As I found more and more producers in the area from whom we could buy, Jon came home one day to my exuberance about having purchased both a cow and a pig. This, just after my initial purchase of 25 baby chicks and therefore he understandably assumed I was talking about live animals which would require considerable care rather than meat which we would eat for the summer and into the winter.
His reaction, "You did WHAAAAT? A. cow. A PIIIIG!" is now comical. After realizing he wasn't sharing my excitement, I back tracked and explained that they were already in the afterlife, not animals that I would be caring for – much to his relief.
I thought about this story as my eldest daughter and I learned how to milk Maggie, the cow who provides all of our families' milk. She needs to be milked twice a day, every. day. without. fail. While it was fun to learn about the process, I'm certain that for now, I wouldn't want to sign up for the daily commitment.
Our travels down a snow-laden Route 1 behind the plow (which seemed as if it were planning on going all the way to Portland) caused us to be late. Consequently, we headed right down to the barn where Maggie was uncomfortably waiting to be milked. Her head was snugged in a wooden brace that kept her in place although she seemed docile enough without it. Her udder and teats had already been cleaned with an iodine solution. This was the same solution we used on our hands before touching her.
Christine, Maggie's owner, showed us how to squeeze our thumb and forefingers together first before closing the rest of our fingers. This insures that the milk doesn't go back up the teat. The alternating squeezing rhythm didn't take long to learn and pretty soon the level of warm milk in the stainless steal bucket began to rise. Once it was full, we headed back up to the kitchen to strain the milk and cool it immediately in a bath of ice cold water.
The top photo is Maggie and the one below is Wink, short for Winkle, short for Bullwinkle. He'll become meat for the family in the fall, but right now he's just cheek-pinching cute.
Later that day I made ricotta cheese, 2 flavors of yogurt, buttermilk, creme fraiche and whole wheat bread from the whey the ricotta produced.
Feeling quite the farmer today
© 2008 Anne Mahle