Monday, July 25, 2011

How to introduce new cattle to a property

When you bring new animals to your property its a good idea to have a small paddock ready where they can spend a few days before they join the rest of your animals.  This allows them to get over the stress of transport and get used to a new home without being hassled by other animals.  All herd or flock animals will fight at first to establish the "pecking order" (not sure what the cattle equivalent is! head-butting order?).  If they meet over the fence and from a distance before they are put in the same paddock or pen, the fighting won't be as bad, because they've already got used to each other.  The separation also gives you a chance to make sure that your new animal isn't sick with something that could be spread to the others.  If you put them all together immediately you might not notice in time.

Bratwurst and Frankfurter watch the other cattle
 from the safety of another paddock.
This may be the plan, but as usual around here, it doesn't always work.  When we first brought Murray home to be in Trevor's herd (see more here) we unloaded him into a small pen in Trevor's paddock.  Then we went inside to have dinner.  When we came outside to check on our new little steer, Murray was nowhere to be seen.  He had climbed out somehow, through or over the 4 foot chain-link fence!  And taken off into the back paddock with Trevor, they didn't come back for days!  Trevor was just so happy to have a friend.

Earlier this year we brought home a rooster that a friend had hatched from our eggs.  We should have kept him separate, but were running out of cages.  We thought that he could go into the cage with all the other roosters as he was a bit larger than them, so we thought he'd be fine.  Unfortunately he had grown up with another rooster and always been submissive, so when he went into the cage with the other roosters, even though he was bigger, he didn't know how to assert himself.  All the other roosters picked on him!  We had to move him into the cage with the hens instead (which I'm sure he doesn't mind).  It just goes to show that you never know how the animals will get on when you put them together, so it pays to be careful so they don't get hurt.

Any thoughts on introducing new animals?

Kefir - a surprising taste....

My husband and I tried kefir at the cheese-making course we did a few weeks ago.  We were able to purchase a few grains to take home and start growing our own.  My husband took a few sips of the kefir at the course and gave the rest of his cup to me to finish (this was after a long day of eating sour fermented foods and he'd had enough).  It is a strange taste!  He wasn't too keen about buying some, as he didn't think we'd use it, but I bought some anyway (only $2 for a teaspoon-full) and I was very surprised when he decided to help me grow it after I'd lost a bit of interest.  He said that he was feeling good from all the fresh milk and wanted to try kefir to see if he had any further health benefits.  This is coming from a man who won't eat yoghurt!  So if you can get some grains and can get used to the taste, it may be worth it if you start enjoying better digestion.


If you haven't heard of kefir, it is a mixture of bacteria and yeasts that grow in milk (or sugar water, see below) and are beneficial to your digestion.  The microbes grow to form solid "grains" which can be harvested and used to inoculate fresh batches of milk, they are not really grains, just globs polysaccharides produced by the microbes. The "kefirred" milk is then drunk, either neat or in a smoothie.  The taste is like very strong blue cheese with a hint of fizzyness.  If you put it in a smoothie with banana you can't even taste it (just we haven't had cheap bananas here since a cyclone knocked out the north QLD banana plantations, hope they re-grow soon, $13/kg means we don't buy them often!).  There is a much more detailed explanation on Craving Fresh.  Basically, you leave the jar of milk and grains out on the bench for a few days until you start to see some action, then you strain out the grains and use the milk, starting a new batch with the grains and fresh milk.  If you have too much keffired milk or want to leave it for a while, you can put the mixture in the fridge, where it will grow more slowing, just needs a milk top-up occasionally.

You can use the milk to drink, or to start lactic fermentation of veges or milk/cream, or to pre-soak cereal grains.  Its pretty useful stuff.  If you don't like milk, you can also use kefir grains to ferment sugar and water mixtures, I haven't tried it yet, but there's some great recipes on Craving Fresh also.

