece of ground for more than one day. Their pen was ten feet by twenty feet and was built on old hydro poles for runners. MAFRI had told us that it would take seven pigs per acre to overturn it all in a season but our pen was the right size for four.
An acre is 43560 square feet. The pen is 200 square feet. So, we calculated that we would have to move the pen 218 times to turn over an acre. What we didn’t expect was that four pigs once they hit about one hundred pounds would need to be moved more than once a day. This was a wonderful surprise because that meant we might actually succeed in turning over an acre from May 1st to first snow. The other thing we found is that pigs are more than happy to dig out large rocks.
To entice them to dig out the boulders my son would pour extra water around it to get the ground soft. Then he would let the pigs go to work. Within about twenty four hours they would have the rock loosened out of the dirt enough that he could easily pop them out with the loader and tractor.
The design of the “pig tractor” needs to be tweaked a bit for next year to enable better turning. Another point we missed was that we started at the near end of the pasture instead of the furthest point. So, the animals might not want to pass over the newly seeded area to get to the rest of the pasture next spring. Next year we will start at the far end where we winter feed cows and let the pigs turn all that into the ground for us. Not only are they extremely good at this they enjoy it. When they hear my son coming with their slop they make the happiest pig noises we have ever heard.
Our family will definitely be repeating this experiment in 2014. To be honest it was good for our souls to watch one of God's creation live out their lives doing the work, so willingly, that He had meant them for. If your interested in ordering pork click on the Time to Order link under the Farmer Market heading. We will be happy to talk.
Posted 510 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
Originally published in the Grainews 2013
Every year by the end of February the urge to eat something, anything, fresh and green starts. Lettuce from the store just isn’t the same as from the garden, not to mention the cardboard tomatoes. We are extremely happy that we still have a stash of dehydrated tomatoes to get us through the rest of winter since it is just too cold in Manitoba to start gardening. Or is it? It is too early to plant a real garden but growing some sprouts can satisfy some cravings. If the satisfaction of being able to eat something fresh and green isn’t enough to try sprouting there are many more healthy reasons to give home sprouting a try.
In the life of a plant, sprouting is a moment of great vitality and energy. Sprouting magnifies the nutritional value of the seed. It boosts the B-vitamin content (especially B2, B5 and B6), triples the amount of vitamin A and increases vitamin C by a factor of 5 to 6 times. Starches are converted to simple sugars, making sprouts very easily digestible. Carotene increases, sometimes eightfold. More importantly, sprouting grains neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc; sprouting of seeds neutralizes enzyme inhibitors that are present in all seeds. These inhibitors can neutralize our own enzymes in the digestive tract. Complex sugars responsible for intestinal gas in starchy seeds such as beans are broken down during sprouting so they are easier tolerated. Sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, potent carcinogens found in some grains, plus numerous enzymes that help in digestion are produced during the germination process.
Sprouts are rinsed two to four times a day, depending on the climate and the type of seed, to provide them with moisture and prevent them from souring. Each seed has its own ideal sprouting time. After three to five days the sprouts will have grown to 5 to 8 centimeters (2–3 in) in length and will be suitable for consumption. If left longer they will begin to develop leaves, and are then known as baby greens. A popular baby green is sunflower after 7–10 days. Refrigeration can be used as needed to slow or halt the growth process of any sprout. For me it isn’t just the eating the sprouts all fresh and crunchy. I thoroughly enjoy the excitement of waiting and watching as the little roots burst out of the seeds and quickly become little edible morsels of delicious greenness. Just about any seed can be used to make sprouts. One word of caution about alfalfa: this seed has higher than usual amounts of an amino acid called canavanine, and some research studies have associated canavanine with worsening of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions, including autoimmune conditions, may want to avoid alfalfa sprouts for this reason.
The most important thing to ensure is that they have not been treated with any chemicals. We get our certified organic wheat and certified organic spelt for sprouting from Gerry and Marie DeRuyck in Notre Dame, MB 1-204-836-2755. Their grain is not only fantastic for sprouting it can also be used for making flours if desired.
There are lots of sprouting kits online but specialized equipment isn’t really necessary.
