Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Frantically Cleaning up! July 21, 2013

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Events,Garden Fresh,Home Made — realfoodmama @ 3:16 pm
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So….next weekend (July 29th to be exact) is the local garden tour here in Santa Fe. Home Grown New Mexico, in cooperation with Edible Santa Fe, will be hosting this tour as an opportunity for local gardeners and enthusiasts to view a variety of different set ups here in the drought stricken southwest. Luckily for all attendees, my wreck of a yard is on the tour this year! Yahoo!

Unfortunately, my back yard has a tendency to dissolve into chaos without really trying, so this weekend has been designated “clean up weekend” with the expectation that it will actually continue through Friday and become a clean up WEEK. Pretty sure the baby daddy has already made three trips to the dump…

In all honesty, though, the “clean up” is really more of a beatifying than it is an actual cleaning. Things like making sure the weeds are below ankle level and ensuring that the fly population down by the goat pen is manageable – or at least well dressed. In addition to cleaning up and organizing we are also going to be installing a lovely piece of art work that has been relegated to the basement of a family member for the better part of two decades. Made years ago by the woman who I consider my second mother, the piece is a gorgeous “map”, made from slate and hand painted with poetry. It was decided that the piece would be placed in the orchard, a part of the yard that gets little foot traffic, and would provide a nice little meditative place to sit and enjoy the sounds of our urban farm. I fully anticipate actually using it even, long after the hordes of Santa Feans have left. The installation will not occur until Wednesday of this week, but I will endeavor to put up pictures of it as soon as we have it down.

And while I am nervous about potentially hundreds (OMG HUNDREDS?!) of people traipsing through my yard and eliciting curious glances from the goats, I am feeling quite privileged to be on the tour this year so I can share my version of self sufficiency with the public at large. Hopefully those of you who are local can swing by! Until then, Happy Eating!

 

The goat lady – my new party trick. February 28, 2011

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Politics — realfoodmama @ 12:39 pm
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Got goat?

There are days when I am pretty sure I don’t get out enough, but this weekend I was able to sneak away from my maternal and farm related responsibilities and attend the 30th birthday party of a close friend of mine. I love her parties because there is always great food and interesting conversation, however I seem to be the recently elected expert on all things goat. In fact, at the most recent event the host literally dragged me over to a complete stranger and announced that I “had goats too, you two should talk.”

I don’t really mind talking about my livestock, and given that many of the folks at these parties are hardened foodies who are highly concerned about food politics, local sourcing and re-connecting with our food it seems only natural that they would want to know more about my goats and how it is that I am able to have the animals in the city limits. The really great thing is that there were some other folks at the party who also have goats and we were able to discuss the upcoming kidding season and whether or not my goat is actually pregnant – which I am not sure she is, honestly…but that is another post.

The wonderful thing is that when I am with the food community here I feel as though they are receptive to information about my urban homestead. They want to know what my goats are like and they think it is awesome that I have chickens too. I suppose if I had an audience that was slightly less receptive I might be less comfortable talking about it. I mean, no one wants to be known as “that crazy goat lady”. In fact one of the things I like so much about Santa Fe is that it is incredibly receptive to backyard livestock and in fact, sees it as the norm. Perhaps it is the Hispanic population component or the fact that Santa Fe is a 400 year old settlement, or maybe it really is just due to the fact that it is the City Different. In either case, I am not complaining. I love that I can have my animals without worrying about the legalities or getting permits or having neighbors think I am crazy. I am hopeful that with the urban homesteading movement and with the desire to get back to real food that more places around the country will adopt the same lenient policies as Santa Fe.

Until then, however, I think it is important to work with our neighbors and legislators in order to make them understand that backyard chickens really are the best thing for everyone *wink wink*.

Happy Eating!

 

The Urban Homestead February 21, 2011

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Food Activism — realfoodmama @ 10:42 am
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Don’t you just love controversy?

