How long have you been practicing the traditional art of growing “historically significant” apples? We…
What is the name of your Farm, Ranch, or Homestead?
GlimFeather Farms, LLC
Where are you located?
Powell Butte, OR
How and/or when did life as a farmer, rancher, or homesteader begin for you?
I have always been drawn to the homesteading life, ever since I was young and picked up my first Childcraft Make and Do book. I believe Homesteading looks different for different folks, in different seasons of life. For me, homesteading means being as intentional and self-sustainable as possible, wherever you are.
That being said, the desire to homestead was solidified in me during my time at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. I had my first garden as soon as my husband and I bought our first house in 2007, and we got our first chickens in 2014. Chickens were the gateway livestock for me, and when we later moved outside of city limits onto an acre, I went a bit overboard. Three chickens turned into many chickens, goats, guinea fowl, ducks, rabbits, and livestock guardian dogs (LGDS) to protect them all.
That soon became very overwhelming, and currently we are focusing only on our goats, chickens, and LGDs as well as a small garden.
I started my soapmaking in 2013. I was terrified of the lye, and my first batch on the back porch basically in full hazmat gear; convinced the lye mixture was going to explode in my face! Thankfully it didn’t, and while I am still cautious and careful while making soap, I no longer fear the process. (Side note – there is no need to be afraid of the finished product. A properly made soap uses up all the dangerous ingredients in the chemical reaction, saponification, wth no residual lye left in the bar.)
What do you grow or raise?
We raise registered Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Icelandic chickens. We did have a couple of American Guinea Hogs for a while, but they recently left the pasture and filled our freezers.
I, also, handcraft small batch, artisan soap from scratch here on the farm, most of which uses our goat’s milk and other natural ingredients. They are unscented or lightly scented with essential oils, and all the colors come from botanicals or clays.
What traditional methods do you use on your farm to grow your crops and/or raise your animals?
We use different traditional methods on our farm. We reuse and recycle as much as we can; repurposing materials and “waste” into things we can use until they completely wear out. We utilize livestock guardian dogs to protect our herd, which is a method that has been used for thousands upon thousands of years (the LGDs create their own “territory” within the boundaries of the livestock, which the predators learn to respect, creating an amazingly easy and ethical first line of defense.) Our animal’s waste becomes compost for our gardens; and when it comes time to process any of the animals we attempt to use as much of that animal as we can.
We do have dairy goats, and we milk by hand. My family drinks the milk, and I make goat cheese and our goat milk soap. Our hogs were fed any extra milk as well as all of our food scraps.
With my soapmaking, I try to keep it as traditional as possible. Some things, such as using lye from wood ash, is no longer doable (the amount of lye in the wood ash is too variable, and to make a bar of soap that is appropriate to sell you need exact measurements). However, we make our soap from scratch with lye, and we source as many local ingredients as feasible; ie. lard from our own hogs or from other local farms, ale for our beer soaps comes from Porter Brewing, Co. in Redmond, OR, the coffee in our coffee soaps comes from Bohemian Roastery in Bend or Rae’s Coffee Stand at Powell Butte Station, and our lavender essential oil comes from Tumalo Lavender.
What is one of your favorite farm-infused recipes you wish to share?
One of our family’s favorite goat cheese recipes is for Haloumi cheese. I adapted the recipe I use from Wholesome Cook.
Homemade Haloumi Cheese
For the Haloumi Cheese:
1/2 gallon goat’s milk
1 junket tablet
1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp dried Italian herbs
1/4 tbsp chilli flakes or to taste
1 tbsp salt
For the Brine:
1/2 c leftover whey
1/2 c water
1 tbsp salt
-Place milk into a large saucepan. Dissolve junket tablet in 1 tbsp water
-Heat milk over slow heat until it reaches 89.5 F – 95 F. Remove from heat immediately and add dissolved junket.
-Stir for a few seconds. Set aside for 30 minutes in a warm place. The milk should set and become jelly like.
-Once the milk has set, cut it up roughly using a wooden spoon and mix to seperate the whey.
-Transfer to a large microwave-safe bowl, add chili flakes and herbs and allow to stand for another 10 minutes.
-Place the bowl in a microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes. Stir the mixture around and heat on high for another 2 minutes.
-Test the curds with your fingers – they should be elastic and slightly firm. If still very soft, stir and heat on high for 1 more minute.
To strain the Haloumi Cheese:
-Once heated, spread cheese cloth over a large fine sieve set over a large bowl.
-Strain the curds and whey, reserving 1/2 cup of whey for the brine.
-Sprinkle salt over the curds, mix and start pressing the cheese to remove excess whey.
-Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze extra whey.
To make the Brine:
-Combine all brine ingredients and mix well.
To store Haloumi Cheese:
-Press haloumi cheese into a rectangular container and place in the fridge to cool (or into the freezer for 15 minutes if you’re rushed).
-Once cooled, transfer haloumi to a larger container and cover with brine.
-Store in the fridge and consume within a couple of days.
We like to slice the cheese and fry it in butter in a cast iron pan over medium heat until lightly browned.
What is at least one farm tradition you uphold?
The most important farm tradition to us that we uphold is a sense of community and responsibility towards that community. The same concept of farmers-helping-farmers that was necessary for survival in the past is incredibly important even today. We try to extend that concept into people-helping-people, and while there aren’t as many barn-raising parties these days, there are still many ways we can help each other out. Whether it is giving neighbors a hand, utilizing local materials/products when able, collaborating with other makers, or mentoring newer farmers/homesteaders and learning from those more experienced, we feel it is incredibly important to work together and build each other up in order for all to succeed.
What inspires you to continue a farm lifestyle?
I love this lifestyle. I love each and every one of my goats, chickens, and dogs and the unique personalities they all have. I love watching my children grow up with the knowledge of where our food comes from and how our animals are treated; with the responsibilities of caring for them and watching the processes of life. My family, my friends, my Crazy Goat Lady Tribe, and my community inspire me to continue this lifestyle; and being able to provide people with a product that I lovingly and intentionally craft with methods that have been used and passed down for generations.
What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom do you hope to impart on future generations of farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, and homesteaders?
Find your community. Work together, help each other out, lift each other up. Start where you are and go from there. Be a barn-raiser!
Where can people find you/your products online?