Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Fairy Egg

Today my husband went to check on the chickens and came back with a rather lovely and weird surprise. One of our chickens had laid an unbelievably tiny egg. Seemed like something was wrong but after a bit of research we found out that this is completely normal and these tiny cute eggs are called fairy eggs or witch eggs. Apparently sometimes a hen will lay a fairy egg when something has disturbed her reproductive cycle. Sometimes a hen will lay a fairy egg or two just as she comes into laying, before her reproductive system has gotten into gear. They are sometimes lighter or darker than her regular eggs because they may spend more or less time in the "egg painting" area of her system, the shell gland. It is normally nothing to be concerned about. 

I think in our case since most of our chickens are so young the reason for this egg is the fact that she is setting up to start laying more and more eggs. It's so nice that we get to learn and experience so many things first hand. We are new to the eggs business and so far it's quite interesting and well the chickens are so cute hehe

Sunday, February 24, 2013


One of the most exciting things at the farm are when a cow gives birth. You get to witness a miracle and they make it look so easy!! usually my husband leaves the cow for 2 hours so that she would have a chance at a normal birth before interfering that is of course unless something out of the ordinary takes place in which case he would step right in. This week was a record of 6 baby calves :) 4 males and 2 females and thankfully it's not that cold which makes caring for them a bit easier. The last newborn was so excited that he actually started sniffing and looking around while half of him was still inside his mom (pic below).

We have designed a tiny "nursery" for the little ones which is located at the back of the farm. Its an enclosed warm space where they get to run around and stay water and cold free. 
Some people call and ask for Liba which is kind of Karishe only it's taken from the cows first milking after they give birth which is nutrient full and amazing for the calves. Honestly most of the times we claim we don't have any in order to feed the calves as it is like a baby missing out on his mother's breast milk. It gives them all they need to survive and be healthy. So humans can wait hehehe That's it for today i guess, not much going on but then again a farmers life is known for the routine, which cows love btw and it makes everything a whole lot easier for everyone. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sad sad Country

It' a shame really..such a beautiful and promising country yet you have all these imbeciles and selfish so called "leaders" trying to make it their own. I sometime wish i wasn't born in Lebanon, what is this stupid small country which does not offer any stability and you are sure to come across at least one war in your lifetime if you chose to live in it. It's so depressing not being able to plan ahead and if you do there is that constant thought and fear in the back of your head going " there might be a war tomorrow and you  might lose it all in a second.." then can i start over?, will i even survive?, will i be able to escape? these questions are constantly lingering in my head and i bet a lot of other people living here as well. I look at my parents and they have literally wasted 20 years of their lives in the civil war running from one place to another, trying not to get killed. Yet people all over the world were living their lives, planning their futures, having happy families...it's so unfair!. 
A gorgeous view in South Lebanon

I will not lie, me and my husband have been pondering the idea of getting the hell out of this country but we have the business which we love and hope to be able to see it grow and evolve. You meet people living abroad and they say Lebanon is amazing and they wish they never left, they say they are living day to day working like donkeys and they feel like their lives are passing them by. But on the other hand they have retirement options, peace of mind and plenty of other benefits this country has never even heard of. Then they tell you, you have your own business here?! then stay!! you should stay! it would be a big mistake to go work for other people when you have something of your own and you're your own boss. They do have a point, but then comes that voice in the back of your head reminding you that NOTHING and NO ONE is safe here so you end up making the choice of your life and hoping it's the right one. 
To us well we have not yet made our final decision. You can say we are still trying our luck here but also considering our options abroad so no one really knows what the future holds....We just try to stay positive and make the most of every single day.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Animal Loving

Everyone has a favorite pet or animal in general. Even if you have a few you can’t help but love one or two more than the rest. It’s our nature I guess, we tend to relate to people or animals more than we do others. I was just outside with the dogs when I realized I do have a favorite amongst the eight hehe two favorites actually Zick and Midge :) I have no idea why, I just seem to like their personalities best. They don’t jump around much, they are quiet and not big on nagging. Of course I also have favorite cows and chickens but my utmost fave had to be my cat Sisi. I got her from a best friend of mine who spent all day at work and left the kitten with her mom at the house and lets just say the mom was not too keen on caring for a mischievous little kitten so I took her in. she’s the cutest thing in the world. Purrs all the time and eats a lot too hehe.

