Whispering Pond Farm

Whispering Pond Farm

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chickens, Jam, Watering, June 17

Monday, June 11, was chicken D-day. Bob loaded the chickens in the truck and took them to visit Brian before work. I wish I could have seen it! Ah well, the mental images I had were probably more fun. I picked them up around 4:30pm, later than expected. This extra time was filled with making a batch of strawberry jam and pasteurizing milk. Sandi came and helped freeze the chickens. The process included making a single cut down the backs of the chickens, filleting them open to lay flat, remaining in one piece. Sandi was a filleting machine! Cutting all the chickens and removing the necks in no time. For a small women, perhaps 95 pounds on a good day, she can wield a large knife with the best of them. With Sandi filleting and removing necks, I manned the food sealer. Making bags, packing birds in, and sealing. We moved so quickly the sealer could not keep up, eventually refusing to work for the last three birds. These birds were placed in two gallon freezer bags and the air removed using the Ric method. This scientific method of packaging is performed by placing the bird in the bags and squeezing all the air out by placing your hands and entire body around the bag. Sandi is an expert at this and will provide an instruction manual to follow. Our new chefs made a visit to the farm on Tuesday. The 9th Bridge chef felt the size of the reception was too large for her to handle. Sara and her friend have their own local first catering business and are excited to take on the project. We discussed the menu and produce available. I then introduced them to the animals. The kids kept trying to chew Sara's skirt. No manners! This last week was spent watering and watering again. So hot and dry. Last night the rain finally came. The grass for the wedding tent and the garden got a much needed drink. The heat will come again but, at least for today, everything is wet! Carmen

Gouda and Strawberry Jam, June 10

The second round of Gouda took three hours. Quite a reduction in time. The rest of the process, pressing, flipping, chilling, and waxing took the same amour of time, another 24 hours. Bruce Ford, a co-worker of Bob's, made a prototype wooden cheese press for us to try. The cheese was much easier to press with the wooden press than the two smaller presses we used for the first batch. The wooden press did not allow the molds to wiggle as much creating a more uniformly shaped cheese, unlike the misshapen first attempt. There still is some sway causing slightly crooked molds and cheese. Bob is making a plexiglass and bolt tower to reduce the sway, always an experiment. I picked enough strawberries for another batch of jam. The strawberries are not as plentiful this year. Perhaps a result of the early warmth and following hard freeze. Bob loaded the bed of the truck with rabbit cages to transport chickens to Brian's tomorrow. A mass of wire and bungee cords, stacked on top of each other. The truck looked like the chicken trucks you see in the movies, feathers trailing behind like a snow storm in June. Ha! I offered to throw a couple of beer cans in the bed of the truck and have Chico ride shotgun, head hanging out of the window, to complete the picture. Bob graciously declined, stating that this was a high class operation and should not be mocked. Bob caged all the tomato plants and mounded the potatoes yesterday. After a slow start the potatoes look great. Katelyn and John planted the initial sets in April with Bob replanting several weeks later....Carmen

Gouda, June 5

Bob and I made Gouda cheese this weekend instead of Camembert. The Gouda takes several months to age so better to start now. After eight hours we ended up with two two pound cheeses. The process should go faster next time considering our now, vast experience. We started with four gallons of milk. After pasteurizing, adding culture, letting the milk rest, adding rennet, cutting the eventual curd, stirring, maintaining the temperature, stirring, stirring, placing the curd in molds, increasing the weight and pressure on the curd in the molds, flipping, remolding, pressure, flip, re-mold...you get the idea. It was great fun! I waxed the cheese yesterday after it spent the night in the wine chiller. I found a great chiller at Lowe's on Thursday, we picked it up on Friday. The finished cheese needs to be flipped every couple days, remaining in the chiller at a balmy 56 degrees. We'll have a coming out party for the cheese August 4 and let you know how it tasted. The kids received their CDT injections and worm medicine Sunday. Nobody objected too vigorously. They are growing like weeds. Bug's horns are slowly growing...open frontal sinuses and blue fly spray sprayed in them is not something I want to experience again. The chicks are gaining weight, they go Monday morning to see Brian. Bob will take them along with freezer bags for processing. We could have dropped them off on Sunday night but wanted them to experience the least amount of stress possible. Cee-Lo, the exotic chick will remain behind, waiting for the new batch of chicks in the chick area in the barn. He, I am assuming he, is too small to fend for himself outside with the laying hens, cats, and rooster. The cats can see him through the chicken wire... they are way to interested to release him. The garden is planted, root-tilled, and strawberries weed. Some strawberries are ready, enough for a batch of jam, waiting to be picked....tonight? Carmen

Katelyn's Visit, Memorial Day

Katelyn visited for New Jersey for the holiday weekend. We worked on wedding plans, logistics mainly. We were fairly successful. The garden is now finally planted and replanted. The weather remained warm, to the point of being too dry. I became a gardener at that point and watered everything. The grass across the road, planted for the wedding tent sprouted. Evidently, part of that area will have to be replanted. Uncle Alec is having the basement of the barn cemented and the trucks will be driving over that corner of the lawn. The strawberries and raspberries need a good weeding, with both gardens requiring roto-tilling. My flower beds around the house are in dismal shape, maybe this weekend order will return. Bob and I are going to try Camembert cheese this weekend. We've made twenty five pounds of Chevre, plenty for now. The goat kids need their final vaccinations and worm medicine this week. I'll pick that up at the Tractor Supply when I go to the feed store tonight for chick feed. I also, want to investigate wine chillers. The hard cheese we want to make needs to age at 56 degrees, too warm for a regular refrigerator. Oh, I need to select carpet for the family room and gazebo. A garden shed would be nice....Carmen