The thermometer still reads 92 degrees Fahrenheit, so I'm content to leave the scene and find something to keep me busy. Thirty minutes later, the thermometer still reads the same. Ninety-Two degrees. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means I don't have to do anything. Bad, because it should really be two degrees lower.
I'm watching a pot.
A pot of cheese curds, to be precise. I started this batch earlier in the day, starting with frozen milk. Working over the steady, purring heat of a wood powered cook stove (these are popular here), I warmed the milk up, added a culture, gave the milk time to ripen, added some rennet, let the milk solidify, then I cut the curds into rice-sized pieces, and now it's ripening a wee bit more. Thus the waiting now. It needs to sit for 40 minutes (and I'm having a momentary panic attack right at this moment; what time did I start this round of waiting!?!?!? Ack! Hang on, gotta' run and see what time it is...).
Okay. Panic attack is over. I'm such a great cheesemaker... *much sarcasm* I ran and checked the time, curds, gave the pot a stir, checked the temp on it, and now I'm back here. Now, where was I? Right, the curds need to sit quietly for 40 minutes, and stay at 90 degrees. Right now it's at 91F. We dropped a digit. :) In thirty minutes I'll put the pot back on the woodstove and get everything warmed up to 120F in a thirty minute period. If I warm it too fast then the cheese will be rubbery. Too slow, and it won't set right. This is my first time, so it'll be interesting to see how I do. When all that is done, then I'll press the cheese in a mold, and store it. In thirty days it will be ready to eat and will be a Monterey Jack. Good heavens, I'm making a for-real Monterey Jack cheese!?!? Will wonders never cease? Tomorrow I'll make a Parmesan too! Looking forward to it. :) The milk comes directly from the Jersey cows here at the farm, who are named Ellie and Penny. Yep, only two lactating girls this winter. The third was just sold. The other bovines around here are Onyx, who is a Jersey/beef cross steer who will be going into the freezer in just a couple weeks (looking forward to that!!), and then two ADORABLE Jersey/Belted Galloway bull calves (Ellie and Penny's babies). These calves are the cutest things I have *ever* seen. Seriously. No kidding. I'm gonna' have to steal a camera, er, ahem, borrow a camera from someone just so I can take some pictures of these darlings and show y'all. They're fat, fuzzy (uber fuzzy), and look like Oreo cookies that moo. And did I mention that they're fat and fuzzy? Oh gosh they're cute... I want to hug them so stinkin' bad.
Besides the Monterey Jack that's in the works, there's also some homemade yogurt that's culturing on the counter, and freshly made butter that's just been put in the freezer. I'm a tiny bit proud of myself; I made a proper batch of butter, all by myself! And yeah, it turned out to be ridonkulously easy (brownie points if you know what movie that word is from). Last time I tried it, which was back in Oregon, I did something wrong... And every time you heated that butter up, it turned right back into milk! It was weird. After that attempt, I never did try again. But now I know what I'm doing! Aha! I'm going to start up a batch of kefir soon, too. Lots and lots of dairy products around here, that's for sure!
I'm slowly getting the hang of things around here... Still making mistakes though. LOL. And while my hands are getting used to milking, the cows are still not getting used to me. Penny stubbornly held her milk back this morning, and wouldn't let down until the wife (hmm, she needs a title, or code name. I'll have to think about that) took over. Cows. Picky creatures. Hehehe. Oh its been glorious to be working around dairy cows again. If we could just get our act together though, things would be fabulous. I need to get used to them, and they need to get used to me. I will however, admit that I am really missing my milking machine. I'll hand milk for the time that I'm here, but I could never do this long term. I love my machine too much. I miss its humming noise, the speed that it works, and the routine of washing the equipment. Ah well... Hand milking will suffice for now.
Making the Jack cheese will be the end of my work day today... Since it's cold and snowy outside, we're only doing 3-4 hours of work each day (yeah, it's really rough! These people work ya' hard! LOL.). Not sure what I'll do once I'm done with the cheese. Read? Write? Go bug the extended family? Hmm. Part of me wishes that I had longer work days, but then the other part of me doesn't mind that I'm not out in the cold for very long.
Anywho, the clock says 1:49pm, so that's my cue. I need to go get those cheese curds warming up to 120F now!