Monday, September 22, 2008

All in a Day's Work

We all slept in til almost 8 oclock this morning! The mist filled the valley. It was cozy and dark and comfy in bed. Breakfast was quick, morning chores done, Bible stories read.

Coco stomped her foot as I milked and debris got into the bucket. Pigs got the milk this morning. They were quite happy with that arrangement. I was pretty happy myself as I didn't know where I was going to put that milk. As I went out to check on the pigs and watch them slurp up their morning milkshake, the garden beckoned.

Tomatoes are still producing beautifully. Chickens are quite happy about that, especially when their free-range takes them out to the garden. Thankfully they didn't find all the ripe ones hidden under the weeds. Plenty for a few more jars of marinara sauce. There are still a few cucumbers producing. Okra is hanging in there. The star of the garden right now would be the black-eyed peas. I love those things!

I don't love chickens eating my tomatoes.

The afternoon chore of moving the house chickens to the barnyard became a morning chore. Agriculture 101 preempted mathematics. I guess math can be done just as well at 2:30 in the afternoon as 10:00am. Patrick, Maggie, our new friend and intern Rachel gathered up chickens and trimmed a couple of flight feathers on one wing, then put them out to the broiler pasture. Plenty of green grass for the birds and a new setting. Each year about this time we like to take all the birds out of their yard by the house to give the yard a few months rest, to break the parasite cycle, allow more green stuff to grow, etc.

One of the lambs seems to not thrive like the other three. We administered a Vit. Bcomplex injection and Rachel and Maggie got to observe how to give an intramuscular shot. We prayed over Rabadash and hope he will perk up. We administered dewormer medicine to him last week. Some sheep are more parasite resistant than others. The other lambs look just fine. Rabadash was not too thrilled about the shot, but happy to have some loving attention.

The afternoon chore for the men of the house involved helping a friend load hay. We girls moved into a dairy-laden kitchen. Even though we drink almost a gallon of milk a day, the milk accumulates in our fridge! We were out of cheese. I am trying not to buy any with all this milk in the house, so today was the day for mozzarella. I read about Ricki Carroll in a recent issue of Mother Earth magazine. Later read more in Barbara Kingsolver's ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE. Went online to for cultures, recipes and incredible instruction in cheesemaking. Ricki Carroll is truly the cheese queen. She has taken cheesemaking and translated it into language that makes chevre and mozzarella, fromage blanc and neufchatel accessible to the average queso connoisseur. Chevre is a cheese we make several times a week. Unbelievably simple, and relatively fool-proof. I tried the "real" mozz recipe a few times, which involves ph strips and many hours of production. Too much work for our diverse farm life. The cheese queen offers a 30 minute mozzarella recipe that truly does produce a lovely ball of creamy white mozz, ready to eat with salt, basil and tomatoes. We usually eat a half a pound plain with salt as we work, just to make sure we like it. Today I experimented with whole milk, full of cream, and skimmed milk. The full fat milk made a very soft cheese, perfect for slicing and eating fresh. The skimmed made a harder ball, better for grating and melting. Either way, we have 5 gallons less milk in the fridge, and 5 pounds of cheese, plus 3 pounds of butter to show for our efforts.

I hope I can soon learn a few other types of cheesemaking. Nora, the 5 year old, is quite displeased with the progress. She wants cheddar. I wonder if Ricki makes housecalls?

After milking tonight we only have 3 and a half gallons of milk in the fridge. I had hoped to make ricotta out of the whey from today's project, but I think it is reasonable to say that I have had enough work in the kitchen today. The pigs will be very happy tomorrow morning.

BTW, the garden beds are slowly being reclaimed by Rachel. We may have to dub her the weed queen. What a blessing to have her with us for awhile.

1 comment:

Redhen said...

I don't know about Riki Carroll making housecalls, but now that the garden's winding down, we can re-institute our earlier arrangement: supply me with fresh whole milk, and I'll make hard cheese (CHEDDAR). We'll need it for our workshop anyway and I need the practice.