Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Every Day

You've probably been wondering what I actually do at the dairy here, besides sporadically taking photos of plants and birds.
This might explain why I've had so little time to post!

A Typical Day

4:30 AM: I wake up.

5:00 AM: Dick and I begin pasteurizing the milk - the milk pump is assembled and milk is pumped from the bulk tank (refrigerated) into the pasteurizer/cheese vat.  The pasteurizer capacity is 47 gallons.  When I arrived in February, many of the does were on maternity leave and not milking, so the milk supply was in a bit of a slump.  But after 25 does kidded/freshened in the past two months, milk production has come up to 55 gallons per day.  That's over a gallon per goat, average.  Only one problem now - it's almost too much milk.  For the last few weeks we've been holding over 10 gallons in the bulk tank, then making two consecutive batches of cheese twice a week.  9 batches in 7 days.  385 gallons per week.  400 pounds of cheese. 

 the bulk tank

The milk is then heated gradually to 145 degrees, held for 30 minutes, then cooled down to 90 degrees.  This process takes 3 hours.

  the pasteurizer and cheese vat

In the meantime the babies are fed the first of their three daily feedings.  The older babies have graduated to the bucket feeder, which makes quick work of feeding a dozen bawling hungry babies.  The younger ones are individually fed with a bottle.

6:00 AM: The morning milker arrives and begins with sanitizing the milking system, then cleans the loafing area and prepares to milk.  The milk stand has room for 10 goats, with 5 milker units.  Each group takes 10 or 15 minutes to milk.  I learned the milking routine the first week, but the only goats I milk are the few does that require hand-milking (newly freshened does are hand-milked for 4 days before joining the main group.  Their milk is used to feed the babies).  At the peak of kidding season I was hand-milking 6-8 does morning and evening.  All those years of cow milking definitely paid off!

8:00 AM: The milk has finally come down to 90 degrees; cultures and rennet are added, then the milk is left to set for 8 hours. 

At some point I eat breakfast and relax for a few minutes.  Then I'll help Nina, our herd manager, with whatever needs to be done - hoof trimming, vaccinating, general goat care, etc.  This usually keeps me occupied to about 10 or 11 AM.

Every morning the previous day's cheese is blended and packed.  Usually our dedicated cheese-packer will do it, but once or twice a week that task falls to me.  The cheese drains overnight in cheesecloth bags, but it needs to be blended with a bit of salt, then packed in either 5# bags for the restaurants (the bulk of our orders) or small tubs for retail and the farmer's market.  Nothing goes better with the morning's first cup of homegrown coffee than a spoonful of fresh creamy goat cheese. 

12:00 PM:  Time to feed the babies again.

12-4 PM:  Free time!  Lunch, a walk, reading and possibly a nap.  That's more than I usually can accomplish.

3:30 or 4 PM: The cheese is scooped.  After the curd is checked for the proper consistency, I proceed with scooping the soft curd into a colander lined with cheese cloth.  The bags are tied and hung from the frame over the draining table.  Each 40-some gallon batch of cheese yields 20-24 bags of cheese.

perfect curd

draining for the night

                                                              the next morning

Then I'll milk any goats on the hand-milk list.

4:00 PM: The evening milker arrives.

6:00 PM:  It's time to feed the babies again...

... and then cook dinner, relax a bit, and try to get to sleep early enough to wake up at 4:30 AM.

Most days follow this timeline, except Saturdays when I sell at the Waimea Farmers Market with Jimmy, and Sundays, on which the four of us enjoy a leisurely brunch together and make a different type of cheese (feta or possibly a goats' milk havarti - "Gavarti").

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