Monday, 17 March 2014

Welcome to Rosie

I've got a cow. A beautiful pedigree Jersey heifer, Dalena Gunner Rosen or Rosie as I call her. She's absolutely lovely, halter trained so easy for me to handle, and with a quiet and docile nature. I've always wanted a cow, and when the opportunity to buy Rosie came up I couldn't resist. I've had her about a week or so now, and it's been a steep learning curve for me, but I've had a lot of help and support from Lena who breeds Jersey cows, and from farming friends and neighbours. The first day I spent trying to work out how to keep the cows feet out of the milk bucket, and the second day, I managed with aching back and arms to get about half a bucket of milk when Rosie decided to change position and in the blink of an eye, over went the bucket. I now know the origin of the saying about not crying over spilt milk!

On about the second or third day, when I was starting to think I'd never be able to manage it, and I don't mind admitting that tears of frustration were not far away, along came Jeremy my farming friend and gave me an on site demo and a few tips. I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. Among Jeremy's suggestions was to get
a calf for Rosie to nurse. It's important that all the available milk is taken from the cow at each milking, or the cow's system takes any left unmilked as a sign to reduce the supply. So  a few days later a lovely little Aberdeen Angus cross calf came along and she takes any milk that I fail to get and will enable me to go over to once a day milking in due course, as she grows and takes a larger supply. Also she's really cute and Rosie loves her. and I don't think it's ever ideal to have one of any animal on its own

Of course it's pretty unusual these days for people to keep a single cow, it's not economic in modern farming terms, but in days gone by many country people kept a house cow, and enjoyed their own dairy produce. I've so far made some delicious butter, some crème fraiche. I've also made some not very successful clotted cream, and some soft cheese that was rubbery enough to stuff a mattress with.  But never mind, there's an endless supply of fresh milk every day at the moment I'll try again, and as I say it's a learning curve. I've learnt so much since I've been here at Chidgley, and fulfilled some long standing ambitions, so I'm grateful for that. Anyone know where I can get one of those old fashioned three leg milking stool with a little handle on the side for any quick position changes that may be needed? -  I'm sitting on an upturned bucket at the moment and the maker's mark is becoming indelibly imprinted on my rear...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Spot The Goose Egg

 My geese are laying well. I've never had geese eggs before and they are certainly impressive in size, and the taste is just gorgeous. Recipes suggest allowing three chicken eggs for one goose egg, so you'd think they wouldn't be difficult to spot. But the geese seem to like burying the eggs in the straw in their nest, so you have to dig around quite a bit to find them.

I have four geese, or rather three geese and Hissing Sid, the gander. Ganders are known to be a tad on the over protective side during the mating season, which is about now, but although he does hiss a bit at any passing individual, including the dog, who just ignores him, I can't say he's particularly intimidating.

I made a  jam and cream sponge the other day for the holiday cottage visitors with a goose egg, and it seemed to go down well. They weren't on holiday in fact, but were  students who were making a murder mystery/comedy film as a final exam project for a film studies degree, and for some reason decided that we would make a good location for the action. They had part of the field roped off as a "police investigation area" and with policemen and white suited forensic officers wandering about in the field it certainly kept us amused. I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished production.

But back to goose eggs, delicious to use in any recipe but probably best of all soft boiled with a big pile of toast soldiers. Place egg in tap hot water, bring to the boil, boil for about eight minutes.


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