The days and nights are busy. Cleaning stalls, re-bedding stalls, making sure “kids” have indeed nursed, feeding any orphans by bottle, serving a cocktail to the does after they deliver and smiling at the antics of these cute little animals. Kidding season has begun here at Green Spot Farm.
Dad has a herd of dairy goats. They are a mixed herd with registered, grade, and non-registered goats. They are primarily Nubian but we do have some LaMancha and Alpine in the group. We have 23 does that were bred and to date we have nine babies. Whether it is the breeding schedule or the does individual cycles, they seem to deliver in waves. We have had five does deliver thus far and are waiting for the next wave. Based on the signs we will be busy again very soon.
I generally spend a week or two per month here at the farm but this is the first year that I have just parked at the farm and helped 24/7 through this process. I am learning from Dad and it is a great experience. He is a wealth of knowledge and at 86 has practiced animal husbandry for many years. As the time for the delivery approaches there is a balance between waiting and assisting. Ninety-nine times out of 100, nature takes its course and the doe manages just fine. Occasionally, they need some assistance.
For anyone who is beginning with goats and going through the first “kidding” season I would suggest reading Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger and Sara Thomson Bredesen. One tip that I found very helpful was the suggestion to offer the does a drink of molasses in warm water after the delivery process is complete. I have found that the does love this cocktail and suck it down like it is the best thing they have ever tasted. I am guessing that it is the sweet taste but also high in iron and calcium.
We have birthing stalls that are divided so that we can house the new moms individually and also stalls that are not divided that can house more does. Once the mom and baby have bonded and know who is who, we move them from the individual birth stall to the bigger group stall. It is a process of moving through the stalls/spaces so that we have birthing stalls available as the does need them. We had some sunshine the other day and so everyone in the group stall had the opportunity to go out for some sun and a chance to kick up their heels before going back into the group stall for the nighttime. It is interesting that the moms have a system where they share kid care. They have a messaging system where one stays with the kids and the others go out and about. The next day a different mom will stay with the kids and the others go out. I am not sure how they know whose turn it is but they do work it out.
This year the weather has been very erratic. We have had periods of zero and below weather and then some days of above normal temperatures. The extreme cold is hard on the does and on the babies. It seems as the temperature drops, does have kids. When this happens it is crucial to ensure that the kids are dried off and nurse as soon as possible. We have a hair dryer and rags available to help with the process, and we watch the does for signs that they are beginning the process. Generally you will have a good idea if you watch for the signs that the doe will give. We have a supply of big cardboard boxes and extra old towels. If it is extremely cold, we will bring the kids in the house to warm them up or to stay overnight as needed. We heat with wood, and they seem to love being in front of the wood stove. If the babies are in the house or away from their mothers for too long, there can be issues with bonding. Sometimes we have to make the choice between leaving them with Mom and creating a bottle baby. I would rather take on more bottle babies than to have them become chilled or freeze.
There are other reasons that you might end up with bottle babies. We have three kids that are on the bottle now. They were acquired from a neighbor who had a doe die birthing triplets. She was able to save two of the kids but she did not have milk frozen so that she could bottle feed the little ones. She called and we adopted them. The other bottle baby was also a triplet and the doe didn’t have enough milk to feed three babies. It is always best to have a supply of frozen goat milk. These little guys are constantly hungry but we have them on a schedule. In the beginning you do have to do nighttime feedings but as they get established you can feed several times during the day and skip the night.
It is amusing that they regard the person who feeds them as Mom and all you have to do is call and they come running. Last week we had several good days and we let the does out to graze. I took my three bottle babies along, and they frolicked and tried nibbling grass along with the other kids.
We have had a lot of success and some losses this year. This is true each year but the cold weather has been a significant factor this year. Most of our does were field bred and, based on the five-month gestation, have delivered in January and February. We have talked about using a selective process for next year. If you want to be first to market in the spring, then January and February birthing is fine. If, however, you have a winter like this one, you may want mid-March or April births. There are pros and cons both ways.
