Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Cheesy Pic

Here's some Mozzarella, just chilling out after a good stretching. Just as I started to get a handle on my cheese schedule last week and come up with some sort of schedule for making assorted sundries, we are adding a new market this week on Tuesday. We'll be attending the Winter Harbor market. I've got to be a bit more organized on Sundays now, to assure a good offering for Tuesday.
We popped over to my parents to take a good look at how my Dad braced the corners of his high tensile fence and get a few pointers. We had one of his cows a couple years ago it was orphaned as a calf, and I put him on one of my Jersey cows, who fostered and raised him. Saved his life, and for a thank you he continually blew through our fences, which admittedly weren't up to par. I loaded his butt on the trailer and dumped him back over at my parents house. That darn cow " Smoky Bones" has been on the lamb ever since. He likes to harasss my Mom by coming up on the lawn and tearing it up, probably eating flowers, and pooping everywhere. My Dad said today, once we get our high tensile perimeter fence up he was gonna load Smoky up and bring him back. If the fence will hold Smoky, it'll hold anything. Boy, I hope he's kidding. I was pretty happy to have unloaded him back on my Dad's farm as easily as I did. I sure don't want him back, high tech fence or not I'm not inviting anymore trouble. Trouble is easy enough to find without going looking for it.
For some personal news, I lost 8lbs this week. I still enjoyed hamburgers, sausage, plenty of cheese, butter, and cream in my coffee. A good dose of local salad greens too. That's my kind of diet.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ida May's First Steps

Ida May is 10 months old and started walking this past week. It is so adorable to see her toddling around! I can't believe my baby is walking and will soon be running around with the rest of our brood. Time is flying, we only have one child in diapers, and now they are all walking on their own two feet as well. Dante and I are about to enter into a new phase of our lives, with our children growing older----Zoie is almost a teenager and Ida is the last baby. He is ready, but I'm a bit more reluctant to leave those days of being pregnant and nursing little babies behind. I have been pregnant and nursing our 5 children pretty much straight for the last 10 years. It was my identity, and now I have to move on to a new realm. Once I get over the sense of uncertainty, I can already see that there is so much ahead, gosh, I might even get to go to that cheesemaking workshop I've been dying to attend but knew I couldn't with a baby.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die

A time to plant, a time to reap

A time to kill, a time to heal

A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up,a time to break down

A time to dance, a time to mourn

A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time for every purpose, under heaven

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Products for the Market

Heritage Pork- Petit Jambons and Bacon are back! We've also got Boneless Boston Butt for pulled pork sandwiches, along with all our other usual delicious pork offerings.
Beef- We finally have ground beef and beef kabobs. Perfect for 4th of July grilling!
Fatted Calf- What is fatted calf? It is an older calf, the same age we butcher our pigs at, that is fed milk directly from a cow, but also grazes and eats hay and is allowed to exercise and be a young cow. It has a beautiful rosy red color but is still fine grained and delicate with a less robust beefy flavor. The fate of a lot of Jersey bull calves on a lot of dairys is not good. They are a small breed, won't produce much meat as a beef animal, and tend to be " throw-a-ways " because farmers have a bottom line too, and you obviously won't be milking a bull. Most dairys use A.I. as well, so his future as a herdsire is reserved only for a select few. We decided to honor their lives, and try to bring back the traditional Fatted Calf, which signifies a " celebration". The Jersey breed may not produce a lot of meat, but what meat they have is rich, tender, fine grained and marbles easily. Those same genes that cause the cows to produce a lot of butterfat, also contribute to well marbled meat.
We have a limited supply but more on the way...........
Veal Riblets, Veal Rib Chops, Breast of Veal, Veal Cutlets, Veal Rib Rack, Veal Osso Bucco, Rolled Roast of Veal, and Ground Veal.

