Some more catching up:

I have been doing some work at the local micro-dairy. The owner has taken a job off of the farm and needed some help. Since I needed some hay money, I can milk & feed livestock, and the commute was fabulous, I jumped at the chance.

She has graciously taught me how to make cheese in the process. Yes, on purpose, not just from letting the milk sit in the can overnight! They were pretty much just practice runs so I could see how the equipment worked and get the process down. But still, it was fun and it tasted good. By the way, I am NOT a “funky” cheese eater. My milk and cheese will not have that pungent quality that some goat products have. I know I am probably speaking blasphemy to the cheese connoiseurs out there, but I don’t care.  I know what that smell/taste is, and IF I wanted that flavor in my mouth, I’d go kiss a buck in rut. WE have perfectly yummy tasting milk that makes fine cheese and scrumptious ice cream. I am sorry if the funky stuff is all that you can buy  in the store or have been able to taste, I truly am.

Enough ranting! Back to the cheese!

That up there was Joy, one of her LaMancha milkers. Joy is a sweetie, but the other girls like to pick on her, so I thought I’d give her a little web time on the blog. (The LaManchas have naturally really short ears. They were not cut off.) The goats come in one side, get milked, and go out the other. Pretty efficient and orderly, as long as everybody cooperates.

Then the milk goes in to the pasteurizer where is cooks at 145F degrees for 30 minutes. Then the culture goes in. This is where you decide what kind of cheese you will make. Different cultures give you different cheeses. After the cultures start to get happy, the rennet goes in. This is the stuff that sets up the curds and whey. For this cheese you let it sit over night in the vat with a cold water bath circulating around the outside of the liner to keep it cool.

The next morning, or 8 hours later if you made an early morning batch, you can lift the lid and find this. (It is a lot like firm Jello pudding floating in a puddle of juice.)

Gently dip out the curd into a cheesecloth-lined colander. You fill it up until you can make a nice ball out of it.

Then you tie up the corners with a string, and hang it up to finish draining the whey out. This will take about 24 hours to do properly. You want it dry, but not super crumbly, you don’t really want it still runny either. It isn’t very good on crackers that way. Once it has been properly drained you can add herbs, dried fruits, nuts, or what ever tickles our fancy to it. It is pretty good just plain on a bagel too.

The whey drains into the pans below. The whey can be used again to make a small batch of ricotta, or can be used in baking. One book gave a recipe for making lemonade with it, UGH! I don’t think I can go that far. I do know they dry it and use it in health store protein drinks. You can also feed it to the chickens or pigs, and as a last resort, it makes great plant food.

This is a bit grander of a scale than we make cheese at home. I am working with about a gallon of milk at home instead of 12 to 15 gallons at the dairy. It is fun, and we have enjoyed eating the cheese we make. My wonderful husband even made fresh strawberry gelatto with the milk. That went over VERY well. He has permission to make that again.

One of these days I will try my hand at making soap. I am just a bit worried about the chemicals needed to do it, with the youngest one in the house. Lye is not something I want her to come in contact with. I may send her stay with Nanna for the weekend when I give it a go. I see Christmas presents there!