Saturday, March 20, 2010

4H Goat Project Group

Today was a very special day with lots of very special visitors here at the dairy!  The Laclede County 4H Goat Project Group came out for a farm visit.

Several of you know my friend Tonia from The Simple Life  ... but, something you may not know ... is that she is the 4H Goat Project Leader for our county.   I have to say that it was a great pleasure to share the day with the group.  The photos in this posting were taken by Tonia's daughter, Kara.  Thank you Kara!

The first thing we did this morning was get ready  to milk. Before the goats came into the parlor, we talked about the milking system and washing the goat's udders to be sure our milk doesn't get contaminated by anything that could be on their udders.

  Getting ready to milk

I went to let the first group of goats into the parlor.  They came running in ... and then saw all the visitors in the parlor.  Some of them stopped in their tracks and I had to lead them to their feed buckets in the stanchens.  But most of the goats didn't mind having visitors at all ... after all there was grain in those feeders!

Goats coming into the parlor

To get them ready to milk ...we dipped their udders with a sanitizing solution then washed that off with clean damp wash cloths.   All of the 4H members took turns helping with the milking.  They were a natural at putting the milkers on the goats.





After milking the first group of does, the children helped dip the goat's udders with the blue dip that keeps the bacteria from getting into their freshly milked udders.

Dipping the Udders

Then it was time for them to go back to their area of the barn.  Some of them really like to stay in  the milk parlor ... so I had to encourage them to "go home"!

Sending the goats back home

Tonia's oldest daughter, Candice, helped get ready for the next group of goats to milk by putting their grain into the feeders.

Candice filling the feeders

The second group of does came running into the barn.  I'm helping some of them get into the stanchens.

Second group ready to milk

When we have the goat's udders washed and are ready to milk ... we turn on the Vacuum Pump and watch the gauge come to the correct vacuum pressure for the pulsators on the bucket milker to work properly. 

..... I wonder why I'm always the one with my mouth open in these pictures??

Checking the Vacuum Pressure

We're ready to milk these does!  Who wants to be first helping put the milkers on?

We're ready to milk

I had lots of great help milking the second group of goats!  Here we are milking this group.





Moving the Bucket Milker down the line

We finished miking this group and dipped their udders with the blue dip.

Dipping Udders

Alright girls... it's time to go back out!  Thanks for the milk! 

Headed out

When we were finished milking 19 does, we had over 9 gallons of milk in 2 bucket milkers.  This milk had to be carried up the steps to the processing room that is just through the door from the milk parlor.  Milk weighs 8.6 pounds per gallon and there is a little over 5 gallons in this stainless steel bucket.  Do you think it's heavy?

Tonia helped carry the milk up the steps

Even though we washed the goats udders and the milk was milked through a closed system, we always strain the milk into clean sanitized containers.  The lids are put onto the containers and they are placed into the large fridge/cooler to quickly bring the temperature down.  The quick cooling of the milk makes sure it stays fresh longer and tastes yummy!

Straining the milk

After we had the milk taken care of, it was time to make some Mozzarella cheese! Yum!

Getting everyone together to make cheese

I put 10 gallons of cooled milk into the steam kettle just before everyone got to the farm this morning, so it would be ready to make cheese.  Here we are getting the digital thermometer ready to put into the cheese kettle.

Preparing the thermometer

Citric Acid is used to acidify the milk to make the Mozzarella cheese.  Here I am stirring the Citric Acid into the milk when the temperature of the milk reached 55*F.

Adding the Citric Acid

I took the opportunity to share information about making cheese with the group.  Yes, I talk with my hands too!

Me with my mouth open again!

When the milk reaches 86*F, the Rennet is added to solidify the milk.  This will make the curds separate from the whey.

Adding the Rennet

While the milk comes on up to 100*F, we took a break to sample some fresh goat's milk.

Got Milk?

Everyone also enjoyed eating some of the soft cheese I had prepared earlier.  I made a soft Goat Milk Farmer's Cheese earlier in the week and made cheese logs for today's visit.  I made one lightly salted plain, one with garlic and basil, one with garlic and dill, and a hot one with jalapeno and cayenne peppers.  Everyone enjoyed these with crackers while I drained the whey off of our fresh Mozzarella cheese.

Soft Goat Cheese

When the Mozzarella reaches 100*F and pulls away from the edges of the pot, it's ready to push down so the whey can be poured off.  (This method works with the steam kettle because the kettle is holding the heat for finishing the cheese.)

Ready to drain the whey

I gently hold the curd back while I pour off the whey.  Yes, I carefully washed my hands before touching the cheese!

Pouring off the whey

The process of pouring the whey off of the cheese is time consuming.  The curd releases the whey slowly.

Pouring off more whey

Finally most of the whey is drained off and I knead the cheese to remove more of the whey.  I also added some salt at this time.  Salt keeps the cheese fresh and enhances the flavor.

Kneading  the cheese

Each member of the group got a chunk of soft warm fresh Mozzarella cheese.  They continued kneading it and stretched it some.  But mostly ... they ate it!  Yum!  We packed some in bags for them to take home to enjoy later too.

Enjoying Fresh Mozzarella

When we had our fill of cheese, we went out to the housing part of the barn to visit with the goats and other barn animals.

Visiting with the goats

Climbing in to get a better view

Enjoying the goats

Enjoying the kids!

Hens laying eggs in the hay feeders

A favorite Rooster

Sheba - the barn cat

And of course ... the Herd Queen ... Lilah!

Lilah says, "Ya all come back now! Ya hear!'

We then went into the house basement where the kid nursery is located to play with the baby goats.  We were going to bring the older kids out to the barn today, but the weather is really nasty with cold blowing rain.  So, they'll stay in the basement for another day.  It should be warmer in a day or so.

 What's this ones name?
Oh, look she's nibbling on my finger!
 This one's so pretty!
 Mom, I really like this one.
 Mom, can I take this one home?
 Look how much they've grown.
Do you want to share a bottle of milk?
 She's got a soft nose!
 She's a snuggler!
 Thaaaanks for the visit!

What a wonderful day!