Don’t you just love when novices write posts on ‘how to’ do something? And you’re sitting there, on the other side of the computer screen, like “Who the heck are you to tell me how to do anything? You don’t even know what you’re doing!?”
Well. Lucky for you. Because this is one of those posts.
I’d like to think that my naivety in cheese making can be of great benefit to you. After all, if you were an expert cheese maker you certainly wouldn’t be reading a beginning cheese making post. So, in defense of my post, I’m hoping it can offer you some basics TO a novice FROM a novice. After all, who can understand you better in your confusion than I?
No one. That was rhetorical question.
As much as I’d like to talk about the pressing of Parmesan or draining of Colby in this post, alas, that must wait. There are a few things we need to get squared away in our cheese kit before we get to that point. And, just for the record, if you’re not a patient person in the kitchen, cheese making may not be for you.
This is a time consuming and painstakingly slow process.
If that ain’t for you, quit now. Because I guarantee you that when you’re waiting up at 2 a.m. to remove your cheddar from the press (because you, quite obviously, screwed up the timing the day before) you’ll be cursing me for encouraging you to do it. And we surely don’t want that, now do we?
Now. Now. Where to start.
Okay. First get THIS BOOK. That’ll really help.
Questions To Ponder Prior to Cheese Making
1. Where will you get your milk? After all, your cheese will only be as good as the milk that you’ve used to make it. We’ve been blessed to use up our own cow’s milk on making the cheese, which has been great because I’ve screwed up plenty of batches. And even though it makes me super frustrated, I know there’s always more milk to come! That being said, securing a source for (ideally) organic, primarily grass-fed milk is not always easy – so do your homework! Find a dairy close to you perhaps. Or secure a wonderful source from a cow-share. By all means, store-bought raw OR pasteurized milk WILL work (ultra-pasteurized won’t) if that’s all you have access to. I use raw milk for all of my cheese making.
2. Cow milk or goat milk? Or sheeps milk? Or camels milk? Or…
I’ll leave this decision entirely up to you. Just note that certain milk is required for certain cheeses. We use cow. Obviously.
3. What sort of cheese do you want to make?
What sort of cheese is your favorite? Is there one in particular you’re hoping to make? I knew that I wanted to be able to make Parmesan and Cheddar – two of our favorites! Lucky for me they are made of cow’s milk. There’s a billion different types of cheeses out there and narrowing down to a few that you’d like to make and eat is beneficial – it keeps you from splattering out in all directions once you get started. I’d say: pick five cheeses and get really good at making those. Then expand.
Choosing your cheeses is also important because cheeses use a variety of cultures – most of which are only available online. So plan ahead and get the ones you need! Nothing worse than getting started and realizing you don’t have what you need at hand!
Basic Equipment Required
1. Stainless steel pot: Reserve this for cheese making exclusively, if possible. This helps to avoid any cross contamination in the cheese – it’s sensitive! Keep it clean, man. Oh, also, I find that having a water canner (or a second large pot) is perfect to use as a double boiler for the milk. Many recipes call for the milk to be heated up over a hot water bath so that the milk doesn’t come into direct contact with the heat.
I use my water canner as the base with the canning rack flipped over inside – it creates the perfect little shelf to set my steel pot on.
2. Stainless steel skimmer: I almost didn’t buy this when I started because I was “sure” that I could find one of my utensils that would work. Boy, oh boy. Am I ever glad I got it! I use this every single time I make cheese and I don’t think it would be possible without it! Okay fine. It would probably be possible but it would be much more difficult. And frankly, we don’t always need to make things harder on ourselves, now do we?
3. Thermometer: An absolute necessity (there are fancier models but the one I’m linking to is the one I use!). Cheese making is a fairly exact science so heating certain cultures to the correct temperature is essential for success.
Yes, I know people made cheese before they had thermometers. But they also probably ruined A LOT of batches in the process. Thankfully, we don’t have to guess. Sweet, sweet technology.
4. Curd knife: Lots of folks use curd cutters and if you’re doing very large batches, I would recommend that. But for me and my 2-4 gallon batches, a long knife works just fine for cutting curds. It’s not as exact, but that’s alright.
5. Measuring spoons and liquid measuring cups: Again, measurements in cheese aren’t something that’s good to guess on. Too much rennet leads to bitter cheese. Too much culture leads to an array of problems. Just get the danged spoons and follow the rules, you rebel.
6. Cheese press: Yes, I’m sure there’s a way to make a DIY cheese press. And perhaps they work really well. But to save myself the heartache (since I make cheese every other day, I needed one that would work!) I bought this great, inexpensive press. It works great except for the fact that I’d like to do a bigger batch and use up more of my extra milk each time I make cheese. I need to either purchase a second press or a large press. This press will hold a two pound block which is pretty standard. However, there are some larger presses out there if you’re goin’ for the big daddy.
7. Colander: One specific for cheese making is best. Again, stray bacteria and odd bits can reek havoc on a cheese that you’ve oh-so-delicately-and-precicely made. Cross contamination is the last thing we want! So get a stainless steel colander and reserve it for cheese making.
8. Cheesecloth: The good stuff, baby. I think I need to start buying this in bulk! I use a sheet each time I press a cheese and each time I strain a cheese. I also bandage wrap a lot of my cheddars which uses tallow and cheesecloth. Point being: you don’t want to run out! Trust me – you’ll want to have this on hand.
9. Labels: Okay fine. This isn’t essential. But as much as I’d like to tell myself that I’ll remember the type of cheese hidden under that wax and the month it will be ready to eat, I can’t. It’s impossible. So, I’ve started labeling. My memory just ain’t what it used to be…
10. Cheese cave: This is a tough one, again, because it’s totally dependent on what type of cheese you want to make. Most cheeses need to be aged at 50-55 degree temperature with 80-85% humidity. There are a million and one ways that people have found to do this (tupperwares with wet rags in refrigerator drawers, for example), but I found a system that works really well for me and takes the guess-work out of the aging process. I found a used wine cooler on Craigslist for $70 – lucky for us, white wine likes to be chilled at the exact same temperature that cheese likes to age! So these little coolers are perfect for cheese. They’re also small so they’re easy to fit into a kitchen. In order to keep the humidity up, I stole a humidifier from my husband (he had previously used it in his cigar humidor). This little unit lets me control the humidity exactly which really helps to promote the optimal aging environment for my cheeses. The only problem I’ve found is that I’ve run out of space! Which means I’ll have to get another cooler. Some of these cheeses ages for a year (or more!) so they’ll spend lots of days in the cheese cave, taking up more than their fair share of space no doubt.
