Category Archives: Home Dairy

Lambing or Kidding Jugs or Pens…on a budget

I do not yet have any good photographs to share of this project….you will have to bear with me. My animals never have babies when it’s convenient to me. We lost our first goat kids of the season due to their birth during a horrid rainstorm at the same time in which our vehicle was in emergency need of some unplanned maintenance. It left us on the side of the road, and as I walked home….I noticed one of the LGDs (that’s Livestock Guardian Dogs), licking a tiny, adorable kid. It was three pm and over six hours went by before we were able to turn our attention to caring for the wee beasts, who had chilled. We tried our best to save them, but they only made it for a few days.

“If only I had pens for expectant Mamas,” I thought. I researched. I looked at all sorts of sheds, stalls, etc. and nothing struck a chord. My favorite chicken coop I had made was my hoop coop – an 8×8′ wooden frame built with 2x4s with two cattle panels carefully secured in place over them. (Stationary versions are best served with T-posts to support the cattle panels, portable tractor versions need a frame at the bottom and ends). Add a tarp and you have a quick and easy shelter.

Well….I need fencing for my sheep and goat friends. So, here is my design. A total of seven T-posts and four cattle (or better yet, livestock) panels – the fence like flexible ones, are the meat of this project. Add some tie wire, buckets for water and feed, possible fence or panel scraps to make hay feeders, tarp or canopy to cover (if not under a shed or barn….) and you have three small holding pens. Let me explain more!

Drive two t-posts just under 16′ apart, say about 15′, 9″ apart. Space two t-posts as evenly as possible between the first two. You may need a helper to very carefully bend a panel into a U-shape with each of its open ends resting between two of the t-posts. A third post will be added at the bottom of the U-shaped panel for extra support, and the remaining two posts will make up the likewise middle supports. Wire each of the panels firmly in place to the t-posts. Now is the time to add and fill water buckets (attach the bail of the bucket to the bottom-middle support t-post lest it get kicked over), make hay feeders, hang or attach feed buckets if you so desire, and add bedding. I use pine shavings and about two packages of compressed shavings should adequately cover the three pens.

If you are putting a shade canopy or “easy up” type shelter over the jugs, this is a good time to do so before you have critters in there who are, inevitably, horrified at the process and flipping out.

Now, attach ONLY ONE END of the last cattle panel to one end of an end pen – the goal is to lead or herd the animal into the pen nearest the connected “gate” panel that you just attached, then wire the panel to the next available T-post, leaving the panel curved to funnel in the next animal to the middle pen, where you can attach the gate then to the next available t-post and curve the rest of the panel to leave an opening for the third animal to get in to the pen, then wire the end of the panel to the remaining t-post. Huzzah! Some victory here.

If using a tarp over the jugs, it could be very carefully installed now. There is no “working” gate, if you need to attend to your animals you will need to carefully climb over the fencing. It seems to be the recommendation to keep lambs or kids penned up together for just a few days for monitoring, we have left ours in the “jugs” a little while longer. We have also used this system to hold a goat for veterinary care (your vet, however patient, does NOT want to troop all over your 10 acre pasture to find “Lucky” for whatever vetting is needed).

WARNING: Baby kids or lambs may very well be equipped to walk right through a cattle panel “jug” construction. If this is the only thing enclosing your little darlings, you may wish to use livestock panels with 2×4 spacing instead. You could wrap the whole thing with snow fencing, too, if you so desired to keep “everyone” in or out. This is a deterrent from most predators, a raptor would not be slowed down in the least by this unless you have a tarp or canopy over the top.

How’s it Hanging?


So how IS it hanging? In this case, by a piece of artificial sinew and underneath my kitchen counter. Ha! Why does my kitchen look like a scientists lab? Because, cheese. That is probably the worst semblance of a sentence I have ever put on the web. The grammar nazi in me is very angry.

Cheese that is happening right now: Russian Tvorog Farmer’s Cheese, Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese, and Cottage Cheese. Also dreaming of what I could do with the whey from that farmer’s cheese. Whey, it’s a wonderful thing.

