Reblochon raw milk cheese is coming. There are other new cheeses that I will be making over the next few months, but this one is the one I’m most excited about. It gives me a chance to enhance my cheesemaking and affinage skills. And I love learning and practicing new things. It enlivens my soul to create new things. What about you? Do you like learning? If you ever find yourself saying, “I’m bored”, it’s time to expend some energy learning something new or doing something you’ve never done before.
Let me take a minute here and say welcome to all the new listeners. I’m glad you found me and I hope you will stick around. And a hearty welcome back to my veteran homestead-loving regulars. Thank you so much for stopping by the FarmCast. I appreciate you all so much. As usual, there are exiting events and activities going on around the homestead.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates
The cicadas continue to sing. It gets louder and louder every day. I don’t know how much louder it can get. There are lots of empty exoskeletons under the trees and some dead cicadas. And lots of those perfectly round ½ inch holes under every tree. I never hear them in the trees out the back door. They always seem to be a couple of hundred yards away. But they must be there. I talked about their life cycle in the last podcast, “The Cicadas in Southwestern Virginia Have Emerged”. If you missed it, check out our website. Click or tap “podcast” on the menu and give it a listen.
I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but we have feral cats that roam around our property. There is one in particular that we have seen time and time again over the past couple of months. She intimidates the quail, hanging around, always watching, drooling over their plumpness. Anyway, I saw her go under the carport a couple of times. I figured she was stalking mice or other small varmints under somewhere back there. I found out a few days ago that it was not the case.
As I was about to pull the car back into the carport, I saw a black lump right in my tire track that was not there before. I stopped and got out to investigate. As I approached the black lump abruptly jumped up and dashed behind the air conditioner compressor. I calmly walked over there and peeked behind the unit and, sure enough, there was a little black kitten there. It had small white markings on feet, head and tail. It was quite cute. I looked a little further and found another black lump of fur hiding farther back in the corner. Two kittens. That explains the momma cat hanging out under the carport.
Sheep and Lambs – Goats
This morning I moved the goats back in with the rest of the girls, cows, sheep and donkeys. They moved easily. Most of them have shed their cashmere winter coats and are looking quite sleek. One is looking really ragged. I may have to sheer her. She has a very heavy overcoat which impedes the undercoat of cashmere from shedding completely. It mats and becomes impossible to comb out. But the clippers work well to get her cleaned up.
We had our final lamb born two days ago. I thought we might get another set of twins. But no. Another giant girl. Nearly 12 pounds. She is healthy and active. So glad to be done with lambing. And for the first time in a long time, no issues with moms or lambs dying. No abandoned or neglected lambs that require bottle feeding. Yay. Let’s pray for their continued health.
We end this lambing season with nine new babies. Well one is nearly four months old and harder to spot as a lamb every day. Just a few inches shy of being as tall as his mom. They will all be like that in a few months. They are the cutest animals on the homestead IMO, but only for a short while. Then they look and act like the adults. But until that time, finding them jumping and hopping in the evening during play time is a pleasure I never get tired of experiencing.
I need to correct something I said last time regarding the cows and artificial insemination. It’s a small thing, but I like to be accurate. I said that the AI was initiated with a uterine implant and shot. Scott corrected me. It was a vaginal implant.
On Monday there was a uterine implant. The artificial insemination took place. Now we wait for 21 days to see if they come into heat again. If so, we try again. I’m already counting the days. And I do it more than one time per day. It’s going to be a long three weeks.
We have 64 eggs in the incubator. On Friday, they go into lock down. That means the eggs come out of the automatic egg turner, the incubator is resealed and cannot be opened until three days after the first quail chick hatches. I expect to hear the first peeps on Saturday or Sunday at the very latest. I’ll be able to give you a total number of new chicks in the next podcast.
Scott and I transplanted all of the tomatoes and peppers into the garden. I started them from seeds some time ago and they have been ready to transplant for more than a week, maybe even two. But the weather was not quite right.
Having completed that part of the planting, nearly the entire garden is planted. Is still have a bunch of celery starts to transplant and lots and lots of culinary herbs. I have cilantro, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and mint still to transplant into the garden. However, today was not the day to do that. The temperature finally reached a nice mid-70s to low 80’s range for about 3 days. But I guess spring is already over. Today it reached 90 degrees. I can deal with that in the summer, but in the spring, I’ll just stay inside and imagine that it is balmy outside. I don’t want to lose that feeling of spring until much later. There is plenty of time for steamy hot days in July and August.
I love to see the garden full of green. The potatoes are up. Sunflowers are planted along the entire west end – about 70 feet. I didn’t count the number of plants but I’m guessing about 50. These are mammoth sunflowers so they will get really big heads and have lots of seeds. I’ve watched a couple of videos on how to dry them so I am educated for the fall harvest of those giant flowers filled with seeds. I love having these new experiences. Literally, I am growing these for fun. I’ll probably feed them to the birds this winter.
This is the most exciting news. The small cheese cave is complete. Aaannndd – we moved all of our current cheese in there for aging. Today Scott ordered a humidifier that will assist with keeping the moisture at the proper level. I’ve never had this before. I either had to wax cheeses to keep them from drying out or make small batches and keep them in plastic containers with lids to keep the humidity up. This new setup offers a multitude of possibilities.
Earlier this year I began working on what is called a washed rind cheese. In a nutshell that means that when the cheese comes out of the press, another process is started to create the perfect rind. It involves some kind of brining or salt water bath. It can be just salted water or it might be salted water with additional cultures designed to grow specific molds on the cheese surface creating a unique rind and adding flavor to the cheese. I am so excited at the possibilities.
Recently I acquired some new cheese molds. One is designed to create a cheese called Reblochon. Some of you may know of this cheese, but for those that don’t about it, here is a short description. This is a French cheese originating in Savoie mountains. It is a washed rind cheese as I just described. The center is very soft, similar to a camembert. Officially, it is made with raw milk. However, the cheesemaking and aging is essentially complete just shy of the 60 days required for commercial raw milk cheese in the US. The only way to have this cheese in the US is to make it yourself. Oh, there is a pasteurized version, but it just isn’t the same. I’ll only be making very small batches for us and for any herd share owner that expresses an interest. I expect to perfect my washed rind cheese skills.
Those perfected skills will assist me in creating a washed rind version of our Pinnacle cheese. It is an alpine-style cheese. You’ll find it to be similar to a traditional Swiss gruyere cheese. With the completion of the cheese cave, these kinds of new opportunities are just waiting to be explored.
There is never a dull moment here. Something new is happening each and every day. At least in the spring that is true. Most days, there is more to do than it is possible to accomplish. Spring bursts out of the ground at a dead run and sometimes it’s hard to keep up.
The warm spring days also invoke a new creativity in me. New growth in me just as the new growth is literally springing out of the ground. I’m so excited about making cheese right now. With the new cheese cave and new opportunities to be a better cheesemaker with a larger skillset, I’m in seventh heaven.
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Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
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