Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sacrificing 7 virgins did the trick*

Those of you that have a interest in my small dairy herd and cheese making attempts will know of my problems with butter. I've tried many, many times with no success, had a whole heap of advice from twitter (cheese makers and butter people on twitter are amazingly helpful). I was going to borrow the sherman tank of food processors off a mate of mine, The Snackqueen, but thought I'd give it another go this morning. Well sacrificing 7 virgins* seemed to do the trick because I finally achieved butter.

I cultured the cream with a bit of natural yoghurt, sat it on the bench during the day then chilled it overnight. Within a few minutes of beating I could tell it was different, the cream was thickening! It took a fair bit more to get the butter to separate out and the stem blender was pretty warm by then but I had butter.

I really need to get the mixer going so that i don't have to stand over it for half an hour but there is no stopping me now, hopefully soon Lantanaland will have a stockpile of homemade butter in the freezer.

*no actual virgins sacrificed. Couldn't find any at Beenleigh Woolies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Raw deal

This morning I had a whole bunch of twitter links about the fate of raw milk cheese and the slow food movements fight to protect the diversity of our cheese types. As the world grows smaller and more and more traditional cheeses are lost I think that raw milk cheese is worth fighting a bit for.

The fact is, that a small minority will want or seek out raw milk cheese if it was legal in Australia. There is no way FSNZA would just let cheese makers go at it, it would be regulated and tested within an inch of it's life, which means it would be more expensive. But we should have the choice.

Consider this. I'd only have to walk or drive for 5 minutes to buy something that is guaranteed, proven, peer reviewed, without a doubt to kill you, cigarettes, yet no government or government department would dare dream of banning them.

The links are here,here and here. Most people will keep buying the standard brie at woolies and I'll keep making my completely random, raw milk cheese at home. But it'd be nice, if you wanted to try the cheese in my world, you could.

Made by someone who knows what they are doing of course.

- Lantanaland from my iPad

Location:Footy training

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Watching Grass Grow (warning contains actual description of grass and other things growing)

Queensland doesn't really have a authentic winter. One morning here and there wearing a jumper to milk the cows does not a winter make. What does happen is the grass stops growing. What looked like more than enough feed down the bottom paddock disappeared far quicker than I liked and in the last month the cows have lost a fair bit of condition, despite the hay and fruit they get every day.

So the arrival of spring, the feeling of it, not the date, was very welcome. A few early storms and a bit of warm weather and the green started to peek through. The cows have bashed down a lot of the lantana and as the years go on I'll get better and more pasture but I'm also going to do a bit of improvement over the summer on the feed situation. I already have a nice start on the clover in the home paddock, which is beloved by both cows and bees.

While the grass is getting green, there is still not enough of it, especially for the jerseys who had really thinned off. So I fenced off a little treat paddock up behind the house, along the road. It's a real problem up there, a few rock retaining walls and a slope too steep for the ride on mower. Even the hand mower is difficult because you feel like you are sliding off the slope. It is right near my neighbors too, so I take them up in the morning and back at night so they avoid the "hungry/need to be milked cow alarm clock".

They really appreciate it too. Yesterday, after taking them back to their paddock, I was giving Laf a brush off and checking for ticks. After checking her over I went to do the same for Dolores. Laf quickly pushed her off and rubbed her head on me like an affectionate 300+ kg house cat. Cows can be so cool.

It seems like the spring feeling has brought on a flurry of work. Trees trimmed, cheese made, paths exposed, fencing (always bloody fencing), holes dug for shipping container foundations, fruit trees planted (fig, more passionfruit and kiwifruit), ducks moved down to the chook pen and bath installed, bees checked, more bloody fencing and gates installed and a bit of light lantana removal for something different.

Today's fencing was brought about by the suspicion that Candy the dexter cow is not that far off from calving, so I wanted her in the home paddock where I can keep an eye on her. The problem being the fruit trees I have in and around in that paddock. Nothing a few star pickets couldn't fix. The top paddock has a nice bit of grass and clover too which she will appreciate and I'll up her minerals in some pollard every morning.

I'm hoping that I can import this nifty hand milker from India that I discovered. I've rung them and besides a crappy line, shipping and getting them to understand why I want one I'm hopeful that when I am milling a few cows it will make things a bit easier. I doubt I'll be able to hand milk 20L a day on my schedule.

All in all I'm reasonably happy with the farm progress. Just have to get the shipping container in and sorted before the baby comes is the big one I guess. Plant more fruit trees and keep them going. The mulberry is not far off and I'm looking forward to smoothy breakfast season. I made 2L of yoghurt today for that very purpose.

Other than that, I'm going to sit back and watch the grass grow, because for someone who owns dairy cows, there is nothing more exciting.

Lantanaland from my iPad