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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Visit to Ol' McGrandpa's Farm

Checking out my father-in-law's homestead is always a treat. Getting a behind the scenes look at a small dairy goat operation is a perfect way to celebrate June being dairy month!



      I thought it would be fun to take a small break from recipes and celebrate dairy month in a different way for a day. My father-in-law and his wife have a small dairy farm. I would venture to guess that this farm is different than what you are picturing though.  Close your eyes and think dair farm.  What are you seeing?  If the only thing you can picture is a giant barn filled with black and white cows you may be in for a surprise when I tell you about their dairy operation!


    The herd may be small and not quite what you'd think, but the farm is quite fruitful none the less!



     My father-in-law recently retired and he certainly did not take that as an invitation to slow down. Instead he's been busy building a house, small barn, chicken coops and bee hives. They have a large garden that seems to produce greens year round.  He has even planted oats and thrashed them by hand. He seems to love a challenge and he definitely loves dreaming up ways to do it better next year.



      While there are no cows running around the homestead, there are goats! There's also a donkey named Justine, plenty of chickens, ducks, bees, dogs and a cat. Of course they all contribute in their own way, whether they carry the maple sap to the kettles to be made to be made into syrup or laying eggs.


     Of course today we will focus on the goats and their milk. Little dude and I visited last summer to get a first hand look at the milking process and harvest some fresh chanterelle mushrooms from the woods. We enjoyed so many delicious dishes made with those mushrooms too!  You can read a bit more about my newest mushroom obsession and how it got started along with one of my favorite ways to have them on my post about the Chanterelle Tart with Ricotta, Rosemary and a Phyllo Crust. YUMMMM!

We had so much fun checking everything out and seeing how it works. Then just a few months ago we heard there were babies coming soon. They had a singlet, twins and triplets all within a week or two! Can you imagine? Three boy and three girl kids later, we just had to see them!



      They were so cute and rambunctious. Plus all of those babies meant more milk soon! Once the babies are no longer so dependent on the milk, the mamas are put into the milk production phase.  Not a single drop goes to waste! They drink the fresh milk, make homemade yogurt and cheese and lots and lots of goats milk soap. They sell the soaps and other products at gift shows and farmers markets and have a blast doing it.  You can check out some of the great products online at Sweet Spirits Farms or on Facebook.


       One of these days I need to sit in on a soap making session and a cheese making session! I am always so curious how things are made.  I also have a fondness for doing it yourself and the next best thing to that is small batch artisan products.  So getting the inside look at the process would be so much fun! I also need to get a bowl of that fresh yogurt topped with their maple syrup, doesn't that sound good?


      Of course when I mentioned that I was doing some posts for dairy month, they were happy to deliver some fresh milk. I can't wait to share what I made with you. Don't worry, if you don't have goat milk you can still make something close with cow milk. But if you have access to goat milk you have to give it a try that way!



16 comments:

  1. What a fun field trip! They have such a beautiful place!

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  2. I have a friend with dairy goats and we have made homemade mozzarella cheese and then used the whey to make a delicious bread. How fun to have a relative with dairy goats.

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    1. I really want to make mozzarella too! It's on my ever growing list of things I must do!

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  3. I want to visit McGrandpa's farm too! Those goats are so cute and OMG Justine the donkey is a doll :). Do you think my neighbors would hate me if I brought a donkey home? (And Is that a goat standing on her back or is the pic an optical illusion? Either way--sooooo cute!) Happy Wednesday, Carlee!

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    1. Maybe if you offered free rides every so often, they wouldn't mind! Donkeys are great guard animals, so she helps keep the goats safe from predators. She also helps pack maple sap around and serves as a great perch for the goats ;-) There is some great video somewhere of her frolicking about too, I should find that!

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  4. oh Carlee, what a wonderful place. I want to write a children's book about it!!

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  5. I too think you need to visit for cheese making and soap making! I'd be very interested.

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    1. We should schedule a field trip and go!

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  6. I'm sure your sweet boy had a wonderful time! I know my boys would! I'd love to spend a day on the farm. My Grandfather had a farm in Illinois too. He also had bees. My dad inherited it but sold it many years ago.

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    1. We always have fun when we visit, you guys can come up and tromp around any time you'd like! What did your grandfather grow besides bees?

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  7. Carlee, that's so cool! I loved hearing about it. :) What a treat to see the pics of the kids.

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    1. Thank you! We always have fun visiting, especially when there are babies involved!

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  8. What a fun tour of the farm! Goodness, they are BUSY!! Thrashing oats by hand, and making soaps, and more?? Wow!! Impressive!

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    1. They certainly have their hands full, but they really seem to enjoy it. I still need to do a post on a visit to my parents' farm one of these days. I've showed some glimpses on instagram, but they have a different set of livestock and a fun setup too! We really enjoy visiting them all!

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