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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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

 

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SOLD.

Chapter 1 of my life as The Goat Cheese Lady has closed…with a happy, incredible ending.  Chapter 2 is now set to begin.

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Here are the details:

As you know, we announced we were moving in August, but we officially put our house and farm on the market – for sale by owner – in October.  On a Saturday in early October, the day we had made plans to attend the Lewis Palmer High School football game to support the most incredible football coach this side of the Mississippi – my cousin Dave Jones – The Animal Whisperer announced that he was not going to go….”I have a HOUSE to sell!”  Four hours later, within a three mile radius of our house, there were five, strategically placed sunshine yellow corrugated plastic signs shouting “For Sale, farm, 1.6 acres, greenhouse, orchard, barn, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom” with white vinyl stick on letters accented with red marker, super thick black sharpie and copious amounts of duct tape.  Even our cars got adorned with the marketing, and still have duct tape adhesive on the windows to prove it.

Although after approximately 1.5 hours and no sale, I admittedly lost faith in the whole For Sale By Owner approach, The Animal Whisperer maintained confidence and strength, not giving in to my plea to list the house with a realtor.  Every day, we cleaned out and Craigslisted and  Goodwilled and recycled and gifted the majority of our belongings, both inside and out.  We received calls and had first showings and second showings and lookie-loos and tire kickers, but he was right.

Two weeks after putting the signs out, the house was under contract with a spectacular couple who, for some miraculous reason, decided to return for a second showing despite the fact that a gigantic rat jumped out of the greenhouse compost pile on their first showing.  Seriously.  A rat.

On Monday, our Zippy Shell pulled away with our remaining belongings and, yesterday, we sold it to them. Everything:  The house, the farm, the original 1960’s rose patterned basement carpet, the orchard, the fruit tree share program, the garden and the greenhouse – minus the rat.  At a future time, I’ll let you know how the rat met its demise, but suffice it to say, it is no longer in residence in the greenhouse.

Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:

Are you selling the goats?  No.  We did sell one doe and two bucks.  We still have five does.

What will happen to the goats?  They will continue to live with the new owners until we move to our new farm have a space ready for them.

Will you still teach classes?  I’m not sure yet.  I hope so.  I think so.  But I can’t be sure until we move and get a feel for the new set up.

What will happen to the fruit trees?  The new owners are taking over the fruit tree share program!  The people who bought trees through the share program will get fruit from their trees as planned when they eventually bear fruit!

What will happen to the dogs?  Montana, our livestock guardian dog, will stay with the goats.  Flash, our Australian Shepard, will stay at a loving foster home until we move.

What will happen to the chickens?  We donated them to our friend Monycka.  She teaches the neighborhood kids how to process chickens and lets them take the food home to feed their families.  She’s awesome.

What will happen to the rabbits?  The meat rabbits went to Monycka’s too.  The two pet rabbits are in loving foster homes until we can move them to our new farm.

What about all the work you did there?  Aren’t you sad to leave it?  No.  We are thrilled actually.  Yes, we did do a lot of work there.  Yes, we did become The Goat Cheese Lady and The Animal Whisperer there.  Yes, our kids spent 5 1/2 years of their young lives there.  But, we are ready to move on to a bigger farm and less debt.  We created amazing things there, and we will create amazing things again.  The land is better for us living there and we are better for living there.  Although, when you sell a house, you can’t decide what the future owner will do with the land, or if they’ll even care about it, we are thankful the farm’s new owners love what we love.  They will continue, in their own way, what we started.

Are you sad to leave Pleasant Valley?  No.  We have made friends and our kids have made friends in our neighborhood (Pleasant Valley – for me, the name conjures up visions of a Stepfordy wife type of situation or conveys the real truth – that it actually is a Pleasant place in a quiet Valley against the Garden of the Gods) and they will always be our friends, no matter where we go.

Are your kids changing schools?  Yes.  They’ll go to school in the town where we move.

WHERE ARE YOU MOVING?  Shhh!  Not telling yet!  That’s announcement’s coming soon to a website near you.

