Weekly podcast where the conversation revolves around the value of tradition; traditional food prep and storage, traditional cooking, and of course, traditional artisan CHEESE. Topics discussed here are designed to create new perspectives and possibilities for how you might add the taste of tradition to your life.
My husband and I work a small farm and are building a farmstead creamery. We practice sustainable living and produce farmstead and artisan cheese, hand-made in small batches. You can find more information at www.peacefulheartfarm.com.
Thanksgiving tradition is the topic today. I try not to date my podcasts, and today is no different this will be appropriate today and for many years to come. I promise.
Let me take a minute to say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you today George Washington’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation and a little bit about Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates Let’s do just a few homestead updates. Some of you will be upset with me if I don’t let you know how Claire and the girls are doing as well as the donkeys, sheep and goats. And then there are those quail.
Cows Let’s start with the cows. Cloud finally got some relief for her overgrown hooves. I mentioned this ages ago. We even had to stop milking her because she was so sensitive to us getting close to her rear hooves. Both were quite overgrown. Well recently she had begun to limp quite profoundly. And we just don’t let our animals live in pain. They must be treated as soon as possible. That required finding what is called a squeeze chute to be able to get to her hooves. It holds her comfortably without Cloud being able to kick the vet in the face and anywhere else she could land a hit. It took a day or two to get the device, set is up and coordinate with the vet. But it has all been accomplished. Yay!!
While the vet was here, we also had her cut off the sharp ends of Rosie’s horns. That didn’t go as well as we would have liked, but Rosie is fine and no longer able to intimidate the young calves with very sharp horns. While the vet was doing the trim, Rosie decided to kneel down. That caused the vet’s angle on the cut to be off and Rosie caused herself a bit more bleeding than we would have liked. It’s all over now and she will heal up just fine. I was biting my lip with anxiety and it was all for naught. She is fine. Rosie is a strong young lady. Scott says she is doing very, very well. She is alert, attentive, in no apparent distress.
Donkeys The donkeys are still awaiting their pedicure appointment. With the holidays and company arriving, this was put on the back burner for a few days. We are looking to get that done in the next few days.
Both sets of donkeys came up to say “hi” to the vet. There was a substantial amount of braying and hee hawing. There is nothing quite like a chorus of four donkeys trying to outdo one another.
Sheep and Goats Nothing really much to say about the sheep and goats. They are all just grazing, chewing their cud and wandering around the pastures. We are blessed to have no problems with these beautiful animals.
Quail The quail, which also seemed to easy, are proving to be a little bit of a challenge right now. I talked about the one white bird that was beat up by her companions. And I mentioned the one that had a mite infestation. Neither faired well when we tried to re-introduce them to their cage mates. Both ended up back in their individual brooder housing, completely separate from the others and also from each other.
Shortly after that, another hen from the same cage as the one with the mite infestation got bloodied. Because of recent experience, I moved her out immediately. And one of the roosters from the same group showed signs of being pecked on too much. He is also in his own brooder condo. Four birds in four separate living quarters. At this point we may just cull that whole cage of birds and be done with it. Once they show they will be too aggressive with each other, I don’t know that there is anything we can do about it. As I mentioned in the last podcast, Pecking Order, it’s a real thing. These birds can be vicious with each other.
Praise be to God, the rest of them seem to be doing fine. And the e
Pecking order and Quail are in the news again today. There is always something new with these little guys. I have so much fun with them. They are very entertaining. However, quail, and all birds and fowl, have a dark side. The “pecking order” occurs in many species of animal. It’s done to establish the dominant animal then the next most dominant, and the next and the next, all the way down to the “low man on the totem pole”. However, the very words “pecking order” have to do with birds pecking each other to establish dominance. Not only the quail, but the cow pecking order is in the podcast today.
Before I get into all of that, I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners. Thank you for joining me. And a hearty welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars. Thank you for stopping by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. Let’s get to it.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates Garden The garden is done. I still have some perennial herbs going strong out there, but everything else is done. We need to do lots of cleanup of old, dead plants. The ground cover we used to keep the weeds down will remain in place through the winter. Yes, weeds will survive through the winter and even grow if not kept in check.
After the cleanup, the next details on the garden will be talking about what we plan for next year.
Creamery Scott has made so much progress with the creamery. All of the open cracks between the blocks have been filled. Additionally, he put a beautiful finish on the concrete blocks. As I mentioned in a previous podcast, it looks a bit like stucco now. That took a lot of extra time and effort. Scott is really good at working on these small touches to add beauty to the building. I say small touches. The idea is small, but the work to make it happen was large, really large.