The great thing about kefir is that it continues to grow, so when you have plenty you can start giving it away.  I currently sell mine for $5 for a tablespoon, including postage anywhere in Australia, email me if you're interested eight dot acres dot liz at gmail dot com.

Do you use kefir?  Have you tried it?  Do you want to?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Easy Peasy Raw Milk Cheeses

Making cheese is not as hard as it sounds.  Let me explain a few of the concepts and you'll see what I mean.

To make cheese you need to separate the milk into curds and whey.  Curds are a coagulation of the long chain casein proteins in the milk, the whey is the liquid (also containing protein) that remains uncoagulated.  Coagulation is the same thing that happens to egg when its cooked, its just the solidification process.  The separation is achieved either by adding rennet (an enzyme that was originally extracted from kid or calf stomach, but is now usually produced by GM bacteria), or by increasing the acidity of the milk (either with a weak acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, or by allowing lactic acid bacteria to produce lactic acid in the milk).

I probably just made that sound complicated, but now for the practical advice.  The easiest way to make cheese is to just add the cheese culture (i.e. lactic acid bacteria) to some milk and put it in a warm place (or my Easiyo thermos) to ferment.  In 24 hours you then strain it through cheese cloth and make cream or cottage cheese.

I only wrote this post so I could show off the cheese press my husband made.
In this case its used to drain a soft cheese.
Note the spout welded onto the baking dish underneath
To make a renneted cheese, you let the bacteria ferment only for about an hour, then you add the rennet and let the curds form.  Depending on the cheese, the steps can get a bit more complicated from there, but basically you then need to separate the curds from the whey.  This can involve cutting the curd, stirring, heating and pressing in a mould to remove even more whey.  For a hard cheese you need to remove more whey than for a soft cheese.  To make feta, I just hang the curds in cheese cloth as I do for a soft cheese.  To make cheddar, I use a cheese mould.

And here's the press again, being used this
time being used to press hard cheese in a mold,
notice the springs to add extra pressure.
The most difficult part about hard cheese is not making them, that is easy if you can follow a simple recipe, the hard part is working out how to dry and age them without growing the wrong moulds and ruining the cheese.  We have converted a bar fridge into a cheese cave using a thermostat to set the temperature in the fridge to 10 degC.  We are sealing the dried cheeses using our vacuum packer.  We haven't aged any of them long enough to try them yet, so we have no idea if this is going to be a good system!

However, I have made lots of soft cheese, and it is very very easy to make, so don't be put off my all the complexity of hard cheeses!  If you want easy cheese, with minimal ingredients and equipment, just make a soft cheese.

Do you make cheese?  Any tips?  Any questions?

See more cheese-making posts here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Controlling Weeds

I often read that "a weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place".  This is a sweet quote, and very true in the garden.  This link has some great tips and explanations about weeds in organic gardening.

Lantana on the side of the road in the South Burnett - its hard to control when birds spread the seeds
However, in the wider world, weeds are not so sweet.  The QLD Dept of Primary Industries says:
Weeds cost Queensland an estimated $600 million annually and have significant impacts on primary industries, natural ecosystems, and human and animal health.
The weeds that get declared in QLD are targeted for control because they have, or could have, serious economic, environmental or social impacts.  For the most part, this means that they are difficult to control (ie invasive) and/or potentially toxic to livestock.  


Unfortunately our Nanango property seems to have several examples of declared weeds and even some of national significance!  These include lantana, groundsel and prickly pear.  For all declared weeds, landowners must take reasonable steps to keep land free of pests, significant fines apply if the DPI chooses to enforce this.  We have the extra incentive of needing to remove all weeds that are toxic to our stock (this link is a great, if slightly daunting, resource). 