Grain or seeds
Fill a mason jar one third full with any grain or seed. We use a canning jar that the tea strainer securely fits over the mouth of. Secure the tea strainer with elastic bands. Rinse a couple times, then fill the jar 3/4 full with pure water, room temperature, and soak 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain soaking water.
Rinse 2 or 3 times in cool water. Invert jar and prop at angle in sink or bowl to drain and to allow air circulation. Rinse 2 or 3 times twice a day in cool water. Ideal sprouting temp is 55F to 70F so the room temperature of the average house is perfect. In one to four days the sprouts will be ready. Rinse will, shake out excess moisture, and place a breathable cover on jar. Store the sprouts in the refrigerator.
Sprouts are enjoyable on their own or as a garnish. Beans and lentils are much easier to digest now, but should be cooked before consumption. We have noted they cook much faster after sprouting. We also enjoy them as crackers. We have had very good luck sprouting Suraj brand fenugreek seeds from the ethnic aisle in Superstore.
*Sprouted Grain Crackers (Nourishing Traditions)*
3 cups sprouted soft wheat berries
one half cup sprouted small seeds such as sesame, onion, poppy or fenugreek
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried dill, thyme or rosemary
Place all ingredients in food processor and process several minutes to form a smooth paste. Form into balls and roll into rounds on a pastry cloth, using unbleached white flour to prevent sticking. Place on a buttered cookie sheet and leave in a 150F degree oven (or a dehydrator) until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Before long we will be able to plant cool season vegetables in cold frames but till then the sprouts should keep us going. I definitely have sympathy for the cows when it gets to late winter and they just don’t feel like eating hay anymore.
Posted 1056 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
There is so much going on during baby season that it is really hard to remember to take pictures but I thought it would be a great idea to at least let people know that there are in fact a new crop of calves, goats and soon lambs here on the farm.
The weather has been fairly good and we have had some excitement.
The beef cows blessed us with two sets of twins so far this year. The one is a fifteen year old Angus cross cow that our second oldest had taken for 4-H years ago. Both of the twins are alive and doing very well and what makes them a little bit more rare for us is that they are the result of an artificial insemination breeding Gary had done last spring. We bred several cows when we discovered our herd sire was incapable of breeding and that went very well. All but two calved and Foggy had twins so it we are very glad we had semen in the tank to start our breeding season with last year.
We have just began having calves from our Welsh Black sire and they look very promising. The other set of twins was from him but one was born dead. We always believe in being thankful for what we get though and one live calf is definitely better than none. It is very sad though to help a cow deliver a still born calf. The forecast for the next two weeks is warming up so that will help with getting the rest of the calves on the ground safely since apparently Cherie and I miscounted and have both the cows and the goats having their babies at the same time.
Our goats have started slow but are starting to pick up speed. So far it appears that we have finally got our nutrition figured out because they are by far the bounciest babies we have had for a long time. We waiting patiently to hear of the birth of our new buck from Alex Cripps in New Brunswick also. He is to breed our Flying Bird daughters this fall and I can hardly wait to see the milk production here soar. We did breed a couple of Flying Bird daughters to kid in July as well as this spring so patience will have to be learned around here.
As soon as we get a chance pictures will be posted.
Posted 1128 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
Owning goats is pleasurable in many ways. They are full of personality but my favorite part of owning goats is that we can indulge in goat cheese whenever we want. Before we made it ourselves it really wasn’t much of a favorite but after the first taste-Wow! It is smooth, creamy and just soooooooo good. The best part is that goat cheese, also known as chevre, is easy to make. It can be eaten plain or with herbs. The picture below is of goat cheese with dried dill.
If just because it tastes good isn’t a good enough reason to make goat cheese the fact that it is a healthy food choice should help. The fat and calories in goat cheese are lower than the cow cream cheese alternative. A one ounce serving of goat cheese contains eighty calories and six grams of fat, compared to cow’s milk cheese, which generally has around 100 calories and 10 g of fat per ounce.
Simple Goat Cheese
1 gallon goat milk
1/4 cup mesophillic culture
1/3 cup cool water
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet (we use animal)
We source our cultures and rennet at Glengarry Cheesemaking Supplies
Heat milk to 72F. Add culture and stir. Mix water and rennet in a separate bowl. Gently stir into milk and culture mixture with a top bottom stir motion to make sure it is completely mixed. Let sit, with a lid on, for 18-24 hours. Drain by hanging it in a piece of butter muslin. If it has to drain over 12 hours finish the draining process in the fridge.
