Barn Progress Report

The building is coming along. Behold our prodigious temporary work station, complete with genuine electricity. It's awfully nice to be off the floor, and the power tools are much more powerful now that they are not plugged into 250 feet of extension cord. Besides that, here's how it's coming along.
This picture is from last week - now you can't see through that wall.
 The wiring is all finished. We are working on interior walls.
The milking parlor is an actual room now.
That is probably where the milking stand will be.
There are two walls in the milk room so far.

And the hayloft is the perfect place to cure garlic. Rest assured, we will not fall victim to vampires before we finish building this barn.
There are over 200 heads of garlic hanging there!


One Shiny Step Closer

Cotton Hill Creamery just got a little closer to legitimacy, i.e. New York State Licensing. This little beauty right here is our new pasteurizer and cheese making vat!
Frank and Mary carefully roll the vat into the barn
Our cheese room setup cost as much as my car, but unlike my car, it was delivered by the people who designed and manufactured it. Frank Kipe and his wife Mary, of MicroDairy designs, installed the equipment and then spent the entire day here teaching us how to use it and sharing their wonderful wealth of information, ideas, and stories.
Frank and Farmer Fin move the chiller in
Pasteurization is the process of heating a liquid to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time in order to kill pathogens (in case you were out of school that day, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteurization), and it is very important to the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Personally, I have more of a from-the-teat-to-the-mouth attitude, but I can see the benefits of pasteurization from a public health standpoint. So we'll be pasteurizing milk for any product the creamery will sell. We practiced with a batch of water.
Thermometers! Agitators! Little motors! Bells & Whistles!
All the components are gorgeous. Using this equipment makes me feel like a scientist, and feeling like a scientist is one of my favorite feelings! 
145° is the magic number
We learned so much from Frank and Mary. By the end of the day, we were exhausted! I can't wait to make cheese with my beautiful shiny machines. It won't be long now...


Goat Sport, of a Sort

One fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon is feed the goats some garden gleanings. Today we had a bucketful of Chinese cabbage that had gone past its prime. It was madness! 
There was a scrum.
Buttons emerged victorious!

Jasmine got hers!
They seemed to be having a good time, and I think everyone got a leaf or two, one way or another.


Summer Bounty

Every summer here on the hill, several times a day, I have to stop what I'm doing and just take notice. The color green saturating the landscape, the feeling of cold mountain water on hot skin, the breeze that precedes a rainstorm, the way it stays light out until nine, and of course, the food. So much variety, and everything tastes so good! 

Last weekend we visited Sherman Hill Farmstead in Franklin, NY and Dirty Girl Farm in Andes as part of the Catskill Family Creameries Open House, which you can read about at http://www.catskillsfamilycreameries.com/index.html The farmers and cheese makers were really nice, answering all of our million questions; we barely made it home for evening milking! Sherman Hill's aged cheese made an excellent snack while we cleaned and cooked the chanterelles we found on Monday.
Chanterelles  and delicious cheese from Sherman Hill Farmstead
Speaking of snacks, I can't walk by the sugar snap peas without eating at least one. I never get tired of them!

After the birds ate all my sour cherries, I wised up and covered the raspberries with bird netting. So far, so good - I harvested the first full pint on Wednesday. Breakfast has been extra special ever since. 

 Bird is a very patient harvest dog. He helps sniff out chanterelles and waits so sweetly in the garden...
...while I pick cauliflowers bigger than my head! If you have them too, make this: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mfk-fisher-memorial-cauliflower-casserole-10000000523815/ 
Or do like Farmer Fin's sister, Little Debbie, and steam the cauliflower until tender, chop into tiny pieces, and toss with tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 
Selfie with cauli
A few summers ago, I had sour cherries for the first time. I bought a quart at a farm stand and made one precious jar of jam. This spring, Farmer Fin bought me two little cherry trees for my birthday (and planted them for me too). Unexpectedly, the sour cherry tree bore fruit a couple months later. I anxiously watched it ripen, until one day, it was almost there...and the next, there were only pits left on the stems. Curses! What could I do, but head downstate to pick sour cherries. With the help of some friends (thanks Levy family!), I came home with seven pounds of them.
The other day, I put on an old red shirt and got to work. It took forever to remove the stems and pits. I decided to make two batches of preserves. Here's my basic procedure (after the jump):


Pasture Pilgrimage

With 19 goats in the yard this summer, pastures get ravaged pretty quickly. Fortunately, we can hook the portable electric netting to the perimeter fence, and we rehabilitated the old length of netting, so now we have three 150-foot lengths plus 100-200 feet on the perimeter fence. This allows us to extend and move the goat yard as needed, without necessarily moving the sheds, which saves a lot of time.
Their current pasture is lovely with all the hot, humid weather we've been having, because part of it is in the forest. In the photo above, you can see the grass they've been eating for two weeks in the foreground, and the tall stuff that they just got access to in the background. The trees on the right are within the yard, so the herd can graze in the shade.

I joined Violet and some kids in the shade. They ate grass. I watched.
 The others saw us, and they wanted in.

Junie, talking with her mouth full
Vervain with a tasty blade of grass
 Who's that hiding behind Vervain? I believe it's little Peony.
Peony is growing fast! Must be all that grass.
As the summer progresses, their pasture is moving farther up the hill. Soon they'll be at the top, where there are plenty of trees to shade them from the summer sun, and plenty of space between us and those kids, who are getting pretty loud and find all sorts of reasons to holler their little heads off. In a month or so, we will start the descent. By the time fall turns to winter, they will be close to the house again.