Montasio Cheese

Well I’m not at all sure how this is going to turn out but..we’ll see!  Today I decided to try a new cheese- Montasio. It is an aged Italian and much different to make than my usual chevre. I was feeling a bit absented minded today and may not have gotten all the details just right, so I only hope it turns out edible– I’d hate to waste a full week’s worth of milk. The curds ended up a little different than I expected- stuck together in big blobs- but I don’t have enough experience with Italian cheeses to know if that is how its supposed to be! Due to my absentmindedness I didn’t take as many pictures or notes as I meant to, but we’ll muddle through anyway.


Step 1: Feed Goat

For this cheese I needed 4 gallons of milk, which means I’ve been saving milk for over a week. The fridge was getting very full!

millk goat

Step 2: Milk Goat

This cheese recipe involved a lot of heating the milk up to a certain temp and then waiting, and then heating it to another very specific temperature, stirring it just the right amount and waiting some more. Which is to say, its a lot like making any aged cheese.

Curds & Whey Curds & WheyPressing Cheese

I’ll let it press under 8lb over night and then tomorrow I’ll put it in a brine bath for 12 hours, dry it at room temp for a day and then pop it in the cheese cave (i.e. wine cooler) for a couple of weeks. Eventually it’ll get a lovely coat of honey and several more weeks of aging. The toughest part of making an aged cheese is waiting a month or two before being able to sample it! Since I’m making two rounds, I may only use the honey rub on one and try something different on the other. A Chipotle rub is also traditional, and an herb rub could be interesting…


UPDATE: I used a recipe from this book. I’ve come to find out that this recipe is very different from a traditional Montasio in several key ways so the combination of the unusual recipe and some mistakes that I made (like not cutting my curds into small enough pieces) means that I did not, in fact, create a Montasio cheese. I made…something else. We’ll just have to hope its something yummy.

Garden Progress

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Mom and Dad finally have their fencing up and are ready to put animals on the farm so mom came for a short visit this week and take her goats home with her. Naturally, I put her to work almost immediately. Today we…

  • finished spreading mulch in one of the perennial flower beds
  • reclaimed wood from a falling down fence to use as borders in the herb garden (p.s. don’t get in my Mom’s way when she is wielding a board sprouting old rusted nail…ouch)
  • put together a manure tea pot
  • planted indoor herb gardens so we can keep enjoying fresh herbs
  • emptied one (partial) trailer load of mulch AND went and picked up another load
  • and our biggest job for the day was completely re-doing the area along one side of the house that had been a weed filled mess. We pulled weeds, cut and placed cardboard, pinned down weedcloth and spread many wheelbarrows full of mulch. The difference is amazing. I only wish that I had pictures of the area before we started to show off how much it has changed. We planted some re-blooming Lilacs which will, hopefully, grow  into large bushes that hid the a/c units from view. All that is left to do on this bed is to decide whether we want to edge it with anything. I’d love to use limestone rocks like we see in rock fences all over KY, but am not sure where to get them…

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Flower bed wrapping around screened porch and small “stone” (cement) patio for grilling/smoking


Nearly we just have to wait for the little Lilacs to grow into big bushes!

But before you start thinking that I took advantage of my poor mom, we did feed her well. Chris made us amazing dinners both nights she was with us. First spaghetti with a sauce made from garden tomatoes, red wine, fresh herbs and assorted aged meats then homemade pizza covered in fresh pesto, goat cheese, more of those aged meats and sun dried tomatoes. I added some homemade chocolate goat milk ice cream for dessert. Of course, in addition to the tasty meals we also forced Mom to act as guinea pig for some of our new culinary experiments. The water kefir (both cream soda flavored and cranberry) and gingerale made from a ginger bug were heartily approved as was the goat milk yogurt and my new grapefruit & basil martini recipe. The kimchi, however, got a solid thumbs down from Mom. Chris still insists that its *supposed* to taste (and smell) like that…

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

Mom will be headed back to NC in the morning with Tinkerbell (who is feeling much better now!), Thelma and Marie loaded into dog crates in the back of her SUV. As soon as she gets home and gets the goats settled into their new home, her two new llamas should be delivered. Its going to be an exciting day on the Bullins farm!!

