The day after Gimli was born (why yes, we do have a Lord of the Rings fan in our house), my younger son started milking Daisy: to learn how to milk, to accustom Daisy to being milked, and to help relieve the pressure from the excess milk [and here’s where All Women Who Have Ever Lactated wince and nod sagely].
Oh, and to get some milk.
Except it was colostrum at first, of course. I thought the colostrum would disappear in a couple days, and I thought “colostrum” meant milk with colostrum — that we’d be able to see the cream and milk and the colostrum — but nope. The colostrum looked like milk, and it separated like milk and cream, but the stuff that rose to the top was thick yellow.
As the days passed, I kept waiting for a layer of cream to form between the milk and then yellow stuff, but that never happened. Instead, right around Day Five, Daisy switched from colostrum over to actual cream-topped milk, no more thick yellow stuff.
The colostrum didn’t deter my son: day two, he chugged a glass and pronounced it fabulous.
At first I was a little scared to drink the milk — I always feel this way when we make the switch from store milk to raw milk, or store meat to homegrown; there’s an “ew” factor I have to get over — but then I poured myself a wee glass and it was perfectly fine. Delicious, actually.
Since then, I’ve been making all sorts of dairy-licious products. As soon as Gimli appeared, I ordered a bunch of starters and rennet and cheesecloth. There’s the yogurt — sometimes I strain it for a bit to get Greek yogurt — which is so good with mixed with jam and topped with granola. It’s my new favorite breakfast.
I made ricotta, which only requires citric acid and salt. I think I over-drained it — it got a bit dry — but I stirred a bunch of cream back into it and it worked just fine in a raspberry lemon cake that I served to my girlfriends. (They were duly impressed.)
I also made crème fraîche, some of which I used in a cream sauce for the asparagus I picked from my garden (gosh aren’t I domestic).
Straight up, the crème fraîche has a slightly farmy flavor, but in the sauce, that flavor disappeared entirely. I’m not sure how to use the rest of it — ice cream, maybe? quiche? — but I better hurry up and figure it out. More cream awaits!
My son made a spot of butter, just to try it…
And yesterday I made fromage blanc, a white cheese similar to cream cheese but without all the fat. It’s good, but I have a problem: what do I do with it?! I’m used to certain kinds of cheese that we eat in certain kinds of ways, so this deluge of unfamiliar, creamy, fresh cheese — soft and spreadable — doesn’t jive with our normal dietary habits. Maybe a veggie tart with an herby cheese base? Dip? I need ideas.
Mid-way through the straining process.
Things I want to make next: cream cheese (though I should wait until I use up the fromage blanc, I suppose), clotted cream, ice cream, mozzarella, and lots more yogurt.
Which brings me to another problem: we can only eat so much cream and cheese and milk before we begin to swell up like little piggies. My son is getting about two gallons a day from Daisy — and this is before we’ve even begun separating her from the calf at night — which is about ten gallon more than we need a week. YIKES. (And yes I knew this would be a problem, no need to remind me.)
We are looking for a bottle calf to use up the excess (but no luck yet), and we could get a pig (which would be better than us becoming pigs), or we could just dump the extra milk, but it feels horrible to throw out something that’s so delicious and that takes so much time and labor to get. It takes my son about an hour — an HOUR — to get one gallon. Granted, he’s not the fastest milker, and he will get better at it as he goes along, but seriously, y’all, milking is hard.
I tried it the other day. Getting the milk out of the teat was easy enough, but directing the stream into the bucket? That was a whole other story. It kept shooting out in different directions or trickling back up my arm, and then I whacked my head on a board and my legs hurt and my neck was at a weird angle. When I quit after about five minutes, I just had a couple tablespoons to show for my trouble, so whenever the kid comes in with a full gallon of milk, it’s like he’s just won a gold medal.
Daisy’s turning out to be quite the good milk cow. My son reported that the other day she came up to the shed all on her own, leaving Gimli out in the field by himself. When my son was ready for her, she walked right in and just stood there, all ready to go. What a sweetie.
This same time, years previous: an under-the-stairs office nook, freezer coffee cake, transition, Puerto Rico, the quotidian (5.1.17), a simulation, stages of acting, the quotidian (5.4.15), carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.