Alex and Vicki working together to milk Maggie while Poco eats on the second stand.
Amanda cleaning paddocks.
Feeding some hay.
Rubbing Huey’s nose.
Anna and I frequently find ourselves “on the fringe” of society. What I mean by that is, we have moved away from much of what most Americans consider mainstream. Why? Primarily because the more we educate ourselves on decisions, the less we trust “corporate America”. While we are very confident in our choices, we are always willing to learn more. However, there must be actual factual background for choices and not just because it is what everyone else does. Here are some examples:
Goat milk. We chose to get dairy goats with the sole reason of using them for milk for our family. While the stats vary according to the source, in general, it is estimated that about 70% of the world’s population consumes goat milk. In the US, we drink goat milk, and we are on the fringe.
Raw milk. Not only is the milk we drink from a goat, it is UNPASTEURIZED! That’s right. We just filter and chill the milk. Do you think that the 70% of the world drinking goat milk have pasteurization machines in the kitchen? I completely understand why pasteurization exists – to cleanse milk of bacteria/contamination that is likely to be present on large-scale productions. However, it is very clear that unpasteurized milk can be safely produced and consumed on small-scale operations (like a family farm).
Raising our own meat. Our kids know the rabbits in the cages will be raised as meat. The chickens will give us eggs, and then they too will be dinner. You know what? They are not traumatized by this, because they don’t have illusions that meat comes from a mysterious factory in another place. Our children understand the life cycle better than some adults I have met. Choosing to raise meat, that isn’t injected with antibiotics, somehow puts us on the fringe. About 100 years ago we would have been considered normal.
Barefoot horses. Facts: horses in the wild do not have shoes, do not get trimmed by humans, do not exhibit many of the pathologies and hoof problems in domestic horses, and live longer. Yet, with all that reality, somehow Americans have become convinced that barefoot horses are the oddballs! I seriously have to defend the choice to leave shoes off or remove shoes from horses! Why don’t owners who have shod horses have to defend their choice since that is the unnatural path? Owning horses without metal plates nailed to hooves puts us on the fringe.
Rejecting chemical fertilizers. We choose to not use chemicals in our gardens, on our grass, in the pastures, or otherwise around the farm whenever possible. I’m not saying there is never a time and place for that, but we don’t feel the default choice should be a chemical. Organic practices put us on the fringe.
TV shows. There are some tv shows that I will not watch based on principle. I have never, and will never, watch American Idol, solely due to the name. I refuse to encourage or support the idolization of individuals in society. And yes, it extends way beyond tv. I heard there was a football game on tv yesterday. I didn’t watch it, because I am disappointed in the pedestal our society places professional athletes upon; the same athletes who are frequently poor role models.
Cooking. We (usually Anna but me too) cook food. I mean with actual ingredients. For example, Anna made cookies, and it didn’t involve a single box with 1 egg and water. Our kids look forward to special occasions because it means they might get to have a soda (there are none in the house). Dinner at a restaurant is exciting to the kids. McDonald’s is a rare treat. Sure, there are some quick and easy dinner options in the cabinet or freezer, but they are the exception around here. And by the way, we threw out all our non-stick and only cook in cast iron or stainless steel.
Church. We go to church regularly. This creates conflicts with horse shows, goa t shows, kid activities etc. People are surprised when you say Sunday morning is a conflict because you go to church. When did going to church become something for those on the fringe?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging those who differ in opinions. I just can’t quite grasp how society seems to have shifted so much, that what was mainstream 100 years ago, has left us on the fringe…
Earlier in the year, our family developed an expensive food habit: yogurt. We were using yogurt on cereal at breakfast, for snacks, in smoothies. In fact, we were easily spending over $60 a month just on yogurt (normally Stonyfield and Chobani). Since we have all our own milk, we decided to start making some yogurt on our own from goat’s milk. It’s very easy.
1. Pasteurize the milk. While we drink it raw, we pasteurize it for yogurt to ensure only the desired culture grows.
2. Add 3-4 tablespoons of plain yogurt from the store per quart of milk. (We tried purchased cultures, but didn’t like the flavor and for the cost, it’s cheaper to just get a little from the store.
3. Pour into pint jars. We sterilize the jars first because when we didn’t, other cultures started to grow after about 3 weeks of storage.
4. Load into Excaliber Dehydrator.
5. Cook at 100F for 6-8 hrs.
The consistency is much more liquid than store-bought yogurt, similar to European yogurt. Anna is fine with that. I found that it was only a mental issue to get past and now enjoy the yogurt just fine. Alex and Vicki stay away, but they were really only eating the yogurt in smoothies anyways. Amanda will eat whatever Anna and I eat, so she’s happy.