Gardens, Girls, and Dessert

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Thursdays have become girls day around here. It started with Grace and I visiting my parents on a Thursday. Now with all the girls being born into the family along with my aunt and uncle recently moving into the area, we all seem to congregate at my parent’s house. The guys go one way and the girls hang out with coffee and magazines. This past Thursday we mixed it up a bit. Everyone came to my house for lunch and a trip to The Conestoga House and Gardens. If you are local to Lancaster County, this is a free garden to visit. They are open on Wednesdays and Thursdays through September. I suggest you gather a group of your best girls or even your honey for a stroll around these beautiful grounds. End your time there with a picnic or just a simple dessert like we did.

Goat Milk, Kefir, and Nursing

At 10 weeks Sawyer developed a milk allergy. She was allergic to the lactose in any dairy product I ate, even if it was the last ingredient in a baked product. It showed itself through her having really bloody stools after nursing. I know gross and TMI. Well it happens and it was very scary. After two visits to the doctor and a trip to the ER (all in one day) we still did not have a definite answer as to what was causing it. So, I called the lactation consultant the next day because I had to pump and give her special formula for several days while we tried to rule out the causes. She immediately knew the problem and explained it to me much better than any doctor could. Without going into to much detail, her body could not digest the lactose and it irritated her intestines to a point that it would cause blisters and when she did number two they would pop and thus the bloody poop. Sorry folks, just letting you know incase other mothers out there are having these issues. 

 What does this have to do with goats? Most babies can outgrow this around 4 to 6 months of age. In the meantime I had to find a way to get my probiotics other than taking it in a pill form.  Goat milk is more easily digested and contains less lactose than cow milk. So I found local goat milk and used my kefir grains to make kefir.

What is Kefir?

 Kefir grain is a symbiotic union of yeast and bacteria to create a culture. When these grains (they are more like curds) are added to milk they ferment and make Kefir. See my step by step instructions below. I mix my kefir with Naked brand juice because I would never drink it straight up.

 Sawyer is 5 months old and I am still able to nurse. I still supplement with Alimentum formula. I have eliminated dairy from my diet and added coconut milk, almond milk, and goat milk kefir, and homemade goat milk cheeses. I am slowly adding hard cheeses to see if she has a reaction. I live on dairy products and get most of my protein from dairy. It was difficult at first. Believe me, I was ready to throw in the towel many times, but she needed that comfort only nursing could have on a newborn. Plus, I still needed that bonding time with her. There are so many options these days. So if you are a mother to a child with a dairy allergy you do not have to give up, it does get easier. As my lactation consultant said “As long as she is getting one nursing session a day she is acquiring the immunities she needs from your breast milk.”

 Making Kefir Using Cow Milk or Goat Milk

 Start with a kefir grain. My mom split hers and shared it with me. They do grow in size so you may be able to find someone local who sells them or you can make your own using a culture. Try looking here.

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Add fresh raw cow milk or goat milk. You can use pasteurized milk but raw milk produces a much nicer grain. Only add 3 to five times the amount of milk as the size of your grain

Cover the jar with a coffer filter and a rubber band.

Let it sit on your counter for 18 to 24 hours. Sometimes I do let mine go longer. You will start to see the milk separate into curds and whey.

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Skim the grain off the top and place in a clean jar. What is left in the other jar is your kefir. I transfer it to a large container so I can keep adding to it. Cover it and place it in the refrigerator. Drink a small amount at first and work your way up to more once your body adjusts. This is an amazing probiotic. In my findings, it is much better than a tablet or even yogurt.

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Start the process over with your grain. Once it starts to grow larger you can split it and share with a friend or simply make more kefir.

If you forget about it for a week. Simply rinse off the grain in water and start the process again. It may take two days to get it started again.

When I have a lot of kefir I place fresh milk on the grain and put it in the refrigerator until I need to make more. It may take two days to get it working again.

Add your kefir to smoothies or mix it with a thick juice like the Naked brand juice.