Sunday, 30 October 2016

Some 'firsts'........

First butter made this season. That is now in the freezer. Experience has shown that butter that has been made, then frozen, seems to keep fresher than if used directly after it is made.

First buttermilk cake made, not yet eaten but looks good.

First cheese made this season.... but not looking good. Turned out half the size as normal, and took forever to set. Don't think I shall age this one. Either will let the wheel dry for a few days, cover it with olive oil and leave another few days, then see what it tastes like.  Either us, the dogs, or the pigs, will eat then eat it.

Bonny has had her calf. He is definitely a male, and has the attitude to prove it. Milly, Lissie's female calf, is showing girlish ways, prancing and flirting round the male calf, practising for when she is older and needs servicing.

Both cows are being milked in the evenings now, and are producing nearly eight litres of milk per session. This will reduce as the calves drink more during the day, and when this happens then the calves will be separated for one of the feeds. Already Milly is nibbling at grass, which is supplementing the milk she is still getting from Lissie. Milly might be staying with us, eventually to become our third milking cow. Now investigating milking machines and cream separators. Off to visit a small diary near us to get further info tomorrow.

The udders of the cows are astonishingly big this season, presumably because they are getting older. I am in awe of the size of them. I was a mum too, a long time ago. I have memories of being in a state of milk production.

The Chicken Project is coming along, with the wire now up on a section of the chicken run. It seems to have taken an age to get this project moving, but then we have been busy with doing other things.

The Poly Tunnel Project is also on the move, but more about that in a future blog. Just to say that we have stopped the dithering about whether we need one, or not, and if we do then what size to get. It was a relief to get this finally sorted.

The Rayburn wood burning stove is now lit, although only in the evenings. And the delight of having the vague smell of wood smoke hovering in the air, of feeling that magnificent warmth oozing into the bones and chasing away the slight damp in the air which you get when you live in an old farmhouse, of being able to festoon the Rayburn with washing to dry overnight, of hearing the singing sound which wood sometimes makes as it burns, of feeling the live energy which the living fire in the Rayburn brings to the house. Of not panicking over much when the pump refused to work when the Rayburn was first lit. Of hearing the alarming sound of boiling water whizzing up and down in the pipes, ending with a loud whoosh as it finally ended up in the over fill tank upstairs. Not to worry (actually I did!), Lester quickly damped the fire out, the water cooled, no more bubbling. Off came the pump. Wasn't working. This confirmed by our friend down the road. Off to Tarbes to buy another pump after first ringing a French plumber. New pump purchased, to be picked up in a couple of weeks time. Plumber arrived. Undid a little grey knob on front of pump. Stuck his screw driver into the hole. Twiddled screw driver. Said pump was working, and was not dead. Put knob back. Said to Lester that he was to put the pump back on to the Rayburn system and that he would come along the next afternoon to see what was happening when the Rayburn was running. Rayburn lit that night. Pump behaving. Must have got stuck during its summer sleep, as indeed we all do.

First bread made in the Rayburn. Just threw the bread mix into the mixer, gave it a whizz through, did not knock the bread back to give it a second rise so put it straight into the loaf tin,  into the Rayburn oven when risen, did not expect much of a result but wow!!!! That bread was delicious, best I have ever made. Now not fussed with using the SMEG oven. Now enchanted with the Rayburn oven, and will start experimenting with cooking other things in it.

First batch of Greek Yoghurt made with our milk. Lots of investigating now as to flavourings, and freezing possibly to make ice cream. This is something we may sell at a later date. I am researching wholesale containers, probably pretty glass ones, to put the yoghurt in. This is another interesting project.

Have sourced the 'shed' for the shop, and thankfully the source is in Plaisance, which is just along the road to us. All the other potential sources were a distance away, and now we do have not have the pulling power of the Mercedes to pick up one of these 'sheds' in our trailer, we must rely on it being delivered. Have not yet decided on what style of 'Shed' we are going to get as there is quite a good range to choose from, all expensive of course, but not to worry, we need it so it must be got. Lots to do before we get to the stage of getting the 'shed' up, so time yet to keep looking at the various styles.

