24 Hour Flu

I’m recovering from the 24 hour stomach flu, which, while in the throes of it and on the climb back out of the depths of sickness, I’ve had some really odd thoughts.  Having all the fluids drained from your body must do that to a person.

First of all, a couple of days ago, I was taking a nap.  This was pre-illness, but post nursing our 7-year-old through his bout with the virus.  I was exhausted and fell asleep for my afternoon nap when the wind started blowing so hard that I dreamily wondered if my house, not securely attached to any real foundation, might actually blow away with me in it.  I, rather appropriately, became Dorothy and found myself wondering if I was wearing the right shoes.  Red, sparkly pumps to be exact, for my touchdown in Munchkin Land.

Second of all, once completely sick, I didn’t do much sleeping thanks to a 5 day old chicken I ungratefully named Happy Feet somewhere around 3:30 am.  A couple of days prior, we purchased our new flock of egg layers…twelve three day old chicks…an assortment of Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Cucko Marans, and Jersey Giants.  Well, one of them is not a real chick.  It is something else disguised as a chick.

If you are not accustomed to the vocal sounds real chicks make, let me introduce you: peep.  The peep can be a very quiet, I’m sleepy, peep, a screaming, I’m hungry, thirsty or cold, peep, or a frantic, You’re stepping on me you other chicks and I was sleeping and now we’re all stampeding to the other end of our box and falling in the food, peep. If you get my drift, the only thing normal chicks do is a monosyllabic peep.

IMG_7247

Enter: Happy Feet.  When we bought the chicks at Buckley’s, Allison told us she thought some of them look like little penguins.  Turns out she might be right.  Happy Feet sings at all hours of the day and night, twitttttttttttterrrrrrrrrrrr, chirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp !!! (Note: To reproduce the sound you must roll the t’s and the r’s).   It’s a happy sound, if it were reserved only for waking hours. She even twittered out in perfect falsetto, “rain drops keep fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin'” at o-dark-thirty. Consequently, I’ve decided one of three things.

1.  Happy Feet is a chicken mixed with a spring robin.

2.  Happy Feet is a GMO chicken:  Genetically Modified Opera singer.

3.  Happy Feet is really a rooster.

IMG_7250

Third of all, and the final earth shattering awareness I had whilst ill, we have the perfect trashcan for losing your dinner in.  The plastic can is contoured with both a forehead and chin cutout, perfect for burying your entire head, should that necessity become apparant.  It also comes complete with, if your head is a couple of inches wider than mine, ear hangers.  To the delusionally dehydrated mind, the handles, as they are otherwise known, could be placed over the ears when the emergency can’t-make-it-to-the-toilet situation arises, which would free your hands up to white knuckle the nearest floor.

In other news, our 7-year-old is fully recovered.  I’m on the mend.  The house is still in its original location next to the barn.  Happy Feet did not become fodder for the wildlife and continues to entertain us during the day and cause us to spout expletives at night.  The trashcan has returned to its previously scheduled programming and no ears were damaged in the process.

Until next time,

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Farm Life, funny stories | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How To Break In New Cowboy Boots

When we lived in the city, I considered myself an urban farm girl.  I milked goats, made cheese, gardened, canned, pulled goat kids out of their mamas, gave shots to goats that needed them, slaughtered chickens, autopsied rabbits.  But I wasn’t what I considered a true farm girl because all of my outdoor work I did in big, black rain galoshes.  Wellies.  Mucking boots.  In my glorified vision of farm life, real farm girls wear cowboy boots and I had never broken in a pair in my life.

192

Now that we live in the honest to goodness country and are building an honest to goodness farm, that seems to be a skill my boys and I need to learn.  They dream of having horses and I can’t very well send them out amongst the real cowboys in their rain boots.  As a Christmas gift, my parents presented them with their very own brand new cowboy boots.  Beautiful leather, pristine condition.  New.  And since Christmas, that is how they have remained, complete with the tag hanging off the side.  I mean, what do you do with brand new shoes?  You don’t exactly wear them out into the mud and manure in the barn, right?  But, if not, how do boots go from looking like they do on the shelf at Big R to how they look on farmer’s feet?  Do you keep the new ones new for when you go make Sunday visits and buy some old worn out ones at Goodwill for the rest of the time?  The multitude of questions began to bother me.

Enter:  April Parks, a beautiful, friendly, goat farm owner, wife and mother.  We spent an hour at her place, Parks Oasis, a couple of weeks ago, perusing her selection of goats for sale.  Also on the farm were chickens, a cow, horses and herding dogs.  I looked down at her feet and made the determination, THIS is a real farm girl.  Her children were running this way and that, playing, riding horses, training dogs…and every last one of them had on cowboy boots.