This cheese can be stored in the fridge for about three days. It freezes very well if double wrapped in plastic wrap.
Posted 1211 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
By Cherie Chikousky
There is nothing in this world that smells better than bread baking, other than horses, but that is apparently a less universal opinion. Very few people, no matter how shy they normally would be, can walk into a house filled with the aroma of homemade bread and refrain from asking for just one piece. With the windows open in the summer the smell can cause anyone working in the yard to suddenly need to step in for a minute, just for a glass of water, and “Oh, is the bread just out? A quick slice would be great.”
My first step in bread baking was kefir bread, a very good stepping stone. Moving on to yeast bread was a bit more difficult. Mine still refuses to rise like moms. When we finally had a reliable and consistent source for organic flour we rejuvenated our starter we had ordered from Carl’s. We haven’t attempted to “catch” a starter. It is said to be a trial and error method of beginning sourdough, sometimes you get lucky and have beautiful bread, other times it goes in the compost pail and you try again. The method described in The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook by Jean Hewitt is as follows:
Combine one-half cup of the flour (rye) and one-half cup of the lukewarm water in a large glass, or ceramic, bowl and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 50 to 60 hours. The dough should bubble and increase in volume. Stir if necessary and add more water if evaporation seems excessive. At the end of the time, the starter should be bubbly, good and smelly and increased in volume. Taken from the recipe “Whole Wheat Sour Dough Onion Bread” on page 250.
I have tried a few different sourdough recipes since we started, and the best so far is this:
Sour Dough Bread
1.5 cups starter
2 cups water
2 tbsp raw sugar or 1 tbsp honey
6.5 cups unbleached white flour, or 3 cups unbleached white flour and 3.5 cups whole-wheat flour, approximately
.25 cups melted butter, cooled
1. In a large bowl beat until smooth the 1.5 cups of starter, water, sugar, and two and one-half cups whole wheat flour.
2. Let stand in a warm place 12-18 hours; overnight.
3. Stir batter down. Mix in the melted butter and remaining whole-wheat flour and knead in enough of the remaining unbleached flour to make moderately stiff dough.
4. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
5. Grease well two loaf pans and your hands. Punch down the dough, divide in half and shape into loaves. Cover, if your dough is extra sticky use buttered plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one and one-half hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a dish of water in the oven and leave in while the bread bakes
7. Bake 40-50 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cover with aluminum foil if bread starts to over brown. Cool on a rack. Store in fridge/freezer to avoid sour bread.
Yield: 2 loaves
Feed starter equal parts rye flour and water, allow to stand 12 hours before refrigerating (if necessary), or feed every 24 hours. Remove from fridge 12 hours before using.
It has become very important to our family during our journey through the maze of what and how we should eat that we attempt to consume only certified organic cereals and grains. The main reasons include avoiding exposure to herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, and our concerns regarding additives to commercial flour. The two big additives we are concerned about are bromide, which blocks your iodine receptors, hindering your thyroids ability to function properly, and L-cysteine, an amino acid derived from human hair, pig bristles, or duck and chicken feathers, using a process involving soaking the chosen medium in hydrochloric acid. L-cysteine is a dough conditioner, and when used in things like bagels or pizza dough, it is listed on packaging and so easy to avoid. The problem is that from our research we believe this to be added to all commercial flour. It follows, then, that any product containing flour would also contain all government approved additives, and we do not feel comfortable that our bodies be forced to potentially consume what we believe to be harmful ingredients.
This has brought us to buying all our flours and other cereal products in bulk from a certified organic source, and reselling smaller amounts to local families who are trying to change their diets and do not have the need or availability to buy bulk. I have seen the blessings our family has received through godly people who believed in helping a young family who needed a hand, and we try whenever possible to follow that example in small ways to teach and give opportunity to others. We have a strong belief in the way we eat, and have seen it change people’s, including our own family’s, health for the better. If we can make buying organic a little less overwhelming for people starting through that same maze, we are happy to do it.
