Our first ricotta batch of the year is in the cheese shop today. The steamy soft scent of Salud, our chief cheesemaker, pouring the curds into their moulds means spring to me. Early spring, with stalls of baby goats, milking mothers, and their unbeatable milk. We use this whole milk, frothed in a double-boiler, curdled with white wine vinegar and a little kosher salt.
Ricotta means twice-cooked, since traditional ricotta is made from the whey of other cheeses. We use that morning's whole milk, with a little salt, heated to just under 200F. It should froth but not boil. Take it off and add an acid, about a tablespoon to every cup of milk. We use white wine vinegar, but lemon works beautifully.
The steaming pan of curdled whole milk, left for about 10 minutes
Strain the curds into moulds and drain overnight. Use layers of cheesecloth for a smoother finish. We like the firmer ricotta for simply snacking, but if you're making pizza and want a damper ricotta, drain for a shorter time
Don't gloat over your ricotta. Eat it. It's utterly delicious. So good in pancakes, cheesecake, with pasta, at breakfast, any time at all
We have the first five babies in the loafing barn. They are delicate but robust, tiny long-legged things dancing sideways, already looking around for the other babies, collapsing together against the walls in sleep. We get to know these babies well because there are only a few.
This baby is three hours old here. You can see her damp tail still curled up over her back. She's tall and sturdy - a singleton, she got all her mother's resources.
This baby is already supremely independent, apart from her love for Roberto. Her mother rejected her - another mother licked her first, and so she smelt wrong to her birth mother, who wouldn't have anything to do with her. Roberto has bottle-fed her the mother's colostrum milk. If she stays on the farm, this baby will forever recognize Roberto as her mother-figure
This just-born baby took ten minutes snuffling her mother to find the colostrum milk
The babies cuddle together against the barn walls, though the bigger goats will not deliberately trample them
Between us at Harley Farms, we've had every kind of wedding, from ritzy to the back yard, from fabulously styled to secret registry office. I won't tell you about mine - I wish we'd had the farm then! I have been married for almost twenty-five years. It doesn't stop me from becoming ridiculously romantic about each and every wedding we host here on the farm. Last Saturday was a January wedding for a gorgeous couple who chose a rustic ceremony in our woodland gardens, followed by an evening feast in the hayloft.
We make all flower arrangements for our farm weddings from seasonal blossom and foliage here in Pescadero, to complement the naturally rustic surroundings. Here are our winter wedding flowers for this stunning couple.
The flower diadems were specially commissioned for the wedding
The bride's bouquet is the soft green of Corsican hellebores (lenten roses) with curly willow
We pinned matching corsages and boutonnieres to the wedding guests around the bonfire, before the ceremony
Farm office manager Adriana can marry you, if you would like a civil ceremony
Adriana does not usually carry a knife at ceremonies. Only if the rings get trapped in the lining of your jacket!
The musician was beautifully accessorized for a winter wedding in the woods
After the wedding, guests gathered below the hayloft at the farm
Thank you to everybody who stopped by Muttville Rescue at the farm Christmas fair today, and to Muttville for bringing their senior rescue dogs looking for forever homes. Senior rescue dogs have a place in my heart.
not a "mistake". You know how you're never quite sure whether a goat is pregnant or just chubby? No - just us, then? We have December babies here. Twins, born yesterday.
Clearly, Holstein got into the wrong pen at the wrong time. We anticipate more this week - come and see the babies, who'll be outside in Tony's Pen for you to admire if weather permitsMost of the girls seem pregnant - or fat - we're obviously not expertsThey seem docile, thoughtful; they take it easy around the loafing barnOthers seem friskier, ready for a good timeBut he's a player, so there's quite a lineFather of this week's Miracle Babies, and many moreMeanwhile, we've been cleaning out the loafing barn ready for birthing. Goats come into the barn to give birth - they don't have babies in the pastureSince this ...
leads to this ...and ultimately this, we have to rent heavy-duty equipment at this time of year, before the ground gets waterlogged with rain, and scoop out the barn. We dust the floor with agricultural lime to sweeten and disinfect, and add fresh straw collected from our neighbors across the street, the MooresWe age the manure, away from the goats. It's ideal for garden compostMaybe we'll call this one Miracle? At least there's a clean straw bed for them