Creamery Products-
Old World Clabbered Cottage Cheese is back! Be sure to try our new Mozzarella marinated in Olive Oil with Garlic and Fresh Basil, also Creme Fraiche. Delicious as a topping for those ripe strawberries that are in season!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Harper's Magazine Raw Milk Article

Click the title if you've got a few minutes to sit down and read it all it is actually well written. I came across it today while browsing 'The Bovine" blog. I was waiting for the vet, had the cows all up in the barn and knew the cows were getting messy and restless.
The visit was good, our vet commented on how nice the cows look and was supremely impressed with Teeny's production. On 12lbs of grain a day she is producing 8 gallons. She's a small cow too, and only 4 years old. This is her 2nd lactation and she is only 4 weeks fresh. I've got to figure out something soon though, as she is starting to drop weight. The amazing thing is, that even with that quantity of milk her butterfat is 5.81. I'm amazed.
He palpated Happy and she is definitely pregnant. Glad I didn't dry off an open cow. She is bred to a purebred polled Jersey from really good lines, I pray it is a heifer! Drew blood on 4 others to send in for biopryn pregnancy tests. If they are pregnant these will be the first confirmed pregnancy's from our young bull.
I got my herb seedlings planted and tonight in the misty duskiness right before dark we cut the renegade heifers that have gotten loose the last couple of days, out of the milker herd and put them back in with the bulls. It's the only permanent fence we have, as of right now. See how they enjoy the company of those jugheads!
Didn't get the mozzerella done today, but need to hustle and finish tommmorrow. we sold out of my new marinated mozz today at Bar Harbor Market. I did make butter, buttermilk, sour cream, cottage cheese, assorted yogurts and skimmed cream, bottled more milk.
I was hoping to have more done today, but alas, plans change.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jean Louis " Daddy Pig"

This is our Berkshire boar, Jean Louis. The little girls call him " Daddy Pig " and if you saw him from a less polite view you'd know there is no mistaking he is male. They are always laughing and saying his butt is hanging out. The Fed-Ex driver took a picture of his " package" and emailed it to her mother. Jean Louis and Dante have a certain understanding and mutual respect for each other. He scares me a little personally.
We got our latest milk test from the state, some highlights are 5.81 butterfat and 8.90 solids. 97,000 SCC which isn't too bad with 2 fresh cows.