After a long discussion about copper bolusing goats and without skipping a beat, I said, “This is a change of subject, but just how do you get your cowboy boots to look like that?  Do you just buy used ones?”  I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that new $85 boots would be used as working boots.  It is not in my frame of reference to take, say, some brand new $85 heels and purposely metamorphosize them into dirt kicking, barn cleaning work shoes.  Really, who does that?

April’s sweet (and non-judgemental) reply was…”You just wear them!”  Not able to believe my ears, I clarified her statement by saying, “You mean you just get them dirty and worn out on purpose?”  “Yep!  That’s the great thing about boots, you just hose them off!”

Hmmm.  Seriously?

Trusting April’s advice, later that week on a hot, dusty day, I sent the boys outside where they commenced a February (??) water fight with the hose…in their shorts, T-shirts…and brand new cowboy boots.

We’re on our way to being real farmers now.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  This post ran in its edited version in the IndyBlog on February 14, 2015.

Posted in Farm Life, goats, good people to know, How To... | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Honey, Where’s The Mop?

When you’re a writer, if you’re ever at a loss for words to write, go outside and do some farm work.  That’s my opinion at least.  Without fail, I see something gross, do something hilarious, see something beautiful, or hear something chirping.  The other day, farm work fell into the “see something gross” category.

IMG_7044

First, as you’ll recall, The Animal Whisperer knocked down this old shed.

Then, I got writer’s block.

IMG_7085

So, I went outside to start cleaning up the destruction zone.

IMG_7086

And came upon this (and one other) mouse skin filled up with its composted remains.

IMG_7088

Being the city girl that I /am/was/might-always-be/ I had (in my opinion) a clearly rational thought upon coming upon the mouse nest.  “Ohhhh.  That’s where those two lived.  They’re dead. Musta eaten some mouse poison.  No more mice here.  Nope, nothing to be concerned about.”

Another portion of the nest, composed primarily of mop strings and shredded newspaper, caused me to imagine a wish-I-were-a-fly-on-the-wall discussion between the people who previously lived here about where the mop went:

He steps out to the side porch to grab the mop and sees…to his surprise…only the handle!  He says to her, incredulously,  “HONEY!  What did you do to the mop!!!”  She responds, jumping to the defensive, “What are you talking about?  I did nothing to the mop!”  After agreeing to each other’s innocence, they begin suspecting the kids, who have also commandeered the scissors. 

IMG_7089

Only seven years later does the truth come to light.

After moving a second rotten floorboard, I found another nest.  Interestingly, whereas the other nest would blow away in a light breeze, this one held together as if glued.  Being curious, but still naively believing the only two mice who could have lived here were dead, I pulled it apart with a stick, actually in awe of the rodents’ capabilities in nest building and gaining an improved visual for when I tell my 7-year-old his hair looks like a rat’s nest.

I’m sure you guessed it, but I didn’t.  It was only after I shrieked upon uncovering a nest of LIVE mice that I realized…DUH.  The fact that two mice are petrified does not indicate the termination of the species.

IMG_7090

Sheesh.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Farm Life | Tagged , | 4 Comments

What to do After You Move.

We moved into our new digs three weeks ago.  It is due to that fact that I can now speak as an expert on a few things to do after you move.  OK, maybe not exactly an expert, but I’ll share some of my experiences on what to do (or not to do) after you move in.

IMG_6787

1.  Change the blade on your razor.  I am not a huge fan of shaving my legs, but due to some unsightly hair experiences of late, I have vowed to become better at it.  Typically, the super galactic razor blade probably made by scientists at NASA that is advertised to give you a smoother shave thus less risk for cuts and nicks gets changed (under my ownership) approximately once every two years or so.  With my new commitment to not being able to braid my leg hair, I decided it was time to change it.  New house, new start, new razorblade.  Why not?  Unfortunately, when used to an old blade, you tend to get a little careless. The old blade is dull, and along with not really cutting off much of your leg hair, it has minimal risk of cutting off much of your skin.  Not so with a new blade, I was reminded.  I am now healing from no less than six shaving cuts.  Per Leg.

2.  Clean out the shower drains.  The previous homeowners left the house pretty darn clean, but as do many of us, they didn’t think to clean out the shower drains.  Neither did I, until our shower started draining slower, slower and slower.  If you’ve never been tasked with this cleaning job, let me paint you a picture, but first it will require some practice on your part:

Step 1:  Wash your hands.

