Blackberry Mountain
Our farm has grown from two goats to three.  On Saturday, April 16 at 12 a.m., our first goat kid joined us, birthed by an incredible mom, Roses.  Labor was obvious to us for about three hours but we believe she may have been in labor most of Friday.  Roses showed all the signs when I got home from work on Friday evening so we waited.  I did so much research to be prepared but there was nothing I could do as Roses let nature take its course.  It was not quick but it went smoothly and healthily.  Jeremy and I watched as our farm grew.  Roses moved around quite a bit and at the end of labor she sat in a corner and gave it her all letting out quiet moans throughout.  She birthed and immediately began to lick and clean her kid.  I’ve never seen anything like it and could not imagine a better image for motherly instinct.  We actually didn’t even check the sex until the next day because Roses was so motherly.  This was truly moving to me, to see nature at its best.  We did learn, on Saturday, that our kid is a male.  We named him Mikey and it fits him.  Roses has been producing quite a lot of milk so we had to milk her in order for him to get a good hold on her teat.  He was happy after that and nurses as he needs now.  Roses is very motherly and she spends time guarding Mikey from the dogs and Bella by running at them and grunting loudly and head butting when needed.  Mikey is very active when awake, hopping and running around curiously.  Now we continue to build onto our farm making room for our new friend to grow. 

Spring is a season of new life but this year it seems that death and suffering loom with the death of Jeremy’s uncle Michael, after a year long fight with cancer and the unexpected death of Lonus, a buddy of mine from church.  Death is something that touches us all and one thing that we all have in common.  Death is unavoidable and while it can be painful it can also be peaceful and the much needed end to a long, hard journey.  The reason we named the kid Mikey was in memory of Jeremy’s uncle and my friend.  Michael Lonus will remind us of the death of Michael and Lonus but will also be a reminder than even in the midst of our sorrows and tears a goat kid is being born, crying as we welcome him into the world.  We all have death in common but we also have life.  Michael and Lonus began a new part of their journey this past week as we begin our new journey on the farm.  And the circle of life carries on.

Not much can beat a fresh out of the oven, fluffy biscuit topped with homemade apple butter.  For a while I got my fix of this delight each time I dined out at Cracker Barrel but when I married and moved into a house where I had my own kitchen I decided it was time to start making my own.  I began with frozen biscuits and bought a jar of my favorite apple butter--together they made it almost like I was at the restaurant but as time went on and my passion for cooking grew I decided NO MORE STORE BOUGHT BISCUITS and so I began trying out biscuit recipes on my self and my husband and many guests--thus the beginning of the biscuit experiment.  I have not bought biscuits since then and I am still on the quest to find the perfect biscuit.  I have found a few that qualify so any chance I get to add a side to a meal, I pull out the flour and, of course, the buttermilk and see what I can create. 

Cooking is my favorite past time, if you can call it that, and I really enjoy creating my own ingredients and cooking from scratch.  So, the quest to find the perfect biscuit has become quite fun.  The best things about biscuits is that, for the most part, they have few ingredients, are easy for beginners and they still pose fun challenges for the experienced.    

When deciding the type of biscuit I wanted to create I thought of typical biscuit comparisons: crisp outside or soft all the way through; butter or plain; fluffy, crumbly, or flaky; shape;  size; milk or buttermilk.  I chose my favorites out of the list and decided that I desired to find a fluffy, buttermilk, large, bulky biscuit with a touch of butter. 

Here are a few tips I learned along the way:

-Self-rising or all purpose flour do make a difference but self-rising is more convenient.  All purpose allows for more baking powder and more airy biscuits.

-Crusty outsides with a soft inside comes from cooking biscuits with space in between them verses being cooked while touching.  Crisper biscuits are delicious but they do not keep well.

-Buttermilk adds a very rich flavor.

-The less you work the dough, the better.

-The colder the ingredients (ex: shortening, milk, butter, mayo, etc.) while preparing, the better the final product will be.

I am always trying new recipes and testing on Jeremy, my husband and best critic, but do give my favoritism to a specific recipe using buttermilk and mayonnaise not requiring a rolling pin or too much effort.  I"ll share that recipe in this week's "From the Kitchen" section. 

It's neat how you can learn so much from cooking and I don't just mean about the food.  The Biscuit Experiment proves that there are many options we face and choices we'll make.  We don't always make the best ones and sometimes we fail but even in our failures we can use the results--I feed leftovers or mess-ups to the chickens and they never complain.  When we have results in life that we aren't please with we can use that opportunity to learn, to make different decisions next time round and before you know it, the results will be very rich and rewarding.  But always remember that even the most experienced can fail.  We just have to learn and try again.  Just remember what ingredient to try differently next time.