Peach, I thought you might like to know, is doing very well. She's walking through this weird winter we're having just fine, perhaps a little perplexed by the twenty below days followed by fifty degree days. But maybe she isn't perplexed at all. She's rather un phased by it all from what we can tell. Steady, somewhat predictable, very sweet, a little feisty (especially when in heat), and playful. It's a pleasure having her here.
And the milk? Oh the milk! We did go down to once a day milking a while back, which was a welcome change. Both for the milking commitment as well as the milk production. Once a day milking, at this point in her lactation, means two and a half gallons of milk a day, and it turns out that's just right for us. Still enough to do all the things we want - experiment with all kinds of dairy recipes, and to share a little bit from time to time too. It's good to know that. But not so much that I'm overwhelmed and swimming - literally - in milk. 4 gallons a day? Too much for us. Closer to 2 gallons? Totally manageable. The washing of all those jars (for ease of pouring with smaller hands, we store the milk in 1/2 gallon glass jars), and the rinsing and drying of all that cheesecloth have found a comfortable place in the rhythm of our days. And we are oh so much enjoying all the dairy delights. I may have told you before, but I'm relying heavily upon a few favorite dairy books - Home Cheesemaking by Rikki Carroll, Home Dairy by Ashley English, Artisan Cheesemaking at Home by Mary Karlin. I have realized - though perhaps I could have predicted this - that fussy recipes don't really fit into our lives well. I've got a few hard cheeses waxed and storing until the time - months from now - when we can test them. But for the most part, those recipes are a little too finicky and demanding of all of my attention, which is a tricky thing to manage in the course of a day. Simpler things - clabbered milk (oh, the biscuits have never tasted so good!), cream cheese, yogurt, fromage blanc, simple farmer's cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella - those kinds of things are in regular rotation. And I'm making and storing (in the freezer) as much butter as I possibly can. Oh, and how can I forget the hot cocoa and the occasional (ahem) ice cream?
We have a little bit more time with Peach her, but not long. Her real farmers are coming back soon. I think she's going to be happy to go home. And we've got to make way in our barn and in our days for those lambs that are right around the corner. For now, we love having her here, we're most definitely enjoying her milk, and we are thinking long and hard about how and if and when and why a family cow would/could/might/should fit into our lives. Honestly, we don't know the answer to that yet. But we do know - one hundred percent - that we are enjoying her being here now. And to that - I raise a steamy (second) mug of hot cocoa in cheers to Peach!