If you don’t have the money to get a cheese cave set up – that’s okay! Search around the ‘ol world wide web and see what others are doing. There’s lots of adaptations and creative ideas for creating the right environment.
Cheese Making Supplies
This list will be customizable, based on which cheese you’ll be making. I make fairly basic cheese, such as Colby, Pepperjack, Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzerella, Feta, etc. and these are the supplies that I’ve used and have on hand.
1. Rennet: This is what causes the milk to coagulate. Some soft cheeses don’t use rennet, but almost all other cheeses do. I choose to use an animal rennet, though some vegetable rennets are available.
2. Calcium chloride: Not necessary when using raw milk, but used with pasteurized and homogenized milk to increase the number of available calcium ions and to help firm up curds.
3. Cheese salt: Iodine in table salt will kill certain bacterias in the cheese that are required for aging. Non-iodized salt is a must.
4. Mesophilic culture (available HERE): Meso means “middle” and is used for cheeses that aren’t heated above 102 degrees. Meso II and 4001 are the cultures I use the most.
5. Thermophilic culture (available HERE): Thermophilic cultures are heat loving cultures and are used for cheeses that are heated above 104 degrees.
6. Lipase: Most often used in processed cow’s milk to help replace the “tang” that comes in some cheeses. It’s a natural enzyme that is found in raw cows milk.
In case you’re doubting still, you should know my opinion: raw cows milk is the best danged stuff on the planet. Cheese making has made me appreciate that all the more!
7. Annatto: A natural food coloring used to give certain cheese their signature orange-hue (think cheddar). Not necessary, but I think it’s fun to help differentiate the cheeses.
8. Filtered water: Yes, it’s important. Because whatever is in your water source you’re going to be adding to your cheese – including bacteria. I use a Berkey water filter to ensure that any water I add into the cheese is as clean as it can be. Unless you happen to live next to a glacial spring with fresh water. That’d be pretty cool.
There are 5 major steps to cheese making:
1. Preparation: This involves heating up the milk to a certain temperature to prepare it for the culture. In order for certain cultures to work, they need to be at a particular temperature. The temperature in this step will depend on your particular recipe.
2. Ripening: This is where the “fermentation” takes place. After the milk is heated, a culture is added in and is then allowed to ripen the milk for (usually) about one hour (though some cheeses ripen up to twelve!). Again, the particulars of this step will depend on your recipe. Just note, this is where the culture ripens the milk into the cheese it will become!
3. Coagulation and cooking: After the milk has been allowed to ripen, a small amount of rennet will be added to the milk. It will then sit undisturbed for a set amount of time (usually around 30-45 minutes). After the milk has coagulated, it will easily be cut into cubes with a knife or cutter. This will seperate the milk into curds and whey. Yes, like in the Little Miss Muffett song. But focus will you! After the curds are cut, they rest, and then are cooked to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time set by the recipe. This is the most labor intensive part of cheese making in that it usually requires an hour or so of stirring and cooking the curds.
4. Drying: After the cooking, the curds are pressed or drained according to the recipe. The purpose is to remove the extra whey from the curds. The remaining whey in the curds will determine the moisture content of the finished cheese.
5. Ripening and aging: This is the period of time, anywhere from a day to years, that the cheese is allowed to mature. Some cheeses are left to mold which develops a rind and flavor. Other cheeses are waxed. It’s quite a diverse world – the cheese world. Each style is so unique!… and moldy…
See? It’s not so bad when you break it down, now is it?
I know it seems like a lot. And in a way, it is. Cheese making, like any new skill, requires practice, patience, failed-attempts, and enjoying to master. Once you’ve worked through your first few cheeses, you’ll have an idea of what to expect and what you’re looking for in the curd, which is very helpful.
The second time I made cheese felt 100% better than the first time.
Sort of like the second time I milked a cow. (Ya’ll remember how that went, don’t you?).
Stay tuned for Part Deux – much more cheese making is ahead of us, my friends!
Author Archives: Shaye Elliott
Many of us have a glorious picture of farming, don’t we? I did.
Lush green pastures, obedient and healthy animals, perfectly cleaned coops, and the like. Ya know. The good stuff.
But then comes reality.
And then comes reality + winter.
It’s our first winter here on Beatha Fonn and even though I’m not stranger to hard winters (I did, after all, grow up here), my Southern born man is still adjusting to the two degree temperatures and tough task of driving in the snow and ice.
He says he’s good at it. But I say otherwise. Ahem.
This winter is quite different than last year’s winter, which was spent on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama soaking up the eighty degree mid-January weather. Though, to be fair to Washington, the Alabama summers are horrendous – so that winter weather is really a trade off.
Anyway. Here we are. Two degree weather. Little icicles on Sal’s whiskers. And frozen eggs to boot.
The reality of farm life in the winter is that even though the sun hides for a good portion of the day, no vegetation is growing to feed the animals, and water is freezing faster than you can peel your frozen socks off, the chores continue. Every. Single. Day.
The animals must still be watered, which can be quite tricky without irrigation. Right now, we’re running a 200 ft. hose from our laundry hookup to the barn where we keep Sal’s water tank. Thankfully, it’s a large tank, so we only have to fill it every couple of days. But after every watering, we must manually drain the awkwardly long hose (which never works that well) and bring it inside so that it won’t freeze up. Mind you, we’ve already lost two hoses this winter to the ‘ol freeze-and-split. Good times, good times.
And then comes the added joy of a giant pile of poo in the water tank. In the spring, summer, or fall, this turd would easily be able to be dumped out and cleaned up. But in two degree weather, the poo quickly adheres to the side of the tank as a nuclear-fused-poo-sicle of sorts that will require nothing short of a welding torch to remove. Ah yes. Good times indeed.
Then, there’s always the fun of getting to complete those chores you put off for just a wee bit too long. Planting grass seed in the grazing pasture would be one of those chores. Even though we’ve had the seed sitting in our shop for a few weeks now, for some reason, we never prioritized the twenty minutes it would take to spread. The idea with the seed is to spread it right before the first snow fall so that the snow will quickly cover the seeds and help protect them from the hungry birds that will all too quickly make a lunch out of it. Unfortunately, a few inches of snow is already here to stay and thus, the seed was spread on top of it. Guess we’ll see what happens, come spring!
It’s also all but impossible to keep our poor chicken’s water from freezing. We’ve tried waterers that plug in, heat lamps, and hot water – only to find a few hours later that it’s already a solid block of ice. I’ve been making a few trips down to the coop per day to gather eggs and give them fresh water. I suppose their freezing water is a good thing – it keeps me actively checking on them in this harsh weather and also makes me diligent about gathering eggs. We’ve already had a couple freeze and frankly, I wanted to cry. So we better not loose any more.