I guess the human-animal bonding is ancient and has been studied for years. It’s defined as a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment. So go on, get a pet, u’ll be happy for sure :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Back from The Market

Today was HECTIC!!! We had our first ever Earth Market in Hamra and came back a while ago and let me tell you...we are exhausteddddddd
We woke up at around 3:00 AM and prepared everything then headed straight to Beirut for usual milk delivery to our daily customer then practically RAN to the market and did not make it in time hehe...we were around half an hour late AND we forgot the eggs at home!!
So we got there all excited and what not, ready with our flyers, banner for fresh milk and even an ipad to display farm pictures constantly and perhaps lure in some clients. Our spirits were high! until....we brought down the refrigerator only to be told to move it up a bit as our place was not where we had agreed on the previous week which was no biggy. We made our way to the other end of the market feeling strangely pierced by eyes everywhere, we looked around and it seemed all other sellers were staring with anger and jealousy, some even made their way to our products and started staring and asking all sorts of silly questions and one of them even belted "what the hell i thought they were putting these ppl at the end of the market not HERE!" at first we thought not to care much as we are not there to make friends, we are there to make a name for ourselves and SELL. Turns out later that we were getting a tiny spot in someone else's tent and would not be getting this chance again..so in a nice way...we're not coming back coz the oldies did not accept to move an inch..which is not very nice! this gave a huge hit in our morale and we decided to up a leave, even before we sat down. Showing discontent, and a while later a few of the more nice marketers decided to squeeze us in between them. It was a very tight and uncomfortable position but we had to make the most of it and decided to give it a chance! we spent the day getting people to taste the products, handing out flyers and letting them learn more about what it is we do and sell. We even sold a few things, not as much as we had hoped but still a good start. 
At the end, it turned out to be a whole lot of work for a whole little revenue...so not worth it to us. Also the fact that we were working in an environment that kind of well, in an effort to say it nicely, HATED US, which was not very encouraging and that we were stuck with a table squeezed between two other sellers was also a blow. We decided the street market business is not for us, we'd rather work on the farm itself and have people come over for visits with their kids where they can also buy products and we'd also rather focus on online sales as well.
So there's our market experience, i can't say we were not excited yet we do not regret it. We got to meet some great people and learned something new about ourselves :)

I realize the below pic is not related but i like it too much hehe

Monday, February 11, 2013

First Independent Project

So tomorrow is the Earth Market in Hamra and it is me and my husband's first independent venture if you may. We are very excited but also worried at the same time. We've been preparing and trying to figure out what to take and what to leave finally we settled on: Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Honey (with and without comb), Lemons, Labne, Laban and Karishe. Seems enough but then again there's the quantities coz we don't want to take too much or too little but i guess that's what the first day is all for. 
We really hope this will help in the launch of the farm's name or at least let us gain some repetitive customers since that's what it's all about. The point is for the end customer to get to know his supplier directly, whether you are buying dairy, meat, vegetable and fruits or bread, it's always best to know the  farmer or buy directly from the source, this would help you know what you're eating and help those passionate suppliers sell and stay in business thus maintaining some heritage for the country as a whole. 
you look around these days and there's a Starbucks and Mcdonalds practically everywhere, countries culture is swept down the drain which is what we all need to work on upholding otherwise it's all corporate businesses with nothing but money on their minds and certainly not your health!
Anyways, back to the topic, i really hope this first attempt of ours kicks off and helps us set some grounds on what we have in mind for the business. I mean sure i'm gonna have to wake up at 5:30 am for it (which is usually the husbands' job) so i sure do hope it will be worth it!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Some Farm Pics

enjoying the weather

Zick and Zack

It's a Beautiful Day

It's one of those beautiful weathers today. Sunny, blue skies, not too warm but not too cold. Just perfect! The birds did wake me up as usual by picking on the brick roof but that's ok. Outside if you look closely at the flowers, which are blooming way before time but look absolutely lovely, you can see the bees  hopping joyfully from one to another and that makes you smile without even knowing it.

Even the cows love this weather, they hate cold breezes, rain and heat. They are very sensitive creatures and any change in their routine would disrupt them and then they end up producing less milk and you can even sense that they're unhappy. Love them and they will love you back. The chickens of course are out and about today, taking in the sun's warmth and having a feast of earthworms :)

Sometimes, most of the times in fact, i prefer the company of animals instead of humans. They just love you unconditionally, keep you company, play with you, eat with you (if you let them :P) ...no jealousy, hate, gossip, no negative energy basically! It's all so simple and that's what makes it awesome!
I'd better go out and enjoy the weather too since everyone else seems to be...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How To Make Halloum Cheese

As promised, i will be posting cheese making recipes for all those who share my passion!
Halloum will be the first, let's see...you will be needing the below:
- Fresh Milk (10 L), raw or pasteurized.
- Vinegar or Lemon Juice ( 3 tablespoons)
- Cotton cheese cloth
- Something that weighs around 15kgs..sounds daunting i know but we suggest a pack of 2L water bottles.
- Water (1L)
- Salt (6gr)

And here are the steps:
1- Heat milk in pot to 60 degrees Celsius (if raw) and to 36 degrees if pasteurized.
2- If raw milk was used. Cool it to 36 degrees, a quick way to do that is to place pot in a tub of cold water.
3- Add vinegar or lemon juice and stir.
4- Leave aside for 0.5 hr.
5- To check if the mixture is ready stick a knife in the middle, it should come out clean. If residue sticks to the knife, leave mixture a while longer.
6- Cut mixture, which is now jello like, into 0.5 cm squares and set aside for 5-10 mins.The mixture should now contain whey which is clearly visible between the pieces. (as in image below). Mix it up a little and set aside for around 10mins.

