Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Little Steps

I have been spending a little bit of time lately reflecting on my journey so far.  I am really proud of the little things that have achieved - I have radically reduced my chemical load, I'm making small changes to help the planet and I am learning many new skills.  While it is important to take time to reflect; it is equally important to keep taking the little steps towards achieving the bigger goals.  My husband was starting to question my commitment to my sheep milking venture.  He had a valid point - apart from lots of Katherine cuddling and plenty of dreaming - I wasn't really taking the necessary steps to bring my dream to fruition.  I read some very wise words recently which really helped me to get moving.  They were along the lines of the need to become used to discomfort and to not insist that you have to feel comfortable before you can start moving again.  This is very true.  When treading new roads it is very common to feel shy and nervous about asking for help.  However, while acknowledging the discomfort, it is no barrier to doing those things which are a little scary.  For some reason I was feeling really shy about asking the local farmer for some milk.  Realising that I could feel that way and still make the phone call was an important lesson.  
Now I've achieved some good steps towards my major goal of setting up a sheep milking venture.  I am in the process of arranging two farm visits to existing facilities and I made my first block of cheese.  The farmer down the road supplied 10 litres of milk straight out of the cow.  This milk is a lovely golden creamy colour and tastes like ice cream!  The entire process took most of the morning and there were lots of steps to follow.  I was blown away when the curds formed as I had only put in 1/4 of 1/4 of a teaspoon of rennet.  It must be very powerful stuff!  The milk that I used is from jersey cows who are only milked once a day so it has a high fat and milk solid content.  I got an incredible yield; in fact I ended up only using 5 litres and even then I couldn't get all the curds into the mould.  The process was hampered by the fact that I haven't invested heavily in the proper equipment.  Having a real cheese press instead of balancing buckets of water on top of cans which make a huge difference.  Today I went down to the local vets and got a 1 ml syringe   This means I can now measure out as little as .1 of a millilitre.  This is going to very handy.  My little cheese is now drying out and then I will coat it in about 4 layers of bees wax.  Hopefully the cheese will be ready by Christmas for our first tasting.  

Another obstacle that can get in the way of achieving our dreams are excuses.  I had some very good excuses for not having a vegetable garden.  I am renting my house, I don't have access to any land and I am in an extreme wind zone.  However, I knew in my heart that these obstacles could be easily overcome.  I have a big porch and I put four containers / pots in a spot where they will get morning sun.  I have planted short vegetables so the wind doesn't knock them around too much.  In one pot I have parsley.  In another pot I have sage, rosemary and basil.  In a long container I have a variety of lettuces.  In the final container I have leafy greens - silverbeet, bok choy and celery.  I have chosen to plant greens because although carrots and potatoes store well I find my greens are always going floppy in the fridge before I get to eat them.  The herbs just add that something special to a meal and are incredibly useful.  It only took me an hour to get everything planted and watered in.  The vegetables are so large and healthy I could just about start eating them straight away!  

So now that the cheese and the vegetable garden are on the right track it is time for a new project.  My Mum told me about an interesting documentary on modern wheat and how bad it is for us.  I had a quick look at it on TV On Demand (I do not have a TV connection as you all know from last week's rave).  I was impressed and have started reading a book called Wheat Belly.  I know my husband often complains of feeling sluggish and uncomfortable after eating bread so I thought I would try a sour dough spelt flour.  Spelt is an ancient grain and contains no gluten.  I have been interested in learning how to make sour dough for a long time as I love the fact that you don't need yeast.  So the flour is in the post and by next week I should be able to report on my bread making adventures.  

This week remember to take time to praise yourself for how far you've come and don't let discomfort or excuses keep you from achieving your dreams.

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