(Don’t worry, the dog ate the frozen eggs. As always, waste not want not.)
On top of it all, we trudge out of our warm bed at 5:00 a.m. each morning to milk Sally Belle. To be honest, I really enjoy the actual milking – I’m productive, alert, and warm next to that big ‘ol bovine body. The worst part of the morning is walking from the house to the barn. That’s the little portion I could easily do without. Brr! Even with my accessory of choice, it’s still pretty chilly. I do quite enjoy when the warm milk hits the cold bucket though – it’s steams and gives me a facial of sorts. Ya. That’s it. A Farm Girl Facial.
Farm life on the winter is tough. It isn’t for the faint of heart or the lazy in spirit.
But as I trudge through the winter days, I hang tightly to the promises that spring will hold. Baby animals. New fruit trees. Vegetable starts. Grazing cows. And blue skies.
Also. I would just like to point out that until spring arrives, I’ll be wearing my coveralls every where. Which makes me look about much larger in my shadow than in reality.
See. I told ya it wasn’t for the faint of heart.
I’m a terrible parent.
No, no, before you try and come to my defense, let me just tell it to you straight. I am.
But being a terrible parent is such a large topic, I think it’s important to break it down for you.
Where to start… wait a second… I think I just heard Owen drop something in the toilet…
…no worries. He was just licking the toilet bowl. Perrrrrfect. Now where were we?
Oh ya. I was talking about being a bad parent.
Reason #1 Why I Feel Like A Bad Parent: I’m selfish.
Georgia, please quit interrupting me. I’m trying to get this done.
Stuart, can you change the diaper? I’m obviously quite busy on Pinterest at the moment…
Owen, I need you to keep taking your morning naps. Don’t you know that it’s my gotta-do-stuff-so-I-can-feel-better-about-my-accomplishments time? I neeeeeed it.
There is no defense. I am a selfish human being. I savor my time spent working on the blog, baking in the kitchen, or planning the spring garden. And when I become focused or fixated on these projects, I tend to get particularly selfish about my time and exactly how I’d like to spend it. Poopy diapers? Broken plates? Missing socks? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Don’t these kids know I’m on MY schedule?
Reason #2 Why I Feel Like A Bad Parent: I’m short-tempered.
If I could grasp my husband’s temperament and somehow implant it into my body via some form of Frankenstein science, I would totally do it. Praise God that I was given a level-headed, cool-under-pressure man. Because I’m anything but. And when you’ve redressed your daughter for the fifteenth time before eight in the morning, filled so many sippy cups with milk your head could explode, cleaned far too many floating turds out of the bathtub, and brought the dog in just so he could lick the spilt applesauce up off the floor (hey man, one less chore for me) you may understand where I’m coming from. Children. Require. PATIENCE. And lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of it. Because they’re not all rainbows and sunshine, my friends. They test you. And tear you. And manipulate you. And break you down.
Don’t believe me? You must not have children.
Unfortunately, in this world, we all have our struggles. Patience is mine. And when Georgia is screaming over the broken crayon (that she purposefully broke) that she can’t find (while she’s holding it in her hand), I’ll admit – sometimes, my emotions get the better of me.
Reason #3 Why I Feel Like A Bad Parent: I’m short on grace. For my children, my husband, and myself.
Anyone else out there quick to throw stones at the ones they love?
Why can’t you just help me more? Can’t you see I need someone to wash the dishes?
Why are they being so difficult?
I’m so horrible at this, why would the Lord even give me children in the first place? I’m just going to mess them up!
Sometimes, I feel alone in these thoughts. But I know that I’m not. Giving others grace, as well as giving ourselves grace, is a difficult thing to do. And when one is in the trenches of the little years it’s even more difficult. I’m so quick to expect things out of my children that I’m not even able to do myself (am I not still selfish? lazy? disobedient to my Father?). We all are in need of grace and so desperately long to receive it – from the Lord and from others – and yet, we are so slow to dish it out to the ones we love. Instead, we expect them to earn it by acting right, treating us well, and doing what we wish them to do.
Oh ye of little faith.
When my husband was at his school the other day, he was approached by a reader of the blog (whom I don’t know, personally). She said to him “your wife is like Superwoman!”. Stuart replied (as I would have wished him to) with a kind “thank you, but she would be upset to know you thought of her that way”.
Hear my, dear readers: I am not superwoman. Just because I make cheese and raise chickens does not make me the coolest person on the planet. It doesn’t even make me the coolest person in this room (and the only other one in here with me right now is my dog). If you could see the ins and outs of my daily life, you would see that it’s monotonous, difficult, frustrating, challenging, and messy. I loose my temper towards my children and have to ask for their forgivesness all the time. I burn supper. I loose bills on my desk. I pick pieces of crayon of my baby’s nose. I clean up dog throw up off the floor. I slip on the snow going down to the chicken coop and dump a bucket of water all over myself.
And somedays, I feel like a really horrible parent.
Yes, fear not, there is a but. And a big one.
Not a big butt. Just a big BUT…
But God does not leave me in the trenches, covered in poo, soured milk, and baby drool, alone. He doesn’t give me disobedient children and then throw me to the wolves. He doesn’t give me frustrating circumstances without giving me the tools to work through them. Because somewhere between the tantrums and the pile of dirty diapers, there’s a glimmer of hope in my children. There’s a “yes ma’am” or a smile in obedience that brings me hope.
Even when I don’t have grace or patience for my children, my King does. He sees them, in their filth and frustration, and loves them. He sees ME, in my filth and frustration, and loves ME. Even though I “feel” like a bad parent because of my selfishness, my short-temper, and my shortness of grace, I’m not. Because the Lord promises that He loves my children as much as He loves me. When the cirumstances in life are too much to bear, the Lord bears them with me. And if the entire purpose of parenthood is to bring me to my knees in utter dependence on the Lord… well… then I’ve officially “arrived”.
Isn’t that what the Lord hopes for? That we learn how to love others and extend them grace? That we come to recognize our dependence on him? That we actually LIVE the gospel each day in our homes by recognizing our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness and a Savior?
I’m going to be straight: left on my own, I’m a sinner. And not that great of a parent. See reasons #1, #2, and #3 above.
But PRAISE GOD I’m not left on my own. The Lord equips me for the service He has called me to!
