Dairy Goats

We love Oberhasli Dairy goats. Oberhaslis are a wonderful breed – quiet, friendly, not too large, very nice ears, and the color combination is very attractive; and the milk from our goats is delicious.

When the goats are in milk, we produce more than we can use; it’s quite difficult to keep up with the girls! Unfortunately, health regulations are so strict that we do not sell goat milk or goat milk products.

Milking

Our milking proceedure:
1. wash hands carefully with soap
2. fill a container with warm water with a little dish detergent
3. collect a clean stainless steel saucepan with lid and two clean washcloths/rags/hand towels per goat to be milked
4.put goat on stanchion with the appropriate amount of sweet feed.
5.thoroughly wet one towel, wash udder, wiping belly and inside of legs
6. dry hands and udder with other towel
7. milk a few squirts onto the stanchion (or cat dish), examine for lumps from mastitis
8. uncover saucepan, milk the goat, cover saucepan and set aside.
9. squirt teat dip thoroughly onto teats (unless there are kids waiting)
10. return goat to pasture
11. bring milk to house
12. filter milk into clean quart glass jars
13. label jars and put into bottom (coldest part) of fridge

Our goats milk has no goaty flavor when it’s fresh, and early in the season it can last for weeks with the same delicious flavor. Later in the year it does sometimes get goaty. I believe that low minerals in the goat’s diet is the cause.

Cream and Butter Goats milk is naturally homogenized, so we get little cream – after a couple of days, I can scoop off a few spoonfuls from each jar. We have a cream separator, but it’s not worth it to use unless there’s a lot of milk to separate. Butter made from goat’s milk is white and bland; although cultured with a little chevre starter, it’s delicious.

Cheesemaking

Making cheese is one of the more challenging crafts I’ve attempted. Sometimes it comes out great, other times, well, the chickens always are happy with anything.

I make a lot of yogurt with goats milk; it’s not as thick as commercial yogurt, but I use it on oatmeal and it’s the perfect consistency.

The most reliable cheeses have been:
• Cherve
• Mozzarella
• Feta
• Whole-milk ricotta (ricotta from whey has a taste or texture that I don’t like)

Slightly aged soft cheese has often been good. More aged cheese (approaching a month) always either dries out or get moldy. Sometimes when they dry out, they are still acceptable as a grating cheese. These may be issues of aging cheese in a refrigerator…

I get starter cultures and cheese supplies from Hoeggers

Best place to learn to make cheese is: Fankhauser Cheese Page

Busy, busy – life as a dairymaid

Spring is still a couple of weeks away, but it seems like I’m already way, way behind. Behind on seed starting, tree planting, digging, you name it, I’m behind. I blame it on the goats – milking two goats and coping with the milk takes time – half an hour twice a day, plus making cheese (even with other things done in the elapsed time, it’s at least an hour per gallon of milk/pound of cheese), then the laundry and dishwasher to keep the milking materials clean; it’s a 10 to 15 hour a week part-time job. We are getting 4-6 pounds, twice a day; so about 9 gallons a week. We do enjoy the fresh milk; we used to go through about a gallon a week. Having lots of yogurt is nice; it’s thinner than store bought yogurt, as expected (they do all sorts of tricky things to make yogurt thicker, gelatin and modified food starch and all that). It makes great lassi, though. You can drain it to make a type of cheese, but it’s easier to just make cheese in the first place.

I make a lot of chevre. It’s very easy; just add culture and rennet, let it sit for 24 hours, then drain. It’s rather dull by itself, we try adding it to quiche and pasta sauce, but it remains plain. It really needs to be made into cheesecake :-). To get over the plainness, I’ve been experimenting adding garlic, herbs and things to it; Jay’s a big fan of the garlic. The other type of cheese I can make reliably (well, usually – todays isn’t looking good – if you forget to add the lipase before the rennet, just give it up…) is feta. I have been experimenting with a cheddar recipe; I’m not happy with the way my cheese press works, so I’ve not been even trying to get something I can age for 6 months! But every so often, my not-pressed-enough, lightly aged cheese is really delicious. I’m rather taken aback when I cut into one of the many rounds in the fridge and find a tangy, creamy, delicious cheese that works on a sandwich.

I used to make mozzarella a lot, but I haven’t done it lately. I’d need to find time to make lasagna to use it up…

Last year I tried making butter from cream from our goat’s milk. Goat butter is pure white. It also has very little flavor. It was like crisco, and there didn’t seem much point in it for all the work. But the chevre often has a buttery flavor, so I added some chevre culture so some cream (just spooned off the top of the 6 quarts that went into the unlucky batch of feta), left it for a few hours, and the resulting butter actually has a buttery flavor! It’s still stark white, but we can learn to live with that.