Today Scott is out there making final measurements for roofing materials. He also has a list of odds and ends kinds of tasks to get the building in tip-top shape.
A week or so ago he moved all of the winter hay under the roof of the loafing area. That’s going to save some money on hay. He got it done just before the latest remnant of a hurricane came through and dropped another three or so inches of rain on us.
Animal Husbandry Donkeys The donkeys are getting ready for their hoof trimming appointment. I was talking with Scott about this just this morning. He let me know that in a previous podcast I had said that Johnny was getting better about standing still for his trimming – and he did not see that as a true statement. According to Scott, Johnny is just as stubborn today as he has been since the first day he arrived on the homestead. Then he told me a story about a neighbor and friend who as a couple of donkeys. His hoof trimming story made Scott’s dealings with Johnny look like a walk in the park. It seems there is always someone, somewhere who has a bigger problem. These stories can help with perspective on our challenges.
I’ll put in a little bit about pecking order for all of the animals. Daisy is definitely the matriarch ruler of the donkeys. I don’t know the order beyond that. They tend to hang out in pairs. Daisy and Cocoa are one pair. Johnny and Sweet Pea are the other pair. They are in separate pastures right now so they have no choice but to pair that way. However, when they are together, they still pair up that way. I think Sweet Pea rules in the Sweet Pea/Johnny pairing.
Sheep There are still two flocks of sheep, but now configured differently. A small flock of five was originally all boys. Now the small flock of five is one boy, Lambert, and his four female companions. The other four boys are with the rest of last year’s lambs and a couple of other ewes that we decided not to breed this year. There are twelve members in that flock. All are doing well, no issu
Breeding sheep is one of the most enjoyable enterprises on our homestead. Sheep were the first animals we introduced back in 2010. They have been a central part of our operation since then. I’ll talk about that today.
Welcome new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. Thank you all so much for listening. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates Before we get to the sheep, what else is going on here on the homestead?
Creamery The holes in the walls are still being filled in by Scott. Who knew it was going to take this much time to complete that task? Well, the building is rather large and parts of it are very high. That requires special ladders and scaffolding and such to be able to reach the tallest parts of the walls. Additionally, Scott is finishing the concrete block walls in such a way that they resemble stucco. It takes a bit more time and effort but the result is quite beautiful. I’m very pleased with the effect. I can’t wait to see it painted. Maybe a nice off-white stucco color to enhance the look. We shall see. I actually leave color decisions to Scott. I have no head for decorating. Thank God he has a wonderful head for it. Everything he builds reflects his eye for beauty, symmetry, style, color and so much more.
Quail We now have seven breeding sets of quail. Count them, seven. We made a day of it. Somewhere along the line we lost one that I didn’t know about. The final count in the penthouse was 56 birds. We processed 32 of them and kept 24 additional birds for eggs.
Fowl or Foul? After finishing the processing, we went back out to their cages and took every single bird out of their cages. Scott spent lots of time cleaning up those cages and getting them sanitized for the winter. Have you even wondered why birds are called fowl? Well there is another spelling of the word foul and it has to do with awful smells. I tend to think that this is why birds are referred to as fowl. All birds have to have their roosts, cages and runs cleaned regularly. Otherwise, they smell foul. Well, there is always some smell from time to time no matter what you do. Take that into consideration when planning the location of your chicken and/or quail homes.
Lighting Another addition to the quail housing was adding lights. They will now have light for 14 hours a day. That is what is required for them to produce eggs. The new girls have yet to lay a single egg and the older hens, 15 of them, were down to producing no more than six to eight eggs per day. Even that would have dropped to zero or nearly zero in the near future. Inadequate amounts of light make feeding your birds through the winter counter-productive.
There is an automatic timer on the lights. It comes on at 4 am and will stay on until 6 pm. So even on a dreary day like today, they have plenty of light. We use bulbs that produce the “daylight” spectrum of light. It’s not quite the same as most grow lights. Well, I take that back. I think lots of grow lights are going to the daylight spectrum to more closely emulate growing plants outdoors. The same for the birds. We want them to have as natural a light as possible.
Egg Production Because we have seven sets of breeders, that means there are 35 hens out there. If those lights work like we hope, we could potentially have 35 eggs per day in a couple of weeks. It will take at least a week and perhaps two for the light to affect their egg production. In addition to the light, they get lots of good nutrition and supplements to make sure they have everything they need to be healthy and productive.
Donkeys I got to say hi to the donkeys a couple of times in the last few days. I haven’t been seeing too much of them as my homestead tasks have led me elsewhere. It’s so good to s
Fall weddings are really beautiful. June weddings are quite popular, but I prefer fall weddings. I just prefer the fall. The colors are awesome. Earth tones everywhere. Yellow, orange, brown, rusty red. Some of my favorite colors. Today I’m going to talk about what makes weddings special no matter the season.
