27 May 2014

Dairy.

We have milk.

Oh, do we have milk.

Sasha is giving me about 4 litres a day now – at two weeks into her lactation. Zoinks! And the calf is definitely getting all he wants … he doesn’t even touch two of the quarters. The calf measuring tape is on the way in the mail, when it gets here I’ll start tracking his growth and see how he is doing. There’s a way to figure out approximately how much milk he is getting based on his growth rates, so that’ll give a clue about Sasha’s overall production. Still, four litres per day from a Dexter cow on share milking? That’s impressive.

Sasha is a little irritable in the milking stanchion – she’s kicking, which is frustrating (and potentially risky – though she is in the stall and can’t give me a good solid boot with the hoof, she can give me a nasty swipe that will leave bruises). I’m going to have to pick up hobbles for her, I think – I used to tie her back legs, but she was even more antsy with the ropes … now I tie one foot (the near one, so she can’t swipe me with it) and that usually works, but I can tell the rope bugs her there, too. Hopefully a set of proper soft hobbles will keep her still without bugging her. I saw them at the feed store, I’ll pick them up next time I’m in.

I found a really great jar at Bed, Bath and Beyond for milk in the fridge: it holds 2 gallons (8 litres) and has a tap on the bottom so I can draw off the milk. This leaves the cream up at the top, so the milk that comes out doesn’t have that layer of cream. I don’t mind it, but some of the other people in this house are more used to 1% milk and don’t like the creamy stuff so much. The other big advantage is simplicity: I don’t have to carefully skim from jars now with a spoon and a gravy baster – just drain off the milk, then pour the cream into another jar and I’m done. I have two litres of cream sitting out on the counter to clabber overnight for butter making tomorrow.

I found a Dazey butter churn on Kijiji for $20 … it was a little weary and needs the wooden paddle rebuilt, but for the price, why not? I cleaned it up with the Dremel and a whappity brush thing, so the rust is all gone. Now to ponder the paddle part. Tomorrow’s milk will be made the old shake-it-in-a-jar way!

So that’s our dairy animal update for today … I think I’ll go have a glass of milk!

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