Sadie & Spencer on Ice

You Just Can't Beat Free Range Eggs!

But they sure taste good scrambled! We had scrambled eggs, ham and pancakes for supper last night! Yum!

Great article on the benefits of free range eggs from MOTHER EARTH NEWS:

RESULTS FROM OUR PREVIOUS STUDY: Eggs from hens allowed to peck on pasture are a heck of a lot better than those from chickens raised in cages! Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

LATEST RESULTS: New test results show that pastured egg producers are kicking the commercial industry's derriere when it comes to vitamin D! Eggs from hens raised on pasture show 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs.




Clabber & Buttermilk

Diane brought to my attention that I did not explain myself thorougly on my recipe for Derby cheese and the use of clabber/buttermilk. I use these two terms interchangeably, and I will explain why.

When I first began using raw milk I read that I could make cultured buttermilk by purchasing cultured buttermilk at the store and using it as a starter for my homemade. I did this for quite a while until one day I began to wonder how people made cultured buttermilk before Food Lion was around the corner! I found out that they actually made buttermilk from clabbered milk. They simply took clabbered milk and added it to their fresh milk and started their buttermilk in that manner. I then realized that clabbered milk WAS cultured buttermilk! I began to use my clabber in the place of buttermilk for recipes calling for such.

(On a side note, if you have difficulty getting your milk to clabber, you can purchase buttermilk at the grocery store and get your clabbered milk started by adding a bit of the buttermilk to your raw milk. You can just save back a bit of the cultured milk each time to start you next batch. Fortunately, all the conditions with the raw milk that I have and the temperature and good bacteria that abounds seem to culture my raw milk quickly and easily and the clabber sets up within 24-72 hours without any assitance.)

Now, on to the cheese.................

Last winter when I made cheese I was buying cultures from cheese making shops and having them shipped in. It was cost prohibitive and besides, I am always trying to figure out how the "old timers" did things. After researching for a while, I found out that mesophilic starter can be substituted with cultured buttermilk and thermophilic starter yogurt! Now isn't that a handy tidbit do know! I no longer order those starters and instead use my my buttermilk and yogurt! The bonus has been that I have found the taste of the cheese to be much, much better in a shorter amount of time (less aging time).

If any of this does not make sense, please feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer them!


Have you ever noticed how much cattle can act like children when they are doing something they know they are not suppose to do?

Evidently the gate between the two fields was not latched properly and when I glanced out my kitchen window, I knew instantly that things were amiss.

How could I not!

Have you ever observed a junior high school class when the teacher leaves the room? All heck breaks loose! Everyone jumps out of their desk and they are all competing for attention. Well. that's pretty much what it looked like outside my kitchen window.

Five calves were running.............wide open............excited with the adventure of being in the "forbidden field". Princess, the baby, thought the "older" calves were really cool and she just ran around trying to imitate them.

Scarlette was not amused at the bull who came up to sniff her (thank goodness she was not in heat). Sugar ran the other direction and peaked around the corner at the bull. I think she thought he was really cute, but knew she was just a little to young to show active interest in him.

Maya, Butter and Dixie looked like old school marms who can't stand to have a bunch of little kids running wild.

Edie, being wise and thinking only of her ever widening stomach, figured someone would go to the barn and get "treats" and reward the erring when they chose good behavior over bad (in other words, she knew Tammy would bribe them all with the best hay). She planted her fat butte right in the way at the gate knowing where we kept the good stuff.

And Nelly, being young and full of herself having recently most likey attained status as "bred", decided it was time to show everyone that she wished to achieve "boss cow" status. Since Mayfield was the sweetest, easiest target, she began a nice, all out girl fight.


Recipe for Derby Cheese

The recipe comes from the book CHEESE MAKING AT HOME.


Preparation time: 4 Hours
Pressing Time: 26 Hours
Aging Time: 1-2 Months
Makes 4 pounds

This cheese, pronounced "Darby" originated in the country of Derbyshire, England. It is similar to cheddar but has a higher moisture content and ages more quickly.