I’m forgiven and I get to pass that joy of forgiveness onto my children. I’m a sinner and I can recognize that in my actions as well as in my children. I’m also a child of God and I get to celebrate in that mercy for myself, as well as for my children. As our Pastor reminds us: The Lord can draw straight lines with crooked sticks. And Praise God for that, too! Because I can trust that despite my feelings and despite my crookedness, the Lord can (and will!) accomplish his great purpose in my children, in our family, and in the world.
I’m free in Christ (of reasons #1, #2, and #3 above). And I’m forgiven! And I’m loved! And that knowledge, belief, and understanding is the only thing that makes me a GOOD parent.
And that joy is worth sharing.
Why am I always so late to the party?
I was still listening to Spice Girls in 2010. I may or may not still own a fanny pack on occasion. I still rock scrunchies and those stretch pants with the elastic strips on the bottom that fit under the arch of your foot.
I’m what you would call “behind the times”.
By the way, I was totally kidding on all of those things. Ahem. Sort of.
Maybe it’s because I’m an old soul at heart, but I always seem to be about ten years behind. Sometime around my mid thirties, I’ll finally start wearing chevron and leggings under my knee-high boots. But until then, I’ll just have to accept my constant late-arrival to all things trendy and fashionable.
And while oil-cleaning may not be a trend that everyone has heard of, among us DIY-ers and crunchy ladies, it’s all the buzz. At least, it was ten years ago. By now, most all have heard of, used, or at least tried this cleaning method. Except for yours truly – that was, until about a year ago.
You see, I’ve been reluctant to tell you about my oil-cleaning method. Mainly because I wanted to make sure that it worked. I mean really worked before sending it out in the world wide web as my chosen method. Secondly, I tried a variety of oils for months and months at a time so that I could really make an first-hand-experience statement about which oils did and didn’t work for my face.
My face was the guinea pig. I was the determined and cheap homesteader who wanted an easy alternative to chemically-laden facial cleansers.
Even though I gave up face cleaners years ago when I first began my chemical-detox, my castile soap (at times) left my face a wee bit dull and lifeless. Squeaky clean, no doubt. And I still love castile soap for the rest of my body! But I desired something slightly more… lush.
Lush? I don’t think that’s the right word. Moist? Glowing? Succulent?
But wait a second, Shaye. What the heck is oil washing?
Aww, an inquisitive bunch – aren’t ya? Good. I like people that are constantly wanting to learn. And frankly, it’s quite simple, so I shan’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Oil washing is simple washing the face with an oil, instead of a face wash or soap. Oil dissolves oil. It also moisturizes the skin. It ain’t rocket science – people have been washing themselves this way for centuries! So I guess that REALLY means I’m behind the times…
But what another second, Shaye. What kind of oils do you use for oil-washing?
I first began my oil-cleaning search with coconut oil – many naturalist’s go-to oil. And I really liked it! At least… for the first few weeks. Coconut oil left my face wonderfully soft and worked wonders on makeup removal – bonus: it smells delicious! But after using coconut oil for a few weeks, I noticed that I was beginning to get small bumps on my face. Were they clogged pores? I’m not sure. But it seems as if the coconut oil was staying too heavily loaded on my face, even after using a wash cloth to remove it. I kept using it, just to be sure, and the bumps never went away. After that, I knew it was time for a different oil.
Coconut Oil Pros: Leaves skin soft, removes makeup easily, smells delicious
Coconut Oil Cons: Clogs pores in the long term
My second go-to oil was olive oil because, welp, that’s what I had on hand when I’d finally had enough of the coconut oil. I used an extra-virgin, cold-pressed, organic olive oil and really loved it. The oil was thinner than the coconut oil and helped to clear up some of the clogged pores that the coconut oil had left behind. It also worked well on makeup removal and left a wonderfully soft and subtle feeling to my skin. What I didn’t like about the olive oil was that (somewhat like the coconut oil) it was a little difficult to remove from my skin, which make putting on makeup a bit difficult (since I use a powder based foundation). It also didn’t entirely clear up the clogged pores like I’d hoped. I kept with the olive oil for over six months, just to make sure that it was the right oil for me. In the end, I decided to give one more popular oil a try.
Olive Oil Pros: Thinner than coconut oil, easily removes makeup (even mascara!), helps clear up clogged pores, leaves skin soft
Olive Oil Cons: Tends to stay on the skin’s surface instead of soaking in, still can tend to slightly clog pores
Sweet Almond Oil
The last oil that I decided to try was almond oil – a very common and well-loved oil across the board for skin care. In almond oil, I found my true love. Not only did it leave my skin soft and easily remove makeup like the other oils, but it also cleared up the clogged pores entirely. On top of that, after washing, the oil soaked into my skin (as opposed to staying on the surface) which allowed me to easily apply makeup and kept me from feeling that “greasy” feeling that can become associated with oil washing. After five months with sweet almond oil, I can easily say (without a doubt, 101%) that this oil is my permanent go-to for oil washing. Shaye + sweet almond oil = true love forever. And ever and ever and ever. Even Stuart has started to wash his face with the almond oil because it “feels like heaven”.
True dat, my homestud.
Sweet Almond Oil Pros: Leaves skin soft, removes makeup, clears up clogged pores, soaks into skin, non-greasy
Sweet Almond Oil Cons: None. It’s the cat’s meow.
How to oil-wash
Oil-washing only requires two “tools”: the oil that you will be using and a wash rag. You can handle that, right? I thought so. You seemed like the brightest crayon in the box to me.
Step One: Wet face with warm water.
Step Two: Massage a nickel-size dollop of oil into your skin. Spent a minute rubbing it in with your fingertips and massaging it into your pores.
Step Three: Wet the washrag with hot water and lay it over your face. Deeply breath in and out. (This is my favorite part. The hot rag on my face feels like rays of heaven on my face!).
Step Four: Use the rag to gently rub and massage the oil off of your skin. Wet it again and repeat a few times until your skin feels clean and all dirt and makeup has been removed. Be gentle.
See? I told you. It’s pretty easy. And after the first few days, you’ll really start to notice a difference. I love this method and even though I’ve battled with acne my whole life, it’s been the best method I’ve found for keeping pesky breakouts at bay. Of course, switching to a whole-foods diet and eliminating all processed and refined food also helped greatly with that (as one would expect when garbage is removed from the diet). I’ve learned that skin care (for me) involves a few other important factors: good diet, lots of rest, and low-stress.
Attempting to control those other factors are much more difficult than oil-washing. Much, much more difficult.
So for Pete’s sake, start with the oil and a wash cloth.
