Separation Anxiety

Why is it when you finally get it all together, a knot comes loose and things start to unravel? It happened so fast yesterday that I’m still scrambling to find an end to start wrapping it up again.

I AM a Farm Wife!

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like a Farm Wife personified. It started early, feeding chickens, and sneaking a bite to Roger. The big cows are pigs in disguise. They won’t let Roger close to the trough in the evenings, so he gets extra when the others are distracted. Then the Country Boy and I planted some cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens and two different types of onions. We also planted at least half the garden in winter peas to use as soil enrichment in the spring.

With the gardening finished, I came back inside and began to make butter. I planned out what to do with the skim milk, and stirred up a big pot of vegetable beef stew. A pound of butter and 3 gallons of skim milk later, it was time to feed and milk. From there, I strained and stored the milk, washed up eggs, whipped up a pan of cornbread and stuck it in the oven. Exceptionally proud of myself,  I stopped to take a contented and pleased sigh, then turned around to work on the remaining butter that was separating. That’s when disaster struck.

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

We pour our milk into a big three gallon container with a spigot on the bottom. When the cream separates, it is so easy to pull the milk off and leave a thick layer of cream ready to churn. I really don’t know what happened. One second I was admiring the beauty of the separation, and the next the bottom portion of the jar began to slowly separate.

It was like slow motion. By the time I was able to take the two steps across the kitchen to stop the flow, milk began to run like a river – off the table, onto the floor, under the stove and all over the room. I couldn’t get towels down quickly enough. I also couldn’t pick the jar up to get it to the sink, because if I had, the top portion would have separated completely and I ran the risk of slicing my hand. All I could do was stick my just washed and scalded milk buckets under the flow to catch as much as possible and grab towels to soak up what escaped the buckets. Which was a lot.

Clean Up on Aisle Five…

Once the worst of the spill was cleaned up, I told the Country Boy we would go ahead and eat (the cornbread was ready and I really prefer mine hot out of the oven). Once we ate, I would finish the clean up. The Country Boy, bless his heart, even added to his normal blessing, “and Lord, we even thank you for the trials and tribulations we must incur in this life, but if you have an angel available to help us clean up this latest one, we would certainly appreciate it.” I may have been the only one doing the actual work, but at least my heart felt a little lighter about it. So maybe God did send an angel – even if it was a comedian and not a cleaner.

And cleaning was definitely a chore. Milk had run into all the canning jar boxes we have stored underneath that table. The boxes were soggy and the jars all needed to be washed – even if they weren’t about to be used. I had to get down on my hands and knees to reach the puddles under the stove – and trust me, I made sure there wasn’t a single drop on my brand new baby! I used a half bottle of Mr. Clean and ended up mopping twice. All the towels and washcloths used to wipe things up went directly into the washer and were given an extra rinse. The last thing I wanted was a sour milk smell in my kitchen in the morning! (Did I just hear a snicker from an angel???)

I’d Rather Smell Coffee

Guess what? I got it anyway. It seems that I didn’t do such a great job of cleaning underneath our small refrigerator (that we use to store our eggs). It sits on the table next to the space where the culprit was. And stupid me, I forgot to wash out the milk buckets. I spent a couple hours this morning completing the cleaning from last night’s mess. And used most of the rest of the bottle of Mr. Clean.

Right now, my hands are red from all the hot water (my milk buckets have to be scalded and sterilized before I can use them again, and they can’t go into the dishwasher). I have clean half-gallon canning jars, waiting to be filled with milk – even though I’ll have to scald them again before I strain milk into them. And the only milk in the house is safely contained where it belongs – in sturdier jars in the refrigerator. And I’m back in the saddle. The Country Boy and I are canning the leftover beef stew, I am once again gearing up for making Fromagina with the skim milk, and I have sheets about to go on the line. And my pride is safely tucked back in a closet.

No Matter Who You Are

Just because I am a Farm Wife, doesn’t mean that I am exempt from trials and tribulations. Things go great. Things go South in a split second. And sometimes, things just sit on the fence and refrain from leaning to either extreme. The trick is in the way you look at things. Yes, it’s easy to be joyful in the great times, but learn to appreciate the hard times as well. It is an opportunity to learn, advance in your chosen life and to build your character into something worth having. But, if you do ask God for angels to help you through the trials, be specific.  You may want to request an angel other than the one I ended up with. His jokes were okay, but they just really weren’t THAT funny!

For great cheese making cultures, rennets, kits and more, visit New England Cheesemaking. Homemade cheese is easy and tastes so much better!
Go ahead. Try it today. You will be so glad you did!

Don’t let my experience scare you!  Making cheese is fun, and you don’t have to own a cow.  Milk purchased in the grocery store works just as well.  Just be sure to get pasteurized.  Do not get ultra-pasteurized or homogenized milk. If you get those, you will be writing your own story about cheese making failures!

For More Fun with Milk, be sure to read these posts!

Fresh Milk, Anyone?

Got Milk? Say Cheese!

How to Make Butter

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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