We have another respite from the rain today with some sunshine off and on between the clouds. I went out yesterday and pulled back some of the free mulch, from the hickory and pine trees, off of the plants that are peaking up in the herb bed. It’s about all I could do since the ground is super saturated right now. We have slowly been building up the milk supply in the frig to the point where we can start making a couple of batches of cheese a week. Last week we made a small batch of mozzarella with one gallon of milk. When we have plenty of milk, I make two or four gallon batches of mozzarella and freeze the extra. For now, we are making fresh cheese to eat, and we’re very glad to have it. Once our three young does, Lady Bug, Cricket and Penny, kid and begin producing enough milk, we will have way more than enough to really ramp up our cheese production. First up will be cheddar since it needs to age at least three months to start having a mild cheddar taste. We have been out of homemade for quite some time and once you get used to it, store bought just doesn’t hold a candle to it in flavor, freshness, consistency and nutrition.
So today I made a fresh, pressed herb cheese. It is the same recipe I used last year, with the same ingredients, but only the second wheel of herb cheese I have made. I mentioned last year that I thought it would be good as a pepper cheese, and that will probably be the one I try next. After that, I think I will try one with oregano and maybe marjoram. Both of those plants are coming out in the herb bed, so by then I should be able to use fresh herbs in the cheese.
|Oregano peeking out, March 15th|
Here is a pictorial of the cheese I made today. As I mentioned in the article last year, there are other cheese making articles that will show you some of the specifics of the process we use. If you have any questions about any step of this procedure, please let me know and I will address them to the best of my ability.
|Time to dust off the old cheese press|
These are the multiplier onions I accidentally planted, and then dug up out of the garden last year. They’ve been waiting all winter in this tub on the porch to be planted in the herb bed where they belong.
|One of the garlic patches|
|The garlic is doing well. I chose the largest of this bunch.|
|The curds are ready to heat and cook down|
|Time to pour off the whey|
|We save the whey in plastic jars for the dog, cats and sometimes chickens.|
|I had to crumble the curd so I could add the garlic, onions and salt.|
Last year I thought the cheese was a little dry, so I didn’t press it as hard, and I only left it in the press for three hours.
Frank wanted to taste the cheese right after I took it out of the press. I warned him that it wouldn’t taste like what he was expecting. He only ate half a bite and said it wasn’t any good. Then he asked when it would be good. I told him tomorrow or the next day after it has time to sit and let the flavors blend together.
The recipe recommends putting the cheese on a plate covered with plastic wrap. I chose a bowl and our reusable food wrap instead. After the cheese was in the press, I had three hours to do other things, like feed us lunch.
We received the rose bushes we ordered in the mail today, which we opened right away, then started them soaking in water. Since they are bare root, they needed to be rehydrated and kick started before I put them in the ground. I guess one advantage for them now is the fact that the ground is so saturated. There will not be any shortage of moisture for them to get off to a good start, not to mention that we have a chance of rain everyday this week starting again tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise I would wait a few days for the ground to dry up before planting. But I think these bushes would be better off in the ground than sitting around another few weeks waiting for better conditions.
I planted four rose bushes last summer that had been living in pots on the porch waiting for a permanent home. Plants here have to be willing and able to live in rather primitive conditions without a lot of TLC, or they just won’t make it. These bushes are a mix of red and cream colored roses.
That being said, three of the four are budding out and seem to be doing just fine. The verdict is still out on the fourth one. It appears the upper branches are dead, but maybe not the rest. We will see. [After I wrote this I found this leaf budding out toward the bottom of the plant. Yea!]
One of the main reasons I am planting roses is for the nutrients in the petals and rose hips. We also have many wild roses growing around here and there. I used the rose hips I picked last summer, which weren’t very many, to make rose water for the last batch of lotion I made. I thought that was very neat.
The new rose bushes are called Harison’s, which is the name given to the classic Yellow Rose of Texas. You see, Frank and I are Texans, that have been transplanted to Oklahoma. If you are from Texas, you know how we feel. We will always be Texans. That’s why Frank requested I find and plant the Yellow Rose of Texas here on our homestead. And since these roses will have to fend for themselves in our semi wild yard, I bought four of them, just in case some of them don’t make it.
I’ve said a little prayer that they will do well. Just for Frank. It’s nice to be able to do something special for your spouse, even if it takes years to accomplish. I envision a big, wild entanglement of rose bushes all over this fence with beautiful, yellow roses that I can pick to adorn our table. This is one dream I do hope comes true.
The herb cheese is beautiful and I really get a great deal of satisfaction making it. We will have some tomorrow with our lunch. I hope it’s edible then.
By the way. Yesterday at our small country church we sang Brethren, We Have Met To Worship, and it really touched our hearts. We both went back and looked at the words again. Here are two different versions of it, one very country, and one with a church choir. If you care to listen, I pray it touches your heart as well. The second verse really stuck with me. “Brethren, see poor sinners round you, Slumbering on the brink of woe; Death is coming, hell is moving, Can you bear to let them go? See our fathers and our mothers, And our children sinking down; Brethren, pray, and holy manna, Will be showered all around.”
|Here is the site of tomorrow’s planting|
I hope to get the cole crops into the garden tomorrow before the rains come again, so the next post may be a little muddy. I’ll let you know how that goes and how the cheese turns out. Spring is just a few days away and life on the homestead will get much busier. We will get the garden in, and spend time tending it. I have many, many more seedlings to grow, especially for the herb bed. After we kill off all of the weeds and scrubby tree stuff at the end of the garden, we will be starting a new comfrey bed. The extra strawberries that have spread out into the garden area will also be used to start a new bed. More baby goats will be arriving in a little over two weeks, and that means more time milking each day, especially with three young does to train. I haven’t gotten much more done on the rag rugs, but it will be sitting here waiting on me when I am ready to pick it up again. Life is good. It would be so much easier to sit back and be lazy, and I am actually pretty good at that, as well. But there is nothing like having plenty to do. It keeps you going, learning, dreaming and accomplishing. Blessings to you all.
Until next time – Fern