Homestead 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.
Have you considered flavored cheese in your home cheesemaking operation? Likely most of you are not making your own cheese. You’ll want to seek out some flavored cheeses from your local markets for a real treat. There are so many possibilities here that I couldn’t possibly cover them all in this short podcast. Today, I’ll give you just a brief overview of what you might consider in tasting and in creating with your cheeses.
Welcome 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 going to start off with what’s going on at the homestead and then I’ll get right into talking about some tasty flavored cheese.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates I want to start off with talking about our herd share program. We are opening up our raw milk cheese herd shares to more people. One full share will provide you and your family with about two pounds of our hand-made, aged, raw milk cheese per month. A half share will provide about one pound of cheese per month. We have four varieties from which to choose.
Our Peaceful Heart Gold is a danish Havarti-style cheese. It is a washed curd cheese that is soft, buttery and the sweetest cheese we make. Moving from the mildest to the sharpest, the next in line is our Ararat Legend. This is also a washed rind cheese made in the Dutch gouda tradition. It is a firmer cheese than the Gold with nearly as much butter flavor. This cheese ages well and the flavor deepens with each passing month. The next two kind of tie for sharpest, depending on how long they have aged. We have a wonderful aged cheddar and an alpine-style cheese we call Pinnacle. The flavor complexities of these two cheeses are amazing as neither is even ready to taste until 9 months or more of aging. Well, we do offer the milder cheddar at three and six months, but you will definitely want to wait for the good stuff.
Details and costs can be found on our website at Peaceful Heart Farm dot com. Product pickup is available at the Wytheville Farmer’s market, the Independence Farmer’s market and from our homestead. Support us or some other local farm. Keep good food alive. Give us a call and we can get you set up.
Cows We are on calf watch with Rosie. This event is happening far ahead of our expectations. Her udder is developing and filling with milk. It may be only a matter of days. You never really know, any more than you know for humans, when the exact date will be for the event. She is looking good and Scott and I are feeling pretty good about Rosie and her calf. We are still cautious and watching her very closely, but again, she looks really good right now. Buttercup is doing a good job of keeping Rosie company. She is our only cow that is not going to have a calf this year.
After Rosie, next up for giving birth is Cloud followed closely by Claire. Butter and Violet are much further down the line, due in May and June respectively. And as I said, Buttercup is not having a calf this year. If all goes well, we will end up with five calves this year. Praying for some heifers.
Goats and Sheep The sheep are doing well. Their expected delivery date is the 27th of March, so about a month more for them. We are likely to have six to eight lambs this year.
The goats have been reduced to five. Yes, finally I got moving on reducing our goat population. We are moving more rapidly toward changing over to meat goats. If you are new, we currently have cashmere goats. I had this grandiose idea that I was going to have time to gather their cashmere, have it made into yarn, and knit up some wonderful cashmere items. It took a few years for me to realize that I was not going to have time to include yet another enterprise into our business model. By that time, we had well over twenty goats.
Now these wonderful animals are great at ke
What is Flocculation when making cheese?
Prepare for Disaster
Prepare for disaster is a motto I grew up with living in rural Michigan. Back in the day, when the power went off due to a winter storm, it could be off for several weeks. Today we have much better electrical systems and our current provider has kept us in good shape. We have never been without power for more than a few days. But even that can be disastrous if we are not prepared. Today I want to talk about how we prepare for disasters that may or may not happen.
First, let me take a moment 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. Thank you so much for your time and attention. I appreciate you all so much and I couldn’t do it without you. It’s midwinter and life goes on here at the homestead.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates The cold weather has been consistent for weeks. Not too cold, getting just below freezing at night and 40s and sometimes 50s during the day. This is a typical Southwestern Virginia winter. I look for a few days of freezing weather sometime in the near future. A typical winter will have at least four or five days when the temperatures drop all the way to the teens and occasionally single digits overnight. That four or five day stretch usually happens at least once and sometimes twice, usually in January. It hasn’t happened yet. Still waiting for that shoe to drop. We did have some unseasonably cold weather in December, but January is proceeding right long the normal line.
