Churn Da Butter, Ja?

I’m pretty sure this is the best butter I’ve ever tasted …

It took about 4 minutes to churn 4 quarts of cream into 3 lbs of rich, bright yellow butter.

We used a Dazey Churn No. 8 with tulip-shaped jar. This model of churn was made in the early 1900s. The cranks are relatively common, but the tulip-shaped jar is a little more rare these days. We think the jar’s shape, along with the paddle design, make this an incredibly easy, quick churn. David’s mom gave us the crank and I found a jar on ebay.

Lucy provides a nice, rich cream that turns bright yellow as butter. It’s stunningly brilliant and tasty!

A video follows, the the process was this

  • Create a quart of kefir from fresh milk
  • Add kefir to fresh cream and let it ferment at room temperature for 24 hours.
    • this creates a culture to produce cultured butter/buttermilk
  • Churn the cream into butter
    • buttermilk is the byproduct (David uses a lot of buttermilk for cooking)
  • Rinse the butter and salt to taste (if desired)
  • Cool the butter in ice water
  • Press into storage containers and use right away or freeze until needed.
Churning cream to butter in four minutes

A Year Post-Fire and the Ranch is Humming

A year ago last week, things looked bleak.

But this year, last week, it was a different story.

My sister, her son and his fiance came to visit. We had beautiful weather and clear, smoke-free days.

We drilled a secondary/emergency well, made more cheese and cider, split firewood, played games, laughed, painted an old bed, enjoyed the pool, laughed more with Holly and Brenda, played with Belle and the goats, and ate well!

  • a group of people in front of an old barn
  • picture of the back side of a well drilling rig
  • a wood splitter and stack of wood
  • Canteloupe and watermelon in the field
  • a field of goats grazing
  • Four people cutting up apples
  • two people picking up apples
  • Foreground swimming pool, mid-ground goats, background forest and pasture
  • A cow and a calf
  • two people lounging by a swimming pool
  • two women petting goats
  • Two people with an Anatolian Shepherd Dog
  • Two people by Anatolian Shepherd Dog
  • Two goats, mother and doeling
  • a woman next to an Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Belle and a Chicken (video by Dalane)

David Adds Mozzarella to His Fromager Resume

Now that Lucy is a milk-producing cow, we have gallons of rich milk accumulating in refrigerators everywhere.

Over the last two days, David made mozzarella cheese from four gallons of the milk. The yield was 7 mozzarella balls. His first attempt was a success! He will adjust his process a little, but it already tastes great.

We ate one last night on our caprese salad.

Caprese Salad -all ingredients grown or made here except the balsamic glaze

We do work hard to grow most of what we eat. However, a good balsamic vinegar takes 12-15 years in oak barrels. There are some things we just can’t or won’t produce here: wheat flour and pasta, rice, coffee, sugar (we have honey), beer, tequila and other spirits (we have plenty of fermented adult beverages), salt, pepper and other spices. We will eventually try vinegar, and we are good at delayed gratification … however, we choose not to wait 25 years for balsamic vinegar and glad we don’t have to!

We are looking forward to a new, commercial refrigerator to get a handle on our proliferation of inefficient, inappropriate refrigerating devices!

Lucy Countdown

8/25 9:15 p.m. PST update — imminent … probably before sunrise …

8/25 a.m. update — still waiting. Udder full … so David thinks tonight or tomorrow morning.

8/24 p.m. update — still waiting. As a friend just wrote … “will she heifer get on with it??”

8/24 a.m. update — still waiting. Our vet say’s “She’s a heifer, they hold on to it.”

8/23 update — now 1 day past due date … still waiting! Increases likelihood of a bull calf, or so we read.

Lucy’s due-date is tomorrow(8/22). Here are a few photos walking around the ranch and of Lucy’s progress toward becoming a milk cow.

  • a jersey heifer in a brown field
  • a picture of a cow's face with big brown eyes
  • a rooster and a hen
  • picture of the hind quarter of a milk cow
  • picture of a pregnant heifer's big stomach
  • picture of the back end of a pregnant heifer
  • a barn, windmill, trees, pasture and garden

We are definitely watchful and prepping for birth. We have a friend coming today to help us around the ranch and to be present for the calving.

Poor Lucy must not have any room left in her stomach because (gross alert) she is pooping everywhere. She even poops laying down now. This is new behavior and really prolific in the last few days.

If the calf is born on blue moon, I wonder what the name should be? We first thought “Lucifer” (as in chip-off-the-old-Lucy; a term of endearment), but it has some connotations that might not be appropriate (and has nothing to do with a blue moon). We’ll have to wait and see — we like to get to know the new animal a little before we name it.

Note: Lucy is very grumpy today — shaking her head a lot and pushing things out of her way.

Capturing Summer’s Bounty

… so we can eat and drink it later!

Today we made apple cider and froze beans.

Yesterday, David canned pickles and tomatoes and dried peaches.

A few days before that we made pesto.

And then there were tomatillos.

In this post, we have a few pictures of the food goods and apple prep, as well as a short video clip showing the cider being pressed.

This is a bumper apple year, so this is only the first of several batches of cider. We are hoping to have hard cider ready for family guests in September!

  • quart jars of preserved pickles and tomatoes
  • a bowl of apples, cutting board and knife on table and bucket of apples nearby
  • buckets of apples and bowl of apple on table next to a small machine
  • a colorful bowl of beans, green, yellow and purple
  • a green melon cut in half
  • a bowl of colorful pasta
  • a bowl of green tomatillos
  • a pot full of tomatillo mush sitting by a grinder

Above: pressing the juice out of the apple crush to get cider

Today we had five, 5-gallon buckets of apples. Cider yield was 7 gallons.

I would love to get that old apple crusher and cider press working because we have a lot more apples to do this year. If you missed that post about the press, check it out by clicking the above link! I really do need to get it working because we have been using that old chipper for ten years now and I have to hit it (many times) with a rubber mallet to get it to run again. For a moment, we thought the chipper was going to give-it-up this time, but more wacks with the mallet and it sped up again.

We have also been showering summer produce on neighbors and friends. The basil has been especially bountiful — giving away 5-gallon buckets full. Lots of cucumbers, beans and squash. Melons just starting.

Turkey Fort Knox?

…. will it work?

(*morning update to this post: it worked so far … see video of fox, below*)

The beautiful young turkeys were ransacked this week. A fox got 5 of them. Very sad.

So we constructed a newly fortified fortress, complete with hot wire and wire mesh bottom/top. We have a security camera watching as well. I hope this does the trick … the loss of five more is not in our plan.

Here’s what turkey Fort Knox looks like:

  • several turkeys inside a fortified, metal pen
  • electric fence near the bottom of a fenced enclosure
  • electric fence wire near the bottom of a kennel
  • turkeys in a pen

Since we have a flock of new, layer chickens in a pen close to the dogs, we had to put the turkeys behind the goat stable, out of dog protective range … that was all the fox needed to scream “buffet!”. I hope the fox screams tonight when it touches the hot wire!!

Our message to the fox: NOT YOUR TURKEYS!

Fox attempting midnight raid on Turkey Fort Knox (1 of 2)

Fox attempting midnight raid on Turkey Fort Knox (2 of 2)