How to Train a Heifer to Become a Family Milk Cow

Twyla Title Photo

Today I’m welcoming Ashley from The Browning Homestead to the blog! Not all of us are fortunate to start off with a quiet, trained milk cow (I wasn’t!), so Ashley is sharing her expertise on how to start with a heifer, and end up with a quiet family cow!

We all have that dream of having our own milk cow. She gives us gallons upon gallons of milk each day. We’ll make yogurt, sour cream, butter, mozzarella cheese, and have lots of milk for the other barnyard animals.

While that was certainly my vision when I purchased my family cow, it didn’t quite turn out that way. We had trouble getting her bred and she didn’t give much milk. But she calved easily and was a gentle cow and terrific mother. So we decided to buy a few more milk cows: HEIFERS.

Training a heifer (a young female cow) to become a family milk cow can be a bit tricky sometimes. Following these few simple guidelines can set you and your milk cow up for a long, productive relationship together!

Practices for Pre-Calving

1. Bring your heifer (or cow) to your homestead before she calves. This will help her to become familiar with YOUR set-up. She’ll become comfortable and less nervous about where she will calve and who will most likely be around (kids, dogs, chickens, and other barnyard friends)

2. Practice your milking routine (without actually milking her). Tie her up to a post or put her in your milking stanchion. Give her a flake of good hay and practice your routine. Spray her down with fly spray and brush her all over. Don’t forget to tell her sweet nothings into her ear: what a good cow she is and how she’ll be a great mama cow!… [Continue Reading]

How to Make Old-Fashioned Peach Butter

homemade peach butter recipe

I’m a slow learner sometimes…

I’ve been canning for quite a while now, yet I always seem to inadvertently mop my floors right before starting a new canning project.

(And mind you–mopping does NOT happen frequently at my house!)

It’s like I subconsciously can’t help it.

This week, it was peach butter. Of all the things you can preserve, peaches are one of the stickiest, and I proceeded to splash that sticky peach puree all over my cabinets, countertops, stovetop, and yes, the freshly-mopped kitchen floor.

But it’s all good. The end result was totally worth it, and we’ve been enjoying the results of that sticky afternoon ever since.

peach butter recipe

What’s the Difference between Fruit Butter and Jam?

Sweet Preservation generously sent me a big box of peaches, so I was left with the agonizing decision: what do I do with them?

There are so many options when it comes to preserving peaches…

how to make peach butter

I finally settled on turning them into peach butter. Fruit butters are somewhat related to jams, but they don’t require pectin. They are thick and opaque and absolutely perfect as a spread on homemade bread, or flaky homemade biscuits, or crepes, or waffles, or… you get the picture.

How to Make Homemade Peach Butter

You will Need:

  • Fresh, ripe peaches (roughly one pound of peaches per pint… roughly…)
  • Sweetener, to taste (optional– I used a bit of sucanat (aka unrefined cane sugar) see notes below)
  • That’s it! (Really!)

Start by removing the pits from your peaches and cutting them into quarters.… [Continue Reading]

How to Can Pickled Beets

how to can beets

I have beets coming out of my ears right now, so this is a timely post! If you plan to use a water bath canner to preserve your beets, pickling is an important part of the process. (Otherwise, you’ll need to use a pressure canner, since beets are a low-acid food.) I love this tutorial from Annie at Montana Homesteader–especially since it doesn’t require a bunch of sugar–beets are plenty sweet on their own!

My name is Annie Bernauer, the homesteading mama at  Montana Homesteader, and I love pickled beets. I love to eat them as a snack and I love to eat them in salads. I love to eat them instead of potato chips and even love to eat them more than chocolate some days! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share how to make and can pickled beets with the Prairie Homestead community. Thank you Jill!

Since I professed my love of pickled beets, you might be wondering why I enjoy them so much. They have a delicious spiced flavor and I just love the tangy zip from the vinegar. In addition to the flavor, pickled beets are full of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, B, C. They also contain potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and iron. Who doesn’t love a snack that is tasty AND healthy!

A lot of beet recipes out there use white vinegar and lots of white sugar. The beauty of this recipe is that it is made with apple cider vinegar and no sugar! Apple cider vinegar has more health benefits since it is not processed like white vinegar is. White vinegar has a harsh taste, which is why the other recipes often call for lots of sugar. Apple cider vinegar has a sweeter flavor so you can add just a little honey to reduce the tang of the vinegar.… [Continue Reading]

How to Make Homemade Stevia Extract

how to make stevia extract

I have a sweet tooth.

There. I said it.

As much as I would like to be one of those people who can happily chug black coffee and has no problem passing up dessert, I’m just not.

Now, as my real-food journey has progressed, I have gotten much better than I used to be. White sugar is pretty much banned from our house, and I don’t even use as many unrefined sweeteners as I used to. Eating a piece of fruit generally satisfies my cravings for sweetness (which have lessened considerably), and I’m pretty darn creative about using small amounts of maple syrup, honey, or stevia to sweeten stuff instead.

Stevia is amazing stuff. It’s pretty popular right now, but in case you haven’t jumped on the stevia train yet, here is a quick run-down: Stevia is simply a plant. Yup– a plant. It’s not created in a laboratory and it’s most definitely not one of those scary artificial sweeteners. Stevia is 200-times sweeter than sugar and you can grow it right in your garden. That’s my kind of sweetener!

growing stevia

Of course, there is some debate surrounding stevia, (because, quite frankly, there is debate surrouding everything these days…) Some people question if it is safe to use in large amounts, and other folks don’t like the more-processed forms of stevia powder on the market today.

However, I feel pretty confident in simple stevia extracts, especially when you make them yourself. Just remember– stevia is SUPER sweet, so you’ll only want to use a drop or two at a time!

homemade stevia extract

How to Make Homemade Stevia Extract

You will need:

  • Fresh stevia leaves (Dry leaves can work too–see the note below)*
  • Vodka*
  • Clean glass jar with lid

*The amount of ingredients you need will depend on how much stevia extract you want to make.[Continue Reading]