Finally,  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!  You have supported us faithfully through this first chapter of our lives as Mrs. and Mr. Goat Cheese Lady and for that, we are grateful.  We look forward to you being part of our lives as we continue the next chapter.  We’ll let you know what’s next!!

–  The Soon-To-Be-Chapter-2 Goat Cheese Lady

 

 

 

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Cold Weather Goats

When the temperatures dip into the single and negative digits, the goats get chilly.  Although they, and our chickens and rabbits, are tolerant of the cold (a few years ago, when it was -14, they all came through just fine), it is important to take extra precautions to keep them as warm as possible.  According to my husband, who is the animal husbandry expert in our family, it is important to do the following when the days get extra cold:

1.  Give all the animals extra food.  This gives them energy to keep their bodies warmer.

2.  Give them extra, dry bedding every day.  He adds a couple of bags of leaves we’ve collected from the neighbors to the goat pen inside of the barn each day…they eat half of them (they love dried leaves!) and cuddle up on the rest.

3.  Make sure they have water that is not frozen.  Use a water heater/de-icer in your animal’s water.  It’s a plug in contraption that you put in the water tank/bowl that keeps the water temperature just above freezing.  There are also pet food bowls that plug in and serve the same purpose.  Don’t use metal bowls…remember when you were little and you licked the ice on a cold metal pole?  Yep…same thing can happen to your animals.

4.  Check on them multiple times throughout the day.  You want to make sure someone didn’t get their head stuck in the feeder (which happens to goats from time to time, but can be more dangerous on a cold day), or that one of the chickens didn’t get stranded outside the fence and can’t find her way in to roost with her warm bodied buddies.

5.  Make sure they have shelter where they are protected from the wind and snow.  At our house, they sleep in the barn.  When they get up their guts to brave the cold and go to the main outside feeder, they tenderfootedly tiptoe as quickly as possible, grab a few bites and head back in.

6.  Let the goats all sleep together.  Usually, we separate the young goats and the male goats from the females, but on cold days and nights, we let them all bunk together.  More body heat means more warmth.

7.  Our rabbits have pens outside, protected from the wind and weather, but my husband moves them inside the barn to keep warmer.  If they’ve never lived in the same cage with other rabbits, I DON’T RECOMMEND letting them live together (as we do with the goats) to stay warm.  Rabbits can attack and seriously injure or kill rabbits they don’t normally pen with.

8.  Keep a heat lamp on for the chickens?  This is a question we often are asked.  Many people choose to because they are concerned the chickens will get too cold.  We don’t heat the chicken coop and our chickens are fine.

9.  Keep the dogs inside.  Usually, our dogs live outside.  The main job of our Anatolian Shepard/St. Bernard mix is to protect the animals, so he spends his time around and in the goat pen. Our one year old Australian Shepard puppy was born outside and has lived her whole life outside, but in frigid temperatures, we bring them both in, and typically, they put up no arguments.

So there you have it in a 9 step nutshell.  Please take the same precautions with your animals so you can be sure they make it safely through the winter cold spells.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  The edited version of this post first appeared on the IndyBlog on November 15, 2014.

P.P.S.  Also check out the article Bill Radford wrote in The Gazette on December 2, 2014 about Animals in the Cold!

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Garage Sale HERE Tomorrow!

Huge Garage Sale at The Goat Cheese Lady Farm, 919 Lonesome Road, Colorado Springs, CO, 80904, Saturday, November 22, from 9-3.

Our move is almost official (knock on wood) and we’ve got the garage and part of the driveway filled with things for sale!  Furniture, matching antique couch and chair, home décor, kids toys, an awesome bunk/trundle bed with built in dresser and desk, power tools (cordless and hand held), gardening and farming supplies, greenhouse glazing, a beautiful black and cherry desk with matching file cabinet, homesteading supplies, antique brass bed frame, antique wood spindle bed frame, wheel barrow, dining table and chairs, dishes, 2 Bred Nubian Does (will kid in February and March), 1 1/2 year old Nubian Herd Sire (all Nubians are registered but will sell for a discount without papers), 2 show quality Mini-Rex bunnies (1 Doe, 1 Buck, never bred before), rain barrels, rabbit cages, Goat Milk Soap (great for Christmas gifts!!) and lots more!!

