Monday, June 30, 2008

Whey For Sale!

I have been cheesemaking up a storm. I made a 2 pound block of smoked cheddar followed by a 2 pound block of traditional goat cheddar. Both have been waxed, and now reside in the fridge until I figure out a better place to age them.

In the press now is a nice Parmesan. I am a little worried about it because I followed the directions, but the curds did not look like rice like the instructions said they would. It is my first batch, and the first batch is always an experiment. I also have four more gallons of milk in the fridge that are ready for a nice batch of cheddar tomorrow (and a batch of feta as well). I digress though. More on cheese later.

With all of this cheesemaking, I have whey coming out my ears. I feel like it is a crime to throw it all out, but I cannot find enough things to do with it. I have been giving it to the chickens because they need the extra protein, and it is not bad for them to get the good minerals in the whey as well. I’m not up to drinking it myself yet, though I may get to trying it sometime soon.

I am also giving some of the whey to the dog. The cat I am currently cat-sitting is also getting whey to drink.

It is good for making ricotta, but I find that after a full day of cheesemaking for a hard cheese that I just can’t get to using the whey to make another cheese. Besides, the yield on the whey ricotta is just not as high as I would like to see (I have only been getting a couple of tablespoons of cheese per gallon of whey).

One excellent use for it is to put it in bread. Substitute it for water. It helps the dough take on a tangy flavor, which is desirable for the kinds of bread that I make. It just seems to make it more flavorful on a lot of fronts.

I use whey anywhere in the kitchen where water could be used. I use it to steam veggies, I use it as the base of a chicken stock, literally, anywhere water can be used.

It is also useful for fermenting when making sourkraut or pickles.

I have almost 8 gallons of the stuff sitting around, and I am only using a gallon or so a day, but with the cheesemaking, I am adding at least two gallons per day to my stash. A girl can only make so much bread and chicken stock.

Come and get it. The whey is for sale for $1 per quart.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bike Woes

When we went to the swimming pool yesterday, I discovered that I had left my swim suit at home. I turned back home to get it, and when I got home, my bike fell over.

I didn't think anything of it as I hopped on the bike back to the pool. I had a very difficult time getting there, and I almost fainted. I had no idea that it was taking me 10 times more effort to ride the bike than normal because I attributed it to the heat.

I had Jared ride the bike home, and he confirmed that something was wrong.

I hopped back on the bike on the way to the pool today, and it turns out that the wheel was totally bent up.

After riding the bike to the pool, I discovered it was closed, and I hopped on to go home.

It had been a hot day, and I was determined to swim, but it was not in the cards. The problem was that my bike really was not doing well, and the back tire was off by at least 6 inches. It almost killed me!

I am so sad my bike is broken. It is going to cost a good penny or two to fix it, and it is possible that I will need to buy a new bike altogether. This makes me very sad, because God knows how long I will be without a bike. I LOVE my bike.

I'll keep you updated.

Chicken Coop Clean-Up

This is an Oregon Natural Foods blog cross-post. See the fun you would be missing out on if you didn't get over there and sign up?

When we were still in the raining season, I would open the window (yes the window) to where the chickens are, and it definitely smelled like a chicken coop. Because we don’t exactly have acreage here, it has been necessary to try to keep the neighbors happy. To keep our neighborly air, I decided it was time to get out and clean the coop and the run that the laying hens hang out in.

This is a bigger project than it sounds like. Not only am I dealing with massive amounts of chicken poop from several batches of chickens, but there is no way to get a wheel barrow into the run to clean it out. I actually had to deconstruct the back side of the chicken coop to get a wheel barrow out far enough to get the soiled shavings out.

After I pulled out three wheelbarrows full of shavings, I spread the rest of the shavings out. I have decided to deep litter the run, so I will just throw a new bale of shavings out into the run every month or so. It is fairly inexpensive, and it keeps the really dirty stuff down deep so that it can decompose. It also has the nice side effect of not upsetting the neighbors because of the smell. As an additional bonus, I threw down a bunch of baking soda in the run so that it could work to neutralize any smell I may have dug up.