For the many years we have owned a registered Nubian buck that has produced very colorful kids of superior quality. He also has the distinction of fathering mostly twins, triplets and quads. He was a quad himself, which may have something to do with that fact. This was his last year as herd buck, and we have acquired a new registered kid that will hopefully grow into his own reputation. The new buck kid has champion blood lines and also milk production levels.
Some time has passed since I started writing this post. We now have 32 babies and have four does yet to freshen. We are a full working farm and enjoy the milk, cheese and meat provided by the herd. I have included some pictures of the does and kids from the 2014 kidding season.
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze with me!
As I write this post, the wind is howling and the wind chill is below zero. We have a barn full of does and kids that are doing their very best to cuddle up and stay warm. Two days ago I was in shirt sleeves and hauling horse manure around to fertilize all the flowerbeds, roses and jonquils that are bursting through the soil. March is coming in like a lion and if that old saying is correct, it will go out like a lamb.
It is time to start your tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds! I am working on it. I have three trays in the south window of the living room. They have been planted for about five days, and I am watching for those first sprouts to appear. I have made several seed orders and would have planted lettuce and spinach today if it have not been sub-zero! You know that is OK, because in about four days it will be in the 50s and 60s, and I will plant them then.
We have been talking about our list of things to accomplish as the weather continues to improve. We are going to re-seed the pastures this year. Our pastures feed the horses, cattle and goats and also our honey bees. We will plant crimson, white and yellow clover along with a grass mixture in the pastures and Dutch clover in the orchard.
We will also start some new hives of bees as we continue to re-build the bee hive population. We are looking forward to working with the bees and enjoying the honey.
Dad has more than 100 fruit trees in the front yard, and they are in need of pruning.
Yes, it is time for spring! I have memorized the seed catalogs, read tons of books, and filled the wood stove more times than I can count. So now ... spring!
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze!
An Alternate Meat Source/Rabbit/Rabbit Pot Pie
Dad raises rabbits for one of our meat sources on the farm. The other day we dressed some rabbits, and we had two that were a little older and bigger so I cooked them in the slow cooker overnight. I added two onions diced and some salt, pepper and, of course, water to cover. They simmered away on the high setting overnight – the aroma was very nice! When the meat had cooled, I took it off the bone and the result was three sandwich-size bags of rabbit meat for the freezer and about four cups of meat to use. There was also good amount of broth – about 1 quart. I would note that when you cook rabbit in this fashion you need to strain the broth as rabbits do have lots of small bones.
Generally, when I cook rabbit for Dad, I fry the rabbit. We process the rabbits at about 8 weeks or about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of meat when dressed. Rabbit this size is perfect for frying. I will talk more about fried rabbit in another post.
So – here I am with this rabbit meat and what to do? We are still using our potatoes that we harvested from 2013 so I am blessed with potatoes and I had some carrots and celery in the refrigerator. When I am at the farm I try to challenge myself to do with what we have on hand in the refrigerator, canned, or grow. I did not want to make a trip to town so – I started with those ingredients plus two more onions. Did I mention we like onion?!
On top of the stove, I melted about 1 teaspoon butter in a non-stick skillet and added 3 diced carrots, 3 stalks celery diced, 2 onions diced, and 4 medium potatoes diced. I simmered the veggies and added 1 cup rabbit broth.
Separately, in a saucepan I made a roux for gravy with 1 teaspoon butter, 1/4 cup cream, 3 tablespoons corn starch and about 1/4 cup rabbit broth. I continued to add broth making a thin sauce. I simmered the sauce to the consistency I wanted – a light sauce not runny and certainly not wallpaper paste.
In a bowl (because my pan was too small), I mixed the veggies, sauce, 3 cups rabbit meat. Then I used a pie dish and assembled as follows: bottom crust, veggie, rabbit and sauce mixture, and the top crust.
I baked the pot pie on 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes. Everything is cooked so you are basically cooking the pie crust and making sure the meat and veggie mixture warms and the sauce thickens a bit.
Leftovers Note: You could – I did – make a separate rabbit gravy to serve with the pot pie on the second day. On the second day I found the pie to be a little dry and the rabbit gravy was delicious!
For those who like the ingredients listed here they are:
3 cups cooked rabbit meat
Vegetables: 4 medium potatoes, 3 stalks celery, 3 carrots, 2 onions all diced small
Sauce: 1 teaspoon butter, 1/4 cup cream, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and approx. 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth as needed.
