Kefir is a weird thing. Most people who buy it in liquid form at the store probably think it is some sort of yogurt, but it is not. You cannot use kefir to make more kefir, as you can with yogurt; you need
a Kefir SCOBY (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast), and you need to keep the SCOBY alive by providing it with fresh milk every day or two. That milk will become kefir as the SCOBY digests it.
There are lots of SCOBYs, by the way - a vinegar "mother" is a SCOBY, as is kombucha. the Kefir SCOBY looks sort of like cauliflower. The photo above shows the one given to me by M., another nearby farmer lady. She tells me it came from a woman on Lummi Island, who says she brought it with her 30 years ago when she moved here from the east coast. And one of the really cool things about this Kefir SCOBY is that is adapted to goat's milk, having been grown only in goats milk for at least the last several years.
Although I like knowing the age and history of my ferments, it feels like a bit of added pressure to keep them alive. What if I kill the 1890 Skilly Dough? What if this ancient and unique kefir SCOBY dies an ignominious death in the back of my crowded refrigerator? Well, presumably there are lots of other kitchen witches like me keeping their own little SCOBYs alive. Long may they prosper!