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.
Planting the Garden
Planting the garden this year is a little tricky. Each year I have to determine what vegetables I want to grow. I don’t plant everything. After years of just planting everything that caught my eye, I am now choosy about what I plant.
There are quite a few farm updates to talk about. Before I get to it, as always, 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 never want to take you for granted. Thank you so much for being here. Let’s get started on some homestead updates.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates It’s officially spring according to the calendar. We are still having quite a few cold days, but birthing is happening and planting the garden is on the horizon. We have calves, lambs and chicks in the incubator. Let’s start with the calves.
Cows and Calves We had and/or have four cows and/or heifers that were bred this year. Three have given birth, all within 8 days. That’s how AI works. Everyone is fertilized at the same time and the births come close together.
We have two bulls and a heifer so far. We bought Cookie and added her to the homestead last year. She was not bred with our other cows and her delivery date is sometime in April. So about two to three weeks before we have that last calf. Incidentally, we expect to breed seven cows and two heifers beginning the first week of June. We will have lots of calves, more calves next year than we have ever had on our homestead. Just in time for the cheesemaking to get into high gear. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The calves are beautiful and growing like weeds. We are still looking for names for the two bull calves, but the heifer is named Penny. You can see pics of these guys on our Locals.com community or on our Facebook page.
Sheep and Lambs As far as the sheep and lambs, the ewes were pasture bred. That means we stick the ram in there with them and he does his job according to their cycling schedule. Interestingly enough, all five ewes delivered within three days. They delivered even more closely than the AI’d cows. We had a total of eight but lost one that was part of a set of triples.
Stellar Ewe It is very unusual for ewes to deliver more than one lamb in their first season. One young lady had triplets. She is currently raising two of them and doing really well. I think we can probably expect triplets from her every year. The oldest ewe consistently has twins – really big twins. They were the last born and looked to be a week old compared to the others.
The breakdown on the lambs is four girls and three boys. We will be keeping the girls and enlarging our sheep flock. For quite a few years we have kept the flock small. But quite frankly, the market for lambs and goats is going crazy right now and we need the extra income to finish the creamery. And we really like these animals. It’s great that they can now support themselves and provide a bit of income. In the past, we worked at a break-even margin, eating a lot of the lamb ourselves. That does save money on groceries, so there is that.
Goats We have not had goats on the homestead for over a year. Next week we are visiting a nearby goat operation. They have registered Kiko goats. I’m not sure we will be able to get a starter herd this year, but we plan to go and see what she has and ask a lot of questions. They will be really expensive as goats go. We need to prepare and budget for that as well.
We keep goats for their meat of course, but they are also very useful in keeping the pastures cleaned up from unwanted brush and pine trees. Goats love woody stemmed plants. They will completely clear out all of the wild blackberries, wild rose, and generally all thorny plants that sheep and cows will not eat. It’s exciting to think about having these love creatures back on the homestead. I’ll keep you posted on when that might happen.
Producing Your Own Food: Planning
Today I will be continuing the conversation on producing your own food. There is a lot to cover and what I can include in this podcast will only whet your appetite for more. Growing food for you and your family is one of the most satisfying occupations in the world. That is of course in my humble opinion. I’ll keep talking about it as long as you want to keep listening to it.
Welcome new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars. Thank you so much for stopping by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. There are so many exciting things happening around the homestead. Let’
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates Let’s start with homestead updates. I have some fantastic news. Well, it’s fantastic for us. I’ll save it for last, just before I get into the next “producing your own food” segment.
Cows We have three cows and one heifer that are scheduled to give birth very soon. Claire and Butter are two of the cows, Luna is the heifer. All of these girls are due sometime around the 23rd of March. Our newest cow, Cookie, is due in mid-April.
I forgot to tell you all about Cookie in the last podcast. She is our latest addition to the homestead. Cookie is about 4 years old. We were a little concerned about meeting our needs for milk in the early spring so we started looking around for a good milking girl to add, at least temporarily, until we get our younger girls bred and producing milk.
Cookie is a great cow. She is a from an organic dairy about an hour and a half from us. She is mostly jersey but has some guernsey in her as well. Originally, she was a 4-H show cow. That makes her very friendly and an attention seeker. We love her already. And it looks like she integrated into the herd without issue.
Sheep We expect lambs in the next two weeks. There are five ewes that are currently pregnant. Two of them are older and I expect at least one of those girls to have twins. The other three are just about a year old. Normal birthing is for yearlings to have a single lamb. We are looking for five to seven lambs this season.
