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As part of my self-reliance plan, one of my goals was to get a milk cow and learn to make dairy products. My gracious sister Amie indulged me at Christmas the first year and bought me quite a few of the items I needed to get started. (Of course, I think she had an ulterior motive, but that’s fine with me.) When Bossy gave birth to her first calf, I diligently learned to milk, strain the milk, and took time to study the very basics – making butter, making buttermilk and preparing a wonderfully delicious Frommage Blanc, which is a soft, spreadable cheese. Next calf, I was ready to take it a step further.

And, of course, for some reason Bossy either did not get bred or sloughed the calf. No calf, no milk. No milk, no mozzarella. With a patience that was forced upon me, I waited another 18 months until Bossy kindly gave us Mia. And a couple of days later, I was armed with a milk pail, stool and dreams of a refrigerator filled to capacity with mozzarella, cheddar cheese, lots of butter, sour cream and just about anything else you can make with milk.

Milking a cow by hand, to me, is a very relaxing thing. Even when I have to be alert enough to avoid those Ninja kicks she throws out every now and then, I can still let stress roll right off my back. The first day I headed into the barn and got set up. I poured her feed into the trough on the stanchion, and Randy encouraged her to ‘remember how it is done’. She did fine. She slipped into the stanchion and buried her nose in her feed. And before we could get settled in place, she started fighting. (For more details on this, read Sheer Stubborness).

Finally. Bossy has settled down. It took two weeks before she would let me milk her, even though she had no problem with Randy doing it.  But we are back on track.  There is milk in the refrigerator. And the cheese making begins. Right now, I have a pot full of milk and culture that is doing its thing, so that by 7:00 tonight I will have buttermilk. With the milk that comes in this evening and a few days next week, I’ll have fresh butter and sour cream in the fridge. On Thursday, as we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, I will be serving foods that include one or more of these things in the ingredients.

Life isn’t always easy. And when it throws me a curve ball, I have learned to duck, just in case it really is a boomerang shot. I slog through the trials. I take aspirin – both literally and figuratively –for the headaches. And I grab some mental and emotional Duct tape and pull myself together when problems knock me off my feet. But when the going gets good? I grab my mental camera, smile real big and say, “CHEESE”!