First drive our in our new little white van. Love it. Lester says that it drives like a boat. I have not driven it yet, but will soon. It seems to exactly fit our characters, and to exactly fit our farming lifestyle.

It is a lovely morning here. Lester has just come in to give me this news. The birds are singing, and the sun is shining with such a force of heat that it is making things steam. The calves have been romping together out on the field, with Bonnie and Lissie chasing after them. The sheep are quietly grazing. The dogs are sitting beside me waiting for breakfast. I need to go and make a super duper fruit crumble because we are off to  lunch at a friend's house today, and I promised to do the dessert. It is a roast dinner, venison probably, so we thought a crumble would sit nicely for the dessert.

In anticipation of a happy and joyful Sunday, and hope yours will be / or was, the same.

Bye for now.


northsider dave said...

Look forward to reading about the poly-tunnel project Vera. They are not difficult to construct apart from the physical work of digging the trenches. Great to read the Rayburn is up and running.

Cro Magnon said...

It all sounds very good. It must be the lovely weather we're having; everything seems to go so smoothly.

Rhodesia said...

Wow so much going on and it seems to mostly all be running smoothly. Going back to my 20's when I was a farmers wife living in a house with no electricity, the best part was my wood burning oven. Wow, food just tasted so much better.

The weather here at the moment is amazing, we still have butterflies flitting around. I hope we have a mild winter and I hope this is not the lull before the storm!

Take care Diane

Mama Pea said...

Simply love your posts (and so envy you having your own milk with which to create such luscious food) and hope to soon have things slow down enough around here so I can comment regularly. Winter is coming. It really is. Then I shall be inside most of the day and happy as a clam letting my laziness burst forth. ;o}

Vera said...

NORTHSIDER DAVE, we are looking forward to having the poly tunnel in situ, but not looking forward to getting it erected!

CRO MAGNON, what lovely weather we are having at the moment!

DIANE, I am thinking the same about this lovely weather being the 'lull before the storm', so best enjoy the sunshine while we still have it!

MAMA PEA, I don't keep up with the blogs either because we are so busy, but you can only do what you can do and I think most people understand this. The clocks have changed here this weekend, so at least I shall have the longer evenings in which to do my indoor things.....wahooo!

DUTA said...

Oh, butter...It enriches the taste of every dish and pastry.
Good Luck with your projects: the shed for the shop, yoghurt and ice-cream production!
I'm glad you like your new van. Enjoy it as long as possible!

Olly said...

All sounds lovely - after so much hard work to get your farm up and running, it's great to hear that things are going well.

rusty duck said...

I wish I had your energy!!

Vera said...

DUTA, there is nothing like homemade butter.....and thanks for your 'good luck' wishes.

OLLY, thanks. We still have a long way to go, but we are starting to light at the end of the tunnel!

JESSICA, bless you....I often collapse in a heap with the effort of it all, but the energy to keep going somehow returns after I have a nap!

Dawn McHugh said...

It sounds good at your end, I am still in thought of having cows, it may be thought that takes a couple of years to think out, looking forward to seeing the shed project come to life and poly tunnel :-)

Vera said...

DAWN, I am sure that you will get cows eventually, just as we shall (hopefully quite soon) get that poly tunnel!

Kev Alviti said...

I love the idea of milking something to make cheese but not the idea of doing it everyday! Such an interesting post though and it sounds like you've been so busy (pictures of your cheese?), I'm looking forward to when I've finished building and can concentrate on homesteading projects more!

Vera said...

KEV, it does take time to get used to milking every day, but it does eventually become part of the day. We are so glad not to be having to renovate the house, although the upstairs still needs doing but is not important at the moment, because trying to work on the farm plus renovating the house .....well, I think you would understand how tiring that can be!