Step 2:  Reach one hand into your mouth and at least half way down your esophagus.

Step 3:  Grasp the inside of your esophagus and pull it up and out through your mouth.

This will elicit the most hideous gag reflex, perhaps, of your life.  Now you’re ready to clean the shower drain.

IMG_6865

Step 1:  Glove up.

Step 2:  Grab tweezers (preferably an old pair…not the ones you use to pluck your eyebrows) or needle nose pliers (hopefully you don’t use these to pluck your nose hairs, either).

Step 3:  Poke them into the drain and pinch them onto the drape of hairs you see there.

Step 4:  Pull.  Note: These few hairs are not the main problem.  They are just the catchment system for what hangs unseen, below.

Step 5:  Repeat and keep repeating, grasping other strands of hair and pulling.  Eventually the big wad will come to the opening in the drain.  This is where it really gets gross.

Step 6:  Pull and reposition and pull and reposition until you successfully extract the slimy, possibly (but hopefully not) stinky, wad of the previous owner’s hair.  If you have forgotten the trash can, run grab it.  You’ll need to throw the hair wad in there, after you use it to throw up.

3.  Lose the dogs.  Mind you, we did not do this on purpose.  They got out of the goat pen, where they have taken up residence to protect the goats from wildlife, and disappeared.

IMG_6797

After searching for hours, Craigslisting, Facebooking and Tweeting “lost dogs” with their pictures and posting fliers on 25 rural electrical poles, they made it safely home, on their own.  One after 24 hours, the other after 48.  (No, they aren’t chipped.  Yes, they will get chipped.  Turkeys.)

IMG_6794

4.  Knock down some stuff.  Mostly, the view impeding stuff.  If it’s in the way and you don’t like it, take ‘er down baby.  As for me, I need my Pikes Peak view.

IMG_7031

And, although from my kitchen window, I only see the top two inches of the south side, it grounds me.  And the offending shed was blocking my view.

IMG_7062

Thanks for removing it,  honey.

We’re getting ready for the spring down here in Penrose…kidding season is just around the corner…hang on for cute pictures!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

Posted in Dogs, Farm Life, goats, Kidding | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Colorado Agritourism!

Agri-what?

My parents went to Italy a few years ago and came back gifting bottles of exquisite olive oil lotion from an Agritourism farm they visited.  At the time, no one in my neck of the woods had heard of the word.  Mom described it to me as a farm where you and your small group of tourist friends actively participate in making the meal from the crops that come from that farm, then partake in the meal together, AND, the farm owners make (and sell) the lotion out of their farm’s own olive oil.

IMG_6770

Now…Agritourism has come to Colorado!  Well, let me restate that.  Many of us have been giving on farm classes, providing opportunities for farm stays and making artisan products from our farm’s produce for years, but the word Agritourism recently came en vogue and Colorado is doing extreme advertising world-wide to attract agritourists to our state!

IMG_6771

And, I’m honored to be a part of it.  Last week, I shipped an order of 50 bars of lavender and lavender oatmeal goat milk soap to Denver to be included in media bags to be sent to New York City.  In two weeks, I’ll ship another 80, this time, lavender and lemongrass.

Let’s go farmers!  On our rural and urban farms, we can all contribute to the growth of and benefit from Colorado’s Agritourism industry!!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

 

Posted in classes, Farm Life, For Sale, goats, Soap and Lotion | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Can Middle Schoolers Make Cheese?

I had the distinct honor of being a guest presenter in the 8th grade Chemistry classes at Horizon Middle School last October.  The teachers, Mr. Lohr and Mr. Yerger, were in the midst of a 2 week “food science” unit and had thus far taught the kids the science of making bread and chocolate.  I was invited to teach cheese making.  Although I’ve taught over 1000 people to make various types of cheese, approximately 7 of them have been middle school aged – until now.  The marathon day of teaching 8th grade cheese making included somewhere in the vicinity of 250 students.  Yikes.  That’s a lot of middle school aged people with a lot of energy.  I have a new respect for teachers.

SHUTTERSTOCK

Shutterstock

Here are three things I took away from the experience:

  1. I have never been a school teacher.  The only time I had been in a classroom was when I was a student.  As the student, I heard the teacher’s presentation one time that day.  That was it.  It never dawned on me that the teacher had to make the same presentation 4 times that day, repeating herself every hour.  My day of teaching brought a new meaning to the words “deja vu”.
  2. When you’re the teacher, 60 minutes goes really fast.
  3. Teaching food science is a really great way to get kids interested in chemistry.