7- The cheese has now sunk to the bottom of the pot, remove the whey and set in a bowl aside. Keep removing whey until u find the curd at the bottom.
8- Carefully remove the curd and place them in a cotton cheese cloth (same as the one used for labne).
9- Wrap the curd in the cloth around 5 cm thick and make it cube shaped.
10- Set the weight on the curd in the cloth.
11- Heat up the whey that was set aside a while ago to 90 degrees.
12- Remove the curd, which is now cheese, from the cloth and place in the hot water. Leave it until it rises to the top of the pot.
13- Place cheese pieces aside and wait for them to cool, meanwhile flipping them from side to side to help with the cooling.
14- Once the cheese cools a little bend it in half so it can have the Halloum famous look and try to place it in a tight box so that there would be pressure on the sides of the cheese. Or just cram it between 2 pieces of wood or whatever you have.
15- Add cheese to brine which can be prepared by mixing 1L of water with 20gr of salt.
16- After 24 hours, rinse the cheese with some water and VOILA!!

Congratulations! you have successfully made Halloum cheese which is actually one of the harder white cheeses to make but undoubtedly one of the best. Enjoy and feel free if you have any questions.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Today was a cheese filled day and so far i can't breathe! I had cheese with my eggs for breakfast (lots and lots), cheese with my pasta for lunch and a grilled cheese sandwich for the afternoon and the night is young!
The thing is i just adore cheese, its all i dream about ESPECIALLY if i'm on a diet (which is currently the case). I know its loaded with calories, especially the yellow or processed cheeses but it's one of my passions and thankfully i live at a dairy farm ;)
The cheeses we make here though are all white cheese, mainly the most known in Lebanon. Halloum, Double Kreme, Baladiye, Akkawi and Akkawi Cheke. The difference between the last two is simply that the Cheke is the one used for making Kenfe and Lebanese sweets which means IT MELTS! pretty amazing and mouthwatering if you ask me..
I will soon be posting the procedures on how to make each kind. It's all pretty straightforward and if there is anything else anyone wishes to learn more about do leave a comment and we'd be more than happy to share! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Business

So it's been a few months since i quit the corporate world and so far i'm loving it! turns out the fast paced life was not really meant for me. In fact i don't think it's good for anyone. It just leaves you bored,drained and tired. 
Moving on, my husband an i have decided to develop the business. We have around 100 cows of all sizes and types and we are mainly a dairy farm but have so far expanded a little and we now dabble at some beekeeping and free range eggs :) we have also set up a facebook page to try and get some sales going and so far it's been slow but on the right track. 

What we sell are all natural and freshly made, milk, halloum, karishe, akkawi, baladiye cheese as well as honey, eggs and olive oil. Our clients are still mostly our family but i guess you need to start somewhere right?! 
We are also planning to take part in a few local food markets in Beirut next month so fingers crossed for that as well!

How It Started

Ok so here goes...I was always a city girl, i loved it! i thought i could never live outside the great capital Beirut, it had everything i needed, i could go anywhere in a matter of minutes whether to school, college or work. At one point in my life i met my current husband, we were 18 and still in school. Getting to know him he told me his family owned a dairy farm in Kinnarit, South of Lebanon which seemed odd to me. I had never met anyone who had a farm before, lets face it i had never seen a cow up close! the only animal i was familiar with were cats and that's because you can find them stray in all the streets of Beirut. It didn't occur to me at that time that i might actually marry this person. Then it happened, after almost 10 years we decided it was time to get hitched! A few arguments had led to the decision of us even moving and living in the house at the farm which would be a nice 2 story house with a front and back yard all freshly built by my husbands dad. I fought a lot a first i have to say then i succumbed mainly due to the fact that its not smart to leave a free house and choose to pay almost half our earnings each month on a house in the city for around 50 years :S Also, there had to be a few sacrifices on my side since my husband wanted to ultimately work at the farm and so the decision was made.

First year was quite a hassle, i was working at the airport and did not know how to drive yet so poor husband had to drive back and forth daily to take me there then pick me up in the afternoon. Thus arose the need for me to find a job closer to home especially since even after i got my license and fair amount of practice i was too scared to drive the highway alone. I did eventually find a job 20 mins from home, in Saida, and it was good for a while until i came to another big life decision. Don't get me wrong here, i am not the only one who thought living at the farm would be strange and a completely new experience, my husband did too. You see he also spent all his life living in the city and at first when we moved he also had a corporate job in Beirut as a Logistics Manager. He quit his job and took on the farmer's job almost a year after we moved, which was 2010. Back to me, i was going to work daily and by and by wondering what the hell i was doing, i had never liked any job i was in and there is a family business sitting there waiting for me so i finally did it! i quit! i decided i would help my husband with his business and it was time for me to stop working for other people!

This all happened back in October 2012. And so far it has been amazing! i have completely shed the city life (i still go to visit friends and family) and am  officially a farm loving wife! who would have thought right?!...certainly not me hehehe...