2 pie crusts – make your own or use a prepared one, as you like!
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze!
We “Greens” like our fried mush! This is a favorite of Dad’s and when any of us girls are home, we try to make up a batch. The upscale name for mush is “polenta” but for country people we have always known this delightful side dish as “mus.h” I shouldn’t really call mush a side dish because it overshadows almost anything that is served with it. I also want to give highest mention to my sister Donna who, for years, has been the “queen of mush making” in the Green family. I am a late comer and am perfecting the recipe and the cooking of the delicacy.
This recipe naturally calls for cornmeal and you can certainly use a good store-bought product. We have a grain grinder and for the batch that is featured in this article, Dad ground whole corn into meal – using the flour setting on our grain grinder. The outcome was great – the meal thickened nicely and had a wonderful fresh corn flavor. Also I want to mention that this recipe is not my original – it was taken from an old cookbook years ago so I cannot give proper credit for the origin. It is the recipe that my mom used and later each of us girls.
Corn Meal Mush
2 2/3 cups water
1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
Bring the 2 2/3 cups water to boil in a saucepan. (I use a heavy enameled covered iron soup pot. I like the way these pots radiate heat evenly.)
Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly. (This is a must! If you do not stir constantly the mixture can lump up and it is not a pretty sight!) Cook on high heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently. When the mixture is thick, turn down the heat to medium, cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes. (I set the timer for 10 minutes, uncover, stir and then cover and set the timer for another 10 minutes.)
While the mixture is cooking, butter a bread loaf pan. When the mixture has finished cooking, pour into the buttered loaf pan and allow it to cool for 25 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.
To unfold the cornmeal mush, loosen the edges with a spatula. Move it to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and dip in cornmeal so that the surface is dry. This is just a light coating and will help the mush brown nicely. To fry the mush, I use a little butter – 1 teaspoon or so mixed with 3 to 4 teaspoons of coconut butter – the coconut butter does not burn at a higher temperature and did you know the properties in coconut butter feed your brain! Yes, coconut butter, in small amounts, is good for your thinker! (I am not a scientist or a doctor – so do your own homework.) I would also note that we prefer the slices fairly thin, which results in a crisp finished product.
Serve with butter and hot syrup, in addition to eggs, bacon or actually all by itself if you like!
You should wrap the unused portion in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for later use. That is VERY FUNNY! I make a double batch and there is never any left!
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze!
Odetta was my husband’s grandmother. She and her husband, Jess, were “salt of the earth” influences for my husband and his three sisters as well as Helen, their mom. Odetta knew how to cook for people, and it was one of the things that she enjoyed. Many were the times that you would sit down to a glorious feast of “down home” cooking and she would say …”Such as it is....” No one else that I have ever known could make such marvelous food and insist that it was just what one did. At one time, Odetta cooked for a group of ranch hands on a ranch where her husband worked. She made two meals each day for a dozen or so people on a little wood stove that she called the monkey stove.
I looked up monkey stove on ask.com and came up with this definition. “A monkey stove is a small wood-burning stove with two burners. It can also be described as a small iron wood burning stove with two eyes at the top. Monkey stoves were used by the pioneers who always carried one in their wagon.” I do remember Odetta having a stove like this at the farm though I don’t think it was what she used at the ranch.
From the time that I was introduced to Odetta and Jess, I can remember her cinnamon rolls. She would make them for Pat and the family. In 1974 when Pat and I drove across country from California to Kansas – returning to Kansas to farm with Granddad Jess – those cinnamon rolls were waiting on our arrival as part of a breakfast fit for a king. Only once, can I remember irritating my granny-in-law and that was when Pat and I had turned vegetarians and told her that we no longer want to eat the cinnamon rolls. What a mistake! Both the vegetarianism and turning down the cinnamon rolls! It took begging, graveling, and much penance to convince her that we had gained new wisdom and had ended our stint as vegetarians and would really enjoy some of those rolls. As I recall it was a couple of years before she blessed us again.
