Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring is springing!

We're jumping right into mad season at Seven Trees. As if having our first calf and learning how to milk wasn't enough, it's also the start of garden season. Here's some teeny tiny lettuce sprouts, just up in the greenhouse. We chose red and green oak leaf, as they are consistently good producers here. And the new trial is Olga romaine.
Fedco Seeds says this about it: "Elegant lime-green Olga won our hearts in our 2006 lettuce trials. Big upright 8" oval heads with big hearts, big flavor, and slightly fringed leaves. So sweet, crisp and buttery that breeder Frank Morton thinks she must have some butterhead in her background. Stood considerable heat before developing slight tipburn and bitterness in August." Now that we're a big-time dairy, we need the most high tech equipment....or not! We use a 2 gallon stainless steel pail with lid, a canning funnel, and one of those gold-plated permanent coffee filters. So far the milk has been extremely tasty, and you can't quite make out the cream line from last night's milking, but it's over an inch in a quart jar.And look what the stork is bringing us now! A garage....not this color of course. Our's will be tan with dark brown roof & trim, to match the colors we'll be painting the house this summer. Construction should start next week.

My informal milking log:
I haven't yet milked Stella all the way out. We're still both learning, and also sharing with Douglas, but each day is better than the last. My first milking was 3/12 and I got a quart after much wrestling and fit-throwing. On 3/13, we separated Doug from Stella for 5 hours and I got 2 quarts. I could have gotten closer to a gallon, but I had a cut on one hand, a smashed finger on the other, and it was really uncomfortable to keep milking. Stella eventually seemed bored with the process as well, so I figured I would end it on a positive note. On 3/14, scheduling issues prevented us from separating mom & baby, so I had a harder time getting her to let down for me. It was Doug's first time being tied by Stella's head as I milked too, and he settled down really well. I tried a few tricks, like bumping her udders with my hand, brushing her, more warm washcloth massages, but still no milk. I ended up letting Doug nurse a minute to get her started. He has already learned not to bug me while I milk, and laid down for a nap. I settled for a quart of milk, and it has a nice creamline. As Stella gets better at the whole milking procedure, I plan to milk her all the way out, at least a few times a week, so I can gauge her potential production. I think she could easily give 2 gallons a day if we didn't calf-share, and a gallon with calf-sharing.
3/12: 1 quart
3/13: 2 quarts
3/14: 1 quart

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