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Friday, September 21, 2012

Milk. And goats!

Week two of the Harvest Time Curriculum is about milk.  


Milk: From Cow to Carton
We liked this book.  It wasn't too wordy and we could skip the details that were starting to bore Kessa.  It must have done it's job, though.  The day after we first read it, she was sitting at the kitchen table drinking milk.  Suddenly she stopped, thought a moment, then proclaimed, "Milk.  Cow!"

Beatrice's Goat
This is a really cute book about a girl in Africa who really wants to go to school, but can't afford it.  Then someone donates a goat to their family (information about the charity who does this is in the back of the book) and she is able to use the money from selling the goat's milk to pay for school.  I think it is slightly above Kessa's level, though.  She's sat through the entire story twice, but she doesn't get excited about wanting to read it again.  I'll bet if we do this curriculum again next year, she'll be ready for it.


Technically the activity is a butter battle.  You put some cream in a jar and let your kid shake it and then put the rest in a mixer and see who is faster, kid or mixer.  I knew this wouldn't fly with Kessa.  She'd probably have shaken it for a grand total of maybe 3 seconds.  Then she'd be done.  And probably want me to finish.  So we just skipped that and instead just made butter.  We've been talking about doing it all week, but timing just never worked out.  On Friday Uncle Travis was here and he cut off a piece of french bread, but we were out of butter and Kessa was Not Pleased with this, so I whipped out the heavy cream and stuck it in the mixer.  5-10 minutes later, we had butter!

And a byproduct of making butter is buttermilk!  (I find it very humorous that buttermilk is the liquid left over when the butter is taken out.)  We put it in a half-pint jar to make something with later.  Mmmm.  Can't wait!

Field Trip:

The suggested field trip is to go to a bakery.  I thought of a better, and more applicable field trip, though.  Our friend, Emily*, raises goats.  So Wednesday morning we got up early and headed up to her place to milk some goats!

It was definitely a fall morning.  One of the first this year.  Abby woke up with cold toes, so she got socks and both girls got long pants and long sleeved shirts.  I thought that would be sufficient.  But when we got there Kessa kept running to spots of sun because the shade was just too cold!  (She is just like her mommy that way.  She despises cold.  This is the first year she's been able to express that, though.  Winter should be fun.)

After Emily came out, we headed out to the … barn?  Anyway, the milking area.  We let one goat in at a time.  Pictured is Mercedes.  Emily milked Claire after this, but I didn't get any pictures of it.  She's brown, in case you're curious.  They are Nubian goats.  Emily walked Kessa through every step of milking.  The goats run right up onto this milking platform, because they know they get grain up there.  The wooden slat around her head keeps her from moving around while milking.  I doubt she would have anyway.  She looooved that grain.  Here Kessa is holding the bowl they'll milk into while looking at the grain Mercedes is eating. She eats a grain mixture (of corn and … oats we think?) and alfalfa pellets.

Next step, wash your hands and the goat's teats to make sure everything is clean.  She also squirted one squirt of milk off to the side, just in case there was any dirt just inside the teat.

And then it was time to milk!  Kessa loved to watch it.  (Gotta love the Instagram picture.  It's the one I took to send around and post on Facebook.)

Kessa surprised me by wanting to help milk.  I didn't think she would, being my cautious child and all, but when I told her a few days before that we were going to go watch a goat get milked, she got all excited and asked if she could do it, too.  I agreed and have been talking it up to her ever since.  But then the night before she stayed up too late so we had to wake her up early that morning.  She was tired and even more shy and cautious than normal, so I wondered if she'd still do it.  But she did!  Emily squeezed the teat up at the top while Kessa squirted the milk out into the bowl.

Afterwards we went hunting for eggs.  We found a bunch in this hole in the barn.  Kessa was scared to reach into the dark until Daddy did it.  Then she did it, too.  We found 6-7 light green eggs.  (Pictures below.)  Emily let us have two of them.  One for each hand.  Kessa had to carry them everywhere after that.  Into the car, into the house.  But she was very careful and didn't break any.  I was actually glad that Kessa insisted on bringing some stuffed animals (Racky and Dave the panda) on our trip.  They made perfect cushions for the eggs.  :)

Then we brought the eggs and milk back into the house (you can see the bowl of eggs on the counter in the background) and strained it through a cloth into a glass jar.  To get out any little bits that managed to sneak by us.