But first, I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I say it every time and I mean it every time. I appreciate you all so much.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates What’s going on at the homestead right now? Well, it turns out a lot.
Creamery Today, I’m starting with the creamery. It’s so exciting to see it evolving day by day. Scott has worked so hard on this project and continues to work hard every day to get it done. Even when I’m sick or traveling or whatever and he has to step in and take on my work load, he is right there picking up my slack and getting his tasks done as well. He is so amazing.
What he thought would be a rather quick task of a day or two is turning out to be days and days and days. That’s because he is doing such a magnificent job of it. I’m talking about filling in those spaces between the blocks that has been on his radar for weeks. It needs to be completed before the weather gets too cold and the mortar wouldn’t set up as well.
He has been at it for quite a few days and it looks wonderful. Not only is he filling in the spaces between the blocks, he is also giving it a wonderful rough finish. It’s going to be truly stunning once completed and painted. He always goes that extra mile to make his work durable and beautiful.
Cows The cows and bulls got shuffled around. Only two bulls with a few sheep are in one animal group. The larger group of our milking girls, the main flock of sheep and all of the goats are getting ready for the rotation through the back fields.
Stock Rotation We rotate our stock for several reasons. The biggest reason I think is for parasite control. They never eat the grass down so low they are re-ingesting parasites they just eliminated. Fresh, tall grass makes that impossible. Another huge reason for rotating stock is managing the grass. Just like any other animal, they eat all the really tasty stuff first and leave the undesirable stuff behind. Well, if you let that continue, all of the really tasty stuff eventually gets eliminated and only the less nutritious and less desirable grass is left.
Keeping them confined in a small area until they must eat the second and third desirable grass maintains a variety of grasses in the pasture. No one grass is left to take over. All are grazed and that maintains a balance. It is a delicate dance to get them to eat everything without eating it too far to the ground.
Standing Hay The fields in the back have been left to grow without being grazed for many months now. We have been working towards a goal of having enough grass for the livestock to graze throughout the winter without feeding hay. I’m thinking we are not quite there yet, but we get closer every year. The longer we can go without having to put out hay, the better. Leaving these fields to grow throughout most of the summer without being grazed makes a kind of hay in the field that we don’t have to buy.
Sheep It’s getting closer and closer to the time when the sheep will begin their breeding cycle. This task is so much easier to handle that getting the cows bred. We simply put the breeding ram in with the girls – the ones we pick out for breeding – and that’s all there is to it. We do not have to keep such a close check on exactly when the lambs are born. They can be born over two or even three months if necessary and our plans will still come out all right. Not like the cows when we need the calves to be born within
What You Can Do With Milk
What you can do with milk is my topic for today. There are lots of ways to use milk. It is a very versatile food. There is so much more than just drinking milk out of a glass. I know you didn’t drink it out of the jug, right?
As always, I want to take a minute and welcome all the new listeners and to say welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates New Farm Sign Scott just came in and showed me a picture of the new mailbox and farm sign set up. It looks great. I ordered a sign online from an Etsy shop. I found a guy who makes really great signs for a very reasonable price. He had lots of samples to choose from and an interactive website. Choose a design, type in your farm name and voila, you could see how the sign would look when completed. I was really pleased with the work and the quickness of shipment. I’m doubly pleased with Scott’s work and how beautiful it looks in real life. Now people can tell when they have reached the farm. The GPS brings you right to it, but we are 1,000 feet off the road behind a bunch of trees. It can be a little spooky driving off into the wilderness without a sign indicating you are on the right track.
Garden I took a stroll out into the garden this morning just to see how everything was going. I don’t go every day anymore. There just isn’t that much out there. And with the ground cloth, the weeds are almost non-existent. There are five beds that are completely empty now. All the beans are in except for the baby limas. I’ll wait until the first frost is forecast before pulling out all of those. I want to give them as much time as possible to mature.
Crowder Peas Today I picked a few more crowder peas from the garden. I really love these. I’m already looking forward to growing even more of these next year. I’ve talked about these beauties before. They are so, so, so easy to grow. I’ve never had disease, knock on wood. The only pests I have are aphids and they don’t affect the development of the peas. Next year I’m going to try putting the plants on a trellis. In the past, I’ve just let them grow all over the place. However, I want to try a trellis because I think it will make picking them so much easier. They get so tangled up. The branches are like half runners. I have been letting them grow into a jungle. We shall see how it goes with the trellis next year.
Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes The peppers just keep on going as well. I mentioned last week that I am working on creating pepper jam with the idea of selling it as Christmas gifts. They are going to be gorgeous. Red, green and yellow varieties. Hot, mild, and medium respectively.
More potatoes are sprouting out of the ground each day. But how long before the frost kills the plants? That’s an experiment in progress. I’ll get a really good idea of how late is too late for a fall planting of potatoes.
The tomatoes are blooming again. I’m just going to go out there and cut those down and put them on the compost pile. There is no way those tomatoes are going to make it to maturity.
Culinary Herbs The culinary herbs are going to need to be transplanted into pots. Eventually, they are going to go into a permanent herb garden. Don’t know if that will happen next year. Having them in pots for the winter will be fine though. Well, the basil and parsley are annuals. I’ll probably plant those in the garden again next year. For the rest, I really need to get cracking on designing exactly how I want that perennial herb garden planted.
Cows The cows got to try out their new loafing area. I talked about that in the last podcast when I was talking about the creamery. Scott completed the area with fencing and a very ingenious gate system. The girls spent some time in there ge
Types of Cheese
Today I’ll be talking about types of cheese. What I mean by that is things like fresh, aged, hard, soft, semi-soft and so on. Our specialty is semi-hard and hard aged cheeses, but there are many other types of cheese out there. So how are they different and how are they the same?
But first, I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I cannot say how much I appreciate you all. What would I do without you? Thank you so much for being here.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates Fall is arriving in full force right now. The weather has cooled. I expect the leaves to show their glorious colors soon. It is the time of year when tourists come from all over to participate in the magnificent color painted all across the Appalachian Mountains. This year the season began way up in the northeast around the first week of September. As of this podcast in October 2020, we are at near peak color. Between now and the next seven days, the color will reach its height. In two weeks, it will be done and past.
Green Leaves How about a little leaf trivia and 5th grade science review? Without the presence of Chlorophyll in the leaf, the bright golds, reds, yellow, and browns would be the natural colors seen year-round. Chlorophyll is key to a plant turning sunlight into glucose. Trees then feed on the glucose. When the leaves are saturated with Chlorophyll cells, they appear green to the eye.
Orange, Red and Yellow Leaves There are other compounds in leaves that determine their color. Carotenoids, Anthocyanins, and Flavonols. Beta-Carotene is probably the most common carotenoid present in leaves. While absorbing blue and green light, it them reflects yellow and red light from the sun. These leaves appear orange. These are much more clearly visible as the sunlight and subsequent production of Chlorophyll decrease in the fall.
Anthocyanins actually increase in autumn. They provide the red color. Anthocyanins prolong the life of the leaf on the tree.
Finally, Flavonols are always present in leaves. These are the same flavonols that make egg yolks yellow. While they are always present in the leaves, you won’t see the yellow color until the production of Chlorophyll begins to slow.
Brown Leaves The last step with the fall leaves is for the tree to close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from leaves. A layer of new cells forms at the base of the leaf stem. Water and nutrients no longer flow to and from the leaf. The leaf becomes brown, dies and eventually falls gracefully to the ground. If left in place, the leaves break down and create a rich humus on the ground. It holds moisture and nutrients for the trees and other plants.
That’s the cycle. Pretty cool isn’t it? Nature at its finest.
Let’s talk about the animals.
Cows I talked about our new heifer, Rosie, last time. She is doing great. What a great addition to our herd.
Buttercup is still not pregnant. At this point, we have given up on her for this season. It’s important in a dairy operation that the cows all give birth within a relatively short window of time. That way they can all be bred back at the same time, give birth near the same time again, and so on. They will be “in milk” at the same time. We need that consistency to be able to plan our milk herd shares and to have enough milk to make larger batches of cheese for our cheese herd shares.
Buttercup is beyond that desired window. At this point, if she bred true today, she could not give birth before the end of June. Ideally, all of the cows are bred in June and July so birthing that late just doesn’t work for us. We will try again next year with our additional knowledge. We are still very much in the learning curve in raising cattle. Who knew it took so much knowledge and exp
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Peaceful Podcast
Peaceful with the music right from the start. Melanie has a voice that soothes the souI and she is very easy to listen to(which is very important in a podcast IMO.) I love how she breaks the farmcast into sections, vlogging about the Homestead (my favorite), an informative subject, and finally a recipe. As someone who hopes to get more into Homesteading and has always been fascinated with it, this is one of my very favorite podcasts.
I love this podcast
The personal stories are wonderful. I can relate. Personally, I will never have a "homestead", but I love the idea and love the traditional take on life. Thank you so much.