Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Make your own Mozzarella

Today was fun and it tasted good too!

We made our first batch of Mozzarella! First we had to heat the gallon of milk, the recipe had a strange process for heating the milk, we had to put it in a pot in a sink that was full of hot water, and stir it and watch the temp. until it hit 90 degrees. After that we added the vegetable rennet and let it sit. Then -- IT CURDED! : ) after that we strained it and heated it and put it into balls and refrigerated it. For lunch we had sprouted wheat bread toasted with, green garlic pesto, mozzarella, and sun dried tomatoes (made in a dehydrator). It was DELICIOUS!!!

Lily Reid, * guest blogger* my personal blog about photography and crafts is lilyslivelihood.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Case of the Sneaky Chicken

Well... it has certainly been a while!

We've added a second 1350 gallon rainwater tank and a 150 gallon duck pond. The rainwater tanks and the pond are full and the rain is still coming down!

We collect our rainwater off of our asphalt shingle roof so we had some concerns about asphalt residue, fungicides, etc. ending up in the rainwater we collected. Brad Landcaster mentions in his rainwater harvesting book the idea that asphalt roofs might leach only when it's hot out and not when it's raining in the winter. We were still unsure. So, we filled the new duck pond and put a dozen goldfish in to see if they would live or die. Not a single fish died! The ducks love bathing and swimming in their new pond (really just a 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank). They poop while they frolic and the fish eat the poop. It's an idea we read about in Bill Mollison's big permaculture manual.

The pond does not have a pump or filter. The rainwater tanks gravity feed water to the pond through a hose. The pond has it's own hose out a spigot at the bottom which we use to water the garden (also gravity fed). The pond water contains nutrients from both the duck and the fish poop. Everyone and everything benefits. The rainwater tank overflow fills the swales in the garden and sinks the water on site for future use. As we drain the pond to the garden we refill it with the fresh rainwater. The system actually works. Amazing.

So, back to the case of the "sneaky chicken"....

The ducks got a new duck house to go with their pond and I guess the chickens got envious. One morning not long after the new duck house was set up I did my usual morning rounds. I opened the duck house door and the they all came piling out. A few seconds later out came a chicken! I could not figure out why one duck would not go in the night before. Well, there are four ducks and four nest boxes. I guess she had gone in there and found her nest box occupied and came back out refusing to share with the likes of a chicken. I kind of felt bad since I had physically picked her up and shoved her in there not knowing the whole story. So, out came the chicken who immediately ran over to the chicken coop and begged to be let back in. She has not flown the coop since.