Thursday, January 15, 2009

New isn't always better ~

I remember not so long ago how very excited I was when my dream of having a dairy cow was becoming a reality. One more step up the ladder for my family toward self sufficiency and plain good, wholesome nutrition. Whole milk, ice cream, fresh sweet cream butter, butter milk biscuits, etc. We enjoy all of these things, some on a daily basis and I really do believe it is better for my family.
Because of the size of the farm and the fact that I did most of the farm work alone until Tom returned home, DH was pretty insistant that I have a milking machine. I put him off for a year and hand milked twice a day. It was my favorite part of my chore time but I knew milking more than one cow by hand everyday would take it's toll on my hands over time.

We eventually found a used/reconditioned surge bucket milker with a vacuum pump. Used was all we could afford as a new one cost around $1500.00. The used one came from a company in Wisconsin that reconditions dairy items. It has a guarantee and it has worked like a charm since we bought it. I haul it back and forth to the barn in my wheelbarrow with a hot water bath for the cow and wash it up in my kitchen sink. I'm not complaining but you make sacrifices for everything :) All of it's components sit on my kitchen island, clean and ready to be used again.

Next we decided that we needed a butter churn. I looked on ebay and craigslist and couldn't seem to find a used one that wasn't an antique. I finally found a great little hand churn at Lehmans's non electric store. Not cheap but a great little churn. DH also purchased me a larger electric churn for when I have large amounts of cream. I tend to use the smaller one and make smaller batches of butter more often. Both were great purchases. Neither of these were absolutely necessary. I've taught little kids and adults alike to make butter by passing around and shaking cream in a quart canning jar to the hokey pokey! It does work and it's great exercise but I didn't think I had time to do that 2 or 3 times per week :)

The next most logical purchase seemed to be a cream separator. I spent a couple of months researching this machine and really thought I had made the best choice. Wrong........these babies are not cheap. I couldn't find one used. I didn't think I wanted a used one anyway as the inside and outside components are made of plastic except for a series of discs that spin are made of metal and the bowl on the top. I have spent hours on the phone and computer with this company trying to make this unit perform as they said it would. It does not. They have even gone so far as to tell me my milk is too cold so I've rewarmed the milk to 101 degrees which is the temp it comes from the cow and it still does not work properly. This new fangled rig just doesn't cut it!

Granted, it may just be me. Perhaps I just don't have the knack for using this machine but I have found I get more cream off my milk by skimming my 2 quart jars after it has sat in the fridge a few hours with a small ladle than I do by separating 10 quarts of milk with the separator. Hence, my title that new isn't always better in this case.

Today was butter day - that's what prompted this post. I've been feeling ridiculous that I can't make that separator perform properly but I've given up and enjoying my ladle and I don't miss the hum and the massive clean up of that machine at all!

For those of you that milk, how do you separate your cream?


Egghead said...

Oh memories of shaking that quart jar to make butter. We never had more than one cow to milk most of the time and we milked by hand and did the cream separation by hand. I don't know much about the machines.

dp said...

We have one cow, a Guernsey. I milk her by hand twice a day. I put the milk in 2-quart wide-mouth jars and set them in the fridge. I skim with a gravy ladle the next morning. It works for us. Takes only a few minutes. I wouldn't want to have to clean a separator for the small amount we need separated.

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Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I put my milk in gallon jars and skim with a spoon that is perfect. It has to be that spoon.

I have two old separators, one hand crank, and one electric. I use neither. Too much washing. I am only milking one, but even with two it wasn't worth it.

Deb said...

I'm learning that the old ways in some cases are still the best ways :)

I haven't been able to find the 2 qt wide mouth jars here but I use the 2 qt regular jars. I'm also using a gravy ladle = it's perfect. I don't miss the clean up!

country whispers,
Thank you! I'm honored :)

Your right - I never thought of gallon jars although I do have a few.
I have a very old separator that was given to me by my neighbor from when she farmed 50 years ago. It has the old leathers in it and was a hand crank. It must weight 75 lbs. Not sure if it would still work or not but i'm not going to find out.

Anonymous said...

Get one of those giant glass iced tea dispensers with the spigot on the bottom. Refrigerate the fresh milk over night, allowing the creme to rise, open the spigot, the milk less creme flows out the bottom like magic! No ladles, no spoons necessary.

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