Saturday, September 15, 2012

MeadowWild Farm in Barnum, Minnesota

Barb and Steve Adams of MeadowWild Farm

Raising goats in their "retirement"

I began communicating via e-mail with Barb Adams when she wrote to us with a question about making Halloumi.*

She mentioned that she had attended Jim Wallace's advanced workshop on Italian Cheeses in October, 2011.

She's from Minnesota (Barnum) and I haven't interviewed very many cheese makers from there, so, I asked her about doing an interview and she tried to decline:

I've thought about the blog article, and really wouldn't think there'd be much to say.

We only have 14 goats right now, we're very small time, not licensed, and only rank newbies in the cheese world - so many more talented and dedicated folks out there

But I'd encourage folks to keep trying!  It's daunting when there are so many, many expert cheese makers  - one wonders why even try to make homemade cheeses?  But I find real pleasure in bringing in the milk from our generous Alpine Girls and finding ways to use it well.

So, I asked her what kinds of cheese she makes:

Cheeses made (all with our goats' milk) and with varying degrees of success =
  • chevre (lots and lots - using chevre culture from - YUM)
  • yogurt cheese
  • ricotta - using fresh milk and from cultured cheeses
  • mozzarella - this is a challenge late in the season, to get it to stretch
  • provolone/scamorza - smoked with applewood - this is a favorite
  • canestrato
  • cabra al vino
  • haloumi
  • feta
  • cheese curds
  • ricotta salata
  • Juustoaleipa
  • and a few of us "goat ladies" got our milks together (10 gallons) to make a big Gouda with a local expert - YUM! 
I don't know about you, but I find that list exceptional.  It's clear to me that Barb is a master home cheese maker.  So, I couldn't let her off the hook and she finally agreed to be "In the Spotlight" in our September Moosletter.

The issue is time and she has zero!  First, she was moving three goats to their new home in Michigan.  Then she was attending a "Free Range Film Festival" sponsored by the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association.  Then she was helping with the goat show at the Carlton County Fair.  And she's retired!

Barb's Halloumi, made in July, 2012 from Jim Wallace's recipe


Scamorza rounds brining before being smoked - not the traditional shape

How did you get into this?

Bought a pretty little (used to be bigger farm) acreage in 2002.  There was a large pole building not suited for animals, but I thought I could adapt it.  Went to the Minnesota State Fair looking at all the kinds of animals one might have.  Cows: to big  horses: what use?  Pigs: too scary  Chickens: too impertinent and disrespectful   Fleece animals: too chancy in the economy.

Goats!    I love goat cheese - too expensive to buy, so I'll get goats.  That's the joke - thousands of dollars later..... ha, ha I can have as much goat cheese as I want. 

Goats are cute, intelligent, and useful.  What breed?  Alpines - very challenging because they are so smart and spirited.  And they come in so many colors and make a lot of tasty milk.

So, I linked up with a large dairy in MN - Poplar Hill.  We moved to the farm in early May of 2007 and we picked up our first two does on May 27, 2007.  I retired in March of 2008, a couple days before we had our first kids.   I've met the most wonderful people thru these animals!

When you say you "hooked up" with Poplar Hill, does that mean you're selling them your milk?

Oh no - I'm not licensed.  I bought my first two goats from Poplar Hill  and then 1.5 years later, we bought our buck, Majority (Mr. T) from them also.  They have helped me immeasurably in this effort!  "Lifetime service" says Sarah Maefsky Johnson when you buy a goat and she means it.  I still email her with questions/problems.  She shares her expertise so willingly.

What kind of cheese do you make most often?

I like to make scamorza - a smoked provolone-type cheese, not aged.  But I was having trouble getting the smoke cool enough so it wouldn't melt the cheese.  The first pics are of the cheese smoker I improvised with some leftover dryer and furnace venting.  I got the idea from Storey's Basic Country Skills.
It's a fire pit with about 7 feet of venting laid under the sod leading to our grill.  The venting is attached to the grill and smoke passes from firepit thru venting to enter grill at a fairly cool temp.  I smoke the scamorza for about an hour using wood from our old apple tree.  Last pic is of the scamorza balls in brine (for about 3.5 hours, then dried in the fridge for a day or so before smoking).  Works pretty good!