Dogs Finn and Charlotte are on patrol duty for keeping these guys safe. Finn is still escaping regularly and we are working on a training regime for him. Every time he goes where he is not supposed to be, he gets put on a tether for two days. We are hoping this will be effective. However, it is well known that any dog with Great Pyrenees genetics will tend to roam. Recently, he hasn’t been roaming outside of the perimeter fences, but we really want to train him to stay in the area he is assigned. We shall see how it all works out. It may be that we simply have to live with him going wherever he wants, whenever he wants. It is obviously dangerous for him, but we do not want to deflate his spirit and ruin him as a livestock guardian dog. I hope that the birth of the new lambs will give him better incentive to stay with his charges. We shall see.
Quail The quail seem to cause me perpetual grief. So many people love walking in nature and I do too. It seems so peaceful and calm and beautiful. The true reality is that nature has a really brutal side to it. You all know this. Storms and drought and fires and floods are all daily happenings around the world. What we tend to overlook is how brutal animals can be with each other. The quail have been a real challenge in this area.
After months of no issues, all of a sudden, I might have one, two, three birds that are brutally attacked by the others in the cage. It is heartbreaking. I then have to make special arrangements for healing of these unfortunately bullied birds. If I can find the culprit, I separate her from the rest. One dilemma is where do I keep all of these? What quarters do I have available for housing?
Quail Clinic Right now, I have two roosters in the bottom right cage. One is in the main part and the other is in the enclosed box the hens use for laying eggs and all use for taking dust baths. The one
Today, I’ll follow up on the basics of getting started with gardening with an intro to seed-starting indoors ahead of planting in the garden when the weather warms. But before we get to that, more homestead updates are in order. I’ll be talking about our beautiful livestock guardian dogs for the most part. There is so much to share about these fantastic dogs.
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. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now, on to homestead updates.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates I have a bit of cow news that I’ll add at the end. Let’s talk about the dogs.
Our Livestock Guardian Dogs We have added two new wonderful dogs to our homestead. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am about these beasties, Finnigan (Finn for short) and Charlotte. We purchased them from a fellow vendor at the market who is scaling down and exiting their business. They were guarding chickens and turkeys. We don’t have these kinds of birds yet but we will at some point. It’s nice to know that we have dogs that have at least some experience with poultry. It can be hard for livestock guardian dogs to learn how to guard and not chase and chew on poultry.
Finn is ½ Great Pyrenees and ½ Anatolian Shepherd. He is a big baby. Loves to have his tummy rubbed. Follows us everywhere. We have had these guys since mid-October so they are still learning about us and the sheep.
They are kept exclusively with the sheep. At first, we had to hold Finn in a fenced area next to the sheep because he was chasing them all over the place. He has since proven he can be trusted to not run them to death and now resides with them and Charlotte. I have not seen much evidence that the dogs have bonded with the sheep. That will come in time. Right now, they are learning to love us and we definitely love them.
Charlotte Charlotte is a Great Pyrenees. She is the most beautiful dog I have ever seen. Well maybe I’m biased. For whatever reason, she is very shy of humans. At first, I thought she had been mistreated. Lately though, I’m thinking she was not socialized to humans at an early age. She just has an innate mistrust of humans. She is not aggressive or anything. It’s just that we cannot walk up to her and pet her.
The first time I was able to pet her was when the vet was here for a general exam and heart worm tests. While the vet was working on Finn, Charlotte came over next to me and was kind of hiding behind me. I was able to pet her and hug her. Alas, it was only for the moment when she thought she needed protection and Finn was not only unavailable, but may have needed protection himself, in her mind.
Getting to Know Each Other From the beginning, she would come up and quickly take a biscuit from my hand as long as I had Finn between us. I reached over his back and she would take the biscuit and run off to chomp on it. A few days ago, she started coming up without Finn between us. I still can’t just walk up to her but she has improved greatly in just a couple of months. Yesterday I was able to pet her and give her some love. She is tied on a lead at the moment and allowed me to walk up to her fairly easily. It is so satisfying to finally be able to love on her. For weeks and weeks, she held back and just watched Finn get petted and babied and loved. Now she is getting some of that.
She is scheduled to be spayed next week. We don’t like having her tied up, but she has escaped twice in the past couple of weeks. The Great Pyrenees breed is harder to contain than goats. Who knew? Well, I knew there was an issue with roaming with this breed. However, I had no idea they were so successful as escape artists. We have been so concerned that she will escape and get pregnant. I’ll be so glad when this escape artist is safe from pregnancy.
Finnigan (Finn) Now let’s talk about Fi
New Year, New Projects
I’m back, finally with a new year, new projects. Hope you are doing well. I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations with your families and friends. It has been four months since I’ve talked with you all. It takes a great deal of time, energy and money to make this podcast happen. More on how you can support us later in the podcast. For right now I want to say how much I appreciate all of you. I’m putting forth the effort to get back on track and to once again interact with all of you. I’ve been slacking and you deserve more from me. We’ve all been lonely and isolated these past two years. I intend to bring a little bit of love and light into each of your lives.
