Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Harry Potter / Hogwarts Birthday Cake

Over the summer, we had a Harry Potter marathon.  Up to that point, we had not seen any of the movies.  I do tend to be particular about what they watch and of course, there was the whole "wizard/spells/sorcery" thing going on...and I had previous notions about that being unacceptable....  which is funny, because nobody makes such a big fuss about Lord of the Rings... but, that has sorcery, too.  So, why is that?  Is it because Harry Potter is about kids?  I don't know.  Anyway, I had decided earlier not to let them watch them.  Then I changed my mind.... I've learned that changing your mind is not always a bad thing.   Having decided we were going to throw ourselves into the whole Potter saga, I visited the local rental store, and came home with the entire collection.  They were SO good!  Not only did the kids love them, but I did, as well.  Shortly thereafter, Jacob's birthday arrived... and when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he replied with little hesitation, "A Hogwart's Castle"...  so, off to google I went to get as many ideas as I could before getting started.  Wow..  some of the cakes were exquisitely done with the entire Hogwarts land and buildings...  some were more simple and "generic" castle in appearance...all of them inspired me and prodded my creativity into action.  Jacob wanted the entire Hogwarts estate.. I thought that might be a tad bit far reaching, due to the fact that he also wanted to go on a camping trip for his birthday.  We would be coming home the morning of his birthday...which left me only several hours to have everything ready for his party. I finally decided to go with a castle look that I had seen online, but modified.  I had also seen some Harry Potter characters made from fondant that I was itching to try.
I get started, I stacked three loaf shaped chocolate cakes on top of one another and started shaping the cake to look like a castle....
I iced it and then mixed brown and black food coloring in fondant for the "walls".  I made shingles out of the same fondant and layered them on.  I added doors and windows and made a clock for the front. I really wanted to make more castle additions, but my time was getting short.  I did end up making one other part out of cake, that ended up looking like a cross between Hagrid's Hut and a castle addition.  I made a tower out of construction paper and an iced ice cream cone.  I really would have liked to have had the time to add more, but Jacob seemed to be pleased, so I decided to just stick with what I already had completed.  In retrospect, I think the colors would have been better if I had gone lighter....light gray, light tan... to make it look more like a castle..
The characters were a lot of fun to make.  I made Hagrid, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron and was pleased with the outcome.

While I was making cake, Sarah was handling the "Magic Wand" pretzels...and did a great job of completing them...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goat Quandries...

Farming definitely slows down in the winter.... well, at least this winter.  Last year at this time, I was milking a goat.  Which meant in inclement weather, I spent a whole lot of time attempting to coax a most reluctant milk goat up the milking stand ramp.  And while that may sound like riotous fun, wasn't. However, having said that, I will confess to you that, maybe, just a tiny bit, I miss milking....wait....don't say anything... I *do*  .... maybe not the coaxing part...or the part where my hands freeze.... but, the joy of just going out every day and getting fresh milk for my family...yes, I admit, I miss it....which amuses me if you must know.

Anyway, way back in August, we decided to sell all of our goats but Annie - the milk goat, and Raven - the new one born in the spring to a mother that wasn't as good a milker as Annie.  One of the ones sold was Raven's brother, Thunder.  Thunder, Raven, and Sugar (their momma) were all in the fenced in area with Annie.  (Trust me...this is going somewhere...eventually).  Apparently, directly before we sold little Thunder, he was showing some interest in Annie.  Which was not a good thing....because he was a Nigerian/Nubian mix and his momma wasn't an excellent, I didn't want him breeding my favorite sweet tempered Annie.  We had other designs for the form of a worthy Nubian buck with good lines.

So, we sold little Thunder and his momma and brought home Jem Dandy...just for Annie.  It was an arranged marriage....they had no say so in the matter....  but, like all parents who arrange marriages for their children, we knew best.

So, here's Jem...  all big and Nubian....

We started out putting him in a different pen...just to get him accustomed to things ...and to let Annie and Raven get used to the idea of him being around.  A few weeks later, we decide to go ahead and put him in with the girls.  Was Annie interested at all?  No.  No, she wasn't.  Not a bit.  Which was disconcerting, to say the least.  I mean, this was her betrothed...  the one for her!!  And there he was... excited to be with his new love...  chasing her no avail.  And she wasn't just being coy... it continued on in this manner and has to this day, to the best of my knowledge.  Which leads us to an interesting conclusion...  did little Thunder breed my blue ribbon milk goat?!!?  (, she's never actually received a blue ribbon, but she's blue ribbon quality)  Alas, we think he did.  And if he would've been in August...which puts my goat kidding in January.  So, now...I'm all pins and she pregnant??  Is she going to kid so that I can begin milking her again?? Will she throw a girl who is as good a milker as she is??

Regarding the milking question, you may wonder what the Fox Family is currently doing for milk.  Well, I'll tell you...we're drinking goat milk.  Back in the summer, we decided that since we knew we were going to dry her off and breed her again, we should freeze some milk.  We got started a little late in the game, though...because we *are* still learning.  We really don't have enough left to last until March or April ...which is when we normally have baby goats, so we're thinking if she does kid in January, this could just work out perfectly with the dwindling milk supply.  But, we'll see....  For now, it's a waiting game.