Lantana (Lantana camara)


The South Burnett seems to be particularly infested with lantana.  Normally they would be an ideal plant for me, they seem to grow every easily, in fact it grows EVERYWHERE on the side of the road.  However, they are toxic to cattle, at best it can cause liver damage, at worst it will kill them.  I can't believe that they want to eat it, because it stinks, but when we accidentally left one bush in a paddock after clearing hundreds of plants, the first thing the cattle did when they got in there was eat the lantana bush. So it is a never ending battle to keep lantana off our property because it is spread by birds, and there are so many sources of the berries for them to eat.  We have spent many many weekends removing lantana from paddocks before we could let in the cattle.  We have tried poisoning the bushes, but have found that they grow back, so unfortunately, the most effective weapon is a mattock.  This is hard work, and needs to be repeated every few months, however the smaller the bushes the easier they are  to remove.  You have to get ALL the roots, as they can grow back from any roots that remain.  After a couple of years we have got to the stage that the lantana just doesn't grow to a decent size (I think the cattle trim it back), so it is worth the effort to remove the large bushes.


Groudsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia)
I hadn't heard of this one before we found it on our property, but its lucky that a visitor noticed it and we looked it up, as it is a declared weed and toxic to stock.  This one has been responsive to spray so far.  We sprayed it with woody herbicide AND round-up, and it looks pretty dead (we had a "grove" about 20 m long in our creek area).  I keep finding saplings, so as with lantana, its important to keep walking around your property and pulling out any weeds when they are small and easy to control.


We had a grove of groundsel bush, but I think its all dead now.
Prickly Pear (Opuntia stricta)
Fortunately we don't have heaps of prickly pear, and only small ones at that.  They seem to be infested with a bug that's been introduced to control them, so we just mattock out any that we see and they stay under control. An interesting history of this plant in Australia is given here.  The series of unfortunate decisions is also an example of the unintended consequences of industrial development.

We also have African love grass and probably heaps of other undesirable grasses and weeds!  We are trying to spread seeds of good grasses (mainly Creeping Bluegrass, Rhodes and Green Panic), in the hope that they will out-compete the weeds.  At the same time we are trying to keep the paddocks slashed, but not over-grazed and gradually improve the fertility with manure, the slashed weeds/grass and minerals (so far just nutra-min, but soil test coming soon for more targeted application of minerals). 

Do you have weeds on your property?  How do you control them?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Digital television and product stewardship in Australia

I was going to write a whinge about digital TV and the number of old TVs that were no doubt being thrown out as a result of changing from analogue to digital TV, but as I was looking for more info, I found out that Australia has finally made some progress on product stewardship and recycling of TVs and monitors.......

A couple of years ago we owned three TVs, one tiny old 15" that my husband had owned since his  apprenticeship, a 32" cathode ray that was bought to replace the tiny one, and another very old (no remote) 32" that was given to us by a friend who upgraded.  We were perfectly happy with these TVs on analogue signals and had no intention of buying a flat screen.  But then the government decided to change to digital TV, and the analogue signal was to be turned off in the next few years (earlier in rural areas than the city for some reason).  I have NO idea how this was justified, I can only assume that its good for the TV channels, so they lobbied for it.  All that we've ended up with is extra channels that play the same crap great programs on each channel or repeats of old crap great programs, and twice as many opportunities for ads.

Anyway, this means at the very least, that everyone has to buy a set-top box to plug into their old TVs to receive the digital signal.  This also means that all old TVs (such as ours with no remote) that don't have the right ports to take a set top box, are basically useless.  We took the poor old thing to the tip when we moved (I feel so guilty writing that, but it was huge and we had nowhere to store it) and we told the guys at the tip that it still worked, and they pointed to a mountain of TVs that they had already rescued and said they had been banned from rescuing any more of them.



We bought a set-top box for the other TV.  The results were disappointing (even though the government propaganda says that most TVs will only need a set top box).  We were able to receive channel 10 and 7, and SBS if the weather was right (for those not familiar with Australian TV, that's about half the free to air channels).  We kept having to unplug the box to watch ABC and plug it back in when my husband wanted to watch sport on channel 10's digital channels.  That got quite annoying.

