I was so intimidated by the thought of making cheese and of curds separating from the whey. I mean… Think about it…. curds and whey look like rotten milk. I promise you that it is not rotten and it is supposed to look like that!
I had no idea where to start, what to do. I ordered a kit to create soft goat cheese and then realized that it really wasn’t that hard. We have been making our own soft goats milk cheese for over a year now.
(Trystan’s tummy can handle anything with goats milk too!!! YEA!!)
Then I started researching how to make hard cheese. I needed a cheese press? WHAT IS A CHEESE PRESS?!?! I remembered that Homesteader Supply made their own and used to be a local business here in Arizona but have since moved to Tennessee. www.HomesteaderSupply.com is an AWESOME company and they carry one of the best presses out there. AND it is Made in the USA!
Once you discover how easy it is to make your own cheese (and do not have to add dyes in it to make it yellow), you will see that it is something that you can do for your family.
Mesophilic Culture (1/4 tsp Abiasa, 1/8 tsp Danisco, or 1/16 tsp Sacco) (We have been using Danisco because that is what I had on hand already)
2 teaspoons calcium chloride (only needed for store bought milk)
1.5 tablet rennet or 3/4 tsp liquid rennet
1/4 cup unchlorinated water
1 Tbsp salt
Combine milk, (calcium chloride) in 16 qt stock pot (double boiler to prevent scorching)
Slowly heat mixture to 86 degrees. Turn off heat and stir in lactic cheese culture. (Different types of culture create different flavors of cheese) Stir gently throughout. Cover mixture and allow to rest undisturbed at 86 degrees for 45 minutes.
Dissolve rennet tablet or liquid rennet in 1/4 cup water.
Keep the milk at 86 degrees. Stir the rennet mixture into milk slowly but thoroughly. Allow milk to set undisturbed for 30 – 45 minutes or until curd shows a clean break.
Using long knife, cut the curds into 1/2 inch squares, then stir gently just to break the strips of curds into chunks. Let it sit to rest for 5 minutes.
Slowly heat the curds and whey to 102 degrees, raising the temperature 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Stir curd gently to prevent matting and reduce their size to half peanut size. A large whisk works well by placing it to bottom of pot and putting up right so curds break as they fall through the wisk. Hold curds for additional 30 minutes at this temperature
Place pre-warmed with hot water colander over a pot and pour the curds into it.
Reserve 1/3 of the whey and pour back into the cheese pot. Set colander of curds onto the cheese pot. Cover top with cheese cloth and lid to keep in warmth. Allow curds to drain for 45 to 60 minutes. This is called the cheddaring process.
Cut slab into pieces and press through french fry cutter or cut by hand.
Add 1 tablespoon course salt. Using your hands, gently mix the salt into curds. You can eat these curds now, or press into a wheel.
Place the curds into cheese press and follow the directions for dressing with cheese cloth for the next 12 hours.
Remove cheese from press, unwrap the cloth, place cheese on drying mat to air dry for 12 hours, creating a nice skin over the whole cheese. Cheese is ready to slice and eat or you can wax and age for stronger cheddar flavor.
Mix 1 tablespoon of salt with 1/2 cup of water. Use a corner of the cheese cloth to lightly apply a saltwater wash to the cheese.
Coturnix quail are extremely easy to raise for both meat and eggs. They are full grown between 6-8 weeks. And begin laying at that time too. Their eggs are AWESOME in both flavor and in nutrients.
Here are the coturnix quail sub breeds that we are currently offering. We have been hatching quail for several years and bring in new lines several times a year to keep our bird lines fresh. We began raising them as meat and eggs for ourselves. We hatch 600+ eggs a month (and take advance orders). This is a kid-run 4H business. Our prices are always $3 each or more than 10 are $2.50 each. Our facebook page is www.facebook.com/krisandlarry (We have a new sub breed of eggs on the way too)
Here is a list of different sub breeds of Coturnix that I have come across in all my research.
Pharoah Coturnix- Wild color (We have these!)
A & M- pure white feathers- can also have brown spots on back of head and or on the back. (We have these!)
Golden aka Manchurian, Golden Speckled
Tibetan aka British Range dark coloring (We have these!)
Tuxedo– this bird is produced by breeding an A&M to a British range(We have these!)