I LOVE GIVEAWAYS!!!!! I love getting to share pieces of what I love with you each month. I think it’s more fun for me than it is for the winner. And this month is no exception. By popular demand (and frankly, I’m not surprised!) via our Facebook poll, I’m super pleased to be giving away something so super cool it’ll make your head explode!
Your head won’t actually explode.
But seriously, there are few things I love in life more than my trusty pair of BOGS. Though, frankly, I sort of wish I had a new stylish pair (like these ones!) – mine are plain red. Not nearly as much fun!
Knowing that I’ll get to be the reason someone else gets to enjoy these pieces of love on their feet is pretty dang exciting. I wear them every single day on the farm. They’re my gardening boots, my summer boots, my milking boots, my snow boots, and my I’m-going-to-town-but-too-lazy-to-change-into-fancier-shoes boots. They’re the creme de la creme of homesteading boots and my most favorite accessory.
I shan’t waste any more of your time.
Enter. Say a prayer. And hope you have something extra to celebrate at the end of this month!
Good luck, my friends!
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There seems to be a theme among my posts these days. Many of them seem to be bovine related, no?
I can’t help it. Morning, night, and the daylight hours between I spend with our milk cow, Sal. If I’m not milking, I’m feeding, watering, brushing, whippin’ up butter, or my newest hobby (that takes up the majority of my time) – cheese making.
But this post is not on cheese. I just thought you should know that while I may be silent on the internet about cheese making thus far (don’t worry, the recipes will be coming!), the kitchen is still full to the max with a huge variety of them! Seriously. I have to get a new cheese cave because I’ve already filled mine up. It’s a good problem to have.
I figured that now was as good of a time as any to reflect on our first month with Sal. And breakdown the anatomy of it all for any other newcomers out there. After all, it wasn’t but a few weeks ago that I was a newbie to the family cow, as well. And being a novice newbie like myself, what better time to write an informative post on the matter? (Insert sarcastic laughter here.) (Can laughter be sarcastic?) (Nevermind.)
So let’s reflect and dissect, shall we?:
Oh, hi Sal. So nice of you to join us here in our reflection and dissection.
In her first month, Sal gave us over 70 gallons of milk. SEVENTY. GALLONS. We have been keeping a running list of how much she gives us per milking so that we can crunch the numbers when it’s all said and done. That being said, I’ve been a tad sloppy about it the last couple of days because our numbers are all thrown off this year with the arrival and departure of Kula, so it was going to be really difficult (if not impossible) to calculate. We’ve decided to just start fresh with the numbers next year.
It also means that in our first month, we’ve milked her over sixty times. SIXTY. TIMES. (I’m capitalizing the words to make it sound really dramatic. Try and stay with me here.) Learning how to milk quickly and efficiently was not easy. It took plenty of kicks to the knee, hooves in the milk bucket, tail swishes to the face, blood, sweat, and tears (literally) to tackle the skills and get the dexterity. I’m still no pro, but I’m at least able to anticipate a kick efficiently enough to get the milk out of the way.
Most of the time. Ahem.
And while we’re at the udder end anyway, I’d really like to set a few things straight. This is an udder (singular). A cow has one udder. Each udder has four teats (plural).
One udder (also called “bag”). Four teats (also called “quarters”). Please note: there are no “udders” to be found.
Internally, the udder is sectioned into four chambers – each with their own milk supply. So when you’ve finished milking the first two teats (and they’re all empty and flabby) and you move onto the next two teats, they’ll still be completely full.
It’s basically like four internal water balloons. Each needing to be drained, accordingly.
Sal has small teats, so I only use three fingers to milk. Some cows have super large teats, so a full hand is required. They’re all different in their shapes and sizes. Just like women!
I’m sorry for comparing you to a cow’s teat.
Since we’re at the back end of the cow, let’s talk about this:
Ideally, your cow has been trained to not pee or poop in the milking parlor. Sal, for the most part, is very good at getting rid of everything before she comes in for a milking.
Seriously. Have you ever seen a cow urinate? It’s like a fire hose. And it splatters everywhere. Unless you’ve got a lid on your milk bucket or can anticipate the urination enough to hold the bucket above your head, once a cow urinates in the milking parlor, it’s probably best to feed the milk to the other animals. Ain’t nobody need any contaminated milk.
Same goes for poo.
That’s why I’ve affectionately labeled both excretion holes as “milk ruiners”. And speaking of poo, you’ll come to find it as both your best friend and notorious enemy:
Best friend because it’s lush fertilizer for the garden and will make those ‘ol tomatoes grow like nobody’s business. Notorious enemy because you’ll spend your cold, wet, sloppy winter days trudging through it and poo management just ain’t that fun.
I think that’s enough time spent at the tail end, don’t you? Let’s head up to the front, or as I like to refer to it, “the weapon of mass destruction”:
A cow’s head is it’s weapon and it’s first line of defense. I don’t know how much the average cow’s head weighs… maybe a million pounds or something… and they’re practically made of titanium. Have you ever been head butted or pinned by a cow’s head? (As if these things happen in daily life for other people…). Point being, a cow’s head is incredibly strong. One swift flick to the side and even a well mannered cow can knock you flat on your tooshy.
If you work around a cow, you can’t be embarrassed when you fall on your face. Just expect it to happen, put on your big girl pants, and move on.
We tie Sal up while we milk her and she happily eats her oats and apples from her bucket. She’ll throw her head a bit if she finishes her grain before we can finish milking, but for the most part, she’s pretty good at standing still for us so that a milking stanchion was not really necessary. This may not work for every cow or for every set up. But for us, it’s just fine.
On top of the head being the weapon of mass destruction, it’s also the entry for a variety of feed-stuffs and knick-knacks. Oats. Apples. Hay. Spare pieces of twine (gotta make sure those are cleaned up!). Seriously. Cows will try and eat a lot of things. Best to keep their pen cleared of knick-knacks that could potentially clog the gut or puncture one of the stomachs.
Yep. I said stomachs. Cows have four stomachs, actually. Like they have four teats!
See how much we’re learning here?!
Right now, Sal’s eating about thirty pounds of hay per day – fifteen in the morning and fifteen at night, after milking. I can’t wait until we have lush green pasture to put her on in the spring! But that’s good few months away for this North Central Washington homestead.
Lastly, it’s also important we point out a few other special parts on this beautiful bovine. The whip:
And the second favorite weapon, next to the W.M.D. Ever had a hoof print bruise? Good. Me too.:
And lastly, the best part of a Jersey. The beautiful eyes (ie: the ‘milkshake’) that brings all the boys to the yard. It’s how she gets the men-folk to swoon:
Poor Sal. She didn’t know how her body would broken down on the world wide web in such a public way. It’s enough to make a girl self-conscience!