Finally we decided  to get a new digital TV, the smallest one we could find.  And we tried to give the big TV away.  The local Op-Shop didn't want it (getting very frustrated at this stage), so eventually we left it at the second-hand shop, for free.  I'm hoping that someone will get some use out of it, but its unlikely, as soon it will be pretty much useless.

All this waste is caused by greedy TV channels and short-term government planning.  Surely we are smarter than that!

Anyway, there is good news from all of this.  While I was looking for more information on this issue I found that the PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP BILL 2011 was recently passed in parliament.  Maybe it was on the news and I missed it, but I can't believe I didn't know about this!  This is VERY exciting!

For those of you who have no idea what I'm going on about, product stewardship means that the responsibility for reducing the environmental, health and safety impacts of manufactured goods and materials across the life cycle of a product is shared between the manufacturer and the consumer.  That means that manufacturers will be required to consider (and reduce) the environmental, health and safety impacts of their goods, including packaging and the actual components of the goods, for the entire lifecycle (production, use and disposal).

There was already a voluntary organisation call Product Stewardship Australia, but now that its legislated we should see massive progress in this area.  The regulations have not yet been issued, so we don't know which industries will be targeted and how strict the rules will be, but this is a great start.

In fact the government fact sheet says:
Televisions and computers will be the first products regulated under the framework, with householders able to drop off used computers and TVs for recycling free of charge. The television and computer national collection and recycling schemes are expected to operate from 2011.
It would have been even better if this had been implemented PRIOR to the digital TV changeover, as we would have been able to recycle our old TVs, instead of building mountains of them at the tip.  If I had known this was coming I would have held onto the TVs at home and recycled them as soon as it was available.

So the message here is. if you haven't got rid of your old TV (or monitors for that matter), WAIT!  We might actually be able to recycle them soon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Plastic free challenge - update

How is everyone going with Plastic Free July?

Personally, I'm finding it completely impossible, so I thought it was a good chance to all share some plastic/packaging MINIMISING tips!

The reason this is so difficult is there are many food items where you have NO choice on packaging.  For example, cheese only comes in plastic.  OK, I should be making my own cheese, but I can't make decent cheddar yet, so we're still buying it because we love cheese.  I could just not buy it in July, but that's not changing a habit, which is surely the point of the exercise.

There are some changes that we can make permanently, and there are the ones that I want to try to make into new habits in July.  So here's the start of a list for minimising plastic consumption, please add to it if you can think of anything else:
  • Take "green bags" (or fabric bags, as green bags are made of plastic!) with you everywhere, leave some in your car, feel EXTREMELY guilty if you go to the supermarket without them.  (I saw I clever idea for making your own small bags for bulk buying)
  • Don't put your veges into plastic bags, the shop assistants will cope.  Especially if you putting them in your own bags, there's no need to plastic wrap them.
  • Buy in bulk and take your own reusable containers (or bags, see above).
  • Take your lunch to work in reusable containers, no plastic wrap!
  • Use a real cup at work, not the plastic ones (this one really really annoys me).
  • Where you have a choice between products, pick the one with the least packaging.
  • When you don't have a choice, email the manufacturer and explain your preference for reducing plastic.  One email at a time, they might start to make some changes.  This includes large goods, such as electronics, which are needlessly packed in multiple plastic bags and polystyrene shapes, how come some of them use cardboard and some don't bother?!?
  • Make your own everything as much as possible, this always reduces packaging.  I've been so slack with breadmaking, but this would make a real difference to our plastic bag use, so I'm making an effort in July to make my own bread.
OK this list is pathetically short, so please please add to it with some innovative ideas so we can all make a difference...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Homekill meat - some tips for beginners

Our local mobile butcher came out to do Bruce last week.  This is our second time (first steer was Murray), as I have discussed previously, so I now feel qualified to write some tips for first-timers!  The process for dealing with all the meat is the same whether the animal was killed on your property or at the meatworks, and the same if you have just bought a large amount of meat like a side or quarter.