As anyone who has ever had problem with a yeast imbalance knows bread made using single-celled yeast isn’t good for your body. Our bodies are much keener on the traditional method of sourdough. The fact that a portion of the flour is soaked overnight is very important. Grains contain a high level of something called phytic acid in the outer portion of the grain, the healthiest part. Phytic acid is bound to phosphorus. In your intestines phytic acid binds with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc, blocking absorption. These minerals are obviously very important to our overall health. Grains also contain enzyme inhibitors, which slow down digestion and stress your pancreas, irritating tannins, complex sugars which our bodies cannot break down and gluten. Through soaking, sprouting, and fermenting, we begin the breakdown our digestive system cannot incur on these foods prior to consumption, allowing our bodies to be saved the stress of attempting to process the portions of the grains we are not equipped to and the ability to absorb the important vitamins and minerals we need.
As I finish this blog my kitchen is filled with the smell wafting from the oven of three loaves of bread and a dozen buns baking. I’ll be honest here. All I’m thinking is “mmmmm.”
Posted 1226 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
My journey into Sourdough making has been a slow one. I received my culture package in the mail from Carl’s a while ago, but have been wanting to wait till I have a secure, dependable supply of organic flours to start my own. I know that single cell yeast breads are not the best for my family, so when a friend shared her kefir bread recipe, I jumped right to it. The hardest part of this recipe, has been keeping up with my family’s demand!
We make kefir daily, out of our own cows and goats milk. I prefer the cow’s milk kefir for saving whey to ferment with, and for mixing with the flour in this recipe. I prefer the goat kefir for drinking, though. It is so smooth and flavourful.
3 cups flour
3 cups kefir
Mix these together well, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area. After twelve to twenty-four hours the dough should be liquidy and bubbly.
At this point beat the dough well and add:
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
3 cups of flour
Beat this together well and knead in enough flour by hand to make a soft dough. When it will hold the shape of a loaf, divide the dough into two piles. Shape the loaves and place them into two well-greased loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise. When the bread rises to the top of the pans, pop it into a preheated 350F oven for about 30 minutes. The crust will be quite brown, and if you knock on the bottom, the loaves will sound hollow.
We have adapted this recipe over time, and are very happy with this variation on the original recipe.
5 cups spelt flour
3 cups kefir
Mix well together, it may be hard to stir, you may want to knead. Let sit overnight. The next day add
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp raw sugar or 1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
Mix/knead well and place in two well-greased loaf pans. Grease with butter or good lard, coconut oil does not work. Cover loosely and place in a warm place to rise. It usually rises well to the top of the pans, but in the cold weather it will sometimes only increase by about a half. Bake at 350F until done, loaves will sound hollow. We have began using an aluminum free baking soda and have since decreased the baking soda to 1 tsp, or it is too much and we can taste it, which is quite interesting.
Posted 1460 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
I was given this tweet that I would like to share “The most powerful resource in the future is not coal, oil or minerals: It will be food! America, wake up and prepare. Can you grow food?”
We, as farmers, have vast opportunities just outside our doors to take up this challenge and teach our children how to feed themselves, not just how to feed the rest of the country. Our family has decided to look over our staples and see where we could improve on our self sufficiency and continue to secure our own food supply.
Considering the vast number of struggling families across the prairies this year this challenge could also help them to keep their food budgets manageable. It is certainly helping ours.The most costly item on the grocery list is usually proteins. We have already trimmed a lot of cost in this department by only eating meat we grow ourselves as well as by doing our own cutting and wrapping. We believe in the superiority of grass-finished meat, but part of the animal that is greatly overlooked is the bones. Our local cut and wrap shop shared with us that most people don’t take home any scrap, which could be because people have forgotten how to use them. Since our move towards cooking more from scratch, the most nutritious and least costly food that has evolved into a staple in our home is homemade bone broth, which I use in cooking soups, stews and as a cooking water for starches such as rice and lentils. These broths not only utilize all the scraps and bones from meat cutting they also use all the vegetable peels and trimmings and it is easy.
