Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Independence Days Week 4

This has been a slow week between allergies, out of town guests and rain. I didn't get nearly as much done as I would have liked. Oh, and getting the cow this weekend kinda blew lots of other projects as well, especially since Jim spent yesterday morning restretching a fence he hadn't planned on doing. But it's all good and everything will get done in its own time.

Helped Julia plant her garden. Jim planted pumpkin patch.

Harvested romaine, cilantro, radishes, spinach, thyme, chives, sorrel, green onions, red salad bowl lettuce, strawberries, endive, beet leaves, chard, black seeded simpson lettuce, tarragon.

Also harvested another piglet and milk. I figure those things count, too.

I really slacked on this front. We didn't preserve anything really, nor did I clean stuff out of the freezer. But I have been getting stuff together to preserve some of the milk we're getting.

Added 14# peanut butter and 4 gallons white vinegar to the larder.

Got a milk cow on Saturday, who will feed not only my family but also our pigs and chickens, so she's a huge help around the farm. Figuring out how to work with her and integrate her into our homestead has been paramount this week and will probably continue to be for a while.

We also picked up 20 Narragansett turkey poults since our hens did not set successfully. *sigh* Hopefully next year. And ordered 25 buck-eye chicks to round out our breeding program.

Organized and cleaned out larder since Jim got my new shelves in last week. Also took inventory.

Installed second honeybee nuc on Sunday and inspected hives on Saturday. Both look good and seem to be drawing out the small cell foundation nicely, which will hopefully aid in organic control of varroa mites. Pulled the IPM board for mite monitoring to try to get a baseline for both hives, but I'm not good enough yet at recognizing mites—need to work on that. Observed a definite head start in the first hive, as they already had honey stores going. I saw pollen in both hives and found both queens, who had both moved off the original nuc frames and onto new foundation, which is hopefully another good sign.

Unfortunately, the eggs in the incubator did not develop. Not sure whether they were infertile to begin with (note to self: candle before incubating) or if the temps were too low on the outer edges.

Jim tilled between potatoes and hilled them.

I didn't cook anything new this week, but Jim made some lovely Caesar salads. Mmmmm. Not new, but first of the season.

CSA delivery to three families: mixed baby greens, black seeded simpson lettuce, red salad bowl lettuce, swiss chard, cilantro, thyme, tarragon, sorrel, chives, strawberries.

Reduced packaging and travel of dairy products by getting our own cow. Reduced the amount of feed I'll need to buy for other animals.

Well, I learned all about milking machines and routines this weekend, trying to figure out how best to make our situation work. Spent time figuring out how best to store and preserve the milk. This whole cow thing is going to be a pretty big learning curve, no doubt, but I feel like it's going relatively smoothly. The machine, while frustrating in its own right, is far less frustrating than trying to train her to hand-milking since she stands still for the machine.


El said...

A milk machine! I'm surprised: was it because she was trained on a machine? I'd imagine a machine would save you a LOT of time. Looks like you're doing quite well with this challenge, and you'll be set for PB sandwiches for a while. Please do tell us how the milking is going, especially regarding separation and end uses (whey, cheese, critter feed). The pig we got last year was pastured AND milk-fed, and had lots of great fat on her.

Madeline said...

Congratulations! Moo-hoooo! I spent time at Mindy's this weekend and she was on cow-milking duty for her vacationing neighbor so I got to see how big this job is. My friend Claudia who came with me, and milked, is getting a cow, and we are going to look at your links for more research (you being the research queen). She thought about hand milking until this weekend when she saw how easily dirt and cow poop could get in the milk bucket and how much quicker the machine is. The cleaning sure is a big job though, eh?

Your cow is so pretty.

Wendy said...

I love reading about all of the progress you're making on your homestead and with everything. You're inspiring me to dig deeper. I know there's more I can do, and ways to better use the small space I have. Thanks for the continued inspiration :).

Verde said...

Wow, you all are leading the way! Lavish is so beautiful!

