This year, Megan decided to get serious about turning our goat milk into cheese! We’ve been experimenting all year, and we’ve had success with 4 different types of cheese so far, which has been so much fun.
The easiest type of cheese to make is Chevre. Start with a gallon of milk, warm it up, add culture (we get ours from New England Cheese Supply), let sit for 8 hours then strain.
Add a teaspoon of salt and there you go!
Feta and Mozzerella are alittle more involved, although they probably take about an hour to pull together – Feta still has a lot of sitting and then curing to do, since we press ours before putting in brine to age, but they’re pretty easy to do.
Above left – mozzerella curds resting after being cut, and on the right, the finished product
The most exciting cheese we tried this year was cheddar. We eat a LOT of cheddar in this house! Unfortunately we probably won’t be able to make it all from goat’s milk, because the process to make cheddar takes about 6 focused hours, which is a lot to devote for 2lb of cheese! But, after a few months of aging, this wheel of cheddar really tasted just like our favorite aged goats cheese from the store — pretty great to be able to make that at home!
We tried several recipies but in the end really found that we liked the guidance in Gianaclis Caldwell’s book Mastering Basic Cheesemaking.
Four years ago today, we saw the farm for the first time… so much has changed since then!
We’ve ripped out the fencing, replaced it with a garden fence, and put in raspberries. This year we tried squash in the lawn on the hill, but failed due to slug density. Next year!
Oh, the garden — it’s so hard to believe it was such a dead zone when we first saw it! We’ve worked so hard on the garden, we’ve laid cardboard over the whole space and covered it all with 5 15-cubic-yard loads of mushroom compost from the neighbors down the road.
Had to include this shot even though i’ts hard to tell from the photo how much got done in the barn this year. All the stall doors are different because all the former 12×12 stalls are now 12×6 stalls with a removable front and removable dividers — so much more appropriately sized to the goats and sheep. And in the photo at right you can see the new swing-arm gate that closes off the last stall on the right, making it so the goats have limited access to the barn aisle while still having plenty of shelter in bad weather. What you can’t see in this photo is the brand new tack room John built: it’s amazing!! Safe stairs to the loft! A work counter! A fridge for milk and eggs! It’s my favorite project from 2015, by a long shot. I’m still excited every time I walk in the barn and see how much cleaner and better organized it is.
The major change to this view this year was the cutting down of the 4 20-ish year old fir trees that were on the hill behind the house. You can barely see the branches of one in the lower left corner of the top photo, but in the 4 years since then they’d grown quite a lot! They made the house darker, and crowded the “lawn”… things are much better with them gone.. plus we have firewood for the next 3 years pretty much sown up at this point.
The other upgrade visible in this shot are all the fruit trees that were added to the barnyard: 9 plum, pear, and apple trees went in and almost all of them survived this brutal summer! Really looking forward to watching them grow and provide the chickens with shade and snacks in the years to come.
We are so honored to call this place home, and pretty proud of all the hard work we’ve put into it so far. Time to get to work on the task list for our 5th year!