Tempting Fate

I should have known that I was tempting fate when I said that I was going to buckle down and get a lot of work done this week. Instead of actually being focused and productive, I’ve spent the last two nights dealing with crisis.

Last night Avi, the dog, got sprayed by a skunk in the middle of the night so I had to scrub her down several times (hydrogen peroxide + baking soda + dawn dish soap works well!) and then wash myself and attempt to air out the house.

This morning I tried to rush through the morning milking and ended up with half of it in my lap. I learned my lesson– in an attempt to save a few minutes I ended up wasting quite a bit more cleaning up the milking stand and myself *and* I lost about 4 cups of milk!

And now tonight Tinkerbell, our littlest Pygora goat, got her leg stuck in a piece of damaged wire fencing and when I heard her crying around midnight I found her half dangling from the fence, resting on her face and her foot was completely cold.


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When I found her, she was completely stretched out with her head on the ground. I immediately picked her up and set her on this bench so that her body was supported and not pulling down on her leg. I was using my phone to shine extra light on her foot and so I took a picture at this stage.

    In this photo you can see how tightly the loop of thick wire is twisted around her foot. It looks like she got her foot caught in a loose loop of wire and then as she struggled to get free she twisted it over and over again until it tightened down around her leg. It is actually wrapped around the leg several times, though its hard to see.

In this photo you can see how tightly the loop of thick wire is twisted around her foot. It looks like she got her foot caught in a loose loop of wire and then as she struggled to get free she twisted it over and over again until it tightened down around her leg. It is actually wrapped around the leg several times, though its hard to see.

Here you can see the full length of the wire that was wrapped around her leg after I cut and untwisted it

Here you can see the full length of the wire that was wrapped around her leg after I cut and untwisted it


I *think* that he leg is going to be okay– vigorous rubbing warmed it up and though she won’t put weight on it (I’m sure its very sore) I don’t feel any breaks or major swelling. I’m more worried about her rumen. When ruminants (sheep, goats, cows..) are on their backs, their digestive systems don’t work correctly. This article explains the problem really well if you are interested in the details. In a nut shell, if they don’t get flipped over quickly they can easily die. I have no idea how long Tinkerbell was stuck upside down before I found her so once I felt that blood was flowing back into her foot my first concern was for her rumen. I gave her some baking soda, which can help with upset rumens, and made her stand up and walk around a little. She isn’t putting any weight on her injured leg (not surprising!) and isn’t keen to walk but is agreeable with standing up and will walk a bit if I irritate her enough. Thankfully after a bit of this I was able to hear healthy rumen noises (like a gurgling tummy) and she pooped normal pellets – both of which are signs that she is digesting like usual. What a relief! I have given her some Banamin which is a painkiller. I know she was in a lot of pain because she was grinding her teeth (a sign of pain in sheep and goats) so I’m glad I had Banamin on hand. She is acting a little spacey but I can’t tell if its a symptom of something really terribly wrong, a normal reaction to the stress of the evening or just Tinkerbell being, well, Tinkerbell. If you haven’t heard me talk about her before, Tinkerbell is our “special” goat. I think something wasn’t quite normal with her birth or early life- when we got her she was very tiny, she looked like a newborn but was actually 7 months old. Thankfully she has grown quite a bit in the eight months since then and seems to be thriving but we have often suspected that her mental development may have been stunted along with her physical development. Thankfully she is generally a happy sort of special and while she may not be the brightest goat, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Its the smart ones that usually cause the most trouble!

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Worn out and scared, resting her head in my lap as I rubbed her leg to get the circulation going.

I’m going to check on Tinkerbell at least one more time before I go to bed for the night, hopefully she will be resting peacefully and will be full of her regular spunk when I wake up tomorrow!