This week in the urban homesteading community there was a fairly egregious act perpetrated on the rest of us by one family. The phrase Urban Homestead was trademarked by the Dervaes family in an effort to keep others from using the term, even though the term has been used in multiple publications prior to the trademark and is frequently used to describe what people like myself are doing. And while I consistently refer to my little operation as the urban farm, this move on the part of what I can only assume is a family more interested in fame and fortune than in the proliferation of the urban homesteading movement, has made me reconsider that.

The family has tried to deny that they are actively pursuing bloggers and other internet uses of the phrase Urban Homestead, but this post by Jamie, author of the urbanhomesteadx.com blog was sent a letter by the family informing her of the trademark and asking her to respect their “legally protected intellectual property” by ceasing use of the phrase Urban Homestead. Seriously?

I like to think that those of us interested in real food, self sustainability, urban farming, and all the glorious things that go with it such as canning and chickens, are in this together. I like to think that those of us who are doing these things are doing them in an attempt to take back our food from the corporations and the highly processed machinations of modern food production. But when one of the high profile members of this community actively works to suppress and discourage the rest of us, I can only throw up my hands with frustration and wonder if there is really any progress being made at all.

I sincerely hope that this trademark is overturned and that the Dervaes family is unable to push through any litigation against those of us who are simply trying to fight for healthy food and self sufficiency. However until then, I will proudly stand up and say I am an urban homesteader with an Urban Homestead. And you can’t do anything about it!

Happy Eating and Gardening and Homesteading!

 

So Long, Fresh Milk January 27, 2011

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Raw Goat Milk — realfoodmama @ 11:12 am
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Eek!

This week is the week I am going to finally dry up my poor goat. She has given me copious amounts of liquid white gold for nearly a year now, but the continued lactation is finally taking a toll on her. She is skinny, she dislikes getting up on the milk stand, frequently kicks at me and generally looks annoyed whenever I come down to the pen with the milk pail in hand.

I am anticipating a long dry spell this year. My Nubian didn’t get bred until November so she is not due until April. That means I am looking at at least two months of milklessness (yes I realize that isn’t a word). In an effort to alleviate the horror of it all, I made a gallon of kefir yesterday in order to continue to bake and make pancakes. I suppose I will just have to give up on alfredo sauce altogether. The household will continue to purchase yogurt as the primary eater of yogurt hates the flavor of goat anyway (sorry to out you mom!) and we always have half and half about for coffee and such for a similar reason. I suppose I can resign myself to putting half and half in my tea if I must.

The alternative, of course, is to buy raw goat milk from a friend or the farmer’s market but that really just get’s my goat, so to speak. I hate buying it when I actually own the animals! Regardless, I think my girl will be much happier when she no longer is obligated to feed us. She needs a nice long rest to put on some fat and enjoy life before I get her impregnated this fall.

 

Knocking up a goat October 15, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry — realfoodmama @ 3:04 pm
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One of the largest commitments I have made towards having a more healthy food supply is the purchasing of two dairy goats. Goats are great animals, require much less space than a dairy cow and, at least in my opinion, have much better personalities. They are incredibly smart (mine frequently escape their locked pen), curious, playful animals and I personally believe that the world would be a happier place if people participated in daily goat watching activities.

Additionally the benefits of raw goat milk are numerous. Goat milk is much easier to digest than cow’s milk as the fat molecules are smaller and more easily broken down. Lactose is still produced, however there is evidence to suggest that other factors minimize the effects, such as certain anti-inflammatory properties of goat’s milk which minimize the immune response. Additionally goat’s milk has a higher calcium and phosphorus content than cow’s milk. Calcium and phosphate join in the body to assist with bone mineralization, however calcium can also help with other physical ailments such as migraine headaches and pre-menstrual cramps.

Lastly, and most importantly, goat milk does not taste like goat cheese. While it has a different flavor from cow’s milk, it does not have to taste at all goaty, especially if chilled immediately after milking.