Good thing she’s so confident.
Get it girl.
Thanks for joining us for another round of Fellow Homestead-ian! We’ve been taking you to places all over the country, showing you how different people homestead in different ways! I love getting to see the diversity of what ‘homesteading’ means for people and getting to see the way that people are taking an active role in loving the land, raising their food, and enjoying the Lord’s creation! This week, we’re not headed far from our own homestead. Just a few hours away to the coast of Washington:
Who are you? Where do you live? Where is your homestead located?
My name is Melissa – friends call me Mel – and I am an amateur homesteader/farmsteader in Rainier, Washington – a small rural town right next to Olympia, Washington. Along for the ride is my amazing husband Micky, and our two girls.
How did it all begin for you?
We have always been outdoors peeps, but a few years ago I read a book about living off one block of land and making everything you could possibly need. It was a huge eye-opener for me! I started planning on how we could get our own plot of land with a few chickens and a goat. Reasonable goals, right?
What sort of homesteading are you currently involved in?
We have been on our 5-acre plot for about a year and a half now. We both work as full-time nurses outside the home – but I have BIG DREAMS of staying home on my farm. Big dreams for a little girl! Our original dream of a few animals has turned into 1 cat, 2 dogs, 24 chickens, 2 goats. 2 sheep, 2 ducks, and 1 cow (Sally Gooden, my baby and one-day-to-be milker)
What is the best part of homesteading?
Seeing everything growing and changing right before your eyes – and reaping the benefits! The things that make me happiest are making bread every week, seeing my kids playing in the pasture with the animals, collecting eggs from the ladies – and having my husband by my side through it all. It is such a thrill being able to produce so much for my own family – and know that it is completely attainable!
What is the worst part of homesteading?
Having to let go of any sort of schedule or planning. I used to be such a type-A person – would literally short-circuit when I couldn’t plan everything out. Everything is so unpredictable now – and I have learned to adapt. Hmmm… So maybe that is one of the best things about homesteading too!
What would you like your homestead to look like in 5 years?
I would like to be home – homesteading full-time. I will have a steady, healthy flock of chickens, goat milk to make farmstead soaps, and milk from my Sally for drinking, yogurt, cheese, and butter. And self-sufficient kids to boot – this has been such a learning experience for them!
How has homesteading changed your view of the world?
The world seems so much more complicated now. Things I thought were such a big deal and of importance before – aren’t so much anymore. That new car I had to have a few years ago – traded in. I now have a 77 Jeep Wagoneer (Lucy) – and couldn’t be happier. Practicality happened. Bad things can happen in the world – but I honestly feel more prepared for them now.
What’s something you wish you’d have known before you began homesteading?
That I can’t do it right the first time – and that is ok. I tried to plan and research everything out – which never worked. Thankfully my husband is there to remind me that we can ALWAYS tweak it later. And we do.
“I tried to plan and research everything out – which never worked.”
Truer words have never been spoken!
As much as we tried to control and plan out our homestead, animals and nature have an entirely different plan. Learning to go with the flow has been a huge challenge for us on our own homestead…
What about YOU?
Thanks, Melissa, for sharing! Keep on truckin’.
My little hobbit is all grown up. Soon, he’ll be leaving for college, marrying his high school sweetheart, and having children of his own.
Okay. Fine. He’s only a year old. But still. For this Mama, it feels like it way, way too fast! (You can read parts one and two of his birthday story here!)
Owen has been such a joy to have in our lives, and as you’ll find many parents saying, it’s almost impossible to imagine our life before him! Isn’t that wonderful? How each child can make your life feel so complete in their own unique way?
Georgia was never much of a snuggly baby. I remember pushing her head onto my shoulder to force her to give me a hug. Frankly, she’s kind of still that way. Ms. Independent, that one. But Owen is quite the opposite, often leaning on his Mama’s shoulder just for the joy of it. He’ll rub his face into mine, grab cheeks for giving kisses, and seek us out just for affection. Aww. A boy after my own heart.
I feel very blessed to have been able to nurse Owen exclusively for the past year and though I anticipated doing it for a bit longer, just yesterday, he decided that he was done. And that was that.
Did I cry? Eh. Maybe a smidge.
But it’s hard to be sad after a year of easy and successful breastfeeding. I never had to worry about what foods I ate and how it would affect him. We’ve never had any problems with colic or reflux, nor any allergies of any kind. I’d like to think it’s from taking cod liver oil, soaking/sprouting all our grains, taking in lots of probiotic rich foods, drinking lots and lots of raw milk, eating tons of fatty, red, meat, downing at least three pastured eggs daily, and including TONS of organic vegetables (especially dark greens!) in our diet (and yes, the same diet for baby!). But who knows. Maybe, we’ve just been very blessed with this one!
Though Georgia was the same way. Great nurser, very healthy, and an extremely easy eater.
I’m not a Doctor, nor do I pretend to be. And on top of that, I believe that the Lord works continually and completely in all our circumstances. Even in things as small as food allergies or breast feeding. That being said, I really do feel blessed as we celebrate little man’s first birthday to have had such a fantastic year of health and happiness with him.
Except for the teething poo. You know, that yellow, frothy, horribly stinky poo? Well, as big of an advocate as I am for cloth diapering, until Owen stops having at least six poopy diapers a day, I’ve invested in a few disposables. I sure don’t mind washing cloth diapers. But six poopy diapers a day? Come on now. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I’m thankful that we’ve been mindful enough to invest so heavily in our children’s health thus far. It’s not always easy (it took us a few flavors of cod liver oil to find one that they’d take!) and I’m still looking for ways to sneak liver into food that everyone can stomach, but overall, investing in their health is such a fantastic way to invest in their future.
It’s also been fantastic to see how Georgia (Owen’s a big young yet) has taken to life on the farm and how she is already gaining a deeper understanding of her food source. For example, when I accidentally killed a chicken last summer, we brought it in to clean and skin it for supper. She stood watching on the stool, amazed at it all and asking all sorts of questions. When Stuart cracked a joke, she looked at him sternly and explained “Daddy, it’s not funny when a ticken dies. It’s bery serious.”
And as we worked through butchering our meat chickens this past weekend, the kids were once again connected very closely to it all, though they may not understand why we choose to raise our own organic, pastured meat or why we take the effort to plant and maintain our gardens. To them, it’s more fun than necessary to collect the daily eggs from the coop or watch as Stu or I milk Sal each morning and night. But as Georgia confesses, “Mmm! Mama, I lub cow milk!”. And for now, that’s good enough.