I then moved to the inside of the chicken coop and I was pulling up 2 inch thick dried chunks of chicken poop. I think it will work well to up the nitrogen content in my compost pile, that is for sure. Jared thinks I should find a burlap bag supplier and bag it up as compost. I could sell a 50 pound bag of it for $10. The truth is that I have WAY too much chicken compost now, and I sure hope that I have an easy time breaking it all down into garden material because that is what I need now, not chicken poop.

I accomplished my mission. The neighbors should be happy and the chickens should be happy. I look forward to the next cleaning in 3 months (please note the sarcasm).

Where Does Poop Come From?

Daphne made a poop on the potty today, and she went in to tell her daddy about it.

When he asked her where the poop when, she looked down and grabbed her crotch.

Yes, she really does know where poop comes from!

The Price of Breakfast

Today being Sunday, I decided to make something special for breakfast. In fact, every Sunday for the past couple of weeks has had me making some new special breakfast meal. Call it past cultural tradition from when my grandma used to make waffles sometimes or just call it me enjoying the weekend. The point is that I made a special breakfast.

We had pancakes and fiesta eggs. I really like pancakes, but I rarely make them, so I broke out the cookbook my sister bought me a year or so ago to try the recipe in there. I was definitely pleasantly surprised.

As we sat there eating, Jared and I were thinking about the cost of the food.

If we had gone out to eat at Denny's, the meal would have cost us about $20. At home, the meal (for all three of us) cost us about $3.

My Master Card jingle for this is:

2 Grand slam breakfast and a kids menu breakfast at Denny's - $20
1 Home made Sunday breakfast - $3
Eating breakfast with the entire family -Priceless
Not having to haul the kiddo around in the car to get to breakfast - also PRICELESS!

Consider making a meal at home for your family. It turns out, knowing how to cook is incredibly economical.


Jared, Daphne and I went swimming at the Carlton Public Pool yesterday.

I posted earlier that the pool was not heated, and that turned out to be a blessing yesterday. As the temperature topped 100 degrees, we all rode our bikes over to the pool. Daphne and Jared got to swimming, and I eventually joined them. Daphne loved to jump into the pool and have me swim across the pool with her. She also enjoyed sitting by the side of the pool with her feet hanging in while she watched Mama jump off the diving board. We had a fun day.

So far, we have used $15 worth of our $77 family pass, and I have only had it for a little more than a week. It is going to pay off for sure. Today will be another hot day too!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Goat Show

Scott (the owner of the farm where I keep my goat) and I decided that we were going to take his two bucks to a goat show. Though I have been in the ring with cattle a time or two, I have not really shown goats at all. Scott had no experience himself in the area, so it was quite the adventure.

The good news is that after a little bit of work and some help with showmanship, his bucks ended up as the Champion and Reserve Champion Junior Nubian Bucks. That's not too bad for my first time out eh?

Up next, I am going to take my goat to the county fair next month. Boy, I am excited about that, let me tell you.

Friday, June 27, 2008

One Trip to Town

Recently, driving in to Mcminnville has gotten a little out of control, and I feel like I was driving in every day to do one thing or another.

Last week, I decided that I was going to make good use of my time by trying to pool everything I wanted to do in town together into one big trip. That way, I would save my driving time as well as the gas it takes to go into town. It didn't quite work out the way that I expected it to.

I chose Thursday because that is the day that I go to the market. I think I tried to cram too many things into one trip, and I ended up with a cranky baby and a cranky mama. I am going to have to watch for this. The one thing we did not get done was the food shopping, so we are a little short on ingredients this week, but I am going to try to make it work anyway. Hopefully, next Thursday's trip will be better than the last.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Now that Daphne is starting to talk, I am discovering that my name is "Mama." Jared usually refers to me as "Mommy", but Daphne has decided that "Mama" is a much better name for me.