PLEASE DON’T EMAIL, as we won’t be able to reply due to the big Garage Sale Tomorrow!!!

Saturday, Nov. 22, 9-3pm.  919 Lonesome Road, Colorado Springs, 80904

We’ll see you tomorrow!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

 

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The Leaves Are Falling!

If I could, I’d have all of the leaves fall directly from the trees onto the barn floor.  They make good bedding for the goats.  Or, maybe they could all just blow into my garden.  Next year’s soil would be black and rich and full of earthworms!  But, you know what bugs me?  Seeing bags of leaves set out for the trash man to take to the dump.  So, today, I’m going to make some strong suggestions about how you can use them, thus sparing the dump of yet another plastic bag.

It has often befuddled me that people will take hours to rake the leaves in their yards into neat piles, then awkwardly shove them into large black plastic trash bags, close them with a twist tie and push, pull, roll or carry them to their temporary new home by the trash can, and anxiously await trash day so this year’s reminder of fall can be hauled off to the dump.  I never cease wondering why people do that!  Leaves are fall’s way of giving us a yearly gift of free mulch and exceptional compost, but for many, they have become the yearly after-your-favorite-football-game chore.  Instead of things of beauty, the trees in our yards have become a nuisance just begging to be chopped down so that we’ll never have to rake again.  They, in our manicured landscapes, are no longer dropping their fall leaves to become a protective blanket for the soil and it’s micro and macro organisms and beginning the yearly process of decomposition to feed the soil, but are dropping them only to be trucked off to improve the soil at the dump.  If things other than plastic bags grew at the dump, I might be in support of the idea, but they don’t.  Nothing grows at the dump, except odor, so keep your leaves at home.

I get it, though.  Depending on the amount of trees in your yard, raking leaves is a time consuming, tiring process – and especially frustrating if you do it when the wind is blowing.  It’s a chore I don’t always look forward to either, but if you’re going to spend so much time and energy cleaning them up, why not keep the bags out of the dump and put the leaves to a good purpose in your yard.

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Rake them all directly into your perennial flower bed.  Step on them so they’ll bed down and have less risk of blowing away.

2.  Leave them under the tree that dropped them.  That’s what happens in nature.

3.  Put them all right on top of your vegetable garden.  Step on them so they’ll bed down as in #1.  In the spring, mix them in with your dirt.

4.  Pile them up in a back corner of your yard.  Cover them with branches so they’ll stay there.  In the spring, remove the branches and spread the broken down leaves around your outdoor plants.

5.  Find a neighbor who wants them.

6.  Stuff a scarecrow with them.

7.  Use them as bedding for your chicken’s nest boxes.

8.  Use them for bedding for your goats!

If you can’t commit to keep ALL of your leaves this year, start small.  Instead of sending 10 bags to the dump, send 8.  Keep the other two bags worth of leaves to use in your yard.  If you’re ready to keep them all, go for it!  Your yard will love you forever.

-The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  The edited version of this post ran on the IndyBlog on October 18, 2014.  You can see it here.

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Book: How To Make Money Homesteading

Oh. My.  Gosh.

Herbert and I are among 17 other amazing homesteaders profiled in a new book by Tim Young called “How To Make Money Homesteading”

…and IT’S OUT ON AMAZON TODAY!!!!!!  Amazing!!!

Here’s the link:  http://www.amazon.com/How-Make-Money-Homesteading-Self-Sufficient/dp/1502786052/

Don’t just think about getting it…Buy It Now!!!!

I’ve already seen the Kindle version and the book is incredible.  If you’ve ever thought you want to be a homesteader, or if you already are, BUY.  THE.  BOOK.  You will get so many more ideas of how you can make money doing what you LOVE!!

Happy Reading!!!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  Thanks Tim for such a great book!!

Posted in Articles, Book Review, Cheese Making, classes, Farm Life, gifts, goats, good people to know | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments