While no water was extracted from the ditch, the folks at WCHI developed a riparian ecosystem all along the ditch for the full distance it ran through their property. Water loving plants, both for eating and medicinal purposes were encouraged to grow by sloping the sides of the ditch more gently, As they were allowed to redirect the ditches within their property, they added ponds and a meandering route to allow more of the water more contact time with more of their soil. As you can guess, all sorts of water loving creatures found their way to the new habitat including ducks, amphibians, and beneficial insects. Our girls especially loved the blonde lab who literally went deep water diving for tasty rocks.
Make Days, a phrase borrowed from the inspiring Kurt Timmermeister of Kurtwood Farms, are just like that here at Lucky Farm. We have not yet developed a reliable, consistent market for our fresh milk. Instead, we utilize our Gjinny's two gallon per day contribution as fully as we currently know how. Let me show you ---
A typical Make Day starts with a collected six gallons of milk. First, we hand-skim the rich cream, leaving what still tastes like whole milk in the jar. Six gallons of milk yields one gallon of cream and five gallons of milk. One of those gallons of milk becomes yogurt while 4 gallons become a wheel of cheese. But let's start with the cream, shall we?
We hand-churn our cream with a Dazey Churn purchased at our local Antique Store. What's funny about Dave Cherry's store is that most of these treasures go from working in local family kitchens to being displayed as "vintage", "collectible", and "memorabilia". Jeff has rescued quite a number of excellent homestead tools from the ignominy of a display shelf life. At least that's how I imagine it - I suppose some of them may have been hoping to retire, enjoying life on the sidelines after decades of keeping a family fit and fed. Ah well, maybe next decade!
For now, Jeff finds that if he lets the cream warm on the counter to about 70 degrees, the butter readily forms after less than 10 minutes of churning. I should qualify that - cream from milk that is about 5 days old churns that quickly. When Jeff consents to make sweet cream butter for me that is no older than two days, it takes a whopping 40 minutes to churn. My well-known preference for absolutely fresh dairy (I am so spoiled!) prompted experiments culturing the freshest cream to shorten the churn time. I found a good article with this quote about cultured butter on a quick Google search: "The culturing intensifies the butter flavor itself and also introduces a number of subtler secondary flavors that greatly enhance the overall butter experience. The action of the lactic bacteria also help break down some of the structure which keeps the fat globules apart. This increases the yield to butter over sweet cream and also makes the butter come much quicker when churning."
A little science field trip may be helpful here. Wikipedia has this to say about the process of making butter from cream: "The process can be summarized in 3 steps:
Once the butter is complete, Zoe and I feast! Only kidding a little bit here, but the Make Day process for butter has one more step. A portion of the butter Jeff makes from 6 gallons of milk, about two pounds of butter, is used to make ghee or clarified butter. Because ghee has all milk protein removed, it becomes shelf stable. This is a great benefit for a family with loads of fresh dairy and limited refrigerator space. We first appreciated ghee for this ability to store "butter" for the months when our Gjinny is dry (we do not milk her in the approximately 2 months before she gives birth). Then Jeff found this fabulous ghee article which clued me in to the intense, ancient wisdom: "The milk of cows is considered to possess the essence or sap of all plants and Ghee is the essence of milk... When we consider Ghee we are in the company of superlatives. In India, Ghee has been so highly regarded for so many things, for so long, that one is slightly embarrassed to enter into this crowded river of praise."
- Churning physically agitates the cream until it ruptures the fragile membranes surrounding the milk fat. Once broken, the fat droplets can join with each other and form clumps of fat, or butter grains.
- As churning continues, larger clusters of fat collect until they begin to form a network with the air bubbles that are generated by the churning; this traps the liquid and produces a foam. As the fat clumps increase in size, there are also fewer to enclose the air cells. So the bubbles pop, run together, and the foam begins to leak. This leakage is called buttermilk.
- The cream separates into butter and buttermilk. The buttermilk is drained off, and the remaining butter is kneaded to form a network of fat crystals that becomes the continuous phase, or dispersion medium, of a water-in-fat emulsion. Working the butter also creates its desired smoothness."
Phew! That's a lot of butter education for one day. Next time - yogurt!!