We use a vacuum packing machine as it takes a year to eat all the meat
Firstly, we use a vacuum packing machine, because it takes us nearly a year to eat a whole steer.  Different cuts/types of meat last for different time periods (see this link, although they say its just for quality, I'm sure I've seen somewhere that its actually unsafe), so if you think you can eat it all in time, then you can just use freezer bags.  If not, I recommend buying a decent vacuum packer.  We only use ours a few times a year, mostly for meat, but you can also freeze sauces and meals in the bags and then seal, so that can be handy if you're travelling, and we now use it to store hard cheeses.



Bruce was 320 kg (hung weight), so we had to buy another freezer!
You're also going to need a large freezer.  Murray weighed 280 kg (dressed) and we just fitted everything into about a 250 L chest freezer (plus the freezer on our fridge/freezer was stuffed full), it was a tight squeeze, so when the butcher told us that Bruce was 320 kg, we went out and bought another 125 L freezer as we already had an entire small pig in the freezer, so there was no way it was all going to fit!   The advantage of having a couple of small freezers, rather than one huge one, is we can turn one off when its empty, rather than running a huge one half full.

RIP Bruce's head and intestines.  The mango tree will enjoy the fertility :)
The main disadvantage of the home kill is that you need to dispose of the entire animal on your property.  That includes all the bones, the skin and the intestines.  We try to use as much of the animal as possible.  The dogs get the bones and all the offal (we don't like it).  We try to tan the hide.  There's not much you can do with the head and the intestines except dig a large hole or burn them.  We like to dig a hole, because at least we're adding some fertility to the soil.  My husband dug a hole about 2x1 m and 1-2 m deep.  Luckily we've had some rain, so the soil was quite soft, but it looked like hard work (I helped a bit!). 

What to do if you want to use a mobile butcher
When you think your animal is nearly ready to be killed, call your local mobile butcher(s).  If you have a few options in your area, have a chat to each butcher about prices etc.  We were happy with our last butcher, so just rang him and booked in.  They are often quite busy, we had to wait 6 weeks.  He charges $1.60/kg, which seems to be pretty standard.  Our butcher arranges to come one day in the afternoon for the kill, and comes back 3-4 days later, first thing in the morning, to butcher the meat (and then off to the next kill).  In the meantime he leaves a mobile cold room on our property.
The butcher leaves the meat to age for a few days in a mobile cold room.
You will need to prepare a suitable area to kill the animal.  Discuss this with the butcher if you're not sure.  He will probably need to get his vehicle close into the area so that the animal can be cut into quarters and packed into the cold room (especially if its large, might be easier for a small animal).  

The wrong way: For Murray we made a temporary pen in the house yard and left him in there over night.  This was wrong for two reasons.  Fristly, he was totally stressed by the time the butcher turned up, and this came out in the meat, as adrenalin tends to make the meat tough.  We had to buy a slow cooker to get through Murray as he was virtually inedible as steak!  Also the house yard is NOT where you want heaps of blood and guts on the grass.

A better way: We do learn from our mistakes!  This time Bruce was grazing happily in his paddock until just before the butcher was to come.  We lead him and Rocket up to our front paddock, and gave them some grain in their food dish in an area where the butcher could easily park his ute.  The butcher turned up, we told him to shoot the black one, I turned around (couldn't watch), and back again to see Bruce on the ground.  We lead Rocket back to another paddock (he didn't seem worried at that stage, just thought Bruce was having a lie down, but did call out for him most of the afternoon after he'd finished eating the grain).  I then had a little teary moment, but didn't want to get my husband started, so managed to get under control.  

Anyway, the summary is, don't pen the animal, try to find an area where you can have them eating happily with one or two mates when the butcher turns up so they don't expect anything.  The meat has come out lovely and tender (and all the mess is up in the front paddock, so no smells in the house yard!), so this have proved to be the better method.