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Tired and in pain, but with a functioning tummy and pain meds starting to kick in.


p.s. projects that I’m planning for this weekend (hopefully!) include

  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi recipe #2
  • ice cream (chocolate this time, I think!)
  • another batch of cheese or yogurt (something to use up some of this milk!)
  • cranberry “soda” using water kefir
  • ginger ale using ginger bug
  • more weed pulling, flower planting and mulch spreading

Short and Sweet

I have a huge amount of “real” work that I need to get done this week so I’m trying to force myself to only do the bare minimum amount of farm/garden/kitchen stuff, including blogging. Of course, with veggies getting ripe in the garden every day and needing to be picked before they go bad, the goat needing to be milked twice a day or risk her udder exploding (not really- but if I’m at all late in milking her it sure looks like its going to burst!) and the fermenting things needing feeding and tending (they really could explode!) the “bare minimum” adds up. I do have a couple of new projects to blog about, but for now I’m just taking notes and pictures and will do the actual write up and posting after I’ve gotten past this work deadline. I will take a quick moment to show off my newest acquisition– a new freezer! I found it on Craig’s list and it was both nearby (which is good since I wouldn’t want to be out on the highway with a freezer sticking out the back of my SUV!) and super cheap — $46. The seller needed the space it was taking up in his garage and was eager to have someone come haul it away. Aside from a couple of small dents and scratches its in great condition and the seller even bleached and scrubbed it up so its already clean and fresh smelling. Its still sitting unplugged while the freon drains back down to its proper place(apparently this is something that you have to do after tilting a freezer). I am looking forward to filling it up with bags and jars of goat milk, ice cube trays full of pestos and sauces and maybe even some homemade ice cream! freezer


Check back soon for blog posts on

  • Fermenting hot peppers for hot sauce
  • Kimchi making (hopefully two different methods…)
  • Brining and fermenting garlic for pesto
  • Goat Milk Yogurt
  • Milk Kefir from culture
  • Water Kefir from “grains”

And whatever else I can’t resist getting involved in this week! Oh- also I’ll be posting updates on the farm critters since lately I’ve been so focused on gardening, preserving and cheese making. Don’t worry, the flock is doing great there just isn’t much excitement on their side of the fence this time of year. Lots of eating and growing, but not much too much to blog about– just the way we like it!


Homemade Garlic Powder

Earlier this summer our friend Zhan Ye gave us several heads of garlic that he and his father grew in his garden. We have been enjoying using it in lots of different ways (like in pesto!) but one of my favorite uses of garlic is in chevre. The only things is…I don’t like fresh garlic in my chevre. The spiciness of it is just too much for me; I prefer garlic powder which has a milder and sweeter flavor more like cooked garlic. Lately I’ve been lamenting the fact that I take my fresh, homemade chevre and my garden fresh herbs and then I go and sprinkle a bunch of commercial garlic powder on it which contains who knows what preservatives and likely comes from half way around the world. It just seems a bit wrong, somehow! So I looked into making my own garlic powder and guess what? Its really easy! It would be even easier if I had a dehydrator, but I don’t, so I used the oven instead.

  1. Peel a bunch of garlic and slice it into very thin slices. Its best if they are all about the same thickness so that they will all dry at the same rate. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Lay your slices out in a single layer on some aluminum foil on a baking tray.
  3. Turn your oven down to its lowest setting. Mine is 170 which is still pretty hot, some ovens will go down to 120. I was worried that at 170 my oven might cook (and burn) rather than just dry so I left the oven door propped open a little bit with a wooden spoon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Let the garlic slices dry out for several hours. I think mine took about 4 hours. If you have to leave the house or go to bed during this time just turn the oven off and shut the door, leaving the garlic inside. The heat retained in the oven will keep working until you come back and turn it back on!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Once the slices are 100% dry and not at all bendy, use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind them into powder. Store in an airtight container*



See how simple? And if I had a real dehydrator and spice grinder it would be even easier! Discovering this “trick” makes me want to dry all sorts of things now. Making up mixes to flavor my chevre is just the tip of the iceberg….




*I only made a small quantity and plan on using it up really quickly. If you don’t plan on using it immediately I’d suggest storing it in the freezer. Even though it has been dehydrated there may still be some oils left in the garlic that could go rancid over time, especially if any extra humidity soaks into the powder. The reason that dried spices from the store last forever is due to the preservatives that are mixed in!



Today’s plans to work in the weed garden got cancelled due to rain. I’m grateful for the rain, though, we needed it. And its not like I don’t have plenty of other things to keep me busy and out of the rain! I’ve been noticing lately that the basil bushes are getting out of control and have been meaning to make pesto but kept forgetting to pick up pine nuts at the store. I wish I could do pesto without the nuts since that is always the one thing I don’t have on hand, plus they are expensive if I want to make a whole bunch of pesto at one time. But the pine nuts are so yummy so….whatcha gonna do? Chris usually makes the pesto but today I had him show me how he does it, step by step, and wrote down his recipe so I can make it myself in the future and so I can share it with you!


