Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'm waiting for Athena to kid. She is at day 147, so seriously any day between now and Sunday, because Nigerians almost never go beyond 150 days. At least she is not doing anything to freak me out. Her udder is not very big. Her tail ligaments are still easy to feel. She hasn't "dropped," so I'm happy and warm in front of my computer working on the book.

The book? I'm at 63,312 words right now. The goal is 80,000. I've been writing around 10,000 words a week for the past month, so hopefully will be done by the end of next week. Then I will have time to make everyone -- I mean, ask everyone -- in the family to read it and make sure I didn't make some huge mistakes. And that will give me time to revise and edit and revise and edit, which I do every time I read something I wrote. Deadline is February 15. Today, I've been writing up cheese recipes, and now I'm starting on goat milk soap.

Although the chickens quit laying last month, they have already started again. We don't artificially light our hen house, which is how they get eggs year round in factory farms, so we expect to go two or three months without eggs in the middle of winter. The New Hampshire red hens are 16 months old now and quickly endearing themselves to me. This spring when we are knee deep in eggs, I'll fill up the incubator. The pullets will become replacement layers, and the cockerels will become dinner over the summer.

Unfortunately, we have no milk. It's been years since we did not have milk. I decided to have all the goats kid by March this year, so that by May when Mike is off for the summer, we can swing into full-scale, serious cheese production now that we finally have the aging thing under control. I had bred two goats for January, and one didn't get pregnant. Athena is the other one. In February and March, it's going to be goatapalooza around here with 16 goats kidding, including five on or near my birthday in February. But at the moment, I'm really looking forward to Athena kidding, because I miss my fresh goat milk.

Jaxon the bull came home a few days ago. We co-own him with a friend who has two Irish dexters heifers and lives an hour away. It didn't seem fair to have a bull for only our two heifers, so we decided to share him. He seemed happy to be home. His co-owner bought him a big, blue collar, which fits his personality perfectly because he's like a big puppy.

Molly and Bridget the heifers are as wide as houses, but they aren't due until early March. No udders yet, but they are still perfectly fine with us handling their teats, which sure makes us happy. We have to figure out where we are going to milk them, because they sure won't fit into the milking parlor that we use for the goats. I've been thinking about this for months, and I keep thinking we need a cow barn. But we can't exactly build one in the middle of winter.

Speaking of winter -- a pipe in the main barn busted yesterday. The break is underground, so we can't fix it until winter is over. Unfortunately, that means hauling a lot of water now.

And that's the way it is, in the middle of winter, on Antiquity Oaks.


Tracy said...

It sounds like the book is coming along well! I'll definitely be buying one when it comes out!

Mr. and Mrs. Hoosier Homesteader said...

I'm really looking forward to your book! We're also changing our flock over to New Hampshire Reds this year to keep egg production up over the winter. I've always heard great things about the breed.

SkippyMom said...

"Goatopalooza" cracked me up. And very fitting.

Sounds like a busy time coming up. You never seem to get a break. Hope you are warm and taking a little break before the Great Goat Arrival of 2011.

Jordana said...

I'm going to be replacing our flock this fall, and have been checking breeds out. I hate the 3 month down time I get right now for molt, so these sound great!

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

How do you age your cheese? We made a ton of cheese last year (I milk a Jersey) but the aging process didn't go as well as we hoped. We have a root cellar but...

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

We lost a lot of cheese to the aging process when we were trying to use our cheese cave, which we had built into our basement. It is essentially a cement lined root cellar. Unfortunately, it does not work well, because it doesn't hold the temperature very well. My husband created a new thermostat for a dorm frig. It holds 20 2-pound blocks of cheese. Refrigerators can't be set above 40 for food safety reasons, which is why he had to create a new thermostat for it. He's an electrical engineer, so that's his thing. You can buy a wine refrigerator that is made to hold at temps around 50-55.


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