I’ve always talked about tradition and the value of tradition. From summer 2021 into winter 2022, I’ve come to appreciate God and our Lord Jesus Christ in a deeper fashion. Probably none of you know that I am Catholic. If you do know that, it will probably not surprise you that I attend the Traditional Latin Mass. It’s just another place that tradition permeates my life. I’ll continue to talk about traditional homestead living and our traditional raw milk products and artisan cheese. But don’t be surprised if you hear more exclamations like glory to God or praise God or praise Jesus. We all need more reminders that we are loved.
Locals I’ve started a Locals community. It’s a place where we can come together and talk about whatever we want. There is no censorship. Think along the lines of a Facebook Group page. Everyone is posting, commenting and supporting one another. There is no cost to become a member and get access to these podcasts as well as select other content. Pictures of the animals I talk about. Maybe even some short videos.
In order to support me and this podcast, I’m looking for people to become paid subscribers. The biggest advantage you have in becoming a paid subscriber is that because there is a little bit of financial investment, there are no trolls. Should someone be willing to paying the minimal monthly fee only to come in an harass our community, I can remove them. We have complete autonomy within our community. And no one is going to collect your data and sell it for advertising. That’s not what Locals is about. In fact, it is designed to free us from that intrusion into our personal lives by technical oligarchs getting rich from our love for each other. I urge you to check it out. Support this podcast by becoming a paid subscriber – or just enjoy the free stuff. That’s perfectly fine too.
I’m considering starting a subscription-only group of followers over on the Locals platform for those that are looking for more faith in their daily lives. Whether you have your own homestead, dream of having one or are perfectly satisfied living the suburbs and purchasing food from your local farmer, faith plays a part in all our lives. And definitely let me know if you are interested in participating in religious conversation in an interactive way on the Locals platform. I’m still trying to figure out how the plat form will allow me to separate this content from the rest. Sort of like how to make a playlist for specific content topics.
Again, to support the show, become a paid subscriber. Again, it’s not required. However, when I make a post, a paid subscriber (which is $5 per month) can do more than comment. You can make your own post on the topic or post o a topic of your choice to start a conversation. Other paid subscribers can comment on your posts and/or mine. It is a community. Enough of all that. Check it out and let me know what you think. If you have trouble figuring out what you need to do, email me (at email address).
Let’s get on with the podcast.
Appreciation for All of You It has been about four months since I’ve talked with you all. There is so much that has happened I can’t possibly just pick up where I left off last fall and go forward. Nope, I’m just going to start fro
Homestead Update and Health Update
It has been a while so how about a homestead update and health update. I republished a couple of podcasts. I hope you got a chance to listen for the first time or relisten if you were interested in the topic of cheese.
It’s going to be close, but I think I can get this podcast published today. Let’s hope all goes well and I am able to accomplish it. If it doesn’t, I am likely to abandon the effort for another week. My life is topsy-turvy and I only have so much time each day to take care of any given task. When things don’t go well, they get pushed to the next day. It’s my method of reducing stress. Let’s pause a moment.
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. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I appreciate you all so much. Let’s have a homestead update and then a little info on the status of our health here at Peaceful Heart Farm
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates The cows are coming up first.
Cows Last night at about 9:15 we got a call from the neighbors across the street. Two of our cows were in their yard. Who could they be? There were two groups of cows with two animals. I knew it was most likely the two that were scheduled for freezer camp this morning. Sure enough, those two guys were out there wreaking havoc in the neighbor’s yard and trying to get into the pasture with their cows.
It was a little harrowing to be trying to work with two very large boys in the dark. However, all of our cows are fairly docile. They were upset and confused of course. I believe that I’ve mentioned before that a cow does not like anything out of the ordinary. They want things to be the same all the time. Routine, routine, routine. So needless to say, everything about this situation was out of the ordinary.
Perrin is Secured Nearby, just 20 or 30 feet down the driveway, was a gate to a paddock. Scott opened that gate and Perrin almost immediately went inside. Rocketman was a different story. He went back and forth in front of that gate at least three or four times, never venturing inside. Finally, he started down the driveway and Scott herded him that way and away from the neighbor’s cows. I followed with the car. Of course, once we got him down the driveway the next challenge was finding a way to get him into a pasture.
Scott chased him up and down one fence a couple of times. I opened up a couple of gates. One was a gate back to where he escaped. The other was into the field with our nursery girls. It was a little risky letting him in there, but we needed some way to get him into some fence somewhere. Once he was back inside our perimeter fence, there were many options as to how to move forward.