Making the Broth
Making bone broth is simple. Place in your stock pot the raw bones (can be browned first but not necessary) from any animal, with or without meat or skin and enough water or reserved meat drippings to just cover the bones. It is recommended to keep a jar in the fridge and every time meat is roasted the dripping/gravy leftovers can be added. Bones can also be frozen till usage if there is not time or you have too large of a quantity to use them right away. Add one tablespoon of vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine, rice, balsamic) for every gallon of liquid you used. Vegetable scraps may be added at this point if you wish. To keep a steady supply of vegetable trimmings keep an ice cream pail in the fridge freezer and every time vegetables are prepared wash the trimmings and add them to the pail. When your pot is full, bring to a simmer. Stock should be simmered, covered, for hours, until the bones have imparted their minerals to the water. Usually four-six hours is acceptable and the resulting broth should be strained, meat bits can be picked off the bones and added to the broth, and put into glass storage containers because plastic can impart chemicals to hot food. Bone broth is packed with nutritional components from the bones and cartilage. For a detailed list and definitions of its components this website is helpful http://www.townsendletter.com/FebMarch2005/broth0205.htm.
Homemade soups have become our version of convenience foods. Once the broth is made and in the freezer or fridge a stockpot full of delicious hearty food is never long in the making.
Legumes, such as beans or peas, need to be cooked separately then added if vinegar or tomatoes are used in the broth. The acid keeps them from ever getting soft.
2 cups grated carrots
2 stalks celery
1 onion (chopped)
2 gallons of turkey/chicken broth
Any leftover gravy (frozen if soup isn’t prepared immediately)
Previously cooked or other fresh vegetables can be added if desired
Homemade egg noodles (recipe below)
Prepare the broth as described above. Bring the broth back to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients except the homemade egg noodles. When the vegetables are cooked then add the noodles and cook till they are ready. Noodles can be added to the whole pot but sometimes they disintegrate in the leftovers so many cooks made just enough for the meal and add them fresh when they serve the leftover soup.
Traditionally these noodles were prepared days ahead in order to create a sourdough, easily digestible noodle, but they can be prepared the same day as needed.
Homemade Egg Noodles
2-3 cups 100% organic wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 egg yolks
1 cup water (bone broth can also be used)
Sift 2 cups of flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl. Make a well
in the center of the flour. Mix egg yolks and liquid and pour into the well of
flour. Mix all together and add more flour as necessary until the mass forms
The dough should be elastic, but not stiff. Forcing too much flour into it
reduces elasticity. Knead and work the dough until the dough no longer
sticks to your hands or the work surface.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the top of
the dough, and cover with plastic wrap. Sit at room temperature for 2 or 3
days, adding a bit of flour if needed and kneading once or twice a day.
After 2 or 3 days the dough is ready to roll out and cut into desired
shapes. To store the pasta, dust the cut dough with flour and allow to dry
at room temperature or in the dehydrator until brittle. To store noodles either vacuum seal them or place them in a clean, dry glass jar and put in a dry environment.
We are finding that these kinds of traditional cooking methods are reconnecting our family to what real food is all about. We are able to consume nutrient dense foods affordably and without all the chemicals and preservatives that we found questionable. With a little effort your family could give up grocery shopping too! It is quite a peaceful feeling knowing that most of what we need we can provide for ourselves right here on our farms.
Posted 1539 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
Previously published Sept 6, 2010 Grainews.
Imagine being able to serve your guests a cheese platter made from cheese you made yourself in your own kitchen.
That is exactly what we do on our farm and it is time to get started because for really tasty Christmas cheese it needs to be aging by the end of September.
The lack of your own farm fresh milk doesn’t have to stop you because with the addition of Calcium chloride store bought milk can be used. The desired concentration of CaCl2 is usually specified as 0.02%. This would mean adding 3.6g CaCl2 to 5 gal of pasteurized milk. You should completely dissolve the CaCl2 in about 1/4 cup water before adding it to the milk. Add it slowly with thorough stirring. It can be purchased in a liquid form that is more user friendly than the crystals. This procedure will firm up the curd and allow pasteurized milk to make a tasty homemade treat.
To make cheese you will need a large stainless steel pot, a large colander, a seamless stainless steel spoon, a long bladed knife, a thermometer, a mold, cheesecloth (butter muslin), cultures, rennet, Celtic sea salt and milk. I purchase most of my supplies from Glengarry Cheesemaking 1-888-816-0903. My favorite website for learning beginner techniques is Fankhauser .
