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Archive for January 4th, 2013

Top o’ the Morning

Jan
4

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Gwennie likes to start her day with a little coffee while she catches up on the news. Gives her something to talk about over a good deer leg when she goes outside to do chores!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn | Permalink  

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Favorite Milk Bottles

Jan
4

I have a lot of glass milk bottles, all half-gallon size, which is handy in the kitchen. Not too heavy to handle easily when cooking, good for daily use. But my friend, Sarah, who also has milk cows, uses a lot of gallon-size glass bottles. I’ve used some of hers, and got attached to the convenience of setting the milk right in the same bottle where you could store it, and also for the economy in storage of the larger bottles. When she was getting ready to order some new bottles, she let me order with her so we could both save on shipping and I just got my bottles in. Six gallon-size glass milk bottles.
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They each come with a screw-on plastic lid that fits tightly, and a pour cap and carry handle.
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I still filter my milk into a big bowl. (I like to observe carefully when I’m filtering.)
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Then I pour the milk into the bottle. You can see side by side that I’m getting a pretty steady 3/4 gallon each milking from Glory Bee’s front quarters. You can also see the cream line in the bottle on the left–it’s the set milk from the previous milking. On the right is the new day’s milk, ready to go in the fridge to set.
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To take off the cream from the bottle, I just use a small measuring cup to scoop it. When using a bowl, I skim with a big spoon, but I’ve found scooping from the bottles goes much faster! I like it. There’s a thicker layer of cream because of the narrower container, making it easier to take off and less time-consuming.
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I’m not too much of a perfectionist with skimming and don’t mind some cream left in the milk. I’m getting about a pint of light cream a day from Glory Bee.
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I was ready for butter and disappointed about the dearth of heavy cream, then finally remembered that I had the same trouble with BP after she calved. They’re wily devils and they hold it up the baby. I could be more aggressive with the calf separation, or I could just be patient. The heavy cream will come to me eventually. I’ve decided to be patient. I’m all for the calf getting a rich, healthy start in life.

I’m milking Glory Bee less than I milked BP at this point (or pretty much ever). I feel comfortable enough in my own skin as a milk maid now to manage my cow the way I want to and not how anyone else thinks I should or have to. My current schedule is every other morning. Every other evening, I separate the calf for the night. The next morning, I milk Glory Bee, front quarters only. Then we all take a day off. This provides me 3/4 gallon/milking, which is plenty and more for my use. I could start milking her every day any time I want to, but for now, keeping her production at what suits the calf and suits me is working well, and I think that’s what having a family cow is all about. I keep a close eye on her udder health, and she’s not had any problems with this schedule.

Some days Glory Bee is still a little kicky, but I notice improvement every time as she grows used to our routine and tolerates me and Dumplin. She calls for me on milking mornings, and comes eagerly to her stand when I arrive. Some days, I am still amazed that this big beautiful cow I’m milking now is the wild baby I raised. I put a lot of work and love into this cow! I feel proud of her when I watch her with her own baby. There is always a special bond with a milk cow that is different than the one with any other livestock on a farm, but I think with a milk cow that you raised, it’s even more so. And having had to wait a year for my own fresh milk again, I’m grateful for it.

Today, I think I shall make cheese! AND I CAN.

P.S. Here is where you can find the gallon glass jars with the pour lids if you’re interested.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn | Permalink  

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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