Sunday, 18 October 2009

October Adventures at Tumbledown Farm.

Liriodendron tulipifera

I have at last found myself back at Tumbledown Farm after a long week away. Signs of autumn are slowly appearing. The Liriodendron is turning a delicious golden yellow and the Aged P's have already turned the central heating up to coma inducing levels.

Little Owl in the Orchard.

As I made coffee in the kitchen this morning one of the little owls was sat in their favourite apple tree in the orchard. They have become so used to us pottering around now that they hardly bat an eyelid when I pop out with the camera to take a picture. This years owlet has even taken to sitting on top of the Choisya in the back garden which is only a couple of metres away from the kitchen window.

Salvia and hover fly.

I missed Garden Bloggers Bloom Day again this month, I just never seem to be home. The garden is still full of colour though. The salvias and roses are blooming away brightly. There's a second flush of flowers from the pholx and the chocolate cosmos as ever is full of flowers.

Salvia "Dyson's Orangy Pink."

Rosa "Sweet Dreams."

Symphoricarpos alba.

As I drank my coffee this morning I sat on the couch staring out of the front window with Stilton thinking that I just couldn't see the point of snowberries and that I really must get around to pulling out the 101 self seeded shrubs around the garden. Then I spotted a beady eyed blackbird sitting in a snowberry bush. With a quick sidewards glance he moved forward and proceeded to pull off four large berries swallowing each one whole with great vigour. The white of the berries against his bright yellow beak and glossy black coat was particularly eye catching. So I guess snowberries do come in useful after all (well for some anyway, perhaps I'll leave the birds one -the rest are definitely going)!

Nasturtiums growing up old hay rack.

Veg Plot Rob.

Over in the veg plot it is awash with nasty urchins. They are even making their way up the side of the goat house and wrapping themselves around an old iron hay rack. Veg Plot Rob sat in the hawthorn and watched Stilton and I closely as we took our afternoon stroll around the plot. As I reached the greenhouse I found a dead bird strategically left across its threshold, Stilton likes to leave a little offering, whether it was for me or the god of small greenhouses I'm not quite sure. I also discovered ten bags of horse manure lovingly acquired for me by Aged P No. 2 (dad). After the ceremonial removal of dead animals and manure I made it into the greenhouse to see that my species Pelargoniums are still looking gorgeous.

Pelargonium "Royal Surprise" and Pelargonium sidoides.

Pelargonium "Lord Bute."

The girls (April front right).

Next on our afternoon stroll around Tumbledown we ventured into the goat paddock to see the girls. Well I wanted to see the girls, Stilton isn't really that fond of them. Mostly because April tries to squash him whenever she spots him. Stilton therefore likes to walk along the top of the fencing well out of the way of naughty kids toes and nibbling teeth. April is, I have to admit a bit of a terror. As I crouched down to take the shot above of the girls coming to greet me I was counting on them stopping, they did, all except April who planted her slobbery nose right in the middle of my camera lens and I duly had to spend ten minutes muttering to myself and wiping it clean as she happily chewed the camera strap.

Stilton roosting.

On the way back from the field Diana stopped to chat up Dracus in the billy paddock. He was most excited to be receiving some attention from a somewhat keen young goatling. He embarked on his best courtship routine of making "gob gob gob" noises and waggling his tongue about a lot. I've heard of bad chat up lines but this takes the biscuit (although it seemed to work quite well on Diana)!

Dracus whispering sweet nothings to Diana.

Stilton practising newly discovered courtship routine.

Stilton watched all this with great interest and when I walked over to the fence to talk to him, he did is best to impress me with his tongue waggling. I laughed a lot.

Sapphire waiting to be milked.

As promised earlier in the week, I said I'd tell you about my first attempts at making goats cheese. Luckily we have fresh goats milk on tap, so the tale starts with us milking the girls. When I say we I mean Aged P No. 1 (mum) and I. Stilton is a coward and will not come into the goat house. He stands instead at the door and complains bitterly until I come out!


Stilton waiting for me to come out of the goat house.

Once we had milked we started to get ready to make the cheese. We sterilized the cheese cloth and got ready to filter the milk.

We took 2 litres of milk straight from milking and filtered it and then added some rennet to start the cheese off.

Once the rennet had been added the mixture was left to stand at room temperature for eight hours.

Then once the mixture had turned to curd we poured it into the cheese cloth.

The curd was hung up and left over night to drain any liquid from it.

The following morning we took the curd down.