The first cheese I made was Cottage Cheese from cow’s milk. It is a far superior product than what can be purchased at the store and I was blessed to be able to learn from a lady with years of experience.
Batch size: 1 gallon
Expected Yield: 4 cups
Milk Source: Skimmed cow milk (if you don’t use a cream separator just skim the cream off with a ladle), or skim pasteurized with calcium chloride added.
Production time: not sure
Warm the milk to 72F. Add 2 ounces homemade yogurt to the warmed milk and let it ripen on the counter with the lid on till it is thick. It will resemble yogurt. (Once you have a batch you can freeze some ice cube trays of this before it is cooked and use those instead of the buttermilk or yogurt). The curd is then cut into one-quarter inch curds and the temperature slowly raised to 112F. This should take about twenty minutes. Cover the pot and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the curds and whey through a colander then let the curds drain till they are firm enough to stir. Salt the curd and let it drain till desired dryness. This cottage cheese can be used for eating fresh or cooking.
Recipe for Chikousky Cheese
Batch size: 2 gallons
Expected Yield: 2 pounds
Milk Source: Whole milk, raw or pasteurized (goat or cow)
Production time: approx 3.5 hours till pressing starts
Warm the milk to 86F in a large stainless steel pot. Add one-quarter cup mesophillic culture (cultured commercial buttermilk can be used). Let the milk ripen with the lid on maintaining the 86F temperature for 45 minutes. In the mean time prepare your rennet by diluting one-quarter teaspoon in one-quarter cup of cool water. At the end of the 45 minutes stir in the rennet mixture with an up and down motion allowing the cream to be stirred back into the milk and the rennet to be thoroughly mixed. Place the lid back on your pot and maintain the temp at 86F by placing the pot into a sinkful of 86F water. The milk should set for 45-60 minutes.
Test the curd for a clean break by running a sharp knife through it. If it leaves a clean line it is set. Proceed to cut the curd with a long handled knife into one-quarter inch square curds, while still in the pot.
Let the curd rest, still maintaining 86F temp, for another 10 minutes. This allows the whey to start to be released from the curd.
Slowly raise the temp (should take about 20 minutes) to 100F, stirring often to keep the curds from matting.
Hold the temperature at 100F for a half hour, stirring frequently to avoid matting.
Strain off the whey till you can see the curds.
Maintaining the 100F temperature let rest another 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
The curds will have shrank significantly by the end of the second 30 minutes and be ready to strain.
Working quickly so the curds don’t chill finish straining the curd through the colander. Salt them with 2 tbsp Celtic sea salt. Then pour the curd into the awaiting cheesecloth lined mold. Wrap securely and press. We do not have a cheese press, we use my sons weightlifting plates balanced in a corner of my kitchen counter. Flip the cheese between weight changes.
15 pounds for 10 minutes.
30 pounds for 10 minutes.
40 pounds for 2 hours
50 pounds for 24 hours.
At this point the cheese is removed from the mold, placed on a clean plate and covered with a clean dish-cloth. I then place it in my fridge (cheese should age at 50F so this is a bit cold) and hide it from my family for three months. During the three months it must be flipped daily so it dries on all sides. If it develops mold we dampen a cloth with vinegar and rub it off.
Since we started making cheeses the hardest part has been to keep them hidden till they are old enough to eat. This hobby has made it very possible to keep our oversupply of milk in the summer (which is highest in vitamins and minerals from pasture) through the winter. A little taste of summer everyday.
Posted 1594 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
I was very excited a couple of months ago when a retired farmer gifted us with an on the counter cream separator, a Vega Model AE D8. This is something we have always wanted. We do have a floor model but we have never had enough milk to warrant running it and the clean-up afterwards. This little one is perfect.
We strain the goat milk in the morning but don’t put it in the fridge so it stays warmish. Then we strain the night time milking and mix them together.
Usually while I am playing with the milk someone else assembles the separator. All the parts have to fit perfectly or it leaks. We found an owners manual online which has been very helpful. We had to find a replacement “O” ring though and finally found one through the auto parts store since it is hard to find parts for old machines.
Once the separator sounds like it is fully up to speed we put 1/2 quart water through it. When the bowl is empty in goes the milk. This machine likes to spin so this is a two person job. One person to hold the spouts in line with the catching jars, the other to pour the milk.