Silver / Lavender
Cinnamon / Red – (We have a line of these on their way.)
Fawn / Rossetta
Feeding your quail
Quail need a higher protein than chickens to produce eggs.
We give our quail a 25%+ game bird food everyday along with a scrambled egg in the pens ever few days or so. We also grow our own wheat fodder and give them meal worms as treats.
Breeding season for quail is March – September… You can keep up egg production with them as long as you keep them both “warm” in the winter and 14 hours of light.
Quail are simple to keep. We have our in an old converted chicken coop with a cattle panel hoop house run. They can be kept in rabbit hutches, or even specific made quail cages. We give ours a bit of room, but know that they don’t need a ton of space.
The most accurate way to measure the weight of a pig is to use a specialist pig weigh. However, these can be expensive and if you only have a few pigs to weigh and a high degree of accuracy is not necessarily needed, we explain how to obtain a good estimate of a pigs weight using only a measuring tape and a calculator.
IMPERIAL – Weight of your pig in POUNDS
Obtain a fabric measuring tape or a piece of string to use as a measure. If using string mark the dimensions on the string and then measure the dimensions using a steel tape measure.
Place the tape/string under the pig just behind the front legs and measure the circumference of the pigs girth in inches. This measurement is known as theHeart Girth (see graphic)
Then measure the Length of the pig along its back from the base of its ears to the base of its tail, again in inches. (see graphic)
To calculate the pigs weight, first square the Heart Girth to get the Girth Result.
Now Multiply the Girth Result by the Length and DIVIDE by 400.
You now have the weight of your pig in Pounds.
Porky Pig has a Heart Girth of 50 inches and a Length of 40 inches.
Squaring the Heart Girth (50 x 50) = 2500 = Girth Result
Multiply the Girth Result (2500) by the Length (40) and divide by 400 = 250 Pounds.
Welcome to 2016! And Happy 12th day of Christmas!!
This year on our homestead, we are working really hard to get self sustaining and be able to offer more animals, produce and eggs to our friends. It has been a great year! We have pressed the “easy” button and made life simpler which is this busy mama’s long term hope for the family. (And by simpler, I do not mean easier, but rather slowing down the CRAZY and drinking iced tea on my porch, watching chickens peck the ground and kids playing outside.)
What are our goals for our homestead this year? We know that most of these won’t happen this year… but we are all hopeful.
add tilapia to our aquaponics system (right now, we have just goldfish in there.)
add an additional aquaponics system
Add a solar system to the aquaponics system(s)
build another greenhouse
build a smoke house
add 5 more raised garden beds to our garden
build additional quail house to house at least 150 more quail
purchase a second cabinet incubator for all of the eggs that we have been hatching
publish 2 more books
plant and tend our garden
not go to the grocery store from May until October (and we are well on out way! I just got a call that our 1/2 steer will be ready to pick up in mid February from the butcher. Our pigs will be going to butcher in March too. My freezers will be FULL!)
learn to make sour cream and purchase a cheese press to make cheddar
raise turkeys to sell (we have 80 eggs in the incubator right now.)
raise coturnix quail to eat weekly for our family
Continue to homeschool our amazing kids (minus Shelby who is in college and is being joined by Larry in college this spring to get an additional degree)
continue to offer our home as a foster family for kids who need us
Every 6 weeks or so, we hatch out and sell several hundred quail chicks. For the chicks that we don’t sell, they end up with our stock for additional eggs and meat. Several times a year, we order eggs from an outside ranch to bring in “new lines” to our own flock. This adds extra healthy birds to our own line.
Coturnix quail (also known as Pharaoh or Japanese) are awesome little birds. They are full grown at 6-8 weeks and begin laying eggs at about the same time. They do need a covered pen because they fly and can not be free-range in a field. We have ours outside in a coop with a covered 8ft by 8ft outdoor run made out of cattle panels. They lay daily in the warmer months, and less during winter. We feed ours a mixture of fodder, seed, and mealworms.
Currently we have only 40 quail in our outdoor coop, 8 in our indoor garage cage and about 200 babies for sale. I have a crew of people picking up their orders this week for this new line. This batch is from several outside ranches to add new bloodlines to our covey.
