Saturday, May 23, 2009

Busy day

Here's what we did today.

No cougar disturbances during the night. This morning, though, we moved the livestock into a new (small) pasture for a few days. This has the advantage that our bedroom window overlooks it. If there's a commotion during the night, we'll hear it more easily. And at least we'd be running through open field in pitch darkness with the shotgun instead of crashing through forest and tangled underbrush in pitch darkness with the shotgun. Besides it was time to rotate the cows anyway - the other pasture was eaten down.

I also had a day of processing milk. Matilda's up to almost five gallons a day, so I gotta do something with it. This morning I skimmed off all the cream I had in the fridge and warmed it to 80 degrees, then made butter. Here's five pounds of butter half-way through the washing stage.

Then I weighed it out in one-pound increments...

Laid them out on waxed paper...

Then wrapped them in one-pound butter balls. These go in the freezer.

I also made yogurt (this is the incubator). It will be ready by tonight, and I'll chill it overnight.

Here's my stove and counter at one stage. To the left is two gallons of milk in nested pots (for a double boiler) being made into cheddar. The weird striped can with the teddy bear is an el-cheapo tin I picked up at a thrift store. It's full of cheese wax, which is slowly melting so I can wax some cheese. The yellow things behind it are five air-dried batches of cheddar, overdue for waxing. The white jugs are what I use for milk, cleaned and drying.

Here's the cheese, half-waxed...

And fully waxed. I'll date it and let it age for 2 1/2 months.

Meanwhile, I helped Don put the auger on the tractor so he can start constructing a chicken coop.

He drilled two holes.

Matilda doesn't know what to make of this hole in the ground...

or the auger.

He put some pressure-treated 4x4's in concrete and braced them in place. That's all he could do today until the concrete dries.

A chicken coop is imperative because we got thirty chicks yesterday. We butchered our old flock last fall because they had stopped laying, and when we got Matilda we converted the old chicken coop into the milking shed. Now we need another coop.

Here are the chicks.

The yellow ones are Cornish-crosses, which are meat birds. They will gain weight with such awesome speed that they'll be ready to butcher in three months tops. The rest of the birds are for eggs, and they're a mixture of Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, and Aracaunas. We won't get eggs for about six months, though.

That's all. As I said, busy day.


  1. Wish I could have a cow! But I'm afraid that urban "survivalism" limits me to only try raising chickens and rabbits!


  2. Hi there

    Just wanted to put in a word about your chicks. Reds can be pretty aggressive and if your other hens are more docile there may be problems. We had reds mixed with other breeds and ended up losing two of the other breeds (pecked to death) before we separated them (the reds) out. The other hens were not ill, and the blood on the red's beaks were convicting. I love my reds. I just wish they would play nice. I'm going to put them with my goats and hope the bald eagles don't get them.

    Just a thought!

  3. We've had Rhode Island Reds for years without any trouble. Maybe we had exceptionally docile ones (smile). In fact, RIR roosters are my preference over other breeds because they're showy and handsome and virile and (usually) don't get too aggressive. I try to keep just one rooster on hand, even though my ratio may be off (the best ratio of roosters to hens is 1:10), because I've found with two or more roosters, they become more aggressive.

    At any rate, with the particular batch we only have two RIR chicks, so I think they'll be out-bullied if they go rogue on me...

    - Patrice

  4. You did this all in one DAY?! Incredible! It was neat to see your cheese during the waxing process. I'm a huge cheese lover and was so thrilled to learn about cheese wax for storing cheese long term.

  5. I'm not sure about LONG term storage...! Cheese wax doesn't put cheese in a state of suspended animation. It will keep it from getting moldy, yes, but the cheese will continue to age. When I make cheddar, if I let it age past, say, three months, it's almost too sharp. Twenty-five year old cheese would be...well, *seriously* yucky.


  6. Patrice-

    I'd be willing to pay (seriously!) for a post on how you go about crankin' out those pretty wheels of cheddar cheese.

    Seriously. :)


  7. BW, try this post:

    It references the basic steps in Mozzarella cheese too.

    - Patrice