All this is a very long lead up to the fact that I need to get my goat pregnant this fall so she can have milk next spring! Goats need to be pregnant in order to produce milk (unlike chickens who will lay eggs regardless of the presence of a male) and in order to get pregnant I need to take my girl on a date.

I am frankly totally freaked out about it for a couple of reasons. Last year, when I got my other goat pregnant, I took her back to the breeder I bought her from in order to get her knocked up and she lived with them for a full month. I have elected not to take my goat to the same location this year primarily because it is very far away and I can’t have my goat gone for that long.

So instead I had to advertise for buck services (male goats are called bucks, females called does…similar to deer) on Craigslist and am sort of walking into the situation blind. I have asked a lot of questions and generally feel like the breeder knows what he is talking about, but I have never seen his set up and am worried my sweet girl will be knocked around, mistreated, or injured. There is also the possibility that she won’t even get pregnant!

Suffice it to say all of this really makes me wish I had the space for a buck of my own. It really isn’t practical since I only have two girls and I am hardly making money off of them so a buck would just be an expense, unless I rented him out for breeding purposes. However I really don’t have the room as a buck can get very stinky when in rut and I wouldn’t want it to affect the flavor of the milk.

So basically I am at the mercy of other buck owners. I am sure that everything will be fine, but in the event I don’t like the looks of the buck, or the set up or anything I have no qualms about backing out of the agreement and going with someone else. So wish me luck and lots of goat fertility!

 

Home Made Feta – finally tried it! August 16, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Home Made,Raw Goat Milk — realfoodmama @ 2:24 pm
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About a month ago I made a batch of home made feta using my goat milk. I set it aside in the fridge in the brine, as directed, and let it sit for a little over four weeks. Today, while going through the fridge and trying to decide what kind of cheese to make, I pulled it out and gave it a nibble.

Unfortunately it was horribly salty. Inedible, even. Unwilling to give up, I took a piece and rinsed it off under the faucet, then tried again. Still incredibly salty. Like…olive salty. It was delicious, but more than a teeny nibble would dehydrate you instantly.

So then, still unwilling to give up, I set a piece in a dish of water in an attempt to pull more salt out. Sadly this wrecked havoc on the texture, causing it to turn slimy, but it did slightly remedy the salt situation. Rather than soak the entire batch, however, I think I will simply rinse the cheese before using it, and use it very, very sparingly.

This brings me to my real point, however, which is that I am going to make more feta today. I am hoping that if I make a few changes to the recipe the end result will be more palatable. For instance, when letting it dry I will not salt it as much, and when making the brine I think I will back off on the salt content in there as well.

The recipe I used is pulled off the Fiasco Farm web site which is a great resource for all things goat and dairy. There are several great cheese recipes on the web site as well as an abundance of information regarding care and handling of goats.

I am hoping to be able to post in about another month about a successful batch of feta, but until then I will have to content myself with teeny, tiny nibbles at the saltiest cheese on earth!

Happy Eating!

 

Our First Egg! July 16, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Garden Fresh — realfoodmama @ 3:06 pm
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One of our hens laid our very first egg this afternoon! We are very excited about it here at the urban farm and my little man has decided the egg is his and needs to live in his bedroom. Clearly that can’t go on much longer, but it is nice to see that he is as excited as his mommy about what is, ultimately, a rather mundane event.

Our hens are only four months old so the advent of one egg is very possibly the most we will get this week. It is adorably tiny and perfectly shaped, but won’t actually feed any of us. Regardless, it marks a new chapter here at the urban farm, complete with new chores and more space taken up in the fridge.

In addition to the egg, I am also happy to report that the corn plants are taller than my son, the squash plants are covered in abundant blooms and the tomato plants are literally growing out of their cages. All signs point toward an abundance and I am incredibly grateful for all of it, even if it means more yard work and livestock chores for me. I will upload a picture of our new addition (the egg) as soon as I can get my son to let up on his vigil. Until then, happy eating and gardening!