HOMEMADE CHEESE AND YOGURT

•June 3, 2012 • 18 Comments

An update first on our little farm, the two baby goats have been sold to market a couple of weeks ago and since then all the milk has been ours, she produces a constant two liters per day, but occasionally 2.5 liters.

Opinion is very much divided about pasteurizing Goat milk, since it doesn’t contain anywhere near the amount of harmful bacteria that cow and sheep milk contains, many say there’s no need to boil it. We’ve done both, sometimes we pasturise and sometimes we don’t, there’s no difference we can tell, so it’s  probably just one of those things you have to decide for yourself!!

FETA cheese is the easiest cheese to make so we started with that, also if it goes wrong and you have your temperatures to high it just turns in to RICOTTA cheese, so you have two chances with the same milk. The milk is heated to 37-38c then the Rennet is  added, about 5 drops per liter, stir in gently then leave under a cover for half an hour. Pour off the whey and scoop the cheese (Looks like Cottage cheese at this stage) in to a muslin bag, squeeze then hang the bag for and hour or two until all the remaining whey has dripped out.

Set the cheese in to a mold then you are supposed to leave it for a month to mature, but we eat it the next day, sometimes we’ve put garlic in the cheese or salt.

The whey isn’t wasted either, you can either boil it up for RICOTTA or use it for animal feed, we just use it for the dog,cats and chickens.

We’ve also made yogurt, heat to 40c and add two table spoons of live yogurt per liter, stir in gently then wrap up in a towel or insulate the pot for 8 – 12 hours to keep it warm, turns in to natural yogurt and then just add fruit or what ever takes your fancy.

We’ve also grown our very first string of garlic, since that’s been successful we’re going to plant much more this winter.

Garlic yogurt is one of my favorites, very nice on chips.

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BUILDING A FIREPLACE

•May 11, 2012 • 22 Comments

At long last work began, and actually completed for once, on our temporary fireplace in the lounge. We considered all sorts of materials along the way but I really wanted it to be made of traditional materials, brick and stone, not just any brick or modern brick but old brick!!

The old stone slabs I found quite by accident in the chicken run buried under soil and chicken poo.

I had previously molded a concrete slab to act as a base, the stone was cemented on top with a single row of facing bricks.

After much asking around we finally managed to buy 330 old second hand bricks, they cost 10 stinkie each (4 pence) The difficult thing about working with old reclaimed bricks is that they are all slightly different sizes.

I liberated an old air vent from a friends rubbish pile, this will be the fresh air supply intake in the future, when I get around to it!!

Two metal strips to make a bridge over the air vent cover.

The brick laying was very slow work, I couldn’t find a pointing trowel anywhere so I just built it all using a wall paper scraper 🙂

The 14 x 14cm beam 4m long cost me 30 lev (12 Pounds) I’ve only used 1.5m on this fireplace the remainder will be used on a much bigger ingle nook type fireplace that I might get around too later in the year.

The chimney breast took me all day to make but is actually just layers of plasterboard sheet with the detailing also made from plasterboard.

Couple of layers of stain varnish.

Everything is now blended in to the back wall.

All finished, one old fireplace.

THE SECRET LIFE OF FARMERS

•April 25, 2012 • 14 Comments

Most people believe that farmers spend most of their time counting up their millions in EU subsidy’s and grants, then for fun at the weekends drive tractors as slow as possible down the narrowest road they can find just to hold traffic up. Being a farmer is actually a little more difficult than that, you have to watch your animals for one thing, and without the aid of a sun brolly!!

I wonder if there’s an EU grant for a sun brolly?

By early afternoon everyone seeks shade.

Time for some Female bonding..

..Life on the farm.

HOMEMADE GOAT MILKING STAND

•March 23, 2012 • 17 Comments

Never for a moment did I ever think before moving to Bulgaria that I would find myself chasing a goat around a field with my tape measure in hand with the classic Benny Hill chase tune playing in my head, when a goat doesn’t want to be measured they take quite a bit of catching, they’re surprisingly nimble and fast you know!!

