Friday, February 25, 2011

Win some, lose some

It's been a roller coaster of a week. On Tuesday, Star gave us a buckling, but we lost her to birth complications on Thursday. We named the buckling George, as he was born on Washington's birthday (not the President's Day holiday). Very cute little guy! He did manage to get colostrum from mom for two days, and is doing well.

On Thursday, Karma gave us a boy and a girl, which DH found and got to name. He called them Sonny and Cher.

So we're left dealing with one singleton who needed company, and a stressed out doe. I decided to put all the babies together and bottle feed them. I wasn't entirely certain that Karma was allowing the babies to nurse, and it was easier at that point to put the babies all in one room.

So I put Karma up on the milking stand, which she wasn't crazy about (last time she was up there I trimmed her feet). And Tuvok isn't helping, he's in the stall one wall away (can't see us) hollering to beat the band. She wants to go back to him instead of paying attention to me! I ended up restraining her head, and tying her feet to the back of the milking stand (two pieces of baling twine with slip knots on them so she can't pull her feet forward and knock over the bucket). I start milking her, and one side of her udder has a big, hard lump! Mastitis, first time out of the gate!

I milked as much as I could, and when I got back to the house found the boxes of mastitis treatment that I have put away. I pulled out two tubes of a medication called "ToDay" (for lactating cows) and administered one tube at last night's milking, and the other at this morning's milking. The lump was better this morning. It's not nearly as hard, and not extending down as far into the teat, so hopefully the treatment works perfectly and all will be well. I know she's NOT happy with me milking out that side, and I can't say I blame her. I'm just hoping it's over soon. She's already stressed enough, between losing her sister and me taking the babies away. Once she settles down, she'll realize she gets extra grain on the milking stand and as her milk comes in more, it will feel good to get up there and have the milking done.

The babies are eating well. I'm feeding them four times a day at this point - 7 am & pm, when I go out to milk, and again around 11 & 3. The three of them are almost finishing off a 16 oz bottle at this point. I'm sure I'll be doing separate bottles for them very soon. Cher is the smallest one of the bunch, and absolutely *adorable*!

We're waiting on one more - Gloria. Can't wait to see those babies!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Week

The soda is done, and in the fridge. DH said the ginger ale didn't taste much like ginger ale, but said he liked it anyway. The root beer (made from a commercial flavoring) apparently came out strong. I think I need to increase the amount of shredded ginger root that goes into the ginger ale (and some recipes call for the addition of a little lemon juice) and decrease the amount of root beer flavoring next time.

Today I started some alfalfa seeds and chickpeas for sprouts. The chickens loved their wheatgrass. When I did the wheatgrass, I did one tablespoon per tray, but I think that could have been increased. This time I did two teaspoons of the alfalfa seeds. For the chickpeas, they came in a 50-gram envelope. Upon opening that I found two 25-gram envelopes, so I soaked one entire 25-gram envelope overnight. I set them in the trays this morning.

Yesterday was 50 degrees, today we'll be lucky to hit 20. The rest of the week, though, looks like maple tapping weather! I will hopefully get my equipment cleaned and get my trees tapped tomorrow, and start collecting and boiling on Thursday.

No goat babies yet. Can't wait to have goat milk for milk, and cheese, and hopefully butter, too!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Make-Your-Own Soda

Last night, listening to news reports about how bad diet soda is for you, DH and I were discussing alternatives. He drinks one 2-liter bottle of diet soda per week, occasionally another small bottle if he gets one when we go out. Regular soda, besides having artificial colors and flavors, generally has high fructose corn syrup as well. He did find one brand that uses "all natural" ingredients, and there are a few others that aren't as bad - Jones soda, Squamscot soda (which has the added benefit of being locally produced).

This led me to try making some soda, something I've been intending to do off and on for quite some time. Last week I bought a piece of ginger root at the grocery store to try homemade ginger ale, in fact. (After having a piece of ginger root dry up and shrivel on the counter, I had decided it was best kept in the freezer.)