Cows The cows are handling the cold weather as they always do. It amazes me that these animals can go through the winter without seeming to notice it too much. I go out there and the cows are moseying around, eating grass and/or hay looking like they don’t have a care in the world. If they are eating, they are laying down, relaxing and chewing their cud, again, like they haven’t got a care in the world. Personally, I don’t handle cold very well, but I’m so glad they do.
Donkeys The donkeys handle the cold very well also. Their coats are full and thick. Just about everyday they come up to the milking shed looking for a treat. Scott or I will give them a small handful of sweet feed and a petting. When they are finished, they head on down to the creek and out to pasture with everybody else. Our donkeys are the friendliest animals on the homestead.
Sheep and Goats The sheep and goats always prepare for disaster in winter. They have really thick coats. Our goats are cashmere goats. They have a really thick undercoat of cashmere that they shed in the spring. Our sheep are hair sheep which means they also grow a thick coat of wool and shed it in the spring. No shearing for these sheep. I was watching the ewes graze in the front pasture. Just like the cows, not a care in the world.
Quail The quail are even more amazing to me. They have feathers and I can’t see that they have any extra feathers for winter. Whatever they have is what they have and that’s it. My ladies and gents have it better than they would out in the wild. There is a box shelter where they can get completely out of the wind. They can huddle together for added warmth. Sometimes I go out there and they are kind of fluffed up, but other than that, not a shiver. Nature is amazing.
Garden This time of year is the time to plan for the spring garden. What plants will we grow? How many? What will be rotated to another location? And so on. I’m a bit behind on getting started with that but I just can’t seem to drum up the energy. It’s too cold and I don’t want to think about going out in the garden when it is cold. Anyway, I’ll get to it in the next couple of weeks.
Creamery The creamery roof is nearly complete. Scott is putting the finishing touches on the peaks. He spent much of the day yesterday rigging up a way to safely move around up there. Today
Pickled Quail Eggs
Let’s get back to the quail and pickled quail eggs. So much has happened. Many changes since the last time I talked about them. Ten jars of pickled quail eggs that have been completed. And so much more to talk about, especially the creamery roof.
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 appreciate you all so much and I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates It’s getting close to Christmas. Hope you all are ready. Scott and I have been watching the YouTube series called “The Chosen”. I highly recommend it. The story so far is about Jesus’ adult life, not his birth. It’s still great watching for Christmas time IMO. A second season is currently in the works. I believe filming is scheduled to be completed in February 2021. I don’t know a release date, but I’m eagerly anticipating its release.
Quail On to the quail updates on the homestead.
Last time I talked about our beautiful Japanese Coturnix quail we were having issues with hens getting beat up really bad. We rescued a bunch of them and put them in quarantine away from the others. One rooster was also in quarantine. Each and every one of them healed up just fine. The only problem is that we couldn’t put them back in their various cages lest the same thing happen all over again. So, they were slated for culling.
An additional blessing and/or problem was we were getting 29 or 30 eggs every day. That’s a bit too many. Who knew that we would be so successful in getting them to lay throughout the winter? Last year we had zero, zip, nada for eggs throughout the entire winter. Then one day in late March, they all started laying again as if on cue. Getting 30 eggs at a time was a giant blessing. The more eggs we get from our quail, the less eggs we have to purchase elsewhere.