I used to think that all whey was wonderful. I’m now learning that I only really prefer the whey from soft cheeses. The whey produced from my Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese making does not smell the same. I don’t think that it is bad or unsafe, I just don’t like the smell of it. I do, however, have dogs and pigs and poultry (oh my) who would enjoy that whey. The no-waste factor has been happily satisfied. Soft cheese whey is for us, hard cheese way is for the birds. Ha! There I go again…

New and exciting in my cheese making adventures is using my Excalibur dehydrator. I love my dehydrator. I have had several brands/models….this is THE BEST, well worth the investment. I had come to a road block in making cheese: when heating the curd, it would burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. I lost one pan to this, as it was not worth trying to scrub it. I actually did work on it for several weeks before deciding to throw in the towel. My first brainstorm was to heat the milk/curd in a double-boiler. It worked, but not for high-temperature cheeses. Yeah, you *could* do that. It’s a HUGE hassle. The good thing that it did for me was strengthen my faith in my ability to make cheese without all the scrubbing and fuss, and wasted yucky burnt stuff.

I hope to put together some basic cheese recipes specifically for use with the Excalibur dehydrator, as well as yogurt and sour cream. For now, I’m working on different recipes and methods to make the process as simple as possible. My theory is simply this: people have been making cheese for thousands of years. Cheese and bread have been the first “processed foods” and many people in a lot of less-than-ideal situations with equipment, temperature and sanitation have successfully made cheese. I’m sure that not every batch worked out, just as my every batch does not work quite as well as I may have hoped or planned. Usually, it is edible or at least good for the animals. Although I appreciate some of the fancy, exotic cheeses (and even some basic ones that are more difficult to make), I really enjoy simplifying things to the KISS factor. That is, Keep It Sweet and Simple. I also like it make cheese with sustainability in mind. “What on earth does she mean by that?” Well, again, picture our ancestors a while back, making cheese. Did they go to Amazon to buy cheese cultures? No. They either got lucky and cultured it with a slower method, or learned to add some of a successful culture to a new batch of cheese. This is what I do! When I make cottage cheese (which happens about once or twice a week), I save out about two 1/3 cup starter cultures so that I can continue making cheese without buying more commercially prepared starter culture packets. There are other ways to make other cultures, and that is for another post….but when I can do this myself, I will. When I can do it quickly and easily and teach others to do the same, I will. As for rennet, I’d like to learn how to work on using both vegan-friendly and animal-based rennet.

My husband and I were just joking, and for anyone who’d like to start making their own cheese, think of this: Go out and buy about four extra stock pots, strainers, 5 yards of cheesecloth, two cases of quart jars and four cases of half gallon jars. Now do some spring cleaning. Take every washable dish, plate, bowl, utensil, pan, etc. from your kitchen cabinets and wash them. Now, wash every scrap of clothing, towels, curtains, bedspreads, etc. Make sure all of those items are dried, and put away appropriately. Next, go to the grocery store and buy a pound of cheese. Freeze it for six months. Wasn’t that fun?

I am being somewhat sarcastic and somewhat realistic – yes, cheesemaking is a pain in the backside. It dirties up the kitchen and clutters up your workspace. It involves extra loads of dishes and laundry. Your family will think you are nuts at times. Then, you wait to enjoy the hard work you’ve put in. But then…you go to your favorite festival with some of your favorite people and have a martini and pass around cheese, homemade bread and homemade butter…..and wow, it’s worth it.

Old Fashioned, Farm Fresh, Raw Cow’s Milk

Milk-FlyerHere is a *sample* of our milk/dairy prices. Again, prices are subject to change, and most likely those would go down. Being as we are a small farm and not a factory, and we do many things and not solely milk cows, make dairy products, and post blogs…all items are subject to availability.

This is a great place in which to ask questions, I have noticed that a lot of raw milk producers supply an overwhelming amount of information to their would-be customers, making things very confusing. So, if you want to know, ask. That can be privately or publicly, and we will always try to answer just as honestly as we can.