Following instructions found online, and repurposing empty 2-liter soda bottles, I made one bottle of ginger ale and one bottle of root beer (using a root beer concentrate previously purchased). The instructions for ginger ale are at http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/cheese/ginger_ale_ag0.htm and the instructions for root beer are at http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/ROOTBEER_Jn0.htm. I now have both bottles under a cabinet, hopefully carbonating away. We'll know in 3 days. Well, they will know, anyway; I don't drink soda. I might be talked into trying the ginger ale but I hate root beer, so DH and DS will have to do the taste testing and let me know how they turned out.

In the meantime, I have been researching how to grow your own ginger root. Apparently, you can plant the part of the ginger root that has "eyes", and grow it as a houseplant to make more. I don't know if this root will grow because I had it in the freezer, but I may pick up a new one at the grocery store today and try it.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sprouts, Day 4

I think we're just about ready to eat these! Here are the alfalfa sprouts at Day 4. They have gotten quite tall! I'm going to be adding some of these to my salad tonight.

These are the broccoli sprouts. Not so tall, not so many of them, but I just wanted a sample anyway.
And here is the side view. You can see all the roots of the alfalfa sprouts hanging down, as well as the height of the alfalfa sprouts.

When these are done, I'm going to use one tray, maybe both, to try sprouting some wheatberries for the chickens. I hear they love them.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sprouts, Day 3

OK, so Day 3. So far I've remembered to rinse them twice a day, as well as taking pictures in the morning.

Here are the alfalfa sprouts. They are starting to get some length to them, and if I had to guess, I'd guess they'll be ready to eat - not tomorrow, but Saturday, so on Day 5. In actuality, they're probably ready to eat now (length can be better seen in the third picture) but I'm basing my observation on the size and length of the sprouts I've bought at the grocery store.

These are the broccoli sprouts. Definitely less growth, even considering that there are far fewer seeds in there. They will likely need an extra day or two more than the alfalfa sprouts.

Here's the side shot. You can see some of the length developing on the alfalfa sprouts, and how small the broccoli sprouts are by comparison.


OK, so Day 3. So far I've remembered to rinse them twice a day, as well as taking pictures in the morning.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sprouts, Day 2


Day 2 of sprouts. Today not only are the sprouts a lot more developed, but I noticed you can actually see some of the roots beginning to extend below the tray, for the alfalfa, at least. This made a difference when I was rinsing the seeds this morning. The broccoli seeds, which are growing more slowly, do not have roots below the tray yet. When I rinse them, they move around the tray. When I rinsed the alfalfa seeds, a small bunch on the edges (either slower sprouting, slower growing, or unsprouted seeds) moved around, but the rest stayed put.

This brings to mind one difference between using this flat tray sprouting system as opposed to a homemade jar system (canning jar with mesh or cheesecloth cover). If you're using the jar, you have to put water in and dump it out. Using the tray, you run water through the tray, and the seeds are less disturbed. (The lecturer was talking about all the long sprouts getting tangled together with the first system, as opposed to growing straight up and staying in place with the second.)

So here are the alfalfa sprouts this morning.

Here are the broccoli sprouts.

And here is a close-up of the sprouting trays, from the side so that you can see how the roots are coming through the bottom of the tray.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Sprouts, Day 1

I was contemplating whether this was day 1 or day 2. After all, I started these sprouts yesterday. Yesterday was not day 1, however, because it had not been a full day of growing yet, so I figure yesterday was day 0 and today is day 1. Anyway, this is a close-up of the alfalfa seeds after 24 hours' growth. See the little sprouts starting? I kept checking on them yesterday; I could see more and more little sprouts starting every time I looked!

These are the broccoli seeds sprouting. The seeds are the tiny dark-brown little balls. All the lighter colored bits are sprouts!

And this is a shot of my sprouting container, on the sink.

Now yesterday, when I initially dumped the seeds in (they had, prior to that, been soaking in a jar of water) it looked like there was a lot of water in there that hadn't drained, so I set each tray individually on a kitchen towel to soak up some of the excess. Last night, when I did my rinse, I didn't do that. I think that way leaves too much water in the seeds. Again this morning when I did my rinse (after I took these pictures) I set the tray on a kitchen towel momentarily to wick away some of the excess water. I don't know if I'm *supposed* to do that or not, but the guy giving the lecture had said that excess water was not good. He was speaking specifically about water left in the bottom tray after rinsing, but I'm choosing to extrapolate. More research may be needed.