Friday 27 June 2014

Pia, Hebe and Acorn teach about goats : Goat husbandry course Kilchoan Learning Centre Saturday 13th September 2014

Hebe, Acorn and Pia
If you would like to learn about goat keeping our three goats will teach you, here in Kilchoan on Saturday 13th September 2014.

This one day course has been organised by West Highland College, part of UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands).

At the end of the day the goats, with some help from me,  will have taught you about, breeding, feeding, health, handling, welfare, behaviour and overall management. This will equip you to start keep goats mainly for milk but also meat and fibre production.

Goats are not too keen on a classroom environment and can be as as disruptive as their students so most of the instruction will take place in and around the croft, bring waterproofs and wellies. We'll have lunch in the kitchen when you can sample some goat products. You'll get a chance to milk, trim feet and do other practical stuff. There are only 10 places so if you want to find out more or to book a place contact Pat Glenday. or 01397 874260


Wednesday 25 June 2014

Crottin de Kilchoan : How to make it

One of the best light meals in France is green salad with "chevre chaud". The chevre is a small round soft cheese with a grey wrinkled rind a bit like a brain. As its my favourite cheese I made some today.

Cheese draining in crottin moulds
Sanitise all of the tools and pieces of kit in a chlorine bath, I use Milton tablets one to five litres of water. Put the utensils back in the bath after use.

Take ten litres ( two gallons) of goat's milk and pasteurise it. Soft cheese is a great medium for mould and bacterial growth! Heat it slowly to 72C in a double boiler, the cheese bucket inside the jam pan. Once it gets to 72 hold that temperature for 15 seconds then plunge the bucket into a sink with cold running water to get the temperature down to 32C (inoculation temperature) as fast as possible.

Air drying aftyer brining
This is artisan cheese making in the kitchen so the measurements have to fit the kit available. Add an eighth of a teaspoon of mesophilic culture then the same amount of Geotrichum candidum, stir then leave to ripen for an hour.

Dilute your rennet (instructions on the label) and dilute in a quarter cup of water add to the milk and stir for a minute.Allow to coagulate for an hour. Its ready when your finger moved up through the surface leaves a clean break in the curd. Cut the curd with a sterilised bread knife with passes half an inch apart and full depth of the curd. If you don't have a curd knife  to cut horizontally cut at an angle with the bread knife.

With clean hands stir gently three times over ten minutes then allow the curds to rest for ten minutes.

Home made "cave"for affinage
Ladle the whey off the top into the crottin moulds. You can make these from yoghurt pots punctures with a hot wire or needle. Fill the moulds to the top because it shrinks dramatically. Stand the moulds over a roasting tin on a wire cooling tray. After half an hour turn the moulds over, slide the contents out on to a plate or saucer then pop the cheese back in upside down. Do this two three time more before leaving to drain until tomorrow morning.

Next morning the cheeses should have shrunk to a third of their original volume. Slide the cheeses out of their moulds and put them in a pan of saturated brine for 20 mins. After brining put the cheeses back on the wire tray to dry for two hours.

The cheeses need to be stored as closely as possible to 13C with the humidity at 80%. Turn them over every three days, they should be edible after 4 to 6 weeks. Wrap them in cheese paper and sore in the fridge. Simples.......

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Kids go to a new home

Strange new experience
Rowan and Willow the two brothers born in early March have gone! Their new home is nearly 50 miles way at Clovullin just this side of Corran Ferry. Ann their new owner and goat herd wanted Rowan for mating with her females this Autumn and Willow his brother (a wether) went along to keep him company. First time in a livestock trailer and fifty miles of bumpy road are stressful enough without doing it alone. ?Then there's the new goat house, new environment and strange shaggy old goats to contend with. Willow will be coming back unless Ann decides she want home too.

They look a bit forlorn but they soon be used to it

The problem is I don't have a job for a wether goat and with a family of vegetarians the freezer is out of the question. The Victorians had them pulling lightweight carts for children so Gracie might be in luck.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Snow buntings on Ben Nevis

Summit view to the SW
Every May and June there are few days when the "Ben" is clear of cloud, its windless hot and sunny. On Sunday night the forecast was perfect, it was my week off from milking goats and I needed some exercise. Several hundred others thought the same.

The view from the summit (1,303m ) has to be Britain's finest mountain panorama. As highest in the range and Britain  all of the other peaks are  below you.

 I think I was the only one there who
Free image downloaded from the internet.  I told you my camera was crap.
noticed the snow buntings flitting around the summit snowfield . When I pointed them out no one was really interested just a polite smile as if to say, "so what"?

One of Britain's rarest breeding birds, that's what!

People were still heading up at six in the evening when I was down to the Glen Nevis path they wouldn't be on top until after 10 pm.

Monday 2 June 2014

Outwitting the kids with a waste proof feeder

My goats have two faults......They are forever plotting to outwit me in order to eat the new  hedge or to open gates that should be shut . Don't ever think they are secure if you tied up a gate or hurdle with baler twine they can undo knots in a flash.

 Secondly they waste food by standing in an open topped trough and fouling the contents with their feet They are too picky to eat anything that they have stood on or trampled. 

 Hay wastage I'm still working on but I have now outwitted the kids with a new design of concentrate feeder.

There was a picture of a similar feeder in the British Goat Society Journal. A heavy duty plastic container with two goat head size holes cut in the side and then suspended from a rafter.  an old teat dip drum might have been better but this was all I had and it works a treat there's no waste at all.