Things to have ready on the butchering day
  • Plenty of clean and tidy bench or table space for packing
  • The freezer turned on the night before so its nice and cold
  • At least 4 large clean tubs/containers for the butcher to stack the chopped up meat so you can bring it to your meat packing area
  • Lots of bags - either vacuum pack or freezer bags, or a mix of both
  • Labels and a permanent marker so you can record the cut of meat and date (as they all start to look the same when frozen!)
  • Some method to dispose of the excess fat (we render it for soap-making)
  • Two fat dogs to help clean up
Sooooo worn out from "helping"
ohhhh begging is hard work
I hope that covers most aspects, please ask if I've missed anything (even if you're looking at this ages after I post)!  Do you get anything butchered at home?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Raw milk and a cheese-making course

Now that we have Bella our house cow, we have the option of drinking raw whole milk instead of pasturised, homoginised supermarket milk.  In Australia it is illegal to sell raw milk, but its not illegal to drink raw milk from your own house cow.

As explained here, there are good reasons not to drink raw milk from commercial dairies.  These dairies are producing milk that is intended to be pasturised, there is usually lots of manure on the floor and lots of cows to milk, because the milk is going to be pasturised, so there's no need to take as much care as you would with your own house cow.  Some dairies are set up to produce raw milk, and these may take more care with the production of milk, so that its safe to drink in raw form, but in general I would be wary of commercial raw milk.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”– Thomas Jefferson

I believe that there are lots of good reasons to drink raw milk, as it contains enzymes and "good" microbes that help our digestion and immune system, but I really need to do some more reading on the subject.  I do have a lovely book called "The Healthy House Cow", by Marja Fitzgerald, which, in amongst the wonderfully wise cow advice and organic treatments and feeds, also talks about the benefits of raw milk.  But I think I need something more scientific to report to my readers, so I purchased some books on the subject and I'll report back soon!

For me its also a laziness thing, its so much easier to drink the milk raw than worry about pasteurising it!  I have tried to make raw milk yoghurt, and it hasn't worked.  That is so frustrating because now I have the tedious task of pasteurising the milk before making the yoghurt!  So far I have made cheese and butter from raw milk and its been fine.

My husband and I also went to a cheese-making course recently.  We chose to go to one which we knew would discuss raw milk, as some are very focused on the need for pasteurisation.  The course was run by Elisabeth Fekonia (see her website) and was in Brisbane, but she runs them all around QLD, check her calendar for one near you.  It was only for the day, so there wasn't much time, but she managed to show us the basics of cheddar, brie, yoghurt, kefir, butter and ghee.  She also explained the benefits of lactic fermentation and inspired me to FINALLY buy "Nourishing Traditions" as everyone keeps mentioning it (see my book list for more details).  The highlights for me were the opportunities to try kefir and buy some grains, as I had heard so much about it and would never have tried it otherwise.  I also got the chance to discuss raw milk yoghurt, which Elisabeth admitted she also had no luck with and preferred to just pasteurise the milk to ensure a good result.  This made me feel better about it!  She also explained that by adding the good bacteria in the yoghurt culture to pasteurised milk you're still making something very healthy, and raw milk isn't really necessary.  I did feel sorry for the other 20 or so people on the course who did not own a cow, as they would be looking at paying $5 a litre for raw "bath" milk, that's VERY expensive cheese!

So now I just need to find a balance between what is safe and healthy and what is tasty and easy to prepare!  Any thoughts, any good books on the subject, any experiences (good or bad) with raw milk???

GYou might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 11 - farm update

So much has been going on recently, I feel like I haven't been keeping you up to date at all.  Here's a quick summary of the current status of everything we're working on:

The Garden
I can sum this up in two words "frost damage".  I knew it was getting cold, but I didn't think about frost damage mitigation until it was too late. Luckily our big shade cloth cover keeps most of the dew/frost off the actual garden beds, so most of the damage is to the plants outside the garden.  The monster winter squash has finally died off, the bean plant and passionfruit were slightly damaged and the paw paw trees do not look happy (aren't they pretty in their lace curtains, I'm hoping to prevent further damage).  Apart from that, I've been horribly neglectful, because its getting dark so early (5:30pm) and most of our afternoon is taken up with Bella and Molly. The broccoli that I planted did not do well (I think I was too late getting it established, and now its so cold, they're not growing very fast).  The peas are not doing well.  The only thing going well is the cherry tomatoes, mini capsicums, beans and the squash, as usual!  I have 10 silverbeet seedlings in trays, I am trying to look after them and get them nice and big.  I am going to get organised plant some more seeds for spring.....soon....

The paw paw trees and winter squash haven't survived the frost.

The bean plant didn't do well either (I'm leaving the dead leaves to protect the green ones from the next frost)

The broccoli didn't grow much, but my compost tomatoes are doing well!
(I spread ash from the wood stove around the tomatoes
- potassium to encourage flowering/fruiting, and gave them some weed tea,
I need something to succeed!)

The peas aren't doing well either (lettuce has gone to seed, which is good because I was running out of lettuce seeds)

I found this pumpkin the other day, yay, its huge!

The Chickens
Our eight hens are laying one egg every few days.  A bit slack, but we don't know which one(s) is/are laying, so don't want to kill the wrong one!  The chicks we hatched in January/February are nearly 6 months old.  We have 4 hens who should start laying in spring and 6 roosters, who are still a little scrawny for eating.  We gave one rooster away to a friend.  He left a small pen of 7 roosters, sat in a box for a couple of hours and when he popped out we was in a big pen with 10 hens, he must have thought he died and went to heaven.

First chick out was named 'fluffy'.....


....6 months later, 'fluffy' in his new home!  Not sure if the best part is
all the ladies or the giant mound of road base,
roosters love to stand up on mounds and crow loudly!

The Steers
Bruce was butchered in early June (we have a freezer full of meat and its very tasty), so Rocket was hanging out with Bella and Molly (she seems to like her uncle Rocket), then we brought 2 more steers up to our place (Bratwurst and Frankfurter, two more limosin crosses), so now we have 3 steers.  That should keep us supplied with meat for a few more years!  Rocket was starting to think that he was a dairy cow (understandable with the black and white spots) and kept trying to come into Bella's milking bales, and was getting a bit rough with his horns around the calf, so he's now in a different paddock with the new boys.

The new boys
The Dairy Cow
We have discovered that Bella is very susceptible to low level mastitis if she isn't milked out completely, which happened a few times are we were all getting used to each other.  Fortunately Molly is now big enough to take a decent amount without getting scours, so we have FINALLY got into a milking routine.  We milk Bella in the morning (5:30 am!!!) and let Molly run with her during the day.  In the evening we feed Bella in her milking bales and lead Molly into a small yard by herself (but still near to mum).  Molly spends the night separated from Bella, so we get lots of milk in the morning.  I think everyone is happy with this routine, except Bella tends to stand near the gate of Molly's pen in the morning, just to remind us that she is stuck in there.





I have been using the milk/cream to make yoghurt, cheese and butter.  For the yoghurt, I've accepted the fact that I have to pasteurise the milk first, and the yoghurt is turning out fine (still using Easiyo thermos).  We did a cheese making course and have been making cream cheese, feta and hard cheeses (cheddar and gouda).  The fresh cheeses are great, and we are still aging the hard ones in our modified cheese cave/fridge.  I can't wait to learn more about how to influence the flavours and textures of the cheeses.  When we need butter I just shake up some cream in a jar and separate the butter, small batches are great because you don't have to remove all the butter milk if you're not going to store it for long periods.



The Kelpies
The kelpies are not allowed near the milking area as Bella really doesn't like them, however, they are getting a nice dish of fresh milk every morning now, so I think they have forgiven Bella for restricting their access to that corner of the house yard.  They also have a constant supply of beef bones from Bruce, so they're very fat and happy.


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