Yogurt, and cheese and butter and icecream and...

And the bees....Oh what a great set up.

katrien said...

Wow. I hopped on over from Madeline's blog and am so glad!
We're starting on just a garden - or rather, getting the house ready so that we can move on to amending our soil (all on less than 1 acre). Sometimes I feel we're taking it too easy, other times I already feel overwhelmed. It's having examples like yours and Madeline's in front of our eyes that helps with both the motivation and the perplexity. Will visit often!

Anonymous said...

That photo of Lavish and the pigs is the cutest, sweetest thing I've seen in a long time.

Angie said...

Love your website - so inspiring!

Your cow is beautiful.

Katrien said...

About candling the eggs, have you read the heartbreaking story at SallyGardens?
Be sure to read what followed as well: lots of chicks! (different ones). Wish we could keep chickens..

Jenny said...

LOL! Love the new farm photo. Only you can get away with that--what was that they called you in college?

Danielle said...

El, she was used to a milk machine, and Jim insisted that one be part of the cow purchase so he could milk while we were gone and so could a farm sitter if we all want to get out of town. It's much easier and less frustrating than trying to train her to hand milking. Plus, it's a closed system, so it makes me feel pretty safe with the raw milk.

Madeline, I agree. I was amazed at how dirty cows can get. I was thinking mucking a horse stall, but cow poo ain't nothin' like horse poo. The cleaning definitely makes up for any time saved in milking, but I'm guessing they'd both take about the same amount of time from start to finish. The upside is the cleanliness factor and the frustration factor.

Wendy, Verde, Annette and Angie thank you so much for your kind comments. I get so much from this internet support system we have—I just love reading all the self-sufficiency blogs and the challenges.

Careful Katrien, all this started with a garden about 5' x 10'. Each time we moved, I upped the anty.

Jenny, that's what I get, I suppose, for flapping my lips after too much red wine. I'd forgotten that I even told you that story. lol

Emily took a bunch of photos the other evening and when I saw this one, I just cracked up. I don't know whose butt is bigger, but I sure am glad I don't have that thing hangin' between my legs!

Woody said...

Danielle..I'm laughing my arse off about the "rear view" photo. If Jim had posted that you would be kicking his rear view...too funny.

El said...

Okay I just checked back in and saw the "rear view" too and had quite a howl at it. Thanks for the laugh!

Alex Polikowsky said...

So happy you got the milking machine.... I would not do it any other way. Are you milking her 2x a day still?That should keep her making milk longer and more milk ( if you want)
What have you been using for bedding? I can give you some tips on being able to keep them cleaner and make cleaning easier ( learned because of the show cows).
What kind of stall is she in? Do you have a skid loader or any kind of little tractor with a scoop bucket?
Cows pee and poop a lot! ;-)
Check out our three new additions on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Often we've gotten our fresh milk and butter from a neighboring Amish family.
i remember going to pick it up one evening several years ago when both parents were away (800 miles away) at a family funeral.
They had left their (amazing) kids (five of them from age 15 - age 4) in charge of the farm while they were gone for several days.
When i arrived, three of the girls... ages 8, 11, and 13 were milking (by hand) the herd of cows... all 25 of them... while their two older brothers were doing the rest of the evening chores.
i was amazed at how fast they were... and how accurate.

i have no doubt you'll figure the best way to handle this new challenge in no time.

---linda :)

ps... the picture of Lavish is so beautiful, it could be an ad for the *buy a cow council*.

Tim said...


I'll start milking our Jersey in October, so I'm watching you for lessons. Which milking machine did you go with?

Tim Young
Nature's Harmony Farm

Danielle said...

Hey Tim,

I was able to get a used DeLaval milking machine from portablemilkers.com. This is the one the dairy guy I bought our cow from recommended over a surge milker, though lots of homesteaders seem to like the surge.

I'll do a post soon about my routine.

Tim said...

Thanks Danielle. What model DeLaval did you get?

Look forward to your post about it.

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