Monday, October 24, 2011

Dairy dreaming!

We have been milking our goat Dorka for about 2 years now (on the single lactation).  She still produces on average 1L per day, which is not much for a dairy goat, but we don't feed her concentrates or anything to increase her milk supply.  We have made a bit of cheese but due to the quantity of milk, we haven't really had enough to make lots of cheese.  So far we have made feta, haloumi and cream cheese.  We haven't dabbled in any of the mould type cheeses yet, or hard cheeses for keeping. 

In a few weeks our other goat Rosie is due to have her first kid/s.  She is enormous, but she always has a bit of a belly, so its hard to say if its multiples or just her!  She certainly has slowed down in the last week or so, but still defiant in her escape from the paddock.  We have been trying very hard to keep the goats in their paddock (they free range on all our land - mostly just around us- so all the gardens have to be fenced off from them, rather than them being like normal livestock...  We added an electric wire about 30cm above ground level and the same out from the main fence to try and keep them in, plus poly droppers (2 between each set of posts) to hold the wires tight together so they can't just walk through the fence.  Its just a 6 strand plain wire fence, which is just not enough to keep goats in.  With the imminent arrival of at least one new goat (Rosie's baby/s) we really want them to stay in the paddock as while 2 goats hanging around isn't too bad, 3-4 is going to be a bit much, particularly as they tend to follow me when I go walking the dogs...

For the last few months we have been discussing getting a Jersey cow for milk, mostly for the cream content, so we can make butter.  We have come close to buying one, but we are going to wait a bit longer (for starters we HAVE to solve the goat fence troubles!), to set up a dairy shed and do more fencing.  My parents brought us some raw Jersey milk from a farm, so I just had to have a try at making butter.  We just poured off some of the cream (approximately 700mL) into a pyrex jug and then beat it with a handheld beater.  It took a while to turn (probably because the cream was fresh) but it did turn eventually, and I made about 150g of butter.  It was nice to have a go before we invest in a cow, just to be sure I can do it.  Before we buy a cow we will have to buy or make a churn, butter paddles and I'm hoping to get a butter mould so I can make 'pretty' butter. 

My first go at making butter, delicious!

My father just returned from a trip to Switzerland, and I asked him to pick up a few goat bells and cow bells.  So he brought home 2 new goat bells for our 2 goats and 2 second hand bells (one small and one big) for our cows when we eventually get them.  I can't wait to put the bells on the goats, but it'll have to wait till we get new collars, as they wont fit on the ones they wear now. 

One of the new goat bells

The bells were traditionally put on cows and goats when they were taken up to the high meadows of the Swiss alps, so that the cow/goatherd would know where the animals were, so none could run away.  The best milker wore the biggest bell, and there were often celebrations when the cows/goats went up to the alps in spring and then again on their return in autumn. 

selection of cow and goat bells from Switzerland

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