Linda wanted a milking stand making, we looked on the internet for some photos and some ideas and came up with the following contraption,its made from standard sized planks and posts from the local wood yard, posts are 8×10 cm and planks are 2.5×10 cm and 2.5×16 cm with some 3x 4 cm roofing timber.

All the wood and screws etc came to about 35 Lev (15 GBP)

With just basic tools and some rudimentary measurements I started my epic wood butchery project, the length of the four posts was 130 cm.

The external width of the frame is 62 cm and the table height is 45 cm, the external length is 94 cm.

By the end of day one most of the frame was up but we needed to catch the goat once again to measure her neck, goats have very skinny necks it would appear, couldn’t believe what I was reading on the internet but it turned out to be correct, they’re necks are only three inches thick.

The length of the head scissors is 90 cm with a head slot cut in of  4 x 20 cm long.

At the end of the first day the frame, table and head clamp are finished.

Day two of  construction under the hot sun begins with a hinged ramp, the ramp is 80 cm long and 62 cm wide. I made the ramp hinged instead of rigid so it could be raised up to stop the goat kicking backwards once it was in position. Today the temperature was in the high twenties again, only five weeks ago it was -25c the seasons change very rapidly here!!

The feed box and some bracing were the last pieces to make,the top of the  feed box was 87 cm from the floor,  the contraption is starting to take on the look of  something from the French Revolution, so we have called it “Madam le Guillotine.” Ties for the goats legs can be placed on the four posts if necessary for a troublesome goat.

Linda modeling how a goat fits inside “Madam le Guillotine”, Linda was easier to catch and strangely  shares many similar measurements to a goat!!

All that’s left to do now is for Linda to spend a couple of days painting it!!

OUT ON A LAMB….

•March 3, 2012 • 22 Comments

Well its just one week today that the baby goats were born, we got off to a bumpy start but perhaps being thrown in at the deep end, head first with concrete blocks tied to you is maybe the best way to learn quickly!!

One of the goats wasn’t feeding by himself at first very well so we went to a mother and baby shop, mimed “Baby bottle for our little goat” The shop assistant found it very funny when Linda and I were miming goats complete with fingers sticking up on top of our heads for the horns and making “Baaa” sounds, must learn a bit of the language one day.

Mum and babies, one week old.

Its amazing just how quick animals can walk about from birth.

Puppies are cute, kittens are cute but baby goats are just seriously cute!!

We decided to let them out into their field today for the first time, Linda gave the chickens a talking too and told them not to frighten the babies!!

We thought at first that the chickens had come over to start some trouble, but they were just curious to get a good look at the new arrivals!!

Whilst I your gallant reporter got on with the important job of taking photos, Linda was mucking out all the stables and coops.

This area was the veggie plot but now will be sewn with Alfalfa grass and be for the goats.

Once the dogs had a good sniff of the goats they were happy and settled down, I would just point out to any animal lovers reading that at no time were the dogs in any danger!!

Goats like to play and climb, Linda sat contemplating how to make them swings and a slide.

Time for a quick feed then back to jumping and springing about.

Linda meanwhile had begun construction of a goat play ground.

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GOAT TO BE KIDDING!!

•February 24, 2012 • 15 Comments

DAY 1.

So, we thought it would be a really good idea to get a Goat, as part of our Organic healthy lifestyle and make more use of our land and animal buildings and barn etc. Linda is planning to make cheese, yoghurt, butter and of course the milk would be for our tea.

We contacted Vic in America via Skype to ask his mum Dimka across the road for us if any body was selling a female goat in the next few months, April May time would be good for us, that would  give us some time to prepare the animal buildings properly, this unusually harsh and prolonged winter has been difficult for the farmers and people alike here, many have run short on firewood and the farmers have run short on hay.

DAY 2.

A goat arrives outside our house on the back seat of a Lada, she was female and pregnant, the farmer spoke Turkish, we could just about remember enough Turkish words from our years in Turkey to cobble together a sentence that he was running out of winter feed and needed to sell a pregnant goat (The most valuable) to ease his situation. We decided to take the gamble of what we would get, even if she gives birth to male goats these can be sold so its not a problem, we paid 75 Pounds for her because she would be in milk very soon.