Tommorrow is the yearly appt with our vet to do all the cows testing. They get tested for TB and Brucellosis. I'm gonna have blood drawn for pregnancy tests on Gale, Chia, Happy, Ellie, and Jules, Happy had better be bred because I dried her off, a couple days ago. Second thought, I may have the vet palpate her-- if she isn't bred I should be able to just resume milking her again. She sure looks pregnant, but I get nervous. I dried off a cow who was not pregnant, but I thought she was once just as we went into winter. She gained so much weight that winter and then I couldn't get a bull for so long, I never could get her bred again. I tried for 3 years, it was very sad.
I can't get my new herb seedlings in the ground, it has been so rainy and wet. The slugs are wreaking havoc, and decimated some voluntary sunflowers that were growing under the bird feeder. I LOVE having flower gardens, a luxury I never afforded myself until this year. If it ever stops raining I'll take some pics. Most of the tomatoes look really good. I can't believe how many fresh herbs I use for our creamery products, I keep getting more and more plants and still don't have enough.
We got 3 of our barn cats neutered, and I can't believe the change in behavior. They were almost immediately more friendly and loving. I wish we could catch the elusive " Booka". He is just so wary and Zoie and I fear if we did somehow catch him and get him neutered, he'd never trust us again. I'm still thinking about it.
I had a very productive day in the creamery. Bottled milk and cream for tommorrow. Made mozzarella, and marinated a bunch in olive oil with garlic and basil, creme fraiche, fromage blanc, cottage cheese, compound butters, ranch dip, various yogurts. Whew! Managed to squeeze in a trip to town and ran errands with 8 different stops. I took all the girls with me. I can't believe I survived Ayla's ( 3) endless chatter. Everytime I swear I'm not taking her again, and am truly amazed I didn't go off the road she is so distracting, bless her " wittle" heart. She doesn't just blather on, she engages you in conversation and asks a million questions, and demands that you answer, then has to have a thousand sips of water which she spills a few dozen times, and then needs to pee no less than 15 times. I now just pull over almost anywhere. Today she went behind Hannafords. At least while I was gone Dante did all my creamery dishes and vacuumed and mopped the floor. Such a sweet gift that means a lot to me.
Last night Ayla and Veda were in the van with a kitten while I milked. I take the keys with me in my pocket and roll the window down. I'm wise to those tricks, when Zoie and I hear them yelling,
" FIRE, FIRE!!!!!!!!!" We charge out of the barn, hearts in our throats, yelling " where, where!!"
The girls just laugh and say, " No fire" and " Fire on my hand" and laugh some more. They were totally crying wolf. Where did they ever get that idea? 5 and 3 years old and they're comedians. Ayla's sense of humor is not that of your average 3 year old. I never know what she's gonna do or say next. It keeps me on my tippity toes.
Dante went to 2 different butchers and picked up TONS of goodies. I've been slaving away in the creamery, you won't want to miss the markets this week!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day. We got a call from the neighbor at 5:30am this morning, saying that we had 6 cows out and headed to town. Not what you want to hear. Turns out the gate to the heifers and bulls was open and they wandered out and apparently broke the milk cows out of their pasture too. Actually there were about 9 cows out, it was a mini rodeo herding them back.
Then I took the kids and rushed to town, and picked out a few gifts for Dante and went to visit my Dad. I apparently got confused there was a breakfast planned and we accidentally showed up! Glad we did. I don't get to see my Dad nearly enough.
One of Dante's friends invited us to their camp. There were a handful of couples and a bunch of kids. Our kids had a great time, and Dante did too. There were a lot of pretty people there. What people don't realize is that our kids didn't get so cute, just because of Dante. I used to be pretty too. It makes me really sad, I feel like I don't recognize the face staring back at me in the mirror. I was never fat before having kids. I had anorexia and bulimia in highschool. I don't even know why, and don't care to go to therapy to find out either. It's like as soon as I got pregnant with my first child 10 years ago, I immediately knew that I needed to be healthy for the baby. So I went from a size 2, to what I am now. An overweight woman who cried quietly on the way home from a barbecue because I'm sad today. Obviously I have a hard time expressing my emotions in a healthy way. It's rainy, I'm cold, embarassed, and just wish I could figure out how to be comfortable in my own skin. While I'm wishing, it would also be nice to not have to prick my 3 year olds finger 8-10 times a day, and jab her with insulin 4 or 5 times as well. One good thing about having a sweet little child with type 1 diabetes, is I have seen the beauty and serenity of many a late night and sunrises that I probably would have missed sleeping.
Gosh, what a downer, huh?
Honestly, I don't know how to be anything other than one extreme or the other. I think I'm going to resolve to allow myself to cry from time to time, and not always try to be everyone's rock.
I should have put a disclaimer at the top that said, " This has nothing to do with cheese"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Milk from Cows that have Names

Cows are smarter than you think. Growing up, I had horses and Dad had his Highland Cows. Now I'm an animal lover, so of course I liked his cows--even though they aren't the kind you snuggle up to--like mine are now, and I definitely didn't think they were as smart or wonderful as my horses. Now I have cows and no horses.
All of our cows know their names, and basic commands. They love a routine and show up at the gate at precisely the time they should to be milked. I guess cows can tell time too. Gale, can open the gate and let herself back in after milking. They even know the order they are to be milked in, and will hang back until their time. Sometimes they get a little greedy and some will relentlessly try to usurp anothers spot. They seem to have an impeccable knack for detecting when the vet is coming for their annual testing, and disappear into the tall grass at the farthest corners of the pastures.
Here is the cast of characters providing your milk and dairy products right now.
Gale- A 5 year old Jersey, very petite in height and build, and a really light blond. She used to have horns but we have been humanely dehorning her with the callicrate bander. She lost one horn and we are waiting on the other, it has almost dropped off. I guess she is a unicorn right now. She is the lead cow and wears a cowbell on her collar. Her udder structurally, is the nicest of all the cows I own. She gives very rich milk, about 4 gallons a day right now, peaks at 7 gallons. ( She's my favorite, don't tell the others )
Berretta- She is also 5 years old. She is one of my better behaved cows and very pretty with dark overtones and a solid black face. A purebred Jersey cow. She can get spooked, and we joke she's always looking around the corner fearing a puma will pounce on her back. Berretta just calved a month ago and is giving me 4 gallons a day plus feeding her calf Brevi. The calf is probably taking 2 gallons a day now. Berrettas milk is high in solids, yields a good cheese.
Teeny- 4 year old Jersey. Markings similar to Berretta only Teeny is smaller and her overtones and face are a chocolate brown color. Pretty. She can be a stinker, but is ALWAYS first to get to the barn. In a hurry, too.. Pretty unflappable but not above throwing some attitude around if she thinks it will shake you. A perfect angel to milk now.Her milk is delicious! She has the highest butter fat too. Currently I'm getting 5 gallons a day from her plus she is stuffing that little calf of hers with all the milk he desires, twice daily. She is definitely giving upwards of 6 gallons a day. Her milk is my favorite for drinking.
Happy- 6 year old purebred Jersey. She is my biggest cow, but is like a ballerina--tall and lanky. She has a delicate refined face. She is very sweet and seems to take it all in stride. She is first to be milked and heads right up the road and plants herself outside the milk parlor door, and CANNOT be moved until you let her in and milk her. I'm trying to dry her off, she is due to calve August 15, so really should have been dried off 4 days ago. She is an incredibly persistant milker, and I have no idea what amount she will freshen with, she has given 4 gallons a day since I got her in January. She has nice, rich milk. Makes nice fresh cheese.

