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The Muscoot Gang Tackles Goats

“Goats eat everything from plastic bags to grass to hay,” Tara King, a member of Muscoot Gang, told the audience at Muscoot Farm on Sunday.

“But they’re also picky eaters. They’ll only eat it if it’s not on the ground. And they’ll only eat the first cut of hay. Cows are willing to graze everywhere but goats try one section and move on to another.”

“Around the world more people drink goat’s milk than cow’s milk,” Tara, 12, continued. “In the Middle East, it’s easier to take care of goats than cows. Goats can climb with the mountain.”

Meanwhile, a few other members of the Gang were inside, demonstrating how to make cheese. “We wanted to come up with a recipe anyone could make at home,” co-leader John Philip Mason said. “Cheese-making usually requires rennet, but we managed to get around that.”

Mason explained that the Muscoot Gang is a 4-H Club. The four Hs stand for “head, heart, hands, and health.” New York’s 4-H clubs are under the guidance of the Cornell Cooperative. The goal is to “teach youngsters skills they’ll need and use throughout their lives.” One of these skills is public speaking and that is why the club members were taking turns narrating the presentation.

Sunday’s presentation was a joint effort between the 4-H Club and Muscoot Farm. It was the club’s first cheese-making demonstration.

For their next project, the Gang is writing an interactive storybook about Jen the Hen, Mason added. “It’s a fun rhyming story aimed at young kids -- to teach them about chickens.”

The Muscoot Gang Recipe for Homemade Cheese:

2 quarts whole milk

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt without iodine

Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.

Slowly heat the milk to 180 degrees. Gradually stir in the vinegar and stir until the mixture thickens. Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and let it drain one to two hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. When most of the whey has drained, you can tie the corners of the cheesecloth together to form a pouch and hang it over the bowl to drain some more. The longer it drains, the firmer the cheese.

Unwrap the cheese, place it in a clean bowl and mix in the salt. It will be a spreadable cheese, similar to cream cheese.

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