Culling Hens Before I get on to the pickled quail eggs, I need to talk a little bit more about culling the hens. When you live the homestead life, there are certain choices that need to be made that are not always easy. I love our quail. The eggs they lay are so cute and beautifully colored. However, we have to face facts and only keep what we need. And we need to give them the best life. We ended up reducing our quail population by 12 birds – well actually 13 but I will get to the additional bird in a moment. We had 6 in quarantine. Originally, there were five hens and one rooster in the bottom cages. In the lower cage on the right, we were missing a hen, the white one. All of the groups have 1 rooster to 5 hens. With my new experience, I realized I could not add another hen to the cage because she would just get beat up by the others as they vied for dominance and so we simply took all of the remaining hens out of there. That was four more. The cage on the bottom left had only one hen and a rooster in it. The other four hens from that cage were in quarantine. We took that last hen and added her to the group to be culled. Now we have 11. The end result is two cages on the bottom, one left and one right, that have a rooster and no hens.
In the penthouse was an interesting situation in that there were originally 10 hens and 2 roosters on each side – or so we thought. On the right side is where the rooster in quarantine came from so there was only one rooster there now and 10 hens. We took the five extra hens without a rooster buddy from the penthouse right side and put them in the lower cage with the lone rooster on the right. It made sense that these hens had been raised together and would therefore live in relative harmony together with their new rooster friend. They did to a point. More on that in a minute.
Miscalculations In the penthouse on the left side was supposed to be 2 rooste
Our Raw Milk Cheese Creamery Progress
Our raw milk cheese creamery was the center of the day today. The construction is moving along nicely. Our state inspectors made an appearance and helped us out with details on safety measures. We work with them every step of the way to make sure all safety concerns are addressed.
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 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 Winter animal care was high priority today. Let’s talk about that before we get into the details of our lovely raw milk cheese creamery project. We check up on the animals regularly. Some we can easily see in the front fields and every time we go out the driveway. Others are out there in the back fields. It takes a bit more effort to check up on them, but rest assured, they are not out of sight, out of mind. I’ll start with the cows.
Cows Our beautiful Normande cows are the centerpiece of our small farmstead raw milk cheese creamery. It is our habit to check on them first. I say first, but they are all out there together. And while we may be aiming at the cows, sometimes it is the sheep or goats that we encounter first. Many times, it is the donkeys. More on that later.
There are five big girls in our current herd. I say big girls because these five have already had a calf. We have our newest arrival, Rosie, who is still known has a heifer. That means she has never had a calf. I guess technically she is a bred heifer. She has never had a calf but is currently pregnant. Currently she is in a pasture with the younger calves so we can keep a closer eye on her as her pregnancy progresses.
The “Big” Girls Anyway, of the five big girls, four are pregnant. Everyone looks healthy and happy. Claire barely looked up as I approached. She was far too busy eating grass to give me much notice. Violet always looks up whenever we come near. She wants attention and yet she doesn’t want attention. I guess what she really wants in a treat. But they don’t get treats in the winter. Only during lactation. So, she will have to wait until late March or early April to get any more treats. Butter is quite open to petting, while Buttercup avoids it at all costs. Cloud has had her hooves repaired but she is still quite standoffish when out in the field. All of them are easy to get close to when they are up in the milking shed. Funny how that goes.
Grazing Abundance The grass in those back fields is holding up very well. They are literally still eating green grass and it is coming on close to mid-December. Scott believes they will not need hay until late February. I can’t tell you how great that is for a couple of reasons. The cost, of course, is always the first concern in my mind. I do all of the accounting and cost is always on my mind.
The next great thing is that the green grass is always going to be better nutrition and the animals truly prefer grass to hay. We want to keep them on green grass for as long as possible. Ideally, we would be able to graze them all the way through the winter until the spring grass appears in late March. That is a goal we likely will not meet for many years. We would need additional pasture, especially as we are on a path to grow our herd.
Hay is Still Needed If we double our herd size, having green grass available to them for the entire winter is a really long shot without clearing some of our wooded areas and turning them into pasture. That’s a huge job for the distant future. They do fine on hay. It’s just similar to having a burger and fries when you really want a nice traditional home-cooked dinner. Sure, the burger and fries will keep you fed. But the real treat is that homemade roast leg of lamb with macaron
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
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.