That's the line up right now.

All the human kids are flourishing as well. I swear even they grow leaps and bounds in the warm sunshine. Zoie is, as always, completely in love with the barn cats. You can usually find her stretched out snuggling with one of the various felines or up a tree. After catching some heat for not helping out around the house, she made great strides this week and redeemed herself. Jude, is EXTREMELY helpful and doting with his little sisiters, he gets upset when Zoie badgers them, no doubt for that very reason. He has been logging many hours out on the sand pile these days. He also is missing his 2 front teeth, and making a killing off the tooth fairy.
Veda, at 5 years old is really coming into her own now, she has a dedication to fashion and all things "pretty". A darn good dancer too. She picks me butter cups everyday to see if I like butter. I do. Ayla, is obsessed with milking the moo cows with me, and is quite the comedian. She loves to sing along with the radio, and you wouldn't believe the renditions she performs. Maybe you would if you've spent much time around the 3 year old crowd. Let's just say they tend to have a fascination with all things " potty" and she likes to mock horror and disqust at all things coming out of the south end of a northbound cow. Little Miss Ida May, or " Popcorn" as Ayla affectionately calls her, is now 10 months old, taking first steps, and completely cleaning off my bedside stand multiple times daily. She is into everything, and is adorable! Bright blue eyes, and although she was born with very dark hair like Dante, it is really lightening up and actually looks reddish with blond highlights. She is feisty though, good for her.
I think I have found a part time helper, we'll see how it goes, the details haven't been worked out yet, but it seems all I do is wash the dairy dishes. I need more time to actually make cheese and other things. Yesterday Zoie and Jude returned the cows to the field all by themselves and then returned themselves to the house unscathed. I am proud and it was a major help for me. Hopefully we can do more of that if all goes well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cattle and Women