We have to be careful not to overflow our skim milk container too. The first time we used the separator we didn’t realize how much foam grows on top of the milk and had some excitement when our pail tried to overflow.
From three gallons of goat milk we are averaging 3/4 of a two quart jar of cream which is acceptable yield for us. But we do have a bit of a problem because we are not fans of skim goat milk. If there are any readers that have delicious uses for skim goat milk please feel free to leave comments!!
When the milk stops coming out of the separator I have found that pouring a quart of warm water through it really speeds up cleaning. Be careful though and put a new container to catch the water. If you forget the wash water will land in your precious cream and milk.
One recipe we do like is to make a lightly sweetened chocolate milk pudding. Other than that we really miss the depth of flavor whole goat milk imparts on our foods.
Chocolate Milk Pudding
4 cups skim milk
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup of honey (I don’t use this much-maybe 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp cocoa
Combine the cocoa and cornstarch with a bit of the cold milk to make a paste while you heat the rest of the milk and the honey till scalded (I know it kills the good stuff but this is a way to use the skim milk up). Now add the paste and stir on medium heat untill it is thick. Take it off the heat and add vanilla. If you omit the cocoa this is also very good vanilla pudding.
My children discovered that if you take a half a glass of this pudding, when it is cold, and add fresh whole cold milk and stir it is very much like the store bought chocolate milk they used to enjoy in our previously naive life.
The butter is beyond compare. It is pure white and so smooth, creamy and you taste it all over your tongue. I have never tasted any butter this delicious before. A friend compared it to buttercream icing. The best part is that it can taste this good and be so good for you. Amazing isn’t it?
Posted 1594 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
I love fall. The crispness in the air that leaves our children’s hair smell so good. The way that same crispy air leaves their cheeks just a little pink. This same crispy air and shorter days also triggers our goat herd into breeding mode.
The girls start with their bellowing and tail flapping which is tolerable. It is the guys that can be a lot to take. A buck goat in rut is genuinely aromatic. It is the kind of smell that permeates everything and sticks in the back of your throat. It is also absolutely essential in getting the does into heat so to me them being a bit stinky is not so bad.
When we first started raising goats in 1998 my husband said I would absolutely never be able to have a buck on this farm. Apparently he didn’t like the smell of a buck in rut. We had taken our milking doe to a buck for breeding and when we brought her home, I admit, she was pretty smelly. He was sure we were never going to get the smell out of our clothes or off our hands never mind off our doe. But it wore off as all things do.
So imagine my surprise when I looked out my kitchen window and saw my husband and son sitting right in front of our buck and ram pen shucking corn. Not only were they very close but the wind was blowing very strongly that day from the west. Which meant they were being hit straight in the face with all that buck smell. They were totally enjoying the moment talking and laughing as the bucks fought over their treats.
Since these two seem to be very much enjoying themselves, it appears that times have definitely changed on our farm and bucks are more than allowed. It actually seems to me they’re a much appreciated part of our existence.
Posted 2061 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
When spring finally comes to Narcisse it is always more than welcome after a long hard prairie winter. Along with all the new babies comes the flush of vitamin rich milk their dams are producing. I am sure this is the season spoke of in Proverbs 27:27 “And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens”. When we are overflowing with fabulous healthy milk for all. But all that bounty means that there is much more than what can be used fresh so we have to preserve it for when the fields aren’t green any longer.
Traditionally milk was preserved for later consumption by fermenting it. Our family makes kefir, yogurt and several cheeses out of the bounty. Along with pounds and pounds of butter. Which is very important to make in the spring and summer when the grass is full of vitamin A. Ideally a family would freeze enough of this butter and age enough of this cheese to keep them supplied in dairy while the cows rested for the winter. But that isn’t the way our modern world cycles its milk supply anymore. For these reasons and many, many more our family has found that the benefits of having our own milking animals, although a huge commitment of time and resources, is well worth it. An excellent resource to learn more about the benefits of fresh milk is Weston A Price.
When we first started making our own dairy foods I thought it couldn’t be done without a lot of special and expensive supplies. I was wrong. Usually, all I needed was right here in my own kitchen. By far the easiest and healthiest product to make is kefir. So let’s start with that.
