After a mid-winter break we are back to making goats cheese on the farm.
We had a cosy Friday afternoon/evening by the cooker warming the milk (and making a shepherds pie for dinner.)
We heated about eight litres of milk to just below boiling and then added 700 ml of lemon juice.
After about 30 minutes we poured the contents into a cheese cloth and let the whey drain out. (We have mixed the whey with grains to feed to the chickens and ducks.)
The final result is about 2 kg of cheese.
Thanks for our new intern, Jasmine, for taking some of these and many other great photos of ongoings on the farm.
Horns on goats can cause problems. For me, the greatest concern is animal welfare – in other words, a goat sticking its head through a fence and getting stuck because the horns act as a one-way barb. Two or three days in the hot summer sun can lead to death.
In nature there are no fences so horns do not pose this risk. But in farming there are heaps of fences so we need to design our animal systems with that in mind. We take animal welfare very seriously, so I’ve learned to disbud young kids to prevent horn growth.
I watched some youtube videos and looked at this site.
The first time we tried it my helper who was holding the kid flinched at the wrong moment and we ended up with a unicorn.
So I have added another element to my redneck operation in order to hold the head and neck steady during the process.
This heavy vice works perfectly with a towel draped over it for cushioning. It worked as planned for two kids this morning – they were held in place by my helper who did not flinch at all. (Note: Do not tighten the vice!!!)
My disbudding tool is a pipe of the right size with an improvised but sturdy handle. (Note: Sorry, no duct tape on hand at the time.)
The disbudder has to be hot enough to burn a circle in a piece of wood. I use my camping stove to heat it.
I also use my clippers to shave the area around the buds so I can see everything and because I’m not fond of the smell of burning hair. (I also trimmed my beard at the time as long as I had the clippers out of the cupboard.)
Apply heat for 10 seconds before horns break through the buds – usually between three and ten days after birth. The kids exhibit no signs of post-traumatic stress as they are returned to mum for a quick drink of milk and then frolicking with their mates in the paddock.
We’ve run this workshop three times this year with great feedback. I promised to summarise the process, so here goes.
Step 1) Lay polythene for five months or longer to kill the perennial grasses and weeds. We cover our polythene with mulch to prevent UV degradation of the plastic and to make the market gardens look nicer. After 20 weeks peel back the much and reuse it somewhere, and then lift the polythene.
Step 2) Loosen the compacted soil. We use stainless steel broad forks that I had welded up by a friend for a box of beer. Any broad fork will do or garden fork. The point is to mechanically break up the soil. First go lengthwise.
Then go crosswise.
Step 3) Break up the soil cubes you’ve just formed into smaller chunks. This is best done when the soil is not too wet and not too dry. It may pay to wait a day or two before doing this step. A rake or a hoe or a garden fork or a spade can be used.
Step 4) Form beds. Standing on one side of the 1.2 metre wide bed rake the path from the other side up onto he bed. The switch sides and repeat.
Step 5) Continue to pulverise the soil and rake the beds flat with a back and forth motion to prepare a fine planting surface.
The end result is a series of raised rows in a no-dig system easily maintained with a stirrup hoe.