Local Farm offers workshops throughout the year on the care and keeping of a family cow. At the workshops, you will:
• Try your hand at milking.
• Learn about finding, feeding, housing, fencing, breeding, and caring for your cow.
• Make butter, soft cheese & ice cream.
• Go home with a slew of recipes and resources.
The workshops are on Saturdays, from 10 am to 1 pm at Local Farm in Cornwall Bridge, CT. Cost is $35/person or $50/family (up to 4 members). For more information and to register, call (860) 672-0229 or send an email. The Keeping a Family Cow Workshops scheduled during 2012 are:
• June 16, 2012
• September 15, 2012
You may also be interested in our Family Cow Forum in February.
Margaret Reports on a Keeping a Cow Workshop
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Local Farm barn became a class room for a hands-on workshop on handling, milking and using the milk. Meeting, greeting and a brief word about the paraphernalia to be taken home at the end of the day by Debra Tyler our guide to cowdom. We brought Stormy a miniature jersey into the milking stable. Debra told us that “where you milk your cow should be a place where you are comfortable, relaxed and like to spend time”. Letting down milk is part of the parasympathetic nervous system so a cow needs to be relaxed to let down her milk. Beginning by brushing Stormy and then washing her udder with warm water and a gentle dish detergent. ” A cow has four quarters, four glands, four teats and ONE udder”. So if one quarter is bruised or inflamed you can feed the milk from that quarter to your chickens or your pigs and still use the milk from the other three for yourself. Learning to milk followed. Make a tight ring with your thumb and first finger at the top of the teat. Then roll your other fingers down. Do NOT let milk flow backward up into the quarter. Another way of milking is to slide your thumb down.
After everyone had a chance to try milking, Debra brought out the milking machine and finished milking Stormy out. This took only a few minutes and someone asked, “wouldn’t it be easier to just have a machine?” Debra answered, “once you get good at milking by hand it takes about twenty minutes to milk out your cow. It takes twenty minutes to wash the milking machine. You choose, twenty minutes under your cow or twenty minutes at the sink washing MOORE dishes”.
The milk was poured through a milk strainer. Some people will fold a filter disk and put it in a funnel and pour the milk through the funnel into their bottles, others put a clean dish towel over a wide mouth jar with a rubber band around the outside and strain the milk that way.
We took a little bit of the fresh warm milk (milk comes out of the cow at about one hundred degrees F the perfect temperature for making cheese and yogurt) poured it into a quart glass jar and added about two tablespoons of yogurt mixed it up and then filled the jar the rest of the way with the warm milk. It then needs to be kept warm over night. An oven with a pilot light works well. Debra says “this particular batch has been going for over two years now. When I have to start a new culture Dannon yogurt works the best.”
To the rest of the warm milk we added one half of a rennet tablet dissolved in a quarter cup of COLD water. Rennet is an enzyme found in the lining of a new born calf’s stomach. Debra gets her rennet from New England Cheesemaking Supply company http://www.cheesemaking.com/. Then we put the bucket in a styrofoam cooler filled with warm water. Next Debra brought out a bucket of milk that had been sitting out at room temperature for two days so the cream had risen to the top and gone slightly sour. To skim the cream off the top we used a cup by pushing the bottom of the cup down and letting the cream slip over the edge. Not scooping out the cream just letting it slip over the edge.
When the skim milk begins to show through the cream when you lift your cup out it looks like blue swirls. Then we poured the cream into an old fashioned daisy butter churn and cranked it as fast as possible trading off when the cranker got tired. As the cream is agitated the fat globules bump in to each other and latch on to one another and get bigger and bigger until you have butter!
At first it just looks like milk, then it seems to get bigger and splashes up and sticks to the sides of the jar, it goes through a whipped cream stage then gets grainy and finally turns to butter! Be careful because if it’s a hot day and you keep cranking after it has buttered, the butter will be beaten back into cream. While someone was cranking the butter we took the skim milk left over from skimming the cream to make the butter and put it on a hot plate to heat. When it was just scalding, bubbling around the edges and steaming a little, we added apple cider vinegar until it turned to a soft cheese.
