Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring in the mountains of Pennyslvania

Spring brings thoughts of flowers, and birds and flowers etc. etc. But here in North Central PA, it brings snow. We went from a couple of weeks of lovely temps and sunshine to snow and frigid nights. We saw green and now we see white.
But there are some sure signs of spring, babies. You have already met Archie and Angus, now we have Daisy.

She is out of my Saanen doe Maple, an unexpected kid for this year, but a welcome one. I have been keeping an eye on her and didn't think she was close, but she proved me wrong this morning.
By the time I got to the barn she was clean and dry and had already eaten. She is another kid who could come from Pan or Esau, only her fur will tell. It does look like she will upright ears like her mama.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Pictures

I couldn't resist posting more pictures of Angus and Archie. They made it through the night and Alice is turning into a fine mother. They are both nursing well and she now stands still long enough for them to get a belly full.

The angora girls were hanging out today looking for more grain. They are always looking for more grain. We know for sure that Pearl and Pansy are pregnant, but Larkspur and Sunflower aren't telling if they are. I guess I have to do an udder inspection soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another loss another gain

Spring has come to the farm, at least for this week. Who knows what will happen next week. I took some pictures of the morning, one of my favorite things about living here is when the mist rises on the valley and floats around the mountains. It is very peaceful.

Now all the snow is gone, and we can once again see ground. Of course that means we can see what the moles have done to the ground. Pretty in it's own way, it's like a giant ant farm.

We had one more ewe due to lamb, and once again, she chose to do so when I wasn't home. I found her half delivered and in rough shape. We lost her and the lamb.
So far this is our tally:
Psyche, miscarried 1 buckling.
Artemis, 2 live lambs.
Persephone, 2 live lambs.
Iris, 1 deceased lamb.
Athena, 1 live lamb, 1 deceased lamb.
Flora, 1 deceased lamb, deceased ewe.
So we are at a 60% success rate. I am not sure if that is good or not, it certainly doesn't seem so. The loss of the ewe and lamb brought home how easy it is for something to go wrong. Needless to say I was and am worried about my goats coming up. Alice, Pearl, Pansy, Maple, Flo and possibly Larkspur and Sunflower are all due to kid. And with the exception of Flo, it is the first for all. Colored me worried.
Alice delivered 2 healthy bucklings this morning. She was showing some signs yesterday, so after putting everyone out this morning, I came back to check on Alice. She was standing by herself at the barn door. A quick check and I knew we were close. Alice thinks she can hide from labor, boy is she wrong.

Before her water broke.
I will spare the gory details, but we met Archie first. Alice did great, she seemed very surprised at what she found when she turned around.

She didn't have much time to get to know him before Angus came along. For as long as it took for Archie to be born, Angus was in a hurry.

While the brothers got to know each other, Alice was completely dazed. It took her awhile to warm up to the boys. They were quick to get to know each other though.

After being a weighed, a healthy 5 lbs each, cleaned and fluffed they were dressed in their best attire. Very ivy league.

Sarah and Maggie fell instantly in love, of course.

Now we get to play Who's your Daddy.
We thought Esau. The floppy ears could have come from Alice's boer sire.
Or is it Esau?
We are now at 80%, getting better!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I thought I would do a small bit on making soap. (nothing great to take pictures of otherwise, just slush and snow)

Most of my oils come in 5 gallon buckets. I drive down to the Lancaster area to get these.
I usually make 4 batches at a time, each in one of these pots, it is easier to measure out 4 at a time, instead of trying to haul buckets around for each batch.
My trusty little scale has served me well. Most of my measurements are by grams.
Some of the oils start out as liquid and some are solid, once into the pot, they all melt together.

Once the oils are on their way to melting, i begin the lye process. I store my goat milk in the freezer in pre-measured amounts. I also label the milk with who it is from, this batch is from Flo, and when I milked her.

I keep the milk in the sink in a cold water bath. This keeps the temperature down so the milk wont scald. This is where it gets tricky with goat milk soap, normally without the GM, I wouldn't really care about temperature, but it is very easy for the milk to curdle and turn all sorts of nasty colors and smells.
Keeping the mixture in the sink is also a safety issue, once I start adding they lye, it becomes very caustic and can be dangerous.
It usually takes between 15-30 minutes to add the lye to the milk. Once this is done and the oil is at the right temp, it is time to mix the two together. This is when the magic happens.

The mixture begins to saponify, a fancy word for blending. Well it is actually the chemical process that changes the oil and lye into soap. Stick blenders are a great tool, it cuts down the mixing time, it also ensures that everything is blended completely. I mix until I reach lite trace, when the mixture begins to thicken up. At this point I add the scent and botanicals if needed.
Once these are added, into the mold it goes. I use wooden molds lined with freezer paper.

The soap sets in the mold for 24 hours, it continues to change. After 24 hours, I unmold it and cut it into individual bars.
Finally, the soap goes into drying racks, where it will cure for 4 weeks.

This allows the moisture to evaporate out, leaving a hard bar of wonderfulness behind.
And that is how I make soap. (well the non secret portions anyway.)