Monday, February 9, 2015

Milk detail

Every morning about 9.30am Hailey is waiting, hovering around the dairy, hoping that now is the time when her breakfast is served. The ting of the stainless steel milk pail handle is her first clue that I am on the way. I bring a bucket half full of hot water, collect the cloth from the washing line where it has been blowing in the wind and head through the gate to the dairy.
I put the milk pail and cloth on the shelf and take the hot water with me into the feed store. Some of the hot water is poured onto a large dollop of molasses and melted into a sweet smelling brown soup with a stick. I collect Hailey's red bucket from near the gate she is enticed through to separate her from Comet the calf.
I add in a scoop of beef nuts, a scoop of stablemate grain, three scoops of Lucerne chaff, two scoops of pollard (to slow her down) and give it a mix by hand. Then the molasses is poured on top and Hailey is drooling as it thuds into the feeding trough. I bring the rest of the hot water, prop open the door to the feed shed so Hailey can see her calf and head back round to the stanchion to lock her in. The red bucket I place near the gate for Hailey to clean out when she is ready. After putting the milking chair in place, I give the teats a quick wash and some udder cream to keep them supple and we are ready for milking.
Once I have collected all I am going to get: I place the milk pail up out of the way of wandering horns and keen calfs, put the milking chair back in its spot, put the udder cream on the shelf, squeeze out the cloth and ditch the rest of the hot water. I release the stanchion, shut the feed store door and head up to the gate to let Comet race to hassle her mum for some milk she has stored away just in case.
Then I head to the house via the washing line for the cloth and strain the milk into a jug. I use DeLeval disc filters. The packet on the go has 200 filters with a diameter of 200mm. The last packet was a little bigger - 230mm - which was a better size because as you pour from the pail there is always a little that escapes over the top edge of the filter.
Once the filter has collected all the hair and dirt the milk is ready to be poured into bottles. We mainly use 2l bottles. 'These are washed and then sterilized in the oven after each use. Bottles are kept in the fridge door and if they bank up then it is the pigs lucky day. Then the pail and jug need to be washed carefully and left to dry till the next time.

All in all it takes about 20 to 30 minutes of my day to do all this. If I was to price my time compared to the cost of milk it would not be economical but thank goodness economics doesn't have much value at Opportunity Farm. It is one of the routines I wouldn't want to give up.

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