We’re planting seeds in our children.
The utmost of importance, of course, is planting the seeds of belief, faith, love, and fear of the Lord our God and Redeemer.
But on top of raising our children in a Christian home, we also get the unique opportunity to teach them skills and a way of life that can only enhance and enrich this life we’ve been given. Like it or not, our children have (and will continue to have) chores as they grow. They’ll have hands on participation in our farm life. They’ll learn to grow their own food, process their own animals, make their own cheese, and milk a cow.
They’ll get to taste fresh apples right from the tree. And eggs that were laid just a few minutes prior.
They’ll know how the freezing morning air feels on their cheeks.
They’ll get to experience the pain, and profit, of hard work.
And frankly, I’ll continue to shovel them full of full of probiotic rich kombucha, kraut, and kefir. Ya know. Just to keep the ‘ol guts vibrant and healthy.
Our traditional-foodie-farmish lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Nor does it need to be. But today, I feel very, very, very blessed to get to be living it each day. Especially with Stu, Princess Georgia and the Hobbit by my side.
Yes. The dirty deed is done. Our broilers that we’ve been raising for the past ten weeks were “put to rest” this past weekend.
And by “put to rest”, I mean they were butchered, chilled, bagged, and frozen.
We’ve already talked about getting the chicks, our feeding options and first few weeks with them, as well as the butchering plan. There’s one final post to deliver on these meat birds: the stats.
For those who are really curious, before I even crunch the numbers, I can already tell you this: there’s no way on God’s green earth that these chickens were cheaper than any you could find at Safeway, Costco, Publix, etc. But this is an entirely different type of bird, which is exactly what I was looking for.
These birds spent their lives outside in the sunshine, eating grass, bugs, and soaking up sunshine.
These birds were fed an entirely soy and GMO-free diet.
These birds were fed minimal corn.
These birds were fed an entirely organic food.
These birds had access to fresh water, over 25 square feet to graze per bird, and lived a happy and stress free life. They were processed humanly and were air-chilled (most chicken is processed in a chlorine/water bath prior to packaging).
Point being: these birds aren’t even available in our area for sale, so it’s no fair to compare them to the $5 rotisserie bird you pick up at the grocery store. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. But enough jibber-jabber. Let’s get to it:
Oh wait. That’s my hot homestud. Sorry. I digress.
Where were we? Oh ya. Chicken butchering.
WARNING: I HAVE INCLUDED PHOTOS OF THE KILLING AND BUTCHERING OF LIVE CHICKENS. THERE IS BLOOD. AND STUFF. SO LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THAT. OVER AND OUT.
The setup. Let’s start there.
We used some modified kill cones so that we wouldn’t have to purchase any (the one real one that we had was on loan from a friend). The jugs actually worked very well, the only problem was that some of the birds were a little tough to squeeze in.
We traded a roast and some butter for use of this homemade chicken plucker that a reader (and new friend!) let us borrow. WHAT A COOL CONTRAPTION! I may need to make one of these if we decide to do a batch of birds each year…
We used Stuart’s brew pot as our scalding tank and a portable propane burner as our heat source for heating the water to the appropriate 145 degrees required for scalding. This set up worked great.
Dad was in charge of the scaling and plucking:
Stuart and my brother-in-law Brandon were in charge of the killing. And yes, we prayed before hand:
The kiddos were in charge of catching the chickens and bringing them to the cones. Thankfully, we had a few extra running around to help! They loved this part:
I worked the evisceration table with our friends Jess and Scott who helped to remove the feet, heads, and inards. The birds were then rinsed (with the help of my sister who bagged and weighed them).
So how did it all work out financially?
Let’s take a look:
Chicks: 149.59/50 chicks
Waterer and shelter: I didn’t include because we’ll be able to use them for all future batches of birds. I’ve instead filed these under general farm expenses.
Total count of chickens: 43 (loss of 7 birds)
Total weight of chickens: 190 pounds
Average weight per chicken: 4.5 pounds (range: 3.5 to 6)
Average cost per pound: $5.47
Total weight of feet, heads, fat, necks, and liver: 33.5 pounds
Total cost of all useable pieces per pound: $4.66
I must admit. I’m very pleased with the results! I was pleased that our chickens averaged out at 4.5 pounds, though we could have given them a few more weeks to grow, that obviously would have included a lot more feed. I’m pleased with the overall size and the nice, healthy fat layer that they all had. There was all kinds of good fat up in there. Whoop whoop!
Not only were we able to put 233 pounds of chicken (and parts) in the freezer, but the value that will come from that is even greater! Just think about the gallons and gallons of gelatin, mineral-rich stock that will come from all those odd bits! And think about the rich and succulent liver pate that I’ll be able to make for Thanksgiving! Roast chicken. Paprika chicken. Breaded and fried chicken strips (as featured in From Scratch!). Oh the possibilities!!!
These animals were very much a joy to have around and I’ve already missed their presence on Beatha Fonn. But as the snow approaches and the water lines begin to freeze, it was the perfect time to stock the freezer and eliminate outside chores for the season.
I’m already looking forward to our next batch and couldn’t be happier with the results of our first chicken harvest.
Chicken farmer and lover. Over and out.
I fear I’m writing this post as much for myself as for you. I’ve got to get seriously organized (like, in a bad way) before this weekend.
So glad you asked.
Because this weekend will mean the end of the road for our beloved Rainbow Rangers. And by “beloved” I mean our “tasty” broilers that we’ve been raising for the past ten weeks.
One of my favorite parts of raising these broilers thus far has been the knowledge that I’ve gained about them – as it goes with many projects on the farm, until you’re in the thick of it, you can only “plan” and “learn” so much. Before these chickens arrived, I slaved over spreadsheets and calculations trying to come up with a homemade feed ration for them. I stressed about housing, chicken tractor designs, brooder ideas, and harvesting techniques. And here we are ten weeks later preparing for the very first butchering of chickens on Beatha Fonn.
Well, that’s if you’re not counting the five (six?) meat chickens we’ve lost thus far.
Our first two were lost in a crazy thunderstorm that we had in September. Even though we sheltered them, the nature of chicks is to huddle together in cold or bad weather and this storm was RAGING. When I went out the next morning to check on the chicks, I’d found that two of them had been trampled to death by their roommates. Bummer. But at that stage, the chicks were still *fairly* young so there wasn’t a huge investment into each bird quite yet.
Death count = 2.