Kessa liked watching it drip.  Emily gave us a half pint of goat milk to take home to taste with the instructions to wait until it was cold.  So after dinner that night we poured each of us a little taste (and Kessa had a cup of cow milk, too, leftover from dinner).  We concluded that it was hard to tell if cow and goat milk have different flavors, because we were comparing raw goat milk to homogenized/pasteurized 2% cow milk.  The goat milk was creamier (duh.  It's whole.) and had a slightly … wild flavor to it.  (Best description we could think of.)  But I've had raw cow milk before, and I would say it has a wild taste to it, too.  I remember my dad telling me about doing milk tasting panels in FFA and they had to figure out what the cow ate.  I don't remember all the foods, but I definitely remember that one of them got into a wild onion patch!  Now I wonder why store-bought milk doesn't have the wild flavor.  Maybe the heat from pasteurization kills flavor?  Maybe because those cows don't get to eat pasture and instead all get the same diet of hay and grain so there is no variety of flavor?  Hmm… my bet is on the latter.

Emily also has a very large dog named Chalcy.  (Look Abby and I were there, too!  So is BJ.  We never got a picture of his face, but he's standing behind Kessa in the above picture.)  She liked to stare right into Abby's face.  Until BJ would go to take a picture, then she'd go away.  She's just like a child that way.  :)

She is unlike a child in that she is VERY obedient.  See that mat on the floor in the corner?  Every time Emily would say "spot!" Chalcy would return to that mat.  But it made me laugh, because she's so big that she could put her back legs on her mat and still have her front legs halfway across the room.  Do you see how big she is?!  She's about as tall as Kessa!  She loves people, too.  So she would come up and try to get you to pet her.  Kessa was intrigued, but super scared, too.  Cautious child, remember?  Here she is reaching up for Daddy to pick her up.  When we were loading up in the car, BJ was asking her about the trip.  When they talked about Chalcy, BJ asked if she scared Kessa a little.  "Yes!  She kept trying to kiss me!"  Hahaha.  Love that girl.

Unrelated to milk except that they were gotten during the goat milking expedition, are eggs!  Kessa was so excited to have green eggs.  She'd open the fridge and point to them and yell, "Green eggs!"  We used it as an opportunity to teach her about how different kinds of chickens lay different colors of eggs. 

And then we fried them for breakfast.  Seeing another teaching moment.  There were two eggs and three of us, so we used one white egg from the fridge.  I asked Kessa if they were the same or different.  She said they were the same.  I asked if she thought they were the same or different on the inside (we had talked about how they were all chicken eggs, even if the shell color was different) and she thought they would be the same.  So we cracked one of each open into the frying pan and she was shocked to see that one yolk was "brown!"  (It's really orange.)  So then we talked about how Emily's chickens get to walk around and eat anything they want.  They eat grains and bugs and stuff.  Their eggs are really nutritious and their yolks are orange. But chickens that lay eggs to be sold in the store are all packed together in a barn and they don't get to eat outside.  They only get to eat the grains and stuff that the farmer feeds them.  Their yolks aren't as nutritious and are yellow.  I then let her choose which egg she wanted to eat, and she chose the yellow one.  Go figure.  [sigh]  In good news, that meant I got to eat the orange one.  :D

*Emily's husband, Jeff, shares the chickens, goats, milk, eggs, dog, etc.  But it was just easier to say Emily than Emily and Jeff.  And Emily is the one who showed us everything while Jeff was a sweet daddy and took care of their unhappy, but adorable, baby.  But thanks to Jeff, too!  Without him, Emily wouldn't have been able to teach us any of this!

Disclaimer: The book links in the posts are links to my Amazon Affiliate program. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to its page on Amazon.  I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make while there.

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