4 gallons of whole milk
2 cubes or 1/4 c mesophilic starter culture (I use buttermilk/clabber)
1/2 tablet rennet, dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1/4 cup salt

1. Heat milk to 84 degrees F. Add starter culture, mising well. cover and let ripen 30 minutes.

2. Add dissolved rennet, stirring well. cover and let sit 45 minutes.

3. Cut the curd into 1/2" cubes.

4. Heat slowly to 94 degrees, stirring the curds by hand. This should take 30 minutes.

5. Let the curds settle for 30 minutes.

6. Drain the whye and allow curds to sit in colander for 30 minutes.

7. Cut into four slabs. Stack slabs on top of each other, reversing their order every 20 minutes for one hour.

8. Tear slabs into pea sized pieces. Sprinkle 1/4 cup salt over curds. Mix well.

9. Pack curds into a cheesecloth lined mold.

10. Apply 10 pounds pressure for one hour. Flip and repack. Apply 10 pounds pressure for one hour. Flip and repack. Apply 50 pounds pressure for 24 hours.

11. Air dry cheese on a mat for several days until dry to the touch. Turn twice a day.

12. Wax cheese and age it for 1-2 months at 50-55 degrees turning it twice a week.


From Start to Finish

Some of you might remember that a few months back I got some peeps from the local FFA. Silly me, I did not ask them if they were layers or meat birds. As the cute little peeps began to morph into giant birds, I suddenly realized I had meat birds on my hands, not layers.

You have to understand that seven years of my formative, childhood years were spent living on a small farm in Misourri. In addition to cattle, horses and hogs, this farm was home to a commercial chicken house. If anything in this world will turn your stomach and make you swear off eating chicken, it's working in a commercial chicken house. It took me years after leaving the farm before I could eat chicken without it turning my stomach.

When I realized these birds from the FFA were meat birds, I began a compaign to find someone to take them off my hands. I had about 40-50 dollars worth of starter feed in them before I had switched over to raw milk, clabber and corn that we had grown. I put them on Craigslist and asked simply for what I had in them in feed. No takers. It was the wrong time of the year for folks wanting to raise their own meat birds. So, I duitifully fed and watered them every day. The poor little CornishX birds could hardly walk with their deep, wide breasts and thick legs. When they ran across the dirt, they sounded like ducks waddling. Finally, it came time. We had to butcher them.

My brother, Jim, and his wife, Kelly, came to visit us. They offered to help us butcher the birds last weekend. It was a terribly cold day here in Virginia and we really didn't want to butcher them in the cold. However, it was one of those "now or never" situations. We knew that if we wanted the expert help, we needed to do it. So, Mike and Jimmy braved the cold and butchered 13 birds. By the time they brought them inside to us, the birds no longer resembled the feathered creatures that had been waddling around the yard. Instead, they were the best looking meat I had ever seen! I was amazed! Kelly was great and cut up all but four of the birds, that we kept whole for roasting. The whole birds were so big, we could barely get them in one gallon freezer bags.

Tonight we are having some of that fabulous looking chicken for supper. I have it slowly cooking the crockpot right now and it smells delicious. It is such an awesome feeling raising up our food from start to finish and knowing exactly what was and was not put into it!

Jimmy has butchered a lot of chickens and he said it was the best meat he had seen. I attribute the success of these birds to all the good milk I raised them on!

Thanks, Jimmy & Kelly for all your help! We will be thinking of you tonight while we eat our chicken!


Farm Show Fun

Yesterday, Mike and I went to the farm show. It was pretty much a disappointment because it gets smaller and less attended every year. I did find a great source for Robert Duncan and other farm related prints. Mike bought me two prints with Jerseys in them! I just love them. They came matted and framed at what I thought was a great price! The gentleman had a booth at the farm show and also has web page where I can drool over more pictures and decide what I want to buy next year! The frames were made by the Amish in Pennsylvania.

To view the web site, click on "Farm Art" in my "links" column.


Say Cheese!

I have spent the last three days making cheese. I just wasn't able to get in the frame of mind to make it until a few days ago. I am on a roll now! I have two rolls of Derby (pronounced Darby) on the rack drying and one in the cheese press. I have also made several batches of Feta and Mozzarella.


A Quote about losing a child.............

When a man looses his wife,
He is called a widower.
When a woman looses her husband,
She is called a widow.
When a child looses her parents,
She is an orphan.
But when a parent looses his child…
There is no name for this type of pain.
It is hard to live and has no name.

~Major Bloomberg