Here is a really neat article. I love to read about these things that I have noticed, but don't have the historical data to document.
Women and cows go back many pages in history, from the ancient Egyptian Goddess, Hathor, depicted as a cow whose body was the heavens and whose udder spewed the milky way. Women isnstinctively are drawn to cows. Not just any cows, dairy cows. Beef and raising meat are very masculine expressions of our hunter gatherer ancestors, but milking is a decidedly feminine act. I believe it was the famous dairymen , Hoard, who coined the " Foster Mother of the Human Race " phrase. I have a laminated sign that our friend, Walter, made for me when I first got a milk cow that says,
" Notice to The Help---The rule to be observed in this stable at all times, toward the cattle, young and old, is that of patience and kindness. A man's usefulness in a herd ceases at once when he loses his temper and bestows rough usage. Men must be patient. Cattle are not reasoning beings. Remember that this is the Home of Mothers. Treat each cow as a Mother should be treated. The giving of milk is a function of Motherhood; rough treatment lessens the flow. That injures me as well as the cow. Always keep these ideas in mind in dealing with my cattle.
-W.A. Hoard
Founder of Hoard's Dairyman
A very sweet man's perspective, showing respect and much appreciation of his dairy cows, almost like that protective love a man has for his Mother.
As societies moved from hunter/gatherer to a pastoral /herding way of life female cows were valued for their vast contributions of not only milk but a yearly calf for meat as well. Here's a quote I like from the article above, " As clans began to base their politics and survival on the nurturing of cattle, women gained respect, ate better, and had clout." I love that word, clout, it reminds me of plucky.
The wives of early American settlers often relied on a cow or two for financial stability. They supplemented their husbands incomes with their egg and butter money. Women learned the art of making good butter from their mothers. The women and children were in charge of the livestock and family's cows while the men were off on voyages or at war. The children were sent to take the cows out to graze and retrieve them for milking, while the women made cheese, butter, and clabber.
Cows are such doting mothers, lavishing attention on their calves and taking care that they don't stray too far. That's why I just can't deprive them of their calves, even though sometimes its a bit more work to actually have a REAL dairy and allow them this pleasure. I personally think that certified organic standards should include allowing the cows this biological and instinctual act, that is so key to the production of milk. Maybe that's just my femine side sympathising with our cows.
Long story short, I love every part of it. From the milking, to the cheesemaking, to enjoying the bounty, to gazing at the cows grazing in the fields. Cows exude peace and contentment.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The cow, not the cheese that is. Isn't she gorgeous? She's 1 1/2yrs old and just got bred a week ago. She should calve in March, perfect for a first calf.
I was thinking it would be cool to use her milk just for Brie cheese.
I'm trying to dry off Happy. Not an easy task. She is always the first one milked, and yesterday I started milking her only once a day and hope to have her dried off next week. She didn't appreciate being left behind with Chia tonight. But with her one bad knee, and being heavy bred its better if she doesn't make the trek to be milked if she doesn't have to.
I came across some wonderful hardy perennial flowers at a little road side stand on a back road. I can't share my sources as I am hoping to snatch a few more in the next few days. Seedums, veronica, phlox,lamb's ear, bachelor's buttons,and about 7 other varieties. The price was right, and the old honor system. We shoved a bunch of $1 bills in a little box mounted on a fence post. Fabulous. We made a new rock garden for perennials, I managed to toss them in the ground and keep my sanity amidst the double whammy of black flies AND mosquitoes.
Found a spot for some of Dante's " regular " red tomatoes. He pines for regular old red tomatoes in the sea of our heirloom varieties. I suspect he doesn't trust the fancy names and just wants a red tomato to slice.
We lost Ayla's new kitten, Jelly Bean, all day, in the woods. These are not cat friendly woods which is why we have a cat coop to lure the barn cats in each night. If they don't go in, sadly its just a matter of time before something gets them. Jelly Bean is very gentle, but came from a much quieter home than ours and is a little overwhelmed. Zoie caught him in the live trap just before dark and all is well again. Tomorrow looks to be busy with 4 varieties of soft cheese in the making, and I can't forget to start yogurt in the morning.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday Ayla

Today we celebrated Ayla's 3rd Birthday. It's extra special and a bit melancholy for me. This officially means she has now lived half her life with type 1 diabetes.
She of course is the little sprite at the bottom of the pic, with her older sisters, Zoie and Veda looking on.
We started the day off early because we just couldn't contain the surprise we had in store for her. Dante left early with 3 piglets for Primo in Rockland. Yesterday, while returning from a family reunion, the kids and I made an excellent find--- a kitten --while Ayla napped in the truck.
She has wanted a " wittle tat " ( little cat ) for her birthday for months now. Last night before she went to bed she lamented that she didn't have a new little cat and we told her maybe the " wittle tat fairy " would come in the night and bring her a kitten. That's just what happened and she woke up to a gorgeous, if not shy, brown tiger striped kitten, long haired and double pawed.
He is named " Jelly Bean".
I made a new round of cheese I'm experimenting with, drained the fromage blanc, skimmed the cream off 10 gallons of milk, made whipped cream for Ayla's cake-- Angel food with homemade whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberies-- and dirtied up the creamery making 5lbs of butter in a hurry before going to the party.
It was a good day, I am so thankful for Ayla and what a Blessing she and all my kids truly are!
The party girl is curled up asleep on my bed, time to call it a night.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Teat Dip Story