Fast forward a few more weeks, and you’d encounter the chicken that was lost by beheading. Well. Sort of. When I’d gone out to feed, I’d lifted up the door to grab the waterer. While closing the door, it slipped from my hand, and all but decapitated one of the birds who’d stuck his neck out to grab a nibble of something-or-another. I’d have hoped that it would kill it instantly, but instead the poor chicken flapped around (realizing that it’s neck was broken) and rolled a ways down the hill where it died a few seconds later. I was traumatized and cried and felt so terrible. But so as not to let his poor life be for nothing, we quickly cleaned and cooked him up in a stock for supper. All was not lost.
Death count = 3.
Fast forward a few more weeks and I found myself, once again, in quite the hairy situation. Once again, I’d gone down to feed, only to discover a GIANT owl trapped in the pen. Even though our pen is entirely enclosed in wire and netting, this wise ‘ol owl had found his way into the pen… yet apparently, was not able to find his way out. I was once again traumatized and spent the next half hour trying to figure out how to remove said owl from an entirely enclosed area. I ended up having to cut the zip ties holding on the netting and flapping back the net so that he could fly away – and seriously, this guy’s wingspan was like fifty feet. He was giant and I was terrified. But it was also one of the coolest experiences of my life – getting to see such a phenomenal bird that close up! Sa-weeeeeeettt! I only wish I’d captured a better photograph (not that I would have been able to hold my hands steady enough … I was shakin’ like a leaf!).
Death count = still only 3.
That is until the next morning post owl when two of the birds were found decapitated in the coop. Apparently, the owl came back for revenge. Dang you, owl.
Death count = 5.
Possibly 6 (we’ll label the last one’s death ‘mysterious circumstance’ because I never found a body or sign of struggle). And I’ll be danged if it isn’t super difficult to count up 45 chickens that all look the exact same. I don’t think we’ll have a super accurate count until butcher day, though I’m sure that pesky ‘ol owl slipped away with one or two more.
In an effort to stay organized, I’d like to point out a few things:
1. Rainbow Rangers: An awesome breed. I’ve been very pleased with them. They’ve grown quickly, steadily, and health(ily?). We’ve had no leg issues or sickness. All of the chickens have lovely personalities, are kind to each other, and are a joy to have around. They are happy to scratch through grass (their pen, in the beginning, was full of it!) and forage for bugs. I would absolutely raise this breed again.
2. Scratch ‘n Peck: An expensive but wonderful product. We fed our chickens the starter formula (which includes corn) for the first two weeks, at which point they were switched to the grower mix (corn free). They’ve been thriving on it and I’ve been very pleased with the quality of the product. GMO-free, local sourced grains, soy-free, and (primarily) corn-free. Super expensive. But worth it. And by the way, we never really used a feeder after the chick stage. Instead, we just dumped it in their pen and let ‘em scratch it up.
3. Fresh air, fresh water, grass, and bugs: A huge benefit to the life of a chicken. I’m thankful that our chicks have had access to all. I will be planting their pen in grass seed before winter so that next summer, when we start our second batch, we’ll have a nice healthy chunk of pasture for them. I wish that I’d had more grass for them this year, but we live in a dessert of sorts. There ain’t no grass unless you plant it and water it… just a bunch of sage brush…
4. Forget the chicken tractors: that is, unless you live on a perfectly flat and level piece of land. What a waste of time (and effort!) (and money!) these turned out to be. Our piece of land is very… rolly polly-esque… and moving those danged tractors around was a nightmare. Utilizing a large, permanent, fenced pen was totally the way to go. Next year, it’ll be super easy to stick ‘em right in. I love how this still gives them the freedom to scratch, run around, and forage in the sunshine – all the while, protecting them from predators.
5. Get more waterers: Good Lawd, these chickens drink a lot of water. I’m going to have to figure out a better system next year because filling up this 5 gallon waterer three times a day is just ridiculous. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
And now we come to the butchering part. Well, tomorrow, rather. I’m preparing for the ‘party’ these next few days and here’s what I’ve come up with thus far:
- Killing station: The birds will be placed upside down in our homemade kill cones (that are simply plastic gallon hugs with the tops cut off, nailed to a tree). This will keep them contained and calm. Their jugular veins will then be cut and they will bleed out in a matter of a minute or so. They will continue to hang in the kill cones, where the blood will be drained into garbage cans. There will be three cones and cans set up. This is ideal in that the bird’s heart will do some of the work for us in pumping out all of the blood, which would otherwise become coagulated. We don’t want that.
Equipment: Kill cones, trash cans, sharp knives, and a strong stomach (the blood drained into the cans will be composted).
Workers: My brother in law Brandon and Stuart will be working this station.
- Scalding station: The birds will be scalded at 145 degrees for a few seconds, following this technique. We will be using a giant stainless steel pot over a propane burner.
Equipment: Stainless steel pot, thermometer, propane burner, gloves.
Workers: My Uncle Joel.
- Plucking station: The birds will be placed in a plucker that I am borrowing from a friend/reader (Hey Lindsey!). This…well… plucks out their feathers.
Equipment: Chicken plucker, garbage bags (for feathers… which will be composted).
Workers: Dad? Our friend Scott? Not sure.
- Evisceration station: The birds will have their heads and feet removed (both of which will be reserved for stock). They will be gutted and cleaned. The livers will be reserved for cooking, the gizzards will be reserved for my Dad, and the kidneys will be reserved for our dog. The remaining will be discarded.
Equipment: Sharp filet knives.
Workers: Me. Possibly Stuart? Possibly our friend Jess? Not sure.
- Cleaning station: The birds will be rinsed, weighed, have any remaining feathers removed, and placed loosely in plastic bags for air chilling. They will remain in the refrigerator for two days (which will help to relax the meat and improve the texture). They will then be shrink wrapped in these super-handy-bags I purchased and placed in the deep freeze.
Equipment: Sink and running water, small scale, tweezers (to remove stray feathers), and shrink wrap bags.
Workers: My Mom? My sister? Me? Ah, someone’ll do it.
So that’s it. It’s on like Donkey Kong. Whatever that means…
It’s not with a light heart that we go about butchering out meat chickens this weekend. Raising this meat from start to finish has been such a blessing in that we’ve been able to see and appreciate all that these chickens were created to do and be! We’ll miss having them around but as a harsh winter approaches, it makes sense to get them into the freezer now. I’m sure that they could use a few more weeks to fatten, but so it goes.
We are thankful for the Lord’s provision through these birds.
I’m looking forward to having our first taste of Beatha Fonn Pastured Poultry! And what sort of bird wouldn’t be happy to have lived it’s life with this view?
Dec 12, 2013
Dec 9, 2013
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Nov 25, 2013