Friday, December 9, 2011


Today we brought home the horse formerly named Nelson, who is now called Flash. A friend, Katherine, was kind enough to pull a trailer up to Coquille to haul him home for us. At first I was thinking, UT OH, he might be a problem as he was a little difficult to catch. But then he loaded very easy and hauled home without too much sweat.

When I led him out of the trailer he was immediately interested in Dancer, who was standing in the pasture. We took a minute and let them be introduced over the fence, before I led Flash up to the corral. Janice rode back to town with Katherine and picked up our truck. While she was gone I fed a couple of flakes of grass hay to Dancer and Flash. He started to eat like he hadn't eaten in a week.

 It pleased Janice and I to no end that Dancer and Flash are getting along so very well.
 Flash, as I said before, is a Bashkir or Curly Horse and by looking at his coat you can see why. According to the breed description on line (the one I found) states that the very fine mane and tail hair that is very kinky is preferred. Flash doesn't have a mane and tail, he has dread locks.
 I took the photo below so you can see his curly coat. During the summer his coat will be more smooth like any other horse, but his mane and tail will remain curly. The title of this post is actually his registered name.

After she returned home, Janice took the grooming stuff out and started grooming Dancer. After Janice finished with Dancer I took the curry and started working on Flash. He really liked the attention and brushing. He really needs a bath, especially his chest and belly, as they are pretty caked with mud. Flash really seemed to enjoy us scratching at the caked on mud. I now think he will be an in your pocket horse. He is still a little shy when you go to get hold of his halter, but is already worlds better than when we picked him up.   

Thursday, December 8, 2011


We finally got the rest of the stall and gates done today. The picture above and below show the full views of the barn and corral area.

The picture below shows a better view of the whole barn/stall area. There is plenty of room for Dancer and our new fella Nelson. We will be picking him up tomorrow. I think he will like his new digs.

Below is a picture of the other stall that we finished today. It took a couple of hours to get it done but I think it looks pretty good.

Here you can see both stalls. It really looks finished now. I can tell you that it isn't gonna go anywhere either. We build it pretty strong.

To finish off this side of the corral area, Don filled in with some gravel to help stop the mud puddle that was starting to build up and the rains haven't really started yet. Better to stop the puddling before it really starts.

All in all I think we did a pretty good job for two old people.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Well we finally did it, we have been getting tired of searching out billies to breed our goat girls to, so we broke down and started looking for a Billie to buy. I looked at several on Craig's List, and nothing seemed like it would fit in up here. I finally found an ad for Crown Hill Goats. I called the owner, who was very nice, and she had a couple of little ones that sounded good. So we finished putting the box back onto the trailer and drove to Central Point to the goat farm. We had called ahead of time so Donna was home, though her husband was away at first. The Crown Hill Goat Farm was set up very well, the barn had been a turkey barn back in the 1940s. Donna was kind and showed us all around the place showing her Nanny's and Bucks. We then concentrated on the babies, she had two that would have been good, one with a little more white than the other, but we liked the the other little guy.

Both were very friendly and loved the attention, although we had to be careful with  the petting, after all these guys were little boys of breeding age. I don't know how much you know about goats, but lets just say the breeding males have some truly gross actions, and these two were pretty stinky.
After we chose the one we wanted Donna took him into the laboratory room, vaccinated him, wormed him and trimmed his feet. During this time Donna's husband came home. He was equally personable and welcoming. Anyway while there Donna asked if we knew how to draw blood for the CAE test, we didn't, So it was time we learned. Donna got the clippers and cleaned a spot on his neck just above his chest and prepped it with alcohol, she had also gotten out two 3cc syringes. Donna very carefully showed us how to find the two main arteries in the neck, how to insert the needle and how to draw the blood, She them handed me a syringe and said OK now it is your turn, she said you don't know how to do it until you've done it. Since my left hand is still bunged up Janice (had been doing all the holding) used some surgical rubber tube to bring up the vein. I followed her directions and inserted the needle and drew some blood, really not hard to do. Donna went ahead and tattooed his ear after we chose a name with his registration number, and filled out the paperwork for his registration.
We drove home and it was late when we got home, and we completed chores quickly, After chores and getting the stall door to a point where it opened, we went out and brought Grizzly into the barn. He was nervous and the girls really sniffed him like he was wearing perfume.

We feed him some grass hay and water and left him for the night. This morning Janice went to the Barn and released Grizzly into the general population. Well that didn't work very well, cause Brownie started to chase him around Janice kicking his little butt.
We discussed that situation and decided that maybe out in the pasture it may work better. Wrong again, Poor little guy could not escape the wrath of Brownie, so we took him back to the stall for a while to let the girls get used to him being around. He will be housed up in the new corral with Dancer when in the rut anyway. We will keep trying to introduce him to the herd and as the girls come into heat and they are bred by him they may change their minds about how useful he is to have around, we will try to keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


We now have all of the field fence wire stretched and stapled to the posts around the entire perimeter of the corral.

We have also stretched an electric tape around the top, except we need more insulators and the solar charger.
The above picture shows the straw spread on the side of the access to the lower part of the corral. You can also just barely see the Log placed to hold the toe of that bank.
We have New Zealand Flax planted in between every post along this side of the fence.
We now need to install two posts and two gates in order to hold Dancer. We still want to put up 2x6 treated rails, but that can come later. We also need to finish the floor of the stalls and kick boards in one of the stalls.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Pond

This is a picture of our pond now. Every year it dries up to a smaller area and the goats and horse eat the fresh lush green grass that grows in the shallow areas in the summer time.  In the fall when the rains start it fills up pretty fast. We have guests to our pond every year also.