Later, when I had babies, she made cinnamon rolls with the girls. Auntie Pam found these pictures of my youngest daughter, Ashley, making rolls with Odetta. She made quite an impression on Ashley, especially, and to this day we make cinnamon rolls together. This year I was not with Ashley at Christmas, and she introduced the recipe to her husband’s family in California. These rolls are always a hit so I hope that you will enjoy them with your family.
I proof yeast in a small amount of warm water with a teaspoon sugar. Not all people or all recipes proof yeast in that manner. For what it is worth – I do.
Cinnamon Rolls – Odetta Powers
Proof Yeast – Combine 1 package of dry yeast, 1/4 cup water and scant teaspoon of sugar in a small dish and let stand while you are mixing up the following.
Heat: 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until it melts. Cool to room temperature.
Measure 2 cups flour into a large bowl and add the cooled milk mixture to the flour. Then add the yeast mixture. Add 2 eggs and beat by hand or with an electric mixer on low for 3 minutes. Using a spoon stir in as much of 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour as you can.
Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead enough of the remaining flour to make moderately soft dough until it is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl in a warm place. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour).
When the dough has doubled in size, punch down and divide in half, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. After dough has rested, roll half into 12x8 rectangle. Brush with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and sprinkle on the buttered dough. Roll up and cut into rolls. Repeat with the other half of the dough. The rolls will fit in a 9x12 baking dish.
Note about cutting the rolls: Odetta taught me to cut the rolls with kitchen string or dental floss. A knife will flatten out the rolls. So … slip the string under the rolled up dough, loop over on top and pull… perfect and no flat cinnamon roll.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before frosting.
Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls:
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Makes about ½ cup of frosting. May be thickened with more confectioner's sugar or thinned with milk or cream. If you want a more substantial frosting you may add 1/4 cup soft butter. Combine and spread on cinnamon rolls.
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze!
Christmas time was one of Mom’s favorite times of year and the smell of these cookies baking often filled the house – ginger, molasses, raisins and walnuts – spicy and good.
I can remember helping Mom make these cookies when I was about 12 years old. One reason I liked these cookies is that we got to put our hands in the dough! The cookies are big – about 3 1/2 inches across. With a house full of kids a big cookie is a good thing.
Mom tore this recipe out of a magazine just like I still do today. The picture of that torn out page is etched in my memory; it was stained with cookie dough and oil from the many batches that we had made. I wish that I knew the magazine so I could give them credit for the recipe.
Mom used a drinking glass to cut out the cookies. I use a mason jar and the recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies.
Oatmeal Molasses Cookies Corrine Green
8 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
8 cups quick-cooked rolled oats
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 cups melted vegetable shortening (I use butter, it is natural)
2 cups molasses – l prefer dark
4 eggs beaten
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups seedless raisins
2 cups walnuts
Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour. Sift together flour, salt and soda and set aside.
In a very large bowl mix the oatmeal, sugar and ginger. Stir in the melted butter, molasses, beaten eggs, hot water, and sifted dry ingredients, raisins and nuts. Work the dough with your hands until it is well mixed. Add the remaining ½ cup flour, if needed, to make the dough workable.
Roll portions of dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with a 3 1/2-inch cutter. Place cookies on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush with water and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 8 to 10 minutes.
Let cool completely before stacking or storing.
My sister and I were talking about these cookies recently so I am making a batch today for my ead. He always says the more things in a cookie the better – oats, nuts, raisins. These cookies are great with hot cocoa or a great cup of coffee. Actually they are pretty dawg gone good warm from the oven. I do believe I will have one now!
Thanks for shooting the breeze!
My family has a few traditions – I say that tongue in cheek! We have a ton of
Thanksgiving traditions. It is the one holiday that we all do our best to gather
at the family farm. There are seven of us siblings and now our children and
We have a number of great cooks in the family and over the years everyone has
owned a "special" dish that we wouldn't want to do without.
Beth makes a broccoli/rice casserole and she makes amazing blackberry pies;
Donna, another sister-in-law, prepares the green bean casserole and great
pumpkin pie. The third sister-in-law, Char, has a delicious creamed corn and
makes a fabulous holiday fudge. Some have been known to hide it to make sure they
get their share! Another sister-in-law, Renetta, makes the ham, and she does the
It is nice to have a choice of meats and the ham is alway welcome. My
sister, Donna, has a unique way of roasting the turkeys – three to be exact.