The first thing to do is find someone with genuine kefir grains (picture below) to share with you. I found ours through Dom’s kefir making site. I have shared with people all over North America for the price of shipping so if I have extras feel free to contact us about getting some.
To make kefir you need:
- kefir grains
- strainer (nonmetalic)
- slotted spoon (nonmetalic)
- glass jars
- milk (goats milk will give a smoother kefir than cows milk)
Pour the milk into a quart glass canning jar. I make a gallon at a time for six of us and our livestock but for the newbie a quart should be lots. Some people have to start drinking it only a teaspoon a day. For 1 quart of milk allow 1 tbsp of grains. Then stir the milk and grains together (leave enough headspace for bubbling), place a lid loosely on the jar, and put it in a dark place for about twenty four hours.
With cows milk it helps to stir it once in awhile during this time so the grains don’t get trapped in the cream. After twenty-four hours the milk should have changed into kefir. The milk will be thick and their will be definition between the whey and solid portion of the milk. Strain the contents of the jar through a plastic strainer, catching the grains in the strainer. Using a plastic slotted spoon place the grains into a fresh jar and fill it with milk. Place this new jar out of the sun and wait for your second batch to be done. Put the finished kefir back into the fermentation jar and put it in the fridge. Drink and enjoy!
Posted 2141 days ago by Debbie Chikousky
Can grass finished beef be tough, dry, tasteless etc? Yes. Does it have to be? No. This picture shows that with the right genetics anything is possible.
As with most of our farming decisions we spent time talking with our elders. When I thought about how my grandfather finished a steer though, we realized that people hadn’t always fed like we do today. He used to put the steer in a box stall, and feed him a 4 litre pail of grain ration a day for six weeks prior to butcher. Our 4-H children were being advised to feed up to twenty pounds of grain a day on a finishing ration. So we decided to head back to the past.It quickly became apparent that not all of our genetic lines were going to be able to grow and finish without grain. The bull we had at the time needed grain to maintain his weight unless he was fed second cut alfalfa and his heifers were the same. So the first thing we had to do was cull all of those cows/heifers. With BSE underway shipping them wasn’t economically feasible so we butchered the bull. It was an easy decision, as he had turned mean and my husband was the only one currently able to water him, he would charge anyone else. We then purchased a new Black Angus bull (pedigree below) that had been raised without grain (potatoes and forage had been his diet) and stopped retaining any heifers born from daughters of the problem bull. Then we started slowly butchering off the hard keepers.
Butchering all those animals taught us that you could stop feeding grain and keep your steaks too.
Lost Lake Iceberg 3438
Car Iceberg 056 IMP056K Reg# 1038043
Car Lady Tracker 620
Benlock Rito 53F
051 Angus Cow (born 2000)
Angus Cow Molly (Born 1986)
The secret is to butcher them in the fall when they still have their pasture fat. We have been butchering, for our personal use, animals 2-6 years old. We have been very pleased with the results. My husband and I are finding that it tastes a lot like the farm beef we remember eating when we were growing up.Grass management has proven to be a healthier way of life for the cattle. Not only are we saving on feed bills we are also saving on vet bills. We are finding that the cattle are healthier without the grain supplementation than they were before. I have also started reading a lot of research on why eating this grass-finished beef is healthier for people. Scientists are telling us that the ratios of omega 3 to omega 6 fats from this beef are a healthier balance for us than in grain finished. They also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which research is showing has promise in areas including the suppression of cancerous tumors and the ability to moderate body weight, body composition, glucose metabolism and the immune system. There is some research showing that for full health benefits grass finished beef animals should be butchered when mature.
We chose the replacement heifers that calved this year from our best cows. The ones that calf every year, without assistance, milk heavy and do not need supplemental grain to remain in acceptable shape. We expect them to lose some weight but not get skinny. We only feed loose cobalt salt and a high quality mineral.
If lower feed costs, less health problems and less chores (don’t have to haul those grain pails) isn’t enough to convince people they need to give our heifers a chance then the fact that consumers are willing to pay more for this kind of beef should also be considered.Our family is sold on this management system. We want to continue raising beef cattle and with low prices and high feed costs this is the only way we can see our herd making it into the future. We would be very pleased to have our breeding stock find homes on other farms where they can help others make a living and stay on the farm.