Early morning cows.

Despite a few years running a bar, I am without doubt, a morning person. Now The Wife is not and while I'm sure she loves me at least to about 90% at 5am, she doesn't like my habit of singing nonensical lyrics to my favorite songs at that hour. "Crazy" is probably the nicest of the terms hurled at me. That's why I'm really enjoying my 5am milking of the cows.

I get up, heat the water and sterilize the bucket, rouse Tally and head up. Laf is already penned up so I go and fetch the calf and Dolores and bring them down before letting Laf lunge into the pen so she can start inhaling her feed. I smear lanolin over her nipples and get to work.

I've been singing quite a bit of The Roots new album to her while I milk, mixed with a bit of Hey Jude and Hunters and Collectors. She doesn't seem to mind, well her milk hasn't curdled yet so maybe she's just deaf.

Each milking is yeildng between a litre and 1.5L. You can tell she's dried off a bit, she's never really bulging with milk. The grass is not particularly lush so I'm not keen to force her production higher. It means it will be another nine months before I can really start paying the herd sharers back in good kind, but they will be getting something.

Yesterday I made my first real cheese. It was, I hope, a farmhouse Bree, unpasturised of course, from 5L of Laf's finest product. It will be interesting to compare to shop bought cheese. For a start everything I've read and been told is that the quality of the feed determines the quality of the cheese and Lantanaland's pasture is pretty poor. It will get better of course, I am already knocking back the long stemmy grass and sowing clover and mung beans and pigeon pea. Secondly I have no idea what I'm doing. The curd felt very firm when it went into the molds, did I work it too much? At least it is a five week turnaround to find out, not twelve months like cheddar. On the plus side, raw milk cheese, with it's own bacteria, will be idiosyncratic but on the whole, a nicer product.

The process itself seems to be quite easy, but damn me but it is slow food. Lots of waiting for whey to express and to turn molds. Good for a Saturday arvo. I've already learnt a fair bit and I'm saving this weeks milk for another batch. Then I might bust out an improvised press to make a rough farmhouse cheddar. We'll have to see.

So if you come over and milk the cows with me I'll try not to deafen you with my singing, but don't blame me if the cows are grumpy, they like their tunes!

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