New Additions

When we moved to Vermont we had to reduce the number of animals we needed to house. So off went the pigs, 3 of the goats, all of the chickens and a few of the rabbits.  But we still had to pick up the chicks we had ordered earlier in the year. And aren’t they loved!

I can’t even count the number of times a day we rush out to check on the chicks! And of course everyone needs to hold one. They’re certainly well cared for!

I can’t wait till they start laying.


Milking the Goat- Without A Stand

I don’t have a milk stand. I had intended to build one as just about every goat handling book has diagrams and directions for building your own. It seemed like if you milk goats you need a stand. I never got around to it partly because of time and partly because our old goat barn was rather dimly lit. I wanted to have a portable stand so I could milk outside when it was nice but I also wanted to be able to move it inside in bad weather. I did find one prefab metal portable goat stand which only weighed 30 lbs but it was something like 400 dollars- definitely wasn’t happening. However, the more I thought about it and considered nomadic goat herders and descriptions in books like Heidi the more I thought “well it can surely be done”. And so, this is how I do it:

First, I usually give a little grain to occupy Ms. Ellie then I straddle the goat facing backwards.My view is something like this:

Occasionally I kneel beside her but that changes the angle of my hand (making milking less efficient) and then I don’t have my knees to keep her from wondering off. Then I reach under (or sometimes around) and brush her off making sure any hay or loose hairs won’t fall into the milk. After a clearing squirt or two I get down to business and milk. I use a quart size mason jar to milk into. I prefer a wide mouth jar because I can clean it easier- although a regular mouth jar is a little easier to hold. I hold the jar under with one hand and squirt the milk into it with the other. Because I needed one hand to take photos with the camera I have to break it down into two shots.

Holding the jar:


For this shot I placed the jar on the ground but I’d rather hold it because there’s less aiming and it prevents her from knocking it over and spilling it.

There’s more than one way to grasp the teat and milk. Goat teats are rather small and can be difficult to grasp. I prefer the way in the photo above although sometimes I alternate. When I first started milking I had to alternate methods because of hand fatigue. Now I don’t need to and milking probably takes me half the time. To be honest tho I don’t really know how long it takes me I’d guess 10-15 minutes.  I also only milk once a day in the morning. This is Ms. Ellie’s first time being milked and she gives a little over a quart. If I milked her twice a day she’d give a half gallon a day which is about average.

Fresh raw goats milk.

I use the same position for trimming the back hooves and I face the other way to trim the front hooves. For scur trimming I have struggling_along hold Manson’s head while I trim. While I can see how a goat stand would be useful I certainly don’t think it’s a necessity.


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Plans Plans

I meant to share this sooner but life has been so hectic I haven’t had a moment to sit down in front of a computer…..we’re moving to Vermont! Or I should say we’ve moved to Vermont. I just spent the last week packing up the house, animals etc. We’re still looking for our land but luckily struggling_along’s folks live in Vermont and they’re close to struggling_along’s new job and the area where we’re farm hunting and they’re letting us stay with them. So while some of our plans have fallen through things are also working out.  Hectic but exciting times!

Now that I’m not in the mist of packing I hope to get a few posts in here and there-although I’m not sure how regular they’ll be- there’s still a lot going on! Hopefully soon we’ll be starting our new homestead and I can share our plans and progress there.And boy do I have plans!


+ 2 sweaters {Yarn Along/KCCO}

I’m making slow and occasional progress on the springberry fingerless mitts as moments  quiet enough for focusing on lace repeats and increases are few and far between these days. Of course that doesn’t mean no knitting- just cast on a few projects that are mostly mindless knitting in the round. So I cast on another Oatmeal Pullover, this time in my favorite fiber- baby alpaca.

It’s going fast as you can see…..