If you are interested in starting with quail, give us a call!
It is a beautiful October day up here in northern Arizona. A lot has happened in the last month. We have (as a whole family, including my parents and sister and her family) picked up a steer. TBone will fill up our freezer in about 8 months or so. He is a bit thin, so we are “fattening” him up.
Berlyn is continuing to be homeschooled with the other kids. Autism will not stop this handsome guy! Meet Fern! She is a KuneKune sow to breed with our Wilbur. 3 of the kids joined 4H this season for swine market, swine breeding, rabbits, goats and poultry.
We officially got back the first of the goat’s registrations back from ADGA (American Dairy Goat Assoc.) 4 more to go this season!
I have the most AMAZING kids… Yep, I can say that because I am their mom… But #farmkidsrock is a hashtag that I use often on Instagram.
For years in our house, we make so many of our own products including lip balm, laundry soap, sugar scrubs.
Elwyn has always wanted me to teach her to make goat milk soap… Heck, we have the milk coming right off of our homestead.
Goat Milk Soap BASE Recipe
12 ounces milk (We freeze into ice cubes)
4.3 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
22 ounces olive oil
8 ounces coconut oil
1 ounce castor oil
Measure out all of your ingredients before you get started into separate measuring cups .
Wearing gloves and goggles, stir together lye and milk. SLOWLY!!! (Lye can BURN YOUR SKIN!) We put the bowl that we stir together the lye and milk into another bowl filled with ice to keep the temperature down. We also add just a little bit of lye at a time. The sugars in the milk will scorch if it gets too warm.
As the lye is melting down, pour all of the oils in a large bowl. Stir until blended.
Once the lye mixture is melted down and all of the lye is incorporated with no granules left, slowly pour the lye mixture into the oils.
Stir until the mixture begins to “Trace”. “Trace” means that soap batter is thick enough to hold an outline, or “tracing” when drizzled across the surface of itself.
Once the mixture is beginning to trace, you can now add in essential oils, fragrance oils, colors, etc. (We don’t use fragrance or colors in our soap, keeping them as natural as possible.)
Pour the mixture into your soap molds. This recipe fits in our silicone soap block perfectly.
For 24-48 hours, we drop our filled mold into the freezer. It keeps the color as cream as possible.
After 24-48 hours in the freezer, remove soap from mold and cut into 1 inch bars. Yes, these bars will be VERY soft at first!!! It’s OK!
Allow the bars to cure in the open air, on a sheet of wax or parchment paper, for at least four weeks, rotating occasionally. Because of the higher amount of olive oil in this soap recipe, the longer you let it cure, the harder the final bar will be.
I know that spring is when most people purchase chicks from the local feed stores. To me, this is the wrong time of year. We have been raising our own chickens for years.
Chickens begin laying eggs at between 20 and 24 weeks. That’s 5 to 6 months… If you purchase week old babies in March, they will not lay until the fall.
Most chickens slow down their laying in the winter too because they need 12-14+ hours of light for optimal laying. So your new layers from your spring chicks will stop laying in their first winter and then you are feeding chicken that you have only gotten a few eggs from all winter long.
If you have a suitable warmer area in your home, fall is a GREAT time to pick up chicks. We have baby playpens in our garage with heater lights for our chicks. We use these YEAR ROUND!!!
We have chicks available year round. Many are Americauna or Americauna mix (blue / green egg layers). Other breeds that we have on our homestead are Dominiques, California Grey, Cochins, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Reds and many others.
For a due date of October 1, we have over 100 eggs in the incubator! Do you want to add to your flock this season for spring laying? (They can potentially lay in March!)
Pre-order today!! $3 each or 10 or more are $2.25 each. They will be ready to go to your home during the first week of October.
AVAILABLE (updated 9/12/2015) on our homestead in addition to the pre-order of chicks:
8 1 to 5 day old Chicks,
8 1 to 5 day old Quail Chicks,
We still have 5 male and 1 female 18 week old New Zealand Rabbits as well $10 each
We also have quail hatching year round. Conturnix quail are GREAT for both egg and meat production as they are full grown at 8 weeks of age and begin laying then as well.. $3 each or 10 or more are $2.25 each. (for under 2 weeks of age) $5 each for older than 2 weeks of age.