Finished smoker

Trench dug and piping placed

Pretty neat connection

Barb and her husband, Steve, LOVE their goats.  Steve's hobby is photography so there are hundreds of pictures of their goats and their farm online at their website, their Facebook page and their blog - Out to Pasture.

I found a series of pictures on the blog of Barb helping one of her nannies with the delivery of her kid.  I asked her if I could share them with you and she was happy to oblige.  I find it to be a beautiful, intimate moment of farm life captured by Steve, so, if you have never been on the scene when a kid was born, check this out:


Buckling Surprise

By Steve Adams at Out to Pasture

Alba was due on Saturday, April 18, but gave no indication that she was imminent -- or even pregnant --
until Tuesday the 21st, when she just couldn't get comfortable all day.
She started groaning in the late afternoon
and then at 5:30 pm delivered a buckling, with the substantial help of the midwife, who tugged away heartily as Alba pushed.
The routine has become familiar by now: first a toweling off and a blow-dry to warm up
then grooming by Mom
and a first meal.
The boy weighed in at 6 pounds, a bit under the ideal.
As the midwife waited for Alba's placenta to emerge, she got another surprise around 6:15 pm:
another buckling!
This one weighed a measly 4 pounds.
As the midwife dried and warmed the runtlet and tried to get him to feed

his brother fell sound asleep.
Eventually he woke up and checked out the newbie
and Grandma Dream in the next pen.
While Alba is the world's best goat in many ways
motherhood is not one of them. On a scale from June Cleaver to Joan Crawford, Alba is toward
the "Mommie Dearest" end.She occasionally grooms the bigger guy,but leaves the little one to fend for himself.
We've never seen Alba feed either boy on her own
so every four hours, Barb holds the babies up to nurse.
Because the little can't grab on very well, Barb has to give him most of his milk by bottle.Both boys are smaller and weaker thantheir flourishing cousins across the barn
but they seem to be getting stronger
and we hope that soon they will be joining Artie and Tammy
for romps outside in the sunshine.

*  Barb's question to Jim Wallace (

Hi there - just sending a picture of my (first ever) batch of goats' milk canestrato cheese.  Used 4 gallons of milk - got 2 lb. 11 oz. basket cheese and 15 oz. of ricotta.

For some reason, the milk did not gel with the 2 ml of rennet (may have not been acid enough - I used Bulgarian yogurt culture - not yogurt - used about 8 grams of Bulgarian yogurt culture (the whole package was 33 grams, so I used approx. 1/4, figuring yield of 24 oz. yogurt and I needed 6 oz. of yogurt (which I didn't have).  So at end of 30 minutes, when the milk had not gelled, I added another 3 ml of rennet.  Waited another 30 minutes and voila - nice curds.
Did everything else according to Hoyle - well, according to Jim.

Cheeses are air drying today and will be brined tomorrow.  The percent brine is not specified....  is it always 12% for brining? 

Jim's answer:

I should point out a couple of things here:

1.  In using the yogurt, it does not work well taking it out of the pack since it takes so long to become active. In the instructions I point out:

"Y1 Yogurt made up (Thermo/ Bulgaricus @ 50:50 blend).  Use 1% of milk volume. 7.5-8 oz. of active Y1 yogurt. This is the thermophilic culture that will do most of the acid conversion at the higher temperatures in this recipe."

This means the yogurt needs to be made up first before use so that you are adding a live working yogurt to the milk.

2.  The other aspect is that the rennet cannot be added a second time if there is not enough to begin with. You essentially defeat the enzyme work in the first addition. It is best to use the target numbers and increase the total coagulation time until you get a good set with your initial rennet addition. Then you can adjust your next make to hit the correct timing for rennet set.

The increased coagulation time may also have been due to using the yogurt as powder (PS.. that was way too much). The acid was not developing and thus the rennet took longer.

For brining, when the % is not given, always assume a saturated brine.


Simona said...

The photos of the baby goats are adorable! They made me start my day with a big smile. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Loved your pictures of your goat family. I have been after my husband to get 2 both of which I would want females. I am looking for minuature goats. I only have a half acre yard with a chicken coup already. If not the goats then I may do rabbits. I would love input. Thank you ,