She also does the stuffing, gravy, and signature cranberry sauce. Andrea, my
youngest sister, is very creative and brings a gourmet flare to the meal. Her
roasted brussel sprouts, cheeses, and exotic olives are always a treat. I do the
potatoes and pecan pie. Most years there are potatoes from Dad's garden and we
cook about a five-gallon bucket full. We have an industrial size masher and use
lots of cream and butter. No scrimping on the calories for these potatoes.
Some of the grandchildren are adults and they are introducing their own
specialties – cheesecake, cupcakes, etc. There are times when a sibling will not
be able to attend, and the second generation jumps right in and brings a
We do keep adding great grandbabies and friends. Dad always says, “The more the
merrier.” One of the most important things to him is to see the house full of
family. It brings him such happiness. Mom passed about three years ago, but she
is here in spirit – and in many of the recipes.
My sister Donna and I arrive some days early to help with the cleaning and begin
the cooking. One day before Thanksgiving we begin the cooking. Donna starts with
roasting garlic – lots of garlic. That smell lets you know that some serious
cooking is about to take place. The turkey is rubbed with roasted garlic and oil
and sits on a bed of whole carrots and celery. It is cooked at a high
temperature and is turned from breast down to breast up part way through the
roasting process. It is a sight to behold!!!
We trade off time at the counter, stove and sink – prepping, cooking, and
washing dishes (no dish washer here)! We, just like Mom, enjoy cooking, talking
and fixing the “big meal” for the family. I see Mom in each of us girls. She was
so creative and one of the ways she shared that creativeness was cooking for her
This year I tried roasting a pumpkin to make pies. Dad had a huge pumpkin that
he had cured and was going to save for seed. This was not your typical “pie”
pumpkin, and I was amazed at the quality of the pies.
I want to reference an article that I found at Capper’s Farmer by Carol Deppe, December 2012. I would recommend this article and the pie recipe. I agreed with
Carol’s thoughts on pie, and this year's pie was delicious. She believes that
the pie is more about the fresh pumpkin and eggs and less about bland canned
pumpkin and evaporated milk. I agree whole heartedly!
I cut the pumpkin in cubes and roasted (baked) it at 350 degrees for about 45
minutes. I added a pan of water at the side to help add steam to the roasting.
Just stick a fork in the pumpkin to test if it is done. After it cooled, I put
the extra cubed pumpkin in the freezer. The cubes can be unthawed as needed for
I used a blender to puree the pumpkin and used Carol’s recipe from the article I
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe
6 cups baked mashed ‘Sweet Meat’ or other prime squash or pumpkin
2 to 2¼ cups eggs (my note: about 14 eggs)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 to 3 cups brown sugar, packed down, depending upon the sweetness of the
2 tablespoons Carol’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix (16:4:4:1 cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,
1 teaspoon real vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix together and pour into a prepared one-crust pie shell. Bake at 350 for
approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Whip up some “real” heavy whipping cream. You went
through the work of “real pie” so don’t put fake whipping cream on it!
This year the second turkey came out of the oven around midnight. Donna and I
were waiting up for more family to arrive, watching the pumpkin pie bake, and
mixing up the pecan pie. She was taking the turkey off the bone while we chatted
and I ate crisp turkey wings.
When we all get together there are generally other projects that are on the
docket. It could be trimming goats' feet, bottling honey, or any of the other
things that come up.
On Thanksgiving morning you will usually find the guys out cutting wood for
Dad’s winter wood supply and working up a genuine appetite.
After the meal, events range from target practice, walks, naps, horseback riding
and there have been a few touch football games in the front yard.
Perhaps our best tradition is to value family. Continuing to gather and
investing time in these relationships is honoring what Dad and Mom began more than 60
Thanks for shooting the breeze!
P.S. A special thanks to my niece Kim for most of the photos used in this article.
She is an amazing photographer. If you are in the Columbia, Mo., area check out her
Facebook page - Kimberly Gayle Photography.