Market offerings are a bit thin this week from the creamery. I had about 4 different cheeses going when 7 year old Jude rushed up to me and said, " Am I going to die--I just accidentally drank the castor oil in the truck." I knew there wasn't any castor oil in the truck so started thinking what in the world has he done. Then I see the Pepsi bottle with Iodine teat dip we had used to castrate pigs a couple days ago.
I wasn't too worried at first because we use iodine on the cows everyday as a post milking teat dip and we use iodine to castrate piglets,but this was ingestion. So I call poison control, they tell me to give him milk and then he needs to be seen by his doctor. Call the Doctor and he says better take him to the E.R. Now panic starts to set in, we've had 3 life threatening emergencies with Ayla, I KNOW that fear.
I abandon all the cheeses in the making and round up all 5 kids and spill out the door into the van, and rush the 30 miles to the closest E.R.
Turns out, no need to be worried, they say next time call Poison Control first. Uh, Hello, we did and that's how we ended up at the E.R. They did get a chuckle, it's not everyday even in this rural locale, that a kid shows up at the E.R. for accidentally drinking teat dip.
By the way, we always keep the dip in its original container and a teat dip cup, its only because we castrated pigs, and were out of their iodine spray that dip ended up in the soda bottle. Then Dante forgot to dump it out and throw away the bottle. We have now done that.
I told Jude I didn't want him drinking ANYTHING without checking with me first. Poor guy, he thought he really scored a good find,--soda, that he knew I wouldn't want him to drink and he didn't have to share with his sisters.......

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Milkmaid

This is the famous painting The Milkmaid byJohannes Vermeer c.1658. I think it depicts the Puritan milkmaids of the time rather well.
Farmstead cheesemaking as well as the milking was the job of women during that time, and while a diverse array of cheeses were made for family use and local markets the focus quickly moved to exporting hard English cheeses, like Cheddar. These cheeses would be used in trade with the West Indies for molasses, rum etc. The land of New England was better suited at the time for grazing than growing crops anyway.
Dante is now a full time farmer, for the summer. It is wonderful. I've been farming full time while being a full time mother for the last 4 years, and Dante has been farming every spare moment outside of his job. It was very hectic, him having an off the farm job when the cow poop would hit the fan, it was extremely difficult for him to come home and help or for me to drag the kids along on some farm crisis. I can't believe how much we have gotten done, in just the last 2 weeks.
Yesterday I made creme fraiche and fromage blanc. Today I'll be making another wheel of hard cheese, and turning that fromage blanc into some cheese spreads. I also need to make butter again.
The cows are great. They look beautiful, and Happy is getting maternal, it is very sweet she has to give me a big wet nuzzle every time when we finish milking. Amazing how some of the cows get like that as their pregnancy progresses. She loves me.........