Truth be told, kids can call their mothers "Mama" well into their adult years without sounding funny. People do it in the south.

From here on out, I will be referred to as, "Mama."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogger Troubles

Blogger is giving me odd trouble right now. Every time I post a blog post, it deletes all of the content from the blog. I am working to get this fixed, so bare with me while I try to figure out what on earth is going on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mommy Cuddles

Since we lowered the bed, Daphne has been able to get out of bed on her own. Every morning, I wake up before she does, and I go to my office to check and respond to emails and to post new content to the blog.

When Daphne wakes up, she calmly walks out and asks that I pick her up. As soon as I put her in my lap, she puts her head on my shoulder or on my chest, and she promptly sits there is a half-awake state.

I get to just hold on to her and put my cheek on her, and it is such a wonderful thing. I like being a mommy in the morning when I just get to snuggle with the baby.

Monday, June 23, 2008


The "terrible twos" are something that you are told to fear as a parent. Of course, having a naturally wonderful daughter to begin with, I never thought that this would happen to me.

When we were visiting Papa Bob last, I was encouraging her to use more words. One of the words I was trying to teach her was, "No." Papa Bob told me that I was going to regret teaching her that word, and I was sure that he was wrong.

Fast forward a month. Daphne has learned how to say no, and she uses it in the worst of times. Whenever I try to make a peaceful exit from the grocery store, she spots the candy bar impulse buy section and screams, "no, no, no" as I pick her up to get her out of the store. It can be pretty embarrassing.

She has taken to answering, "no" to every question

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Order Your Chickens

This is a fitting first post to the Oregon Natural Foods blog. We have spent the majority of the spring getting our Urban Homestead up and running. We butchered one set of chickens already (4 Cornish Cross and 4 Light Brahma). That went well, and we have a nice personal stash of chickens in the freezer. We also have 4 ducks in the freezer that I raised by hand with that batch of chickens.

Currently in the meat pen, there are 8 New Hampshire chickens that is another project. I wanted to make sure that we had raised enough chicken for the family with a little leftover to sell or to pass on as a gift. Those chickens are scheduled to be butchered August 1.

I was planning to be done with that, but an idea came to my head. I want to do an experiment that would involve raising chickens on a no corn, no soy diet. Most chickens raised these days (including the two batches I mentioned above) have been raised on soy. Chickens need at least 20% protein to thrive, and a natural source for them to get it is soy. My goal is to find no corn and no soy feed that I can feed them that will keep them above the 20% protein mark and get them big and fat enough to put on a table.

I know that it is possible because before there was commercial chicken feed, families raised chickens in the backyard with nothing more than table scraps. I believe that it can be done, and it can be done well.

So, at this time, I am taking reservations for my next batch of chickens that will be no corn, no soy fed chickens. I will be taking a $15 per chicken deposit from anyone wanting a chicken. This is a project that takes a lot of thought and a lot of work, so I want to make sure that the chickens are reserved ahead of time. The price for the chickens is $5 per pound.

Another catch to this is that the chickens will not be the standard Cornish Cross breed of chickens. I personally believe that Cornish Cross have been overly bred to such a degree that their purpose is to sit around and eat and be fat. The Cornish Cross that I butchered made me crazy because they seemed to be nothing but mindless meat drones that had no personality and that were freaks of nature in their regard to eat and be fat and serve no other purpose (not even an aesthetic purpose). I have chosen for the health of the chicken species in general to go another route. I am going to order a dual purpose breed of chickens that I can use to butcher so that I do not have to worry about supporting the Cornish Cross freak breed.

The spots are filling up fast, so get your orders in soon.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cross Posting

I have decided that I will be cross posting for a while between the Oregon Natural Foods blog page and this blog. Eventually, I would like to move all of the Urban Homesteading things over to that blog and keep this blog for family and friends that want to keep up with us as a family. We will see how it goes. I will be cross-posting all blog posts for a while, but eventually, I will be tapering off.

Please, sign up for that blog in the mean time, and it will get interesting as the projects come to fruition this summer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Changes to the Blog

As you may have noticed that all of this traveling has thrown off my blog 365 goal. But that is OK. I am still motivated to blog every day for the rest of the year, and I have some exciting things that I am planning for the blog.

1.) Now that the "urban farm" is mostly set up, I will be providing a photographic tour as well as updated posts on the projects that I am working on now.

2.) I have a new blog that I will be cross posting to. Please do sign up for it. It is located at Jared and I have set up this site so that we can provide the world with some information about what we are doing. It will have information about what I have for sale as well as how I am doing the things I am doing. I feel like I am recovering a lot of lost arts in the kitchen and on the farm, and I want to share these arts with the world so that they are not lost forever. I am going to double post on both blogs for a while and see how that goes.

3.) There will be lot of recipes being posted on both blogs. Just today, I am going to preserve strawberries, cook a duck and make cesear salad dressing. I also have pickles to make my own dill pickles as well. Stay tuned to see how I do, and if I find the recipe to be successful, I will post it along with any other information that was useful to me. We will call these posts "The Food on My Table" series.

4.) After a lot of hard work, I have completed editing the photos that I took while I was in Greece. I have well over 300 photos, so I plan to put one up here and there along with the story of taking the photo or any other relevant information. This will be my way of sharing that beauty with you so that you can understand why I strive so hard to be European at Heart.

5.) Of course there will be updates about Daphne, and I will be taking more photos and posting them more often.

So hold on to your hats and glasses because this here is going to be a wild ride (in the words of Thunder Mountain at Disney Land).

Stay Tuned

Jared Can Milk a Goat, Who Knew!

Before we went to New York, I took Jared up to milk the goat. I was going to go to Eastern Oregon, and I was going to have him milk the goat while I was gone.

Milking a goat is not a skill that you can just do. It takes a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of practice to be able to get it right. After trying a few times to milk my goat, my friend Julie gave up and decided that it was too hard to learn. I was sure that I was going to be laughing at Jared for not being able to do it after his first lesson.

However, he surprised me, a lot! He was actually able to get about a quart out of my first year freshener. She has pretty small teats, so I was providing him with a challenge.

Go Jared, who knew he had this kind of skill!

Sewing Machine Needle

We rearranged our house a month or two ago (again), and we moved my sewing table out into the living room.

Daphne the climber realized that it had a chair in front of it, and she started climbing up there. Any time I wondered where the baby was, I had to look no further than my sewing table.

At the time, I was working on a really big project, and so I was putting in a lot of hours at the sewing machine. She decided that she wanted to mimick that, so she started sitting on my lap while I did some light sewing.

It turns out that was a dangerous proposition. She is somehow attracted only tot he needles of the machine, and it is all she can to to keep her fingers in the path of the needle.

I have started to leave the machines with the needles down, but she seems to have grown out of this sheer fascination (for now).

Beaner Girl

Before we left for New York, I was experimenting, as always with some food. I was having a craving for some baked beans, and I settled down to make a batch of them.

It turns out that the recipe that I had was not the best one, and both Jared and I agreed that the beans were terrible. We were eating them out of duty to not wasting food.

Somewhere along the line, Daphne got a taste of these awful beans, and she decided that she really liked them. For the next week, all she wanted was beans three times a day. She would walk Jared or I to the fridge and point to it indicating that she wanted another plate of those good 'ol beans.

Eventually, the chickens got them, but it was nice to know that the recipe wasn't a total bust!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2 Tiny Goat Babies

This post is long overdue, but it is definitely worth posting.

While we were visiting in California, Scott's last goat kidded. She had two beautiful does, one black one that looked just like her and one brown one that had nice little spots on her.

While we were gone, Scott told me that they were having a hard time nursing, and he had found them nearly dead, so he rescued them and started bottle feeding them. This has turned them into pure pets.

