The reliability of milk when you are getting that milk from your animal is vastly different than purchasing it from the store. Most animals have a peak in milk production for a time after giving birth and that production wanes as time goes on. When milking your goat or cow you will come to a point where you question the efforts put toward milking. At some point your nanny or cow will need to be “refreshed” or bred again. There may be a point in your food pursuits that you will find yourself out of milk. If you have a freezer you can store that milk for later use. Here are a few tips that were gleaned from my doing things the “wrong” way before I figured out some more effective methods of milk storage. And as with all things; this is only one way to store milk, there are better ways out there.
Refrigerator Storage for Everyday Use
For refrigerator storage and regular usage of milk I have found wide mouth mason jars to be the most effective milk storage method. Glass cleans well and the wide mouth jars are much easier to wash than the regular mouth jars. I try not to use very much plastic because of the health hazards involved with plastic. You need to be conscientious about rotation of your milk in the refrigerator. Develop a system for rotation so you are always using up the oldest milk first. I also use my excess milk to make hard cheese that I wax and store in the cellar for hard times. Glass in the refrigerator is a good option; however, the freezer is very different. Just think back to basic science; liquid expands when it gets cold and glass gets brittle when its frozen.
Freezing Milk for Soap and Lotion
I hate being mid winter, without an animal in milk, and a strong desire to make some soap. So I freeze some of my goat milk to save for making soap and lotion. For cold process soap, having milk that is partially frozen is beneficial to the outcome of your soap so I like to have it frozen anyway. There are times when you may not be able to drink your goat’s milk. If your goat has issues with a worm overload and you have to medicate the goat you will need to withhold milk for seven to ten days. Rather than throwing the milk out you can save it for soap and lotion. Milking is a lot of work to have to throw out the results of that work.
I try to use as little plastic as possible so I store my frozen milk in aluminum foil. To do this you must use a two step process. I measure out the amount I need for my soap recipe and pour it in to metal bread pans and put them into the freezer. The metal bread pans are somewhat pliable making the removal of the milk cubes easier. Once they are frozen solid I wrap the frozen milk in aluminum foil and place it back into the freezer for later use.
Onions are one of the most healthy foods in our human diet; they are an immune system booster. Growing your own onions is simple and they act as a natural pesticide in your garden making for a more successful garden. You can seed onions and allow them to grow into onion sets; but, this takes time. Onion sets should be planted in early Spring, depending on your planting zone, so if you plan on starting from seed you need to take that into account. Onion sets can be purchased just about anywhere that sells seed. I prefer to purchase organic and non GMO onion sets. This year I have started some onion seed in the greenhouse for our Fall garden. We have a long enough warm season in Kentucky to be able to have two cool weather gardens.
Preparing the Soil
Your soil needs to be loose enough to allow your onions to expand in the soil until they get rooted enough to pull the dirt out from around them. We have two large gardens so we plough with the tractor. Your dirt needs to be turned over the first time before the last freeze and again just before you plant. We grow our onions in rows. When making your rows you need to pull the dirt up and create a furrow to set the onions. Growing onions in an onion bed is also a very efficient method as you can keep the soil loose and water more efficiently. You can also grow onions in planters.
Setting and Covering
If you are planting for whole onions you will need to space your onions three inches apart; you can space them two inches apart if you want green onions only. Be sure to plant the root side down and set them firmly in the ground. Some people do not cover their onion sets at all; however, I have found that mine don’t stay where I put them unless I cover them some. When you cover the onions just pull up a little dirt leaving the very top of the onion exposed.
When your onions begin to grow green tops and start to show bulb growth you can start to pull some of the dirt away from them so the bulb can grow. Be cautious about pulling too much dirt and disturbing the roots. I use a fork set aside for garden because it is a more precise tool. From this point in the growth process all you can do is wait, weed, and water. I usually put mulch around our onions to keep the soil moist and the weeds down. If your soil gets too hard packed be sure to hand till it or the bulb will not grow.
There are few farm animals in their baby stage that are more adorable than baby chickens. And unlike some animals they are completely worth the effort as they provide not only meat and eggs; but, pest control and entertainment. Good care of your chicks from the start will ensure you get the most value out of your flock. As with any agricultural venture, there are multiple ways to successfully raise chickens and you must find what methods best suit your situation.
Before you purchase or hatch your chicks you must have a habitat prepared for them. One of the most harmful dangers to new chicks is temperature and moisture. Chicks need to be kept in around 80 to 90 degree heat and they need to be dry. We put heat lamps over ours. You will know if they are too cold when they huddle up under the lamp. And you will know when they are too hot if they are all bunched up away from the lamp or if they are panting. If they are panting and lethargic they are in real danger of overheating. When your temperature is right the chicks will be running in all directions. When your chicks start to develop feathers you can begin to reduce the heat. Chicks need a good bedding under them to keep them dry. A layer of wood shavings or hay will soak up their droppings and mess, keeping them dry. You will need to change their bedding frequently depending on the size of the habitat versus the number of chicks.
Chicks need a lot of water to drink; but, not water on them. You will need a watering system that does not allow the chicks to accidentally submerge themselves or each other. It helps to think of these little guys as being exactly what they are…babies. If there is a puddle of water just about any baby will be drawn to it and in it if not stopped. To prevent pasty butt, a clogging of the waste vent, you can add a few tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water.
Babies need baby food. Before you get your chicks you will want to purchase a feeder and chick starter. In a pinch you can feed your chicks out of a small bowl; however, a feeder will make the starter last longer. Chicks like all babies make messes and they will make messes in a bowl of food making you have to replenish it more often than you would with a chick feeder. If you are creative there are all kinds of ideas out there to make your own feeding and watering system; but, if you purchase it the price is fairly low. I like to sprinkle a little bit of grass and weeds around the habitat so my chicks begin to learn how to forage. We have pasture raised chickens which means that our chickens have the run of the entire farm so they forage all day for bugs and greens.
Holding babies and the desire to touch things that are soft make handling your chicks almost impossible to resist. In the first few weeks you should try not to handle the chicks too much and use great care not to drop them. Do talk to them though, especially when you feed them so they are trained to come when you feed them. Chicks will imprint on whoever raises them. Enjoy your babies, they will grow fast.