I showed the kids a quick power point with pictures of our farm: the chickens, the goats, the bees, the garden, the milking process and the cheese making process and explained that, due to the lateness of the season, the goats were producing very little milk.  In leiu of farm fresh raw goat milk we used pasteurized grocery store cow’s milk, and in typical Chemistry class fashion, we used Bunsen burners, beakers and well used miniature pots.

In groups of 4, the kids heated the milk to 180 degrees, added vinegar, watched the precipitate (in this case, the chemical term for curds) form from the solution (ie the milk and vinegar), drained the whey and added seasoning.  And (drumroll please)…they liked it!

Equally as amazing, they sent me thank you letters hand written on college rule paper (not typed or texted or Facebooked or tweeted) and mailed through the good ol’ United States Postal System.  Further proof that the youth of today still know some of the “old fashioned” ways. One of the writers even showed quite a talent for using puns:

Dear Lindsey,

Thank you for showing us how to make cheese.  Personally, I thought it was a ‘cheesy’ choice at first, but I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed watching the slideshow about your background, it was ‘udderly’ entertaining.  When you showed us how to get just the curds, I thought ‘no whey!’  You decided to ‘goat’ around and help us, rather than standing there.  You gave us the ability to experiment with the ‘raw’ lab.  You were ‘curd-ious’ and kind.  Thank you for coming, you are now one of the ‘flock.’ 

Sincerely, J.S.

And here is a compilation of a few other notes…

This has been one of my favorite labs his school year, so far…I’ll definitely be making some cheese at home!…It’s interesting how you add the milk and the vinegar together and it separates…I loved the way that you presented and were engaged with the students…all the other labs aren’t as cool as this one!…I’ll be going home tonight to show my family I can make cheese!

And to wrap up the experience, I’ll close with a joke, “curd-esy” of one of the students:

Q:  What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

A:  Nacho Cheese.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  This post, in it’s edited version, ran in the IndyBlog on November 9, 2014.

 

 

Posted in Bread Making, Cheese Making, classes, Farm Life, good people to know | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Did The Goat Cheese Lady Go?

She went to Penrose, Colorado, a small, unincorporated town 45 minutes south of Colorado Springs, to a five acre piece of irrigated land with her husband, two boys, six goats and two dogs.

She is me.  I am her.  I am The Goat Cheese Lady, beginning Chapter 2 of the life I am fortunate to be living with the family and animals I am grateful to have.

This new beginning is leading us down a road that we are confident will be the best for ourselves, our marriage, our family, our business, our finances, our stress level and our smiles.  We are now the 100% complete, hands down, debt-free owners of our 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1080 square foot house, and barn complete with five acres of currently-used-as-a-hayfield land irrigated with snow melt runoff from Pikes Peak.

161

But the question begs to be asked:

If you were ever in our last house and enjoyed the breathtaking view, you might just enter our new house and secretly wonder…WHY on EARTH did they give up the spacious, window-laden, deck-skirted house they had to move HERE?

I hear you, and I might ask myself the same question if it weren’t for one simple fact:

1.  Our mortgage payment was $2300.00 per month at our 1 1/2 acre farm and 3400 square foot house in Colorado Springs.  (aka: the old house).  You read that right: $2300.00.  (Which, as a side note…we paid on time every month we lived there…to answer the question my son’s friend asked….”did anyone ask you to move?”….No.  We made a  grown-up decision to live WITHIN our means, which meant choosing to move.)

One of our goals in life is to be DEBT-FREE.

By selling our house and using the equity to BUY this house and land…without a loan…with cash…all-money-down…we are now free of personal debt.  And we plan to stay that way.

Some other reasons we chose to move…We didn’t have enough space to increase our herd size to 15, which is what we want to start a cheese creamery.  There wasn’t room for horses at the old place.  We wanted more land.

We have lots of plans for our new farm, I’ll share them with you in the near future.  We also plan on having classes again, and I’ll let you know more about that too.

Keep your eye out for future posts on: How We Moved Our Farm, Cooking With My New Pressure Cooker, Moving In, Fixing Up, Downsizing To A Small Kitchen, Converting The Hayfield To A Food Forest, Starting Up New Chickens, Starting New Ducks (a first time experience for me!), Kidding Season (coming soon!), and Introducing Our New Goats!

It’s good to be back, and I’ll look forward to seeing you or hearing from you soon!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

 

Posted in chickens, classes, Dogs, Farm Life, goats | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments