Friday, May 23, 2008

Variety pack

I've got a whole range of things today, so hang on tight...

First, I've been invited to join Chile and her gang on her Oregon Trail wagon team. Thanks Chile! Can I bring my family too? Can we trail the cow behind? I have so many questions!

I also wanted to point out that my semi-dormant doomer blog is ramping up a bit again as time allows. Hopefully.

And rated this blog an 8.1 out of 10... so I've decided to double the price for reading. You always get what you pay for here at Green, Blue, Brown.

We're settling into our cow routine, and she's settling in to her people routine, more or less. She's decided she's not totally thrilled at grazing alone, and she's not impressed with the neighbor llamas as pals. (Besides which, they're too busy with mating rituals to pay much attention to her anyway.) She's doing okay, but complains a bit when given the chance. Or occasionally at 2am outside our bedroom window. An interesting solution is in the works, but that's another post.

The good news is that she's pretty well-behaved. There are some mornings when she thinks milking time is an audition for Dancing with the Stars, but for the most part she does well despite our inexpert hands. She's not very impressed with the grain we've been giving her, but she does like the alfalfa hay quite a bit, so that can keep her occupied for part of the time.

Unfortunately, we're still working on getting the milking time down. She was used to having two people milk her at once - one on either side - and two experienced people at that. So now instead of the 15-20 minutes she was used to, it takes us more like an hour at this point. And she lets us know with some shuffling and sighs by the end.

But at least I've finally built up enough arm strenght to get through the whole milking without asking Lori to spell me. My forearms are going to look like Popeye's by winter. I may need to get some anchor tattoos.

Did it ever seem odd to anyone else that cream is white, but we call something "cream colored" if it's like a light beige color? Wouldn't that be like naming something that was yellow "an orange"? Well, I'm here with the answers. This is what our milk looks like straight out of the cow:
I guess not all cream (or milk) is white, eh?

We get a very high percentage of cream, so while some friends were visiting, we decided to try making butter. You basically make whipped cream and then keep going. It took quite a while even with the stand mixer, and we began to lose faith that it was actually working. But our patience was rewarded with some vivid yellow butter. The photo doesn't quite do it justice, but here it is:

For those who asked on the last post, I think the mama robin abandoned her nest. Not surprising to me, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't going to like it driving and jiggling around our property aboard the tractor either. And speaking of the tractor, I've been seeing a particular rabbit hanging around a lot lately. (It'll make sense in a sec.) I first noticed him hanging around last year, and running in terror any time I was out clearing grass and weeds with the rotary mower:

I call him Lucky... I thought about "Buzz," but he does still have all four rabbit's feet.

In other news, Fatty Lumpkin's smile has finally been caught on camera:

Aawww. Let's enlist e5's help to get a big grin....

Okay, now it's just getting gratuitous...
He's not really old enough to warrant any good stories so far, but he's got cuteness down pat.

I've got nothing to follow that right now. Another post coming soon. Maybe.

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At 5/23/2008 11:37 PM, Blogger Verde said...

Great photos and cute kid picts with nice smiles.

I'm interested in the milking. Because I don't own the cow, I only milk a quart at a time and it takes me twice as long as the other woman milking. She said it took her a long time too. She doesn't feed the cow - just ties her to a fence where she moves around a bunch.

It's that mooing thing that I can't have a cow here in suburbia.

At 5/24/2008 7:30 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Yeah, I went up to milk the cow once before I bought her. The reason they were selling was that the wife didn't like the awkward rear teats, so he wanted to be sure I knew what I was getting. I had explained to him that I had very little milking experience.

When I got there, he handed me the stool and said, "Ok, start milking."

And for me that seems to be the best advice. I had read and heard people explain to me about closing off the top so the milk can only go down, and different techniques with your hands and fingers. But that only confused my uncoordinated self. I was over-thinking it.

Just doing it seemed to be the best teacher. If milk is coming out, you're on the right track. If not, make some adjustments to your technique. If a lot of milk is coming out, you're getting the hang of it. If the bucket is filling up quickly, you've just about got it. If there's foam on top of the bucket, you're an expert.

At 5/24/2008 8:29 AM, Blogger Chile said...

Well, I understand your desire to bring along the family, e4, but the wagon can only hold 5. So...that creates a problem. However, since we all seem to have altered the plan (see comments here) and will now have a wagon train, you are welcome to outfit a second wagon with your own family. You will, of course, be responsible for all the gear and food on that wagon. Your cow would be fine as long as she doesn't make googly eyes at the oxen and slow them down.

At 5/24/2008 8:33 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

:) Baby smiles -- so cute. He definately looks like your other ones!

At 5/25/2008 6:58 PM, Blogger CG said...

just a note on the butter (although you likely already know these things): get the cream to 60 degrees before agitating (if it is quite warm, a few degrees cooler maybe), and cream makes butter faster, and more of it, when it is "cultured" (aka soured) so I just let my cream get a bit old in the fridge. You can culture it but you don't want it to go all the way to, say, sour cream or yogurt consistency. Try your yogurt on skimmed milk -- at least I like that better -- in fact I usually just use the same culture in a jar of skimmed milk for yogurt and a jar of cream for sour cream.

Our cow also has somewhat smaller back teets. Her previous owners milked the front ones and let her calf have the back ones. I never found it all that hard, although I only use two fingers on one of the back ones. And you do get better and fast at milking.

At 5/29/2008 8:59 AM, Blogger Gina said...

Sorry to comment on a comment, but isn't it amazing that one can't have a mooing cow in suburbia, but lawn mowers every weekend and barking dogs are A-OK!! :-)

She is lovely and the butter & baby look great too!

At 6/02/2008 9:44 AM, Blogger thenn said...

Dana told me you got a cow, but I had to see it to believe it. What a long way from the days on campus! The cow is cute, but the baby is down right adorable.

At 6/09/2008 9:46 PM, Blogger Swedish Mama said...

Sounds like everything is going right for you. Sure brings back memories. Love the baby.


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