Rocketman is Secured Rocketman eagerly went through the very wide-open gate into the pasture with the girls. The girls themselves were way out in the field. We needed to get him contained before he joined with them. That would be a disaster if we had to single him out from that crowd in the dark. Scott quickly contained the girls in paddock number one. Perrin was in paddock number two. And Rocketman was in the travel lane that joins with all paddocks.
The goal was to isolate both boys in the small holding area just inside the gate I opened for Rocketman. He had already walked most of the way down the travel lane toward the other paddocks. Scott met him coming the other way while herding Perrin down the travel lane toward the holding area. I was over in paddock number four which runs directly alongside the travel lane. I wanted to be close but not in the travel lane. That would have just confused everything and possibly herded them back out into the field in an attempt to get away from me.
Chasing Cows Around Paddock Four Now for the next debacle. There are two gates at the bottom of a hollow. One opens into paddock four where I am and one opens or closes the travel lane where Scott and
Cheese Makes You Happy
How Cheese Makes You Happy!
Today’s Show Homestead Life Updates Cheese and Nutrition Nutritional content Cheese tastes good Facts about fat content Lactose intolerance Why cheese makes people happy Cheese Fondue Recipe Homestead Life Updates Scott is working hard on getting the creamery built. Every day that does not bring adverse weather sees him out there building the walls. There are also lots of other odds and ends and details he adds in there that breaks up the monotony. I’m am so blessed to have such a wonderful life here with him. Our life has purpose and meaning as we both work hard to bring you the benefits of traditional hand-made artisan cheese.
The winter drags on. Seems like a long one this year doesn’t it? Every year winter is the same 13 weeks on the calendar but the weather conditions during that period of time alters our perception of time, I think.
There is a common winter ailment called seasonal affective disorder. I’m sure some of you know of what I speak. It’s a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. Symptoms can begin as early as the fall and continue into the winter months. Occasionally, SAD causes depression into the spring or early summer, but that is rarer. Spring usually brings a rush of relief.
I experience SAD every year. This year is different. I’ve significantly changed my diet and it shows. While I can still feel the effects of this winter season, it is muted compared to previous years. I feel kind of heavy sometimes; slightly weighted down by life in general.
As an aside, I generally just suffer through it. However, there are things you can do. Light therapy or phototherapy is the most common treatment. Some schools of thought attribute the issue to reduced vitamin D from the sun as there is less light due to the length of the day. More severe cases may require medication or psychotherapy.
The symptoms may start as a minor issue such as having trouble sleeping or a general loss of interest in doing anything. Low energy, feeling sluggish or maybe agitated for no reason. As the season progresses, the symptoms get worse and worse. In the past it has seemed overwhelming to me. And then, poof, spring arrives and it all evaporates like mist.
Let’s talk about how cheese might help with that. Did you know that cheese has nutritional properties that stimulate our happy hormones? First, let’s cover the basic nutrition in cheese.
Cheese and Nutrition Cheese is a delicious and tremendously efficient source of nutrition. It supplies many valuable nutrients, including proteins, sugars, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. A 4-ounce piece of solid farmhouse cheese, for example, supplies more than half the adult nutritional requirements for protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus as well as significant portions of vitamins A, B2, and B12. If you compare the nutritional content of a 3.5-ounce chunk of a hard, aged cheese such as Cheddar or Emmental to an equivalent amount of chicken eggs (two eggs are about 3.5 ounces), the cheese contains about twice as much protein and one quarter the cholesterol.
The miracle of evolution has ensured that milk is an extremely nutritious food. After all, without it how would mothers, down through the eons, have guaranteed the survival of their babies? Cheese concentrates the nutrients in milk. It’s a highly efficient method of getting vital nutrients for our bodies.
Another advantage to cheese is that its nutrients are “predigested” by bacteria and enzymes during cheesemaking and aging. That means the process of breaking down the proteins, fats, and sugars began before it was savored on our palette and began the journey to our tummy.
Plants in the pasture have absorbed nutrients from the soil; the dairy animals have extracted those nutrients, packaging them in the form of milk. That’s another place that a lot of gathering nutrients has already been done for you. Your body has to devote less effort to proce
Educational and an easy listen!
I love listening to Melanie’s farmcast podcasts! She has a perfect radio voice…my mind never wanders when I tune in, she is easy to listen to! I love how much information she can pack into each episode. I always learn things I never knew about homesteading, farm animals, cheesemaking, bees and honey, and the list goes on! I highly recommend her farmcast! Subscribe! You’ll be happy you did!
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.