Pesto Recipe

*Note- Chris doesn’t use measurements when he is cooking but I tried to measure everything as he went along. All of these measurements are approximations which can be adjusted based on your preferences and the amount of flavor in the particular ingredients you are using. We like our pesto pretty potent, if you prefer a milder version add more cheese!


  • 1cup chopped basil, well packed (about 3 cups whole basil leaves, well packed– it shrinks a lot when you chop it!)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2c EVOO
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2c shredded Parmesan cheese


Start by roasting your pine nuts to give them extra flavor. Put them in a pan on the stove and gently swirl them around, tossing them occasionally, until they start to brown and smell good. You just want them to have a little bit of color but not get dark and burnt. You will know they are done when they smell warm and toasty but not burnt. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next, chop up your garlic and put it in a food processor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe use a Magic Bullet style food processor. With a small food processor like ours we have to add the basil and other ingredients about 1/4 cup at a time, with larger food processors you could probably add it all at once. Start by blending the garlic, basil and EVOO and then gradually add the salt, lemon juice,  pine nuts and finally the cheese.



Blend until everything is well mixed. The texture won’t be completely smooth but you shouldn’t have chunks or be able to distinguish the individual ingredients anymore. I.e. there shouldn’t be any hard bits of pine nut visible. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since I am planning to make a lot of pesto in the next week or so in order to take advantage of our basil explosion, I will be freezing most of it. I use my trusty ice-cube trays for this. Some people like to put a layer of EVOO on top of each cube to prevent the pesto from turning dark on the surface where it touches the air. Since I’m not going to be storing them in the trays (once frozen I’ll remove them and store in freezer bags) I don’t really see the point in doing this.

To use, defrost a couple of cubes and mix with pasta, spread on pizza or whatever. We like to sprinkle a bit of extra shredded Parmesan on top when serving because its pretty and adds some interesting texture.

Weeds, weeds and MORE weeds!

Before I attempt to clean out the weed patch to turn it into a flower garden, I have to figure out which plants are, in fact, weeds. And so begins my exploration of the native weeds of Kentucky.

Here is what I’ve pulled up and identified so far:

horseweedHorseweed or Mare’s Tale “conyza canadensis”


Wild Violet “viola papilionacea”


Three Seeded Mercury Weed “acalypha ostryaefolia”


Daisy Fleabane “erigeron annuus”


mysteryThe plants in this picture are still a mystery. Could some of these be young black eyed susans? Any ideas?


I think that this may be the crown of something in the daisy family or maybe a Dahlia. Or maybe its a weed. What do you think? It is plants like in the last two pictures that are making this flower bed so hard to weed. Do I pull it up or leave it?

And Yet Another Flower Garden

Having gotten two and a half flower beds mostly under control, I can no longer justify putting off the worst of the lot. Unfortunately, this big, bad bed of weeds is also the most visible of our flower beds from inside the house and its been looking worse and worse all summer. Its time to do something about it.


So Many Weeds!


I’ve tried to turn this area into a perennial flower bed before. Last year I planted tons of perennial plants and seeds and had high hopes for this year but then this spring when things started coming up I couldn’t tell the difference between weeds and the plants I wanted to be there, so I just let everything grow. And, of course, the weeds grew faster and stronger and choked everything else out. The problem is that so many perennial flowers, especially of the “wild flower” type, look exactly like weeds until they bloom. It reminds me of the quote “One man’s weed is another man’s flower”. I can identify the echinacea, of course, and the large peony in the center front with the small yellow stella de’oro lilies on other side but otherwise its hard to pick out the remnants of all of the Asiatic lilies and other perennials that I put in last year. All but a handful of the beautiful gold Black Eyed Susans were overwhelmed by the weeds.

This is going to be the most difficult garden to clean out and re-do because I want to save as much as I can from previous years plantings which means I can’t just cover the entire thing with cardboard and weedcloth and start fresh. I’ve already bought a few new plants, like these beautiful Coreopsis, but before they go in I’ll have to decide what is weed, and what is flower.