An eventful week for our critters! Since the calf was born, I’ve been milking.
LOTS of milk! Not as much as a “real” milk cow, of course, but plenty for us. I’ve been getting about 3 quarts a milking over the last several days. I’m milking twice a day until the calf can take it all, then I’ll drop back to once a day and pull the calf for 12 hours or so. Norma has been a wonderful milker for me. The only time I had trouble was when she left her calf in the hay pile instead of getting her to come out for milking time. We won’t do that again- for Norma’s sake and for mine. She’s a nicer/better milker than Ellie, AND her milk tastes a lot better to me- not cow-y. I’m so glad! I’m hoping that won’t change with the spring grass.
Lots of milk means new recipes to try. I tried some beesting new cheese- it was okay, but hard to know how to eat it exactly. I roughly followed the directions here. Basically, you pour the colostrum in a pan and add a bit of sugar. Bake ’til it starts to brown. You can “test” your colostrum (aka beesting) by cooking a bit in a frypan to see if it sets up- kind of like scrambled eggs. Recipes use it in place of eggs for pudding and the like since it firms up so much.
Next I made some fresh butter. Mmmm… Mom let me borrow her old Daisy (I think it is one of those) churns. They had built a board for it when we were kids so you could sit on the board and the churn would hold still while you cranked. My girls got to try it this time, and had fun- for a few minutes. Then we finished it. Very yellow- a lot of the cream was early cream, so the colostrum content made it richer colored.
Some of the leftover buttermilk got used in buttermilk pancakes for dinner last night; recipe from Betty Crocker.
Today was a cheese making day. I am trying “Lannie’s Easy Cheddar” from the “Keeping a Family Cow” board. I’ve used it before, and it’s a foolproof recipe as far as getting a product that acts properly with no fuss. It’s a good cheese to start out on. It’s flexible as far as temperatures and times go, and it “cooks” in the sink (or in a bigger pot of hot water), so there’s no worry about scorching it. The only problem is we haven’t been a big fan of the clabber to start it. The flavor isn’t what we’d like that way. This time I used powdered mesophilic starter and skipped the yogurt to see what our end flavor will be like. We’ve made cheese curds before with a similar method and enjoyed those. The cheese curd recipe is over here– I “cooked” these in the sink, too. I’ve also found that rennet doesn’t work for me ’til more like 85*, but maybe my thermometers are off. I say that so that if you’re not getting a curd to set, try raising the temperature a bit. Mine is now in the press (my ever-so-sophisticated #10 can, apple pie filling, and books for weights) and will stay there ’til tomorrow.
With the whey I’m trying some mysost. I’ve never had any, so we’ll see what it tastes like! I based my attempt on the post here. You cook down the whey, optionally add cream (I didn’t) and whip it up when the extra liquid is cooked out. It’s supposed to take 4-12 hours. I did about half of the whey left from my 2 gallon batch of cheese in the electric fry pan. It was done in less than 3 hours. It looks a lot like ricotta as it cooks down, but instead of straining, you just cook off all the extra liquid. Since it was curd-y I put it through my mini food chopper to smooth it out. It’s a different taste- good, but I’m not sure how to use it. A sweet, tangy, creamy, rich, caramelized flavor. Anyone have suggestions? I tried it on a saltine, but the cracker was a competing flavor.
Added: Here’s what it looked like when it was done cooking, before I processed it.
My kefir grains were put in the mail today from a gracious woman on the “keeping a family cow” board who was willing to share. I’m looking forward to them! I’ve got a collection going of different things I’d like to try.
Enough about milk. We named the calf. She is Nightingale. The girls were sure she should be “gai-gai”, Her mama’s name is Norma, and her daddy is Gideon, so NightinGale it is, gai-gai or gail for short. I weighed her on Monday and she was 47 lbs. She’s getting to be a bit of a pest, too! She gets out of the fence and I’m having a terrible time catching her now that she’s getting to be so quick!
And last, but not least, we have a new BOY on the farm. It’s mostly girls around here except for the roos. That changed yesterday with the addition of our new herd bull. He’s a coming yearling out of Ace of Clove Brook and Chautauqua Poppy from Someday Maybe Farm. I’m actually not sure of his birthdate or his name, but I’ll know once all his registration paperwork is done (or I talk with Shaun). Cranberry was standing for him when he got here yesterday, but I won’t plan on a January calf yet- I think he’s still got some things to figure out. (Of course, maybe I’ll be surprised!)
A chick incubation posting/update is on the way- sometime…