Tag Archives: jellyfish

What I really learned on my summer vacation: goat-milking and cheese-making

Okay, I’ll admit the first 2/3 of my vacation wasn’t intended to be educational although I did learn a few things while relaxing on Tybee. Helpful things…or at least helpful for the next time I’m near a beach. I now know that that the sting of a jellyfish does not always cause an adverse reaction on humans, and, by watching a few very young experts, I learned how to pick them up and fling them to the beach. I also relearned how to ride an upright bike. This was not an easy task for one accustomed to a recumbent bike, and there were a few moments in which I hoped no one was watching.

Leaving the ocean behind was, as usual, difficult. Fortunately, we had another few days before returning to reality. Our destination? Elk Creek Farm in Natural Bridge, VA, where my brother, James, his wife, Karen, and their college student son, Adam, live with a bunch of goats, a bunch of chickens, two donkeys, two boxers, one African Grey parrot, not to mention fish in the river that their property borders. There’s a huge garden which, at the time of our visit, was producing carrots, lettuce, beets, peas, onions, garlic, spinach, and a variety of herbs. There were fresh raspberries, strawberries, and if James had run up into the mountains, probably some other berries.

In previous visits, I’d learned to kayak through the rapids (sort of), so this time I had set two new goals before arriving: to learn to milk a goat and to learn to make cheese. With Karen’s direction, I managed to do both. I have proof, thanks to my husband, the chief videographer.

Milking a goat

Turning milk into cheese

Stretching the cheese

What a perfect way to end our vacation — we returned home with a large cooler full of fresh vegetables, some soft goat cheese, and a large round of goat mozzarella, which is better than anything you’ll buy in the supermarket. The ingredients include only milk, salt, rennet and citric acid. The whole process for mozzarella took just 30 minutes and the cheese can be used immediately. I’ll definitely make it again at home. According to the recipe, if your milk is ultra pasteurized, a better option is to use nonfat powdered milk.



What I did on my summer vacation

On my summer vacation, I…

….learned that not all jellyfish are created equal….only after having avoided them for about two hours. A young woman taking care of four very active 8- to 10-year-olds who were carelessly picking up the jellyfish and flinging them onto the beach, informed us that they were not the stinging kind. And how did she know this, we asked? “Oh, I grew up here and you just get to know the difference.” The next morning the beach was strewn with dead jellyfish.

Beached jellyfish

….discovered that sea turtles are NOT slow. It’s nesting season on Tybee Island, so it’s lights out after dark since artificial lights draw the turtles toward land and predators. Anyway, a smallish sea turtle kept coming up out of the water onto the beach one afternoon and the young woman (see above) was concerned that the turtle wasn’t old enough to nest. We helped her capture the turtle until the experts arrived, then learned that it was in fact, an adult terrapin who had nested in previous years. She was actually trying to nest, so we freed her to go about her business.

….ate LOTS of fresh mahi and crab. And hush puppies…real, southern hush puppies.

….remembered why it is crucial to run early in the day on Tybee. The Georgia sun can be brutal.

….relearned how to ride an upright coaster bike. After two years of riding only a recumbent tricycle, this was a challenge and there were a few unbalanced moments. Once we got the brakes adjusted, travel by bike was the ONLY way to get around.

…. found that sleeping on the beach is best done under an umbrella.

Beach dude

….watched dolphins playing about 100 yards offshore. First, you see a fin moving slowly across the water. Suddenly the dolphins are playfully diving — showing off for their audience.

…. watched some gorgeous sunsets — best from the Back River Beach.

Sunset on Tybee

…. took a long, early morning walk on the beach during low tide, and stared, fascinated, at the pelicans standing at the far end of the sand bar. Later in the afternoon, five pelicans flew overhead in formation. Only by watching them in flight, can one appreciate their amazing wingspan.

…spent an afternoon in Savannah — a beautiful, old city — but breathed a sigh of relief as we left the city behind and felt myself relax again as Tybee came back into view.

…. remembered how nearly impossible it is to get the sand out of one’s bathing suit.

…. remembered that if one takes a water bottle to the beach, one will inevitably take a slug of water only to realize that sand had somehow infiltrated the bottle….thus resulting in a mouthful of gritty sand. Yum.

…. had to ask — at least once a day — what day of the week it was (the true sign of a relaxing vacation).

…. found not one, but five cottages that most certainly meet my requirements for a retirement home.

…. documented a whole slew of ideas for continuing to make our house seem more of a “beach house”…including a shell-embedded toilet seat.

Lucite toilet seat with embedded shells

*To be continued…