Then I picked some fresh herbs from the herb bed and added a bit of seasoning and finally my first batch of soft goats cheese was ready. It was surprisingly mild and creamy.


Noelle Johnson said...


I just love reading your posts. I don't know what I liked best - the bird, owl, salvia, cows or perhaps all of them. Thank you for sharing.

VP said...

Yum, that looks delicious! I have a veg plot Rob too - he landed on my back one day when I was weeding. I'm not sure which one of us had the bigger shock!

Liz said...

Very interesting! The goat's cheese looks so easy to do... I'm sure it's not though :)

Looks like you have your very own catdog with stilton following you around! :D

Rothschild Orchid said...

It was easy and surprisingly good too. Lots of room to experiment with different flavours too. I'd love to have a go at making some hard cheese too.

Stilton is a real "catdog" he even plays fetch!

VP our Veg Plot Rob is very tame too, he sits on the side of the beds and pots a few inches from me watching what I'm up to. I try hard not to encourage him too much as Stilton is usally with me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Orchid, this is a wonderful first thing in the morning read with a warm cup of coffee to open the eyeballs, thanks so much. I loved seeing the courtship tongue wagging by Stilton too! The goat cheese looks yummy with the fresh herbs, kudos to you. The photos are stunning, the hover fly especially. How lucky to have friendly owls too. :-)

Regina said...

Amazing captures. Wonderful post!

My first time here.

D said...

Goat cheese indeed! Beautiful. We love a little on the fresh figs we are picking, opened and grilled just a few minutes, add just a sprinkling of balsamic, and... We just had breakfast, but all of a sudden I am very hungry. ;)

Chloe m said...

That looks simply scrumptious, that fresh goats cheese with herbs. Love your cat.

Yan said...

I showed Stilton's courtship photo to my Old Podge, she wasn't impressed. I, however, think he is a very beautiful boy and she has no taste. That cheese looks gorgeous.

Joanne said...

What an interesting post you make the cheese seem so easy to make

Unknown said...

So much beauty! Beautiful flowers and animals and your cheese! Wow!

sharp green pencil said...

Hi there from Pencil and Leaf , and thanks very much for your kind comment on the blog !I love your goats and the idea of fresh goats cheese is just heaven. Have just come back to the USA from the UK and am missing so many things. Look forward to reading much more of your blog.

Esther Montgomery said...

Your blog is sprouting bay-leaves and indelicate photos of goats.

Why do owls never smile?

I was relieved to read that your goat's cheese is nice to taste . . . I was holding my breath there. The answer wasn't inevitably going to be positive.

I've milked cows. Love them. Miss them. I don't feel quite as warmly towards goats.

It's hard (I find) to relate to a goat. A bit like relating to an owl. Admiring but distant. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I knew them on a daily (rather than a 'don't eat the buttons on my jacket') basis.

Hope you survive the heat. Coal fires / wood fires may give one chilblains but at least there are circles of temperature. The aged (Ps and Others) can sit close and the rest of us can survive (without fainting) on the outskirts. Down with central heating!


Rothschild Orchid said...

Thank you so much for all the lovely comments.

Di, I am VERY partial to goats cheese and fresh figs ;o)

Yan, Shhhh! Don't let Stilton hear you, there won't be room for both him and his ego in the room!

Esther, I'm not sure why owls don't smile, it's probably because they have perfected the art of glaring instead. They are exceptionally good at glaring.

Goats are real characters. They can be moody, but they are rather mischevious creatures at heart, they all have their own intricate personalities but it does take a while for them to accept you. Our girls don't see that much of me these days so I am usually greeted with flared nostrils and derisory snorts. I do have happy memories of goat friends who were particularly gentle and soppy, prone to giving kisses when they greeted you and smiling when you tickled them behind the ears.

RO :o)

janie said...

Baby goats are the most cuddly things in the world! We had just one once, named Delila, who grew up to lead the lambs up a sheer rock wall. She was such a bad goat!

Loved your post.

Nicole said...

Thse shots are awesome. Thanks for the tour!
I love that rack shot and the pelargonium!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. It made me come over here and visit, and all I can say is I really enjoyed this post and I will be back. Loved your series of pictures of the goat cheese making. It took me right back to when Jim and I were milking a goat and a cow and we learned to make cheese. There is nothing like fresh chevre.

Ta ta for now. I have to go plant my garlic.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Wow, Tumbledown Farm looks like a lovely place to live, work and and enjoy life. Your fresh creamy goat cheese sounds wonderful.