Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dairying, milking, ice cream

I actually had a milking machine ordered from and I got that milker a week or so before my cow gave birth.  When I went to use it though, I found that I was missing a valve assembly and I couldn't use the automatic milker, and so I milked by hand for a week while I waited for the part to arrive. 

I have to say that hand milking takes a long time, especially with a cow that's producing 3 to 4 gallons of milk a day.  She's on a grass diet, with a bit of alfalfa added, and is nursing a calf, but even after all of that our share of the milk is more than 3 gallons a day. 

It takes a while to milk out 3 gallons, at least for me.  20 to 30 minutes if I am not interrupted by something.  I'd sit on a stool next to her and press my forehead against her side, and pull the milk out, tablespoon by tablespoon.  I never felt like I got all of the milk when I was hand-milking, but I'd milk a gallon or so and call it good. 

The basic routine is to use warm soapy water to wash off her udder, and I'd wash the inside of her back legs too, for good measure.  I was hand-washing into a bucket, and anything on the rear of the cow seemed to be magically attracted to the bucket, and I learned to carefully inspect her rear to make sure that there wasn't anything that could fall into it.  I donated a couple of buckets of milk to the cows, and then learned to milk a pint or two, pour it off into another bucket, safe from contamination, and then continue to milk. 

After milking I use a an udder dip to disinfect the nipples and prevent infection, and she's good to go for the next 12 hours. 

This cow has decided that milking is probably ok now, and it's been a while since she kicked the bucket or moved much.  Routine and repetition helps a lot.   She waits patiently while I decide how much milk I'm willing to work for, and then, when the gates open, she saunters out with wide eyed curiosity, as if everything along the path she's taken twice a day is brand-new and sparkling.   She'll pause and look at the bunch of grass growing in the concrete.  She does that every day.  Apparently it's the cow equivalent of catnip, but she never eats it.  She stops, stares at it, gets closer and sniffs it, and then, with a flip of her tail, moves on. 

The milk itself is interesting to look at.  You can see the butterfat, almost a gilding on top of the white milk, with a golden shimmer.  It comes out with a bit of foam because it shoots out of the nipples with some force, like a squirt gun. 

I saved the cream from two milkings, and had enough to make 2 gallons of ice cream; so I made 4 batches of 2 quarts each, different flavors.  I had the oddest result.  Following the recipe in the ice cream maker, 1.5 cups of whole milk, and 2.5 cups of cream, I made a vanilla ice cream that was pretty darned good.  But it left me with the lasting impression that I was eating butter.  The Jersey milk has a high butterfat content, and I'm actually having to cut down on the amount of cream to get something that is closer to the really good icecream that I like. 

Don't get me wrong; it was good, rich, custardy icecream.  Closer to french vanilla than anything else, but instead of egg yolks being added to make it yellow, the yellow in this ice cream was butter.  Very tasty butter.  Vanilla frozen butter.

So I've been working the the proportions, cream and milk, and I've found that basically a half-and-half produces a very rich icecream that doesn't have quite the butter experience that the first batch did. 


Mountain Walker said...

I. am. so. jealous.


becky3086 said...

Me too! How nice! Though I don't have time any more to do any milking or much of anything else interesting.

ellie k said...

Miss your updates, are you okay?