Since people can ride in the boot of a car (Trunk) here, its only fair a goat can ride on the back seat.

Our neighbours said it was a good deal and that the goat was OK, we don’t actually know anything about goats being city people so thought we’d best check with our village vet that she was indeed a goat and not a three legged dog with plastic horns glued to its head 🙂 He confirmed she was indeed a goat, female, good condition, pregnant and that the babies were not more than a week or two from delivery.

We didn’t expect babies so soon, we decided to look on Youtube to get some kind of idea of what would happen. They start off with a kind of mucus dripping from the rear end, then a big ball of mucus goo the size of an Orange pops out….Then the babies follow, goats have between 1 to 5 kids.

My daughter chose the name PHEOBE.

DAY 3.

Bloody hell….Its 8AM and Pheobe is in labour, the Orange sized ball of goo was out, we phoned the vet but he was in the next village, he told us to find our neighbours, “They will know what to do.”

As luck would have it Dimka was stood chatting to someone outside our gate, she called her husband Jordan and they came straight over followed closely by Yergi from the next street…..Then out pops the first baby!!

The birthing goat kit, salt, milk bottle and syringe.

Out pops goat number 2, salt is lightly rubbed on the babies to get the mother to lick them and bond with them.

Vestle the village vet arrives, he speaks perfect English so was able to tell us all what was happening and what we should do next.

The very first milk from the mother is the most important he told us, so Yergi and Linda then spent a little time getting the babies to suckle either from the mother or from the milk that had been expressed into the bottle.

Unfortunately neither of the babies were too interested in being fed, both Jordan and Yergi felt it was because they were too cold and still too wet from being born, they needed to be by a fire and dried off properly.

A hairdryer was used to speed things up, they loved it, tails wagging.

Once satisfied we city folk could cope with the rest, Jordan, Yergi and Dimka went home, big thanks to everyone, we couldn’t have done it without you!!

The last thing to be done was for a heat lamp to be placed in the goat house to keep them warm, unfortunately when we put a security light in the barn last year the old barns electric wiring caught fire a little and shorted out. So not wanting to use the barns electrics I drove to Trambesh and bought some bits and pieces to cobble together a heat lamp that we could work off the lawn mower extension cables from the house.

All warm and snug in the heated goat house, the babies are all dry now, their fur all fluffy and they are feeding from mum by them selves.

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GLOBAL WARMING – MY ARSE!!

•February 2, 2012 • 22 Comments

Do you remember back to the 1980’s when Global warming was born, holes were even discovered in the Ozone layer above the Arctic, scientists promised us, promised, that if we all carried on using aerosol cans and driving gas guzzling cars the Planet would heat up and within 30 years we’d enjoy lovely warm weather in the UK, Inverness in Scotland would be the next Bahamas!!

Well, this winters big freeze over Europe, setting record low temperatures over many Countries in the Continent appears contrary to Global warming, more like Global bloody freezing.

Photo from Varna Beach Resort yesterday.

I’ve copied some pics from Bulgarian online newspapers today, we have had abnormal record low temperatures here in Bulgaria also, last night we had -25c in the Veliko Turnovo area, which is quite mild compared to last nights low of -32c some place near Vidin I think I read today.

Well I did my bit, I carried on using aerosol sprays and I’ve nearly always had motorbikes and cars with engines bigger than I really need….Has the World got warmer??….I dont think so!!

I even keep a can of body deodorant aerosol spray in the car that I can spray out of the window whilst driving along should I ever be confronted with some really thick clouds of Ozone on the road.

Fortunately I didn’t buy a beach front villa with pool in Inverness 30 years ago waiting for the warm sunny weather to arrive, otherwise I’d be demanding my money back from all the Global warming scientist who promised we’d all be warmer. Anyway tomorrow this freaky cold snap from the Arctic is heading to North Africa next, where according to the weather man its going to cause snow in the Sahara desert!!

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