Ice cream…need I say more? Debra brought a custardy thing that she had prepared the night before. Scald 3 cups whole milk over low heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar an 1/4 tsp. salt. Slowly pour the milk over 4-6 beaten egg yolks. Beat until well blended. Stir and cook in a double-boiler over hot water until thick and smooth. Chill. Fold in 2tsp vanilla.We
skimmed four cups of cream and poured the custardy thing and the cream into the canister. Then put the canister in the freezer and layered ice and rock salt around the outside.
The ice needs heat to melt and it draws it from the mixture in the canister, the salt speeds the process. Cranking at about 1 crank a second turns the dasher and beats air into the ice cream. When it gets stiff, crank like crazy for 1 minute, then let it sit for 1/2 hour. Serve and enjoy!At lunch time Debra brought out the renneted milk that had solidified into a curd. Then she cut the curd so it would separate into curds and whey.
We ate a luscious lunch and had a wonderful time!
Margaret Hopkins has been helping lead Family Cow workshops since she was seven years old. Now (seven years later) she not only helps lead workshops, but composes blog reports about many Motherhouse events. To read them, visit:http://motherhousenews.blogspot.com/.
Ken’s Report on an August Keeping a Cow Workshop
We had a small, but enthusiastic group which included Debra Tyler’s young daughter Margaret who served ably as co-instructor. The weather was lovely after such a hot, dry summer. The sky was overcast with a fine misty rain.
One thing we learned right away was that weather has a big effect on pasture and the summer’s weather has reduced the productivity of the pasture. Since Debra’s herd is largely pasture-fed, she has reduced
her herd to adjust to the changed circumstances.
Class began with a walk in the pasture visiting with the cows and learning about their habits. Debra’s herd is made up a Jersey cows, a very peaceful and agreeable type of cow.
Interestingly, Debra does not own the land the farm is on. The 20 acre field which makes up the core of the pasture is made available to her by three land-owning neighbors for free. The additional 80 acres that the farm draws on for hay are on free loan from an another fifteen land owners. A community venture.
The farm is beautifully sited and lies in the hollow of a grass-green bowl surrounded by a rim of multi-layered hills.
After visiting with the cows in the pasture, we tried our hands at milking them. I now know why my great-grandfather had such huge forearms in the old family photos we have of him. Milking a cow by hand is a serious workout. When you get the hang of it - practice makes perfect - it takes about 20 minutes to milk a cow. He milked several, twice a day, every day by hand.
Milking is a cooperative effort between the cow and her keeper. Calm, focus and awareness help the process go most smoothly.
We learned that the cow, with its four digestive chambers, is uniquely gifted in the art of converting
grass to milk - a miraculous process when you think about it.
After milking, we turned our attention to working with the milk itself. One project was making butter which involved learning to skim cream off the top of a pot full of fresh milk. Debra pointed out there are machines that skim cream and make butter, but with the time it takes to set them up and then break them down and wash them, you can get the job done by hand just as fast.
Butter is best churned at 68 degrees. The result of 20 minutes hand churning (a shared task) was a globe of sun-golden butter floating in a sea of buttermilk. Butter is best consumed right after it’s been churned. (To preserve it you must thoroughly wash all the buttermilk out of it and salt it.)
We also made ice cream, observed the process for making yogurt, and made a kind of fresh cheese called vinegar cheese with apple cidar vinegar.
Then we ate.
Heaven on earth is sitting at a picnic table; watching cows you’ve spent some time getting to know; and eating fresh butter, fresh cheese, fresh yogurt, and finishing it all off with fresh vanilla ice cream.
Hope to see you next time.
14 North Road, Tivoli, NY 12583, USA
Ken McCarthy, formerly of San Francisco and now of Tivoli, was an early pioneer of the movement to commercialize the Internet. His great-grandfather Patrick McCarthy was a dairy farmer in East Jewett in Greene County, New York. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Andrew Paretti, started his working life delivering milk to Manhattan residents with a horsedrawn wagon. Ken thinks the revival of local milk production in the Hudson Valley is more interesting and important than anything going on in cyberspace.