Homestead News, Volume 9

Time continues to fly by and autumn will be with us before we know it. We are finally out of the 100+ temperatures. It was 59* here last night! I don’t think it will last, though, we are supposed to be back up into the low 90’s by early next week, and that is fine. It is much more manageable than the 100+ stuff with high humidity. With the cool weather this morning, we were able to use our new double hung windows to fill the house with cool, fresh air. They work great.

We want to send our thoughts and prayers to those that are being affected by the wildfires around the country. We have friends in the northwest that have had to evacuate their home, and we haven’t heard from them since yesterday. It must be very difficult to leave your home not knowing what you may return to. There are many different types of challenges we are all given, but many times on the other side of it, we are stronger for having been tested and refined.

We continue to pen up the youngest kids and accumulate milk for cheese making. The last batch of cheddar is ready to wax, but I ran out of steam before I got to it today. Two more wheels of cheddar are now in the cheese press and will be ready to remove and start the drying process tomorrow evening. Since I won’t be able to wax these two wheels until Saturday, I put them in a plastic storage bag in the refrigerator. I will be having a sinus dilation procedure tomorrow morning, so I don’t expect to get much of anything done for the rest of the day.


We continue to eat our cheddar at room temperature, but have found that it gets too oily if we leave out the whole wheel. This time we cut it in half covered the open end with plastic wrap and put it back in the cheese frig until we are ready for it.


We also filled up the fermentation crock with four heads of cabbage today. The last batch of sauerkraut stayed in the crock for a month and it was the best tasting we have had so far. We still have three quarts of it in the refrigerator that we are eating, and wanted the next batch to have plenty of time to ferment. It’s interesting how quickly things like making sauerkraut becomes routine.

Today was also bread day. The sourdough was still doing it’s thing and predigesting all those carbohydrates for us on top of the frig while I was writing this. We didn’t get the dough mixed up until about 11:00 this morning, so I didn’t bake the rolls until 8:30 this evening. I wanted to give it plenty of time to ferment and digest beforehand. They sure are good.


I’ve tried to make cottage cheese twice by leaving the milk on the counter. The first time it didn’t really curdle, so I thought I hadn’t left it long enough.

The second time I left it for about four days and it was definitely soured, but still didn’t really make curds like it was supposed to. That’s too bad, I was really hoping it would work. Now it will be back to the cheese book and making another stab at modifying the recipe so I can get good cottage cheese.

We still have roosters and wethers to butcher, and we hope next week after my sinuses clear up we can get a lot of butchering done. That and get some fall crops planted. My headaches and general feelings of sickness have put everything like that on hold for way too long. So I hope to have more to report in the butchering department very soon.

The pigs are doing much better in the behavior department. There are some folks at church that have raised pigs for years and Frank was quizzing them on ‘normal’ pig behavior last week. We are still learning, and they are still growing. It will be very interesting to see how they do in the long run. I’m also very interested to see how Lance and Liberty behave once we have butchered the barrows. I think the interaction will be different then. We pay a little more attention to them since they are our breeding pair and the barrows will end up on our dinner plates. I have a question for you. Does a pig’s tail continue to grow longer and get more curly as they grow up?

The whey produced from making cheese goes to good use as pig food. They get upset with me if I take them a bucket of scraps without some kind of liquid in it. I can’t help but laugh at them when they fuss at me. It’s a funny little squeal.

By the time we got most of the day’s activities completed, the kitchen was really a mess. 

As the week has progressed we have watched more major fluctuations in the financial markets around the world. It is just another indicator of the instability of the underlying foundations of economies everywhere. We continue to discuss what tangible items we can invest in that we will be able to use in the future, come what may. An example of one of our acquisitions is a stainless steel water bath canner. We have two like the one pictured above that the whey is in. One of them, after three or four years of use, has chipped and has a place trying to rust on the inside of the bottom. Knowing they won’t be durable for long term use, especially if we get to the point that we can’t buy or trade for another one, we chose to invest in stainless steel. As you can tell, it’s still in the box. We’ll keep using the enameled version as long as we can.

We continue to pick peppers, tomatoes, cowpeas and carrots from the garden. I really hope to write another garden article before long with the things we have been able to plant for fall. 

Thank you for all of the great comments. It’s neat to be able to share. Frank and I have learned a great deal from other folks experiences. Please keep sharing. 

Prepare for the fall of the year and the fall of the world. They will both be arriving soon.

Until next time – Fern

19 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 9

  1. Fern, thank you for the information. I hope you'll continue to share what you learn about all this. I think I remember reading somewhere that rennet could be made from stinging nettles. I didn't even know what those were until we moved to the high country in Colorado in the late '90s. That could be helpful for some if they run out of the rennet pills or liquid, and if the stinging nettles grow in their part of the country.I'm sorry you haven't improved as much as you'd like from the procedure. I'm praying for your quick and total recovery.

  2. Hi Everett. You were right about Monday, the free fall did continue. Now let's wait and see what goes on Tuesday. Everett we ordered a couple of stainless steel canners from Amazon and they came promptly. Sorry about your misfortune. I have heard about folks using streams and even lakes before for keeping things cool. That's the way we cool our milk down after milking. We just run up a couple of buckets filled with cool water and put in our half gallon jugs of milk. Some days we use the extra water to put in our drip water filter, other days we water plants. I'm not sure what kind of vessel to use to keep things cool. If anyone else out there does, please chime in.Everett, your comments are always interesting, thank you for sharing.Frank

  3. Rennet can be stored in tablet form and many recipes only call for a quarter of a tablet. We have a good supply of tablets stored and for now prefer to use the liquid form. It can also be made from a very young calf or goat kid stomach, dried and cut into half inch squares.Buttermilk culture can be continuously made from an existing culture. That means you would have to keep it going without interruption. I don't know about making it from scratch. I have kefir, but I don't think it would ripen milk the same way a buttermilk culture does. Now that you've asked, I'll have to do more research.Using citric acid powder in mozzarella is a luxury that helps insure the stretch in the cheese. There is also a recipe in my cheese book for mozzarella without the citric acid, but I haven't tried it. Yet. I do have a supply of citric acid powder stored. I buy it by the two pound bag which will last us a long time.Thank you for the very good questions, C.M.Fern

  4. Thank you, Frank and Fern. Your response to Anonymous above made me wonder, what would you do during a SHTF for supplies of rennet, buttermilk culture or citric acid powder? Do they have a very long shelf life or is there a way to make your own?