When you leave a goat on its mom, it will be curious about you and let you handle it, but it disregards you for the most part. When you bottle feed a goat, they see you as their mom, and all they want to do is jump all over you and see if you have a bottle. If you do not supply a bottle, they want fingers to suck on.

Daphne was fascinated with these friendly creatures. Before they got bigger, I would set Daphne on a hay bale with them, and they would play with her while I milked the goats.

Now, she just walks up to them, and while they try to suck on her fingers, she wraps her arms around their necks and gives them a big hug and a kiss.

Though it is annoying to me that they jump all over me, she loves to be jumped on and pushed around. She has someone her size to play with, what could be better!

Protective Baby

When I was pregnant, my feet swelled up really big, and sometimes Jared would be really nice and rub my feet. That is when I discovered that I really like to have my toes popped. Every once in a while, Jared will pop my toes when I am sitting down, and we discovered recently that Daphne hates it.

Any time she sees her dad popping my toes she walks over to him and physically pulls him off while saying, "No". I think that she thinks that he is hurting me, and she wants him to stop. We explained to her that that was not the case, but she still insists that I not get my toes popped in front of her!

Hot Potato

Jared was feeding Daphne a potato that had just come out of the pan.

We tell her when something is hot, by saying, "Daphne, it is hot." She understands, and she realizes that if something is hot that it needs to be blown on.

As Jared fed the potato to her, she informed him that it was too hot and she handed it back to him to blow on so that it would cool off. When returned to her, she inspected it and decided that it was still to hot, and she gave it back to Jared with a, "hot." After several back-and-forths, de decided the potato was fit to eat, and she gobbled it up.

The moral of the story, never give a smart baby a hot potato.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why I Stay Married

Now that my husband is well, I have a lot of benefits that have been missing here and there over the past 6 years.

I got this email from him recently while I was on vacation. Isn't he sweet. (Jared, don't blush too much at me putting your sappy email up here...sorry) :)

Hi love,

If I could gussy this email up a bit, and make it fancier, I would, but this is what I have.

I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you and all that you have done for me. I wanted to thank you for sticking with me through all of the rough times and for giving me a beautiful daughter. And for caring for us both so well.

I used to have the viewpoint that I could make it on my own and that I could get by without anyone else if I had to. And while, I'm sure I wouldn't die, I now realize what a big part of my life you've become. You are one hell of a lady...and mother and wife. You are definitely a major pillar in my life. And I thank you for making my life that much better and more pleasurable (sooo much more).

And I wanted to thank you for continuing to have goals and dreams (no matter how cookie or unrealistic they seemed at the time) through all of the rockiness. No matter what I said, it gave me something to shoot for to give to you. Something to keep going for. Just know that I will continue to try to provide whatever I can for you so that you can be happy and help me raise some wonderful kids.

I guess I'm being a little sappy here, and I'm probably watching too much sappy TV, but I do mean every word here. I love you, I love our daughter, I love being a dad and I love being your husband. Thank you very much.

I'll see you when you get home. I hope you are having a great time and that all are doing well.


P.S. All of your animals are doing fine and your garden has been watered.

Carlton Pool

Carlton has a public pool. It is an outdoor pool, and it is not heated, so it is a very summery activity.

The weather around here has not been favorable for swimming in an unheated pool at all. It has been 70 and mild, just how I like it, but it is for sure too cold to swim.

Nonetheless, I got a family pass for the season so that Daphne and I can start going. We will go every day as long as it is not too cold. This is very exiting for me.

The first day of swimming yeasted ended with a shivering baby. We are going to try again tomorrow during the warm hours of the day (we went after dinner the first day).

I'll keep y'all updated on how it goes!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things I can Learn from 1000 Years Ago

While we were at the Cloisters in New York, there was a garden that was put together with the plants the way they were used 1000 years ago.

I was particularly charmed by the methods that they used for their pear trees. They trained them up against the windows so that they acted as shade as well as decoration. I took a close up photo of the way the low branches were trained before my camera died.

