Friday, September 23, 2016

Lasagna by Guest Author; Emma Okell

"The weather for Lasagna Day was pleasant and sunny, perfect for a day making lasagna. We started by milking Betsy. Everyone had a turn milking her or sponging away the flies that pestered her as Betsy chewed on her breakfast.

Afterward, we harvested fresh vegetables from the garden to put into our sauce. Along the way we looked at the bees, which make the honey we needed for our pasta sauce. We had to be careful around them because the drought has made it difficult for them to find enough nectar. At the same time, they have to protect their nests from robber bees that will steal the nectar they've collected. Because there was so little nectar, they are producing little honey, so we did not collect any. It is humbling to think how climate and weather changes impact cycles we take for granted.

After collecting vegetables, we chopped them up to boil into sauce; collected eggs, ground wheat into flour, and made pasta; crunched bread crumbs from stale bread to mix into our cheese layer. Other people shook jars of heavy cream until it turned into butter. The butter was used to saute veggies for our sauce and in making the garlic bread we had with our lasagna and pot luck lunch.
Adding vinegar to curdle hot milk    

After lunch, we mixed parsley with curds of vinegar cheese made from the milk we had collected that morning.
And finally, it was time for us to make our lasagnas. There was enough for each family to make lasagnas to bring home with them.

There were a few things we did not manage to fit into our lasagna day. We enjoyed making lasagna so much that we ran out of time to make mozzarella cheese! Debra sent us home with the printed recipe from New England Cheese Making Supply, rennet, and citric acid so we could try it on our own.
 Even without it, though, the lasagnas were delicious."

Friday, March 4, 2016

Backyard Dairy Tips and Tricks

Here are some of the tools, tips, and tricks of backyard dairying shared by our panelists at Saturday's Family Cow and Goat Forum:
         Cowshare and herdshare agreements are legal in CT since June of 2015. The bill as shown at the foot of this post, enables small farmers an affordable way to share their animals' milk with members of their community. is a great on-line resource for both cows and goats. It has a 911 section where you can post emergency or panic questions any time of day and get immediate responses. The moderator strongly enforces helpful, congenial posting.
        ...started by Joanne Grohman, author of one of our favorite manuals on  Keeping a Family Cow.

Mary's used Hoegger
We saw and heard the amazingly quiet motor of an Ultimate Udderly EZ milking machine. More information about it can be found at They also sell a hand-pumped machine. Other sources for portable milking machines are Hoegger Goat Supply Company and Bobwhite Systems. Bobwhite sells mini cooling tanks, too, coming in 14, 33, and 64 gallon sizes.

 Jeffers Livestock Supply sells cow magnets and calving (OB) chains (left). Magnets help prevent hardware disease in cattle by holding any bits of wire or nails in their rumen away from puncturing their stomach or heart sac.

Heavy canvas movers' straps help in lifting downer cows.
       After the dry period rest before calving, a cow's udder can heal remarkably. Often dry quarters will come back into milk. 

       If a cow is prone to milk fever, you can help avoid its recurrence by stressing her just before she calves with poor quality feed or by milking her a little throughout the normal dry period.

Milk comes from the animal at the perfect temperature for making yogurt. Just add a tablespoon yogurt/quart of warm milk and set in a warm place to incubate over night. Some set their jars on an electric seed starting mat and wrap them in towels. Others set their jars in an "ice chest" filled with warm water.

We sampled a delicious, fine-textured queso fresco made by following a recipe in Ricki Carroll's book on cheese-making. Her company, New England Cheese Making Supply is a good source of recipes and cheese-making products.

The Western Mass Goat Alliance is a great on-line source of support and inspiration for goat owners. 
       We talked about the therapeutic value of farm animals, and VT Chevon's efforts to provide goat meat and work to refugees. 
       Note this kid's Velcro collar.