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rest for a Moment

I took this pic of Jude, our only boy, with 2 of his 4 sisters in the backseat of the van. Isn't it sweet?
He is the best brother ever. Dante recently was at odds with all 4 girls at the same time it seemed and there was a lot of crying going on. I told him girls cry, so what? It's how we deal when nothing else works. Anyway, Jude navigates around all that estrogen beautifully, he and his Dad do enjoy a day to themselves though, every once in a while. I am seriously contemplating more and more life with 4 teenage girls in a house with only one, dismal bathroom. Eek, we're in for it.
Yesterday, we took a day to unwind a little. I've been working so hard in the creamery, I just needed to do less for one day. So, the pigs got a bunch of whole milk, I processed less, and took a nap, GASP! Then made the kids grilled cheese. I used our butter, which reminds of that gorgeous yellow/orange color of eggs from chickens on grass, and it actually turned the outside of the sandwiches that color. Beautiful! They inhaled them, and then we made 4 quarts of icecream. I'm trying to experiment with how I can get this icecream to the farmer's markets and keep it frozen the whole time. It was soooooooooo good, it completely wiped the kids out and they all promptly fell asleep for the night. Wow, that was easy, I should make them homemade icecream more often!
We are starting prep for the cheese cave, I'll probably work on that tommorrow. I can't wait! It is my dream! I am going to start a new variety of hard cheese this morning. I'm trying to match cheeses with individual cows that I have. I also keep notes on who's milk I used for each cheese, to see if any patterns arise. Teeny and Gale are the REALLY high butterfat cows, they are also the best graziers and their milk shows it as the color is even that much more golden and beautiful. Berretta and Happy have lovely milk for yogurt and drinking as the cream just doesn't seperate as drastically a little bit stays mixed in. It is delicate and pure tasting.
Amazingly, Happy appears to indeed still be bred! Yahoo, she was bred to a polled Jersey bull and she has a spiky poll, so I'm hoping for a heifer in mid August. This means that she needs to be dried off in 9-10 days but she is still producing about 4 gallons a day, talk about a persistant milker! Yikes! Ellie also appears to be bred, the first by our NZ Jersey bull, and due around the same time as much as I can guess. She was field bred, and I really don't have a concrete date, but she is making a small udder. She's such a pretty shiny black color and also polled, so we have a shot at TWO polled Jersey heifers in August. Just in time for my birthday.
I finally planted my peppers and young herb seedlings in our old Webber charcoal grill on my deck. It gets HOT out there. Let's see if I can get peppers out there. It is so cold here in coastal northeastern Maine. I believe we are zone 4, maybe 3 right here at the tip, that its VERY hard to get a ripe tomato or pepper. Forget about melons......
Whey is an excellent organic fertilizer for plants, just dilute with water first.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk

I was sorely tempted at about 5:30a.m. this morning. While packing coolers for market, I casually grabbed a quart of cream, freshly skimmed off the night's milk, when one of my huge jars--- 3 gallons of milk it will hold-- apparently slid off the shelf in the milk fridge and SMASHED on the floor of the creamery. It was like a giant white tsunami of milk. You wouldn't believe the volume of 3 gallons of milk until you see it cascading, effortlessly across your freshly mopped floor. Oh, and under and behind the fridge, it was brutal. I hunted Dante down, he was in the cellar packing sausage and pork whatnots, and let him know I'd be needing some assistance. ( grossly understated )

There was also an assortment of various ghastly shards of glass. We used every towel in the house. It's a real shame to start your day that way, you know? Somehow, we contained the damage, slogged through packing, and then I spent another hour on clean up detail.
Clabbered cottage cheese, and hopefully mozzarella are on the agenda for tommorrow. Along with some blue cheese dressing and spreads, and some more fromage blanc curds w/ garlic and our fresh herbs-marinated in olive oil! Yummy, I should probably just go bed now, but little Ida May, closing in on 10 months old, is on some kind of second wind. I tried laying down with her anyway, last night, and she savagely ripped my hair out. A popular pastime with the 6-12 month olds.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

History of the Surge Bucket Milker

This is what we use to milk the cows. We milk one at a time in a stanchion with our surge bucket milker. I handmilked the cows for 3 years when I just had 2 cows. I enjoyed the quiet, contemplative milking of yesteryear but quickly that was replaced by needing to speed up the amount of time spent actually milking, so I had time to make cheese etc., and also it was no longer quiet with 4 and then 5 kids.
The surge hangs from a strap loosely around her belly, just in front of her udder. My first thought was, " Isn't that going to be heavy for the cow once it is full of milk?" and the someone pointed out the obvious, NO. That milk just came out of her udder she was already carrying it around. It makes sense. The hanging action is actually very helpful, in a smooth, timely milkout. It was a love/ hate relationship at first as they are a quirky, temperamental little machine, but now I agree with whoever it was that said, " Even if I only had one cow-- and she only had one teat, I'd still use my surge!" I love that saying, and have no idea where it came from but my sentiments are similar.
Here's more than you ever wanted to know about the surge milker, and some cool retro pics of this antique milker which is no longer even made.