After a couple of cool and rainy days Stuart and I ventured into the garden to see if the weeds or the plants were winning. We had some serious setbacks this month with the garden, after a raid by a flock of bluejays, and then a family of turkeys. Thankfully they broke most of the plants off at the top rather than the bottom (except for several cabbages which they dug up completely), so things looked ok.
I can’t believe I’m still enjoying delicious, sweet and tender lettuce from the garden. If anything it’s doing better than it was 6 weeks ago: we have beautiful full heads now to gather easily for a salad:
I asked Stuart to weed some of the garden beds and told him what plants not to pull up. He stopped about 10 minutes in and said “Mum, I think these are onions aren’t they? So I should keep them.” I had totally forgotten I had planted onions there and they are still relatively small so look like grass if you aren’t paying attention. I was thrilled: all the hours we’ve spent in the garden, with me sometimes nagging him to work, have paid off. He is beginning to be proactive and really care about contributing to our family in this way.
Stuart and I have been experimenting with our cheesemaking skills too. We want to make sure we have a way to store cheese or cheesemaking supplies long term. So this week we tried making cheese from 10 year old powdered milk that had been in food storage. It worked wonderfully!
We followed the recipe from cheesemaking.com (this site is one of my favorites):
Because of the foam on top of the powdered milk it curdled a bit differently:
But the final curds separated just fine:
I was really impressed with the yield. All of this (just short of 2 pounds) from 2 gallons reconstituted, which was just a few scoops of the powder. It barely put a dent in our 40 pound bag of the stuff:
After heating and kneading, we got some great cheese. Stuart did the string cheeses himself:
All packed up and ready to go into the fridge. This was mozzarella:
The chickens absolutely LOVED the whey:
Even our poor ridiculous looking molting ones:
We also experimented with making homemade ‘boxed’ mac and cheese. I don’t like all the additives in the regular stuff, and the organic stuff is really pricey and nothing special. We tried making our own from a whey powder and Parmesan. It worked great, and with some annatto it even looked like the orange stuff!
With the heat back, the chickens have resumed their sunbathing positions:
But in the cool evenings the boys enjoy putting the animals ‘to bed’ and saying goodnight. Slowly but surely the lessons we are trying to teach these boys – hard work, stewardship, strengthening your family, and appreciation for the beauty and blessings around you – are paying off.