When we move to our dream house, I will do this, I think it is SO cool!

Family Babies

These are the family babies all together. It is a little quirky photo, but it shows the personality of each of the kids!

Baby Noah

This was a fun session for me. I am a proud aunt because my sister made a beautiful baby. He is a happy baby that is wonderful to photograph. Welcome to the world Noah William Ward!

Elijah Michael Ward

He sure is getting big. He is 3 and a half and a big brother. Isn't he darling?

Trained for Photos

Daphne decided to jump in while I was trying to take photos of baby Noah. I have trained her well.

Squishy Face

I like to squish my baby's face. What can I say?

Photo Shoot

This is a photo shoot I did with Daphne to send some photos out for grandparents.

This is also the cyber introduction of Daphne's doll "Patti".

Baby Play

Daddies do love to play with their babies!


I think the photo says it all.

Mom and Babe

I do love my baby!


Central Park Zoo

We had quite the little adventure at the zoo. Here are our family zoo vacation photos!

Central Park Carousel

My grandmother loves carousel animals. In fact, the house I grew up on has at least 5 of them. I have a natural love for them, and I always jump on a carousel when given an opportunity.

While we were strolling through central park, we happened upon a carousel. Though I did not know about the carousel, I quickly fell in love with it considering that it is the #1 in the US. Here is some information about it from the website.

"A carousel had been in operation at Central Park since 1871. The original carousel was powered by a blind horse and mule. The current carousel was manufactured by the Stein & Goldstien Company of Brookyln, for a trolley terminal outside Coney Island.

The carousel was moved to its present location when a fire destroyed the previous one in the in the fall of 1950. This carousel features the largest hand carved figures ever constructed.

The outside horses are 3/4 the size of an actual horse, A Ruth Sohn band organ playing Wurlitzer 150 music roUs provides the music and is original to the carousel. To this day the carousel and its figures are hand painted."

We got to ride it, and here is my proof.

Daphne and George

George, though not related at all, seems to be a grandpa. In fact, while we were there, we kept getting comments about how much they looked alike from strangers that didn't know that they were not related. Truth be told, they get along famously.

George and Daphne went to look at the ducks while mama was betting on the horses (and winning).

Patti Girl

While I was visiting in New York in December, one of George's friends gave Daphne a doll to play with. Though she was interested in it at the time, I left it there for lack of suit case room. When we went back, she managed to find it, and Patti became her best friend. We named the doll Patti after the lady that gave the doll to Daphne.

This is Daphne and George playing with Patti in her stroller.

Chicken Watcher

Did I mention that Daphne likes to sit and watch the chickens?

Big Baby

One of the benefits to having a bigger baby is that she can now play out on big kid toys. On this day, she loved the slide, and we had to take turns letting her go down it for at least an hour. What fun!

No Diaper

I am big on letting the baby run around with no diaper on. When we were visiting in California, I had taken her diaper off for some reason, and for whatever reason, I had a pair of underwear to put on her. They were a little big, and she had some problems getting around with them.

What a cute butt!

Grandpas are Good to Play With

Isn't is good to have a grandpa to play with?

Shoe Bronzing

In recent conversation, someone mentioned to me that it would be a cool idea to have Daphne's shoes bronzed. I really, really like the idea, and I have chosen the shoes, we are going to bronze the roobies that are in this photos.

We got them second hand, and now that Daphne has used them to the point of growing out of them, they have holes in the toes. We are going to bronze them up. I think it would be a lot of fun. I actually plan to do it myself, I think it could be a really fun project to do one day. Until then, the shoes are sitting on my desk.

These are one of my favorite pairs of shoes, so it is only fair that we would immortalize them.

Sippy Cups

Though I am not a huge fan of sippy cups, we do own a few, and Daphne knows how to use them. It is a good way to give a kid something to drink and let them drink it at will. We filled this cup up with apple juice and let her suck away at it. She had never had apple juice before, and she just could not stop drinking it. It was pretty funny to watch.