28 June 2014

Bad attitude + very little milk = ….

A cow with a bad attitude + half the milk she usually gives = two lines on the milk test!
This is the P4 Rapid Milk Progesterone Test (available in Canada via Clintonix). It’s super simple: milk the cow, put a smidgen of milk in a little plastic vial (provided), drop the test strip in, and leave it for ten minutes. If you have one line, then she’s not in heat … two, and she is.
If you have a bull, it’s not a big deal to know when the cow is in heat – you’ll know, or he will, and it’ll be taken care of. And usually with multiple cows, you’ll know because they behave differently – Sasha used to stand at the fence and bellow when she was in heat, but now, it’s much more subtle. No bellowing, just a bit of pissiness when I went to bring her in for milking, and lowered milk production. But since I want to have her bred by AI this year, I need to know precisely when she’s ready – don’t want to pay the AI person to come all this way and then have it not take. Hence the test kit. I will test her weekly for the next month and see the pattern … then I’ll be able to predict within a few days when she’ll cycle next, and if I test daily at the likely time, I will be able to catch the right time and let the AI tech know we’re ready for her. She will bring sex selected Jersey semen – so we are almost guaranteed a female baby cow – and then I can test Sasha a few weeks later to confirm that the pregnancy took. If it didn’t, I’ll know, and we can try again. Technology is amazing.
The person on the other end of the email at Clintonix was very helpful, and I purchased 25 tests for right around $200, postage and all. I can’t imagine anything easier to use, and the test strips even ‘keep’ so if you want to compare a few to each other, you can do that.
Neat, eh?

24 June 2014


Today I went on a road trip to Rocky Mountain house, and this is wht I came home with!

I left behind a cooler full of beef, which we had in surplus … the lady who posted this milking machine said it was in her barn when she moved in, and the barn needs to come down (oh, yes, it most definitely does) but the equipment ought to be put to good use if someone could get it cleaned up.

I went for the milker – which is a Surge bucket milker (top picture), complete with the claw, the pulsator, surcingle, and (most importantly) the vacuum pump (bottom left). I had been looking into setting one up – a friend had a bucket I could have, but I needed to buy a pump and the shells and claw (and possibly the pulsator), which was going to be about $300, near as I could figure. So I started looking for a full-meal-deal kind of thing, and found this!

The head catches (bottom right) were in the barn and the lady said if I could use them please take them … so we got them unhooked and here they are! A can of Tremclad will deal with the rust and then I’ll install one of them in Sasha’s milking stanchion. They work by trapping the cow by the neck, bascially: it opens (the one on the right is open) and the cow puts her head through to get to the food you’ve set on the other side, then you latch it shut and she can’t back out because her head is wider than her neck – but the opening is plenty wide enough to keep her head through comfortably.

Sasha is pretty good without the catch, but it’s going to be very useful for training milk cows. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to buy, but having it is sure nice!

The milker cleaned up very nicely … I need to get air and milk hoses, and new insertions for the teat cups but that should be about it. The vacuum pump is really dirty (and too heavy for me to lift out of the car by myself, so I need to wait for The Boy to get home so we can unload it) and needs a bit of work and probably a new belt, but the lady said it had worked the last time she powered it up so we shall see.

I’m off to do some research!

23 June 2014

The First Cheese: Caerphilly

I decided that one of the cheeses was ready for eating. It’s a Caerphilly, which is meant to be eaten fairly young, so I trimmed the rind and took a bite.


It’s buttery and tangy all at the same time.

My son tasted it and said, “Yeah, that actually resembles cheese.”

I’m very pleased!

Of course I’m completely out of rennet, so I haven’t been able to make cheese for some time now. I kept waiting for the package to arrive in the mail … then finally realized it hadn’t come because I hadn’t actually *ordered* it, I’d just *thought about* ordering it.

So I’ve got rennet (and a few other cheese making goodies) on the way to me in the mail, and tomorrow I go on a bit of a road trip for another dairy making adventure … which I’ll tell ya about when I get back!

22 June 2014

Kitchen cleanup

I decided today was an Ikea day.

I drove all the way to the city, went into Ikea, and picked up the things I’d scoped out online before heading to town. Drove back home, installed the things where I’d envisioned them, and voila: a cleaner kitchen.

Photo 2014-06-22, 6 44 44 PM

Photo 2014-06-22, 6 43 47 PM

The two metal bars run from one side of the window to the other and support a variety of things from s-hooks: little buckets for the scrubbies and sink plugs, the commonly used spatulas and spoons and tongs, the big funnel. The top rail will have my milk pail suspended from it … it just happened to be in the dishwasher at the time I took the picture.

There’s also a small dish rack now suspended from the bottom of the window frame, it has a drip tray so you can put stuff in there to dry without taking up counter space. I also consolidated the knives into one knife block and as most of the utensils are now hanging by the window, I could get rid of one of the two utensil buckets we had on the counter as well.

I’m pleased with how it turned out.

01 June 2014

I need a bigger milk can.

4.25 litres. 

My milk can holds 2. 

Clearly I was not sufficiently optimistic!