  5. Thank you, SJ. Our cheese refrigerator is a regular, small (about 4 or 5 cubic feet, I think) refrigerator set at the warmest temperature. It still runs about 42-44* which is warmer than ideal for aging cheese, but it is working great. It also gives us more room in the regular frig. Thank you for the prayers and question.Fern

  6. Yes, we reuse the cheese wax. There is an example of it in one of the cheese articles. After it is used, we wash it in warm water, dry it well, then put it back in the wax pot for use the next time around. It works great.We thought about waxing the cheddar wheels in halves, but it would use that much more wax. It's not long, maybe a week to ten days, before we get out the second half of the wheel, so we'll continue waxing them as a whole.We have an All American canner, but haven't used it to water bath. Interesting idea. Thank you for sharing and for the questions.Fern

  7. I hadn't seen stainless steel water bath canner until I intentionally looked for one, Leigh. I knew for the long run we needed something more durable instead of continuing to replace the enameled one. You're right about using any pot that is big enough and deep enough, but we've also had difficulty trying to find one that the racks would fit in. The rack in the stainless pot is also stainless, by the way.It took us three years to make a good, edible cheddar, Leigh. Keep at it and you will have great cheese. It is so good! We really enjoy it. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  8. It went well, C.M. and appears to have taken care of my problems. I write more about it later on.We pray your husband recovers quickly and fully. It's always stressful when a spouse is under the weather, for whatever reason. You two take care.Fern

  9. The book I use is, Goats Produce Too! by Mary Jane Toth. I have the first and second edition, but I still only use the first one.Chevre is a very easy soft cheese you can start with. Mozzarella is easy once you figure out how to stretch it. Cheddar and other 'hard' cheese require more equipment like a cheese press. You will have to figure out what you want to make and then acquire the rennet, buttermilk culture or citric acid powder you will need to make it. Different cheeses need different types of culture so you will have to look at the recipes you intend to use. Don't worry about messing up. You will. I did, and I think everyone does. It is a learning process like learning to make bread. Just keep at it and you'll love the results. Good luck! Fern

  10. Sending prayers your way for your procedure and a speedy recovery.When you have a chance, could you talk about your 'cheese refrigerator'? ThxSJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  11. And so it has begun, the world wide crash of the economies and monetary systems. I would say the writing on the wall showed up today with the drop of530 points in three days. I would venture to say Monday will just continue the freefall!I ordered one of those Vittorio Stainless steel canning pots almost three months ago and have not received it or any comms from the seller. I think I have been screwed to the wall for almost $100. Oh well, I guess I can cut the top half off of one of my many 50gallon steel drums and put it on top of a propane pot boiler. guess I could get about 50-60 jars at a time in there! LOL.Just finished repairing a hole in the side of my 5000gallon cistern today and now I can begin to fill it again. Usually have the downspouts hooked up to it, but we won't be using it for drinking water. I could use my Berkey H2O filter to purify it but want to hold that in reserve until we really need it. Never realized just how much water is used in prepping, canning and then the cleanup afterwards!. Oh yeah one other use for the cistern my grandpa used to use it for, He would store milk in gallon jugs on heavy strings in there till he got a frig. Also kept butter and cheeses in there in smoking of container. SO I am looking for waterproof vessel to do the same thing if it becomes necessary! TIFN Regards and be safe.

  12. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers for the wildfires. My weekend job takes me near to the fire in Central CA. We have friend that have evacuated their cabin and the wonderful camp also has been evacuated. This fire is 0% contained and Giant Sequoia groves are in its path.

  13. Do you reuse the cheese wax? If so, is it easy to do so?Your comment about halving the cheese rounds makes me wonder why you don't wax them as halves so they'll keep better.Good investment on the SS canner. I literally wore through four before I got my A.A. pressure canner and use it for everything.

  14. I had to chuckle about the pigs and the whey; they do love the stuff!Thank you for mentioning the ss water bath canner. It never occurred to me there was such a thing, and my enamel one is in pretty bad shape. I'm just waiting for it to spring a leak. I know that any pot can be used, or course, but finding a rack for any pot is what's tricky. Good cottage cheese experiments. I seem to recall using rennet the one time I made it years ago. It worked great but made a lot and I ended up eating most of it. Everything looks great! I'm going to try my hand at hard cheeses again, once my pantry temps get down to the recommended cheese drying temps. Looking forward to that.

  15. Fern, I hope your procedure goes well tomorrow. I've never heard of a sinus dilation, but it doesn't sound fun. We're grateful that the back surgery my husband had Monday before last went very well. They also did a biopsy at the time to see if cancer was involved, and today we found out that it was not. Thank God for his blessings.

  16. I got two goats recently. It is working out well and I am enjoying having them. The previous owners said that goat butter is awful and that I shouldn't bother with it. Your posts seemed otherwise, though, so I tried it. My husband and I are very pleased with it. Thanks for the encouragement you have been for us. I have enough milk saved up now to make cheese. What kind do you suggest that I try first? And what is the title of the cheesemaking book you use? Thanks. Meary

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