Noah noticed I began a new sweater and asked hopefully if it were for him. He seemed quite dejected that it was not and requested one- and how can I say no to that- of course I’ll knit you a sweater! Somehow there seems to be a lack of simple raglan sweater patterns knit in the round for children. So I averaged the number of cast on stitches for my gauge and used my oatmeal pullover for inspiration- to well -as it’s now quite apparent the neck is too wide and low not to be “girly”. So poor Noah this sweater is not destined for you- but I will cast on another…

(Not really reading anything worth mentioning)


In the Kitchen :: Favorite

I just love finding a new favorite recipe because, first and foremost, I get to enjoy a fresh new (and now favorite) dish but also because it justifies my huge “recipes to try” collection. I recently reorganized my “recipes to try” collection which began in elementary school as a few slips of paper in an old school folder  but it has grown and morphed into a bulging 13 pocket accordion folder monstrosity . But I really do try these recipes and, as I go, they either end up in my “keeping” binder or in the garbage; and lately I’ve been hearing a lot of “That’s my favorite!” and “That’s the best ever!” so I think I’m on to something.

Here’s a few things we keep coming back to as of late:

Cheesy popcorn- aka homemade smart food. I love cheesy popcorn and it’s as simple as sprinkling Parmesan cheese on your (buttered) popcorn. Who knew?!

Roasted Cumin Lime  Carrots – I found these through pinterest (imagine that!) I didn’t have the mint/green onion garnish so I left it out and I used maple syrup for the sweetener. I also used my preserved limes instead of fresh- worked great!

Quinoa- I know I’m like the last person to try it- can’t believe I’ve been missing out. It cooks so fast, it’s gluten free and reminds me of couscous.What’s not to love?!

Roasted Rabbit- from over at Real Food Freaks. This is my new favorite way to have rabbit! I used less oil and preserved lemons instead of white wine. Oh my did it smell good while baking and tasting it didn’t disappoint.

This was one of our meat rabbits. It was fresh; I soaked it in cold salted water for a few hours before baking.I recommend the salt water soak as it tastes better and the color is better too. And speaking of game we’ve been eating a lot of

Venison too. We got lucky with the tenderest deer ever. I’ve been coating venison tenderloins and butterfly chops with seasoned cornstarch and frying them in butter in my cast iron skillet. Then I transfer them to the oven till they’re done on the inside and they’re crispy and brown on the outside. I can’t keep up with demand!

And then there’s the

Rose hip Tart – I made this one up as I had several jars of rose hip jam I made from rose hips and apples I gathered at the beach. I hadn’t cooked the pectin quite down enough so it was more saucy than jammy. Somehow tarts came to mind as a way to use them up. I used pecan flour for the crust, blind baked it; and I threw in a piece of preserved meyer lemon into the rose hip filling. Oh so good, the lemon goes so well with the slightly herbal rose hips. I wish I had more jars of saucy jam!

And we made our favorite soap


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Make Your Own Rice Flour

Grinding your own flour doesn’t just mean grinding wheat berries- grains like rice and oats can be ground at home too. This is great news if you’ve gone gluten free. So many gluten free products are expensive and or full of processed ingredients I’d never bake with myself. Baking my own at home means I have control over exactly what goes in, I save us quite a bit of money and avoid all the excess packaging.

Rice flour is a common ingredient in gluten free baking. Our local stores carry a few gluten free flours (all tiny overpriced packages) and a growing section of processed goods. Last time I went there was no rice flour to be found so I can’t give a price comparison  but I did go home and get my grain mill out (and took it apart and gave it several very through washings).

In goes the rice. This is just white rice but type doesn’t matter you can grind brown rice or jasmine etc.

The results: A very fine rice flour. This stuff is quite dusty!

And it bakes up nicely too. We made some Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies – a recipe off the back of a package coconut flour from Bob’s Red Mill. I store the rest of the rice flour in a lidded container at room temp.


Editing: I just want to add a link to this great post from The Frugal Farm Wife. Mix up your own gf flour mix using white rice, brown rice and cornstarch- and she’s worked out the savings.

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hearth and soul, fat tuesday,real food wednesday,gluten free wednesday,frugal days sustainable ways