2010 milk & cheese season starts

Two years ago, we milked two goats and had more than enough milk. Last year, we milked one part-time (she was nursing kids throughout the summer) and didn’t have enough. Time to go back up to two, especially as all our summer employees are interested in taking milk as partial payment and learning to make yogurt & cheese. Meet Frankie, from Goatsbeard Farm (like Gloria & Garlic):

She’s currently producing about 3 quarts a day, normal for a decent dairy goat. Goatsbeard is culling her because her production is a bit below their target, and she has a second opening on one teat that’s annoying but no big deal for a homestead farm. I’m her milking twice a day now. When Garlic kids in April, we’ll start getting milk from her as well.

We use 2 quarts a week for yogurt and around 4 quarts a week for fresh cheese (feta, ricotta, or mozzarella). Employees can take some each week for their own cheese/yogurt making, and any remainder we’ll freeze for future larger-batch cheesemaking. The whey left over from cheesemaking we feed back to the chickens and geese, for whom it’s a great nutrient supplement.

We want to put up more aged hard cheese for next winter, as we only had 5 pounds or so last winter and really had to ration. Goat milks freezes very well, more so than cow, so rather than having it build up in the fridge waiting for an open slot when I can make cheese, it makes more sense to freeze it regularly. Then I can thaw out a big batch now and then, on a rainy day, and make a big round at once that can be waxed and aged until winter. I’ll also hopefully be able to thaw some out over the winter for fresh cheeses.

Last night we had our first fresh cheese meal of the year, a calzone with fresh-made ricotta, our own crust, and homemade tomato sauce. Ricotta is quick and easy to make from a gallon of milk, and is oh-so-good in pizzas, calzones, or anything calling for soft cheese. The quality of homemade is so far beyond anything available in a store, and we’re looking forward to sharing this enjoyment with our employees as well. Despite the extra work of milking and milk handling, we’re so thrilled to be back on our own dairy supplies.

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