As you can barely see in this picture the wild ducks are returning. We can have up to 100 ducks in this pond. Right now the Wood Ducks are in. The other guests that visit us are Mallards and Hooded Mergansers. I really enjoy watching them during the season. What a wonderful site to see when they are playing and splashing in the water. I love to watch them feed also. When they dive, they can stay under water for quite some time.

In the above picture you can see one of the Wood Duck nest boxes the we put up.

There are several on different trees around the pond. Our hope is to give our guests a home to raise their young.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Well today is rainy and nasty, so what to do? Well we do happen to have an excess of milk (Goat) right now, how about making some more cheese. Today sounds like a Colby Cheese day.
First you have to start with four gallons of milk, poured into a large stock pot. I use a cold pack caner as double boiler, so as to not scorch my milk.
 Normally you would raise the temperature higher to pasteurize, but we pasteurize all of our milk, so this step is unnecessary. The milk is raised to 86 degrees and the Mesophilic starter culture is sprinkled over the surface of the milk and let stand for 3-5 minutes, to re-hydrate.

 At this time I need to tell you, Store you Rennet, Calcium Chloride, and Butter color in the refridgerator. Store your cultures and mold powders in the freezer.
After the re-hydrating mix well with the milk. I use the skimmer with up and down strokes not breaking the surface ( at least 20 strokes). Cover the milk and let this set for an hour at 86 degrees in order to ripen.
You can see in the picture some of the tools used including the skimmer, the curd knife (you can use any long blade, thermometer, and measuring spoons.
 Since I was talking about utensils, the picture below show the graduated spring loaded press screws, to me they were well worth the money spent on them.
While ripening the milk take 3/4 teaspoon of Calcium Chloride and mix with 1/4 cup cool water, also take 1/2 teaspoon of liquid Rennet and mix that with another 1/4 cup of water, not in the same container. The Calcium Chloride helps give the milk a consistent and firm curd, especially goat's milk.
 I prefer to use liquid vegetable rennet rather than the animal rennet made from the stomach of a calf.

Once the milk is ripened, poor the Water/Calcium Chloride into the milk and mix thoroughly with up and down strokes of the skimmer. After this add and mix in the Water/Rennet. The Rennet is what makes the milk curdle. Now is time for the milk to set for 30-45 minutes, mine usually sets in 30 minutes. use the clean break test shown in the following picture. push you finger into the milk curd at an angle and lift, if the break is straight and clean it's time to cut the curds, if not let set for another 15 minutes.

 The curds should be cut into 1/2 inch cubes (as close as you can. I cut one way then again at 90 degrees and then I use the skimmer and move back and forth throughout the curd mass to try to make the cubes.

This is the time to add the butter color, just a few drops in 1/4 cup water and mix gently. then let the curds settle for about 10-15 minutes. This is what gives the Colby in the store the yellow and white colors.

Start applying heat slowly as you stir the curds continue this process and slowly bring the curds and whey up to 104 degrees. Go SLOWLY, this part should take about 45 minutes. I have to continually adjust my heat and constantly stir the curds to keep them from matting. Another warning, Don't stir too vigorously, you will break the curds up and they are ruined, this is from personal experience. During this process the curds are getting firmer and smaller, about the size of a bean.  Once the Mass reaches 104 degrees remove from the heat and let settle for about 5-10 minutes.

After the settling process use a measuring cup (I use a four cup) and carefully remove only whey (the liquid) from the pot until you can see the top of the curds, then start adding the equal amount you removed of 104 degree clean water and stir for two minutes. This is called "cooking the curds". Then let the mass settle for 10-15 minutes. During this time place a piece of cheese cloth into a colander and at the end of the time pour the entire mass through the colander. As you can see in the picture I did not use the cloth as I had, due to poor scheduling let the mass settle for much longer.
Normally save the whey as there are several types of cheese that can be made from the whey or Chickens and pigs love the whey also, and it is nutricious for them.
After straining the curds fill two cheesecloth lined cheese presses, or one larger press, with approximately half the curds in each and press, or all in the one press, at low pressure (10-15 pounds) for one hour. At the end of the hour remove the cheese from the press and re-wrap the cheese, trying to smooth the cloth. This time press for 12 hours at high pressure (I use 50 pounds). The cheese cloth I use in the press is a plastic material, easy to clean and one side is rough to allow drainage the other smooth for a nicer wheel of cheese.
I place the presses onto a cookie sheet to catch the draining whey. While on the subject of presses, there are many types from expensive to very simple homemade ones. I have some good friends that just use 6" PVC pipe and a long turned piece of wood as a follower that they stack weight onto.

When the time is up remove the cheese from the presses and if you like now is the time to trim the corners of the wheels. I do this to make waxing easier. The cheese now needs to dry to the touch from one to three days.
Waxing can be accomplished in several ways, but I use a crock pot I purchased from a thrift store, just dipping one side, let cool and then the other side. build at least three layers of wax on your cheese. I usually place a paper label I make in between the last layer or two.

Age your cheese at a temperature between 50-54 degrees and at 86% humidity for six weeks to two months, it does get better with age. You should turn your cheese over daily at first then every three days and then weekly during the ripening time. I use a refredgerator for aging my cheese, I have kept my cheese for over a year with no undesirable issues. Be sure to watch for signs of mould or other less desirable stuff happening under the wax. and One of the benefits is the great eating awaiting. 
In this picture, a cheese and sausage omlett made with free range eggs from our hens and homemade Monteray Jack cheese, Can you say YUMMM!