Archive for August, 2014

Wet and cold? Stay inside and make cheese!

August 19, 2014
It seems ages since I last wrote to appraise you all of the happenings at Milkenunny.  The days have been short and damp over here, with plenty of cool weather but it hasn’t felt as extreme a winter for rain or cold as we have had in the past.  Of course my view may well be affected by missing 3+ weeks of frost when we visited WA.  🙂  There has been some snow on the mountains, and Kim got this picture of a wombat in the snow when he went up to Cradle Mountain.  There was no seeing the mountain that day though.
We are now a “pig free” property, having dispatched our last two big pigs during the cooler weather.  It is kind of sad in a way as they were friendly old things, but it is pleasing too when we think about the easy access we now have to all the paddocks for tree removal, fence repairs or grazing cattle.  We are currently awaiting a call from our local farmer/butcher so that we can reduce the cattle numbers too, and get a little variety from pork.  We may get pigs again if we fence more area and need it cleared of bracken, but will not be replacing them in the immediate future.
Twinkles, our house cow, has continued to produce plenty of milk for us and the cool wet weather has been quite conducive to experimenting with making cheese.  So far I have made about 8 varieties to try out.  I made the 30 minute mozzarella for pizza one night which worked well and a soft cheese that is nice on crackers, also a fetta which was okay but no-one is that keen on fetta here.  I also have made Halloumi a few times which Kim and I quite enjoy frying up to have for lunch.  Halloumi is quite a different cheese, and is pleasant because it can be eaten immediately after making it.
I am also awaiting taste testing on the current cheeses in the cheese fridge, with fingers crossed that there are some that will be popular with the family.  The one on the top shelf is a parmesan.  I will be waxing that in another week but we have to wait a good 9 months before we can try it out.  The red waxed one is an Edam and the other one is Marangaroo cheese which is a home recipe from my Healthy House Cow book.  Since the photo was taken I have added a Caephilly too which is developing a lovely looking rind.  The Edam cheese ripens in 2-6 months, depending on how strong you want it, while the Marangaroo and Caephilly can be eaten after 3 weeks, so most of these are fairly quick cheeses.
I do not think I have a very good technique at cheesemaking yet, but hopefully I’ll improve with experience and get more consistent.  I have discovered a bunch of useful recipes and videos on a website called Little Green Cheese that are done by another Aussie, and am hoping that watching someone else prepare cheese will improve my own abilities. As I write I have another 15 litres of milk sitting in the fridge waiting for me to decide what to make with it.  Umm, perhaps Wensleydale or I could try a cheddar again????  I still separate the cream a couple of times a week so we can make ice cream and butter.  The skimmed milk gets turned into yoghurt which is mostly consumed by the chooks, who also get their grain soaked in whey these days.  I try not to waste anything!
As always Kim is kept busy with mechanics that need attending to.  The newer cars were supposed to require less work but it hasn’t turned out that way so far.  The latest is the Caravelle’s heater under the back seat which sprang a leak, quite dramatically in the middle of a trip causing hissing and steam to fill the whole van, and so Kim had to hunt high and low for a replacement which is now on it’s way from the US.  The tractor is out of service with a water leak into the gearbox oil which will need draining, the seal patched up and then refilling with 50L of very thick oil.  We are also going to replace the roof on the tractor’s canopy at the same time so that the seal is under cover again.  Of course to get the metal to replace the roof requires the van, which as I said is waiting it’s parts to arrive so we can’t do any of it yet.  Meanwhile the Peugeot has decided we don’t really need heaters in the middle of a Tasmanian winter, which is rather mean of it, but the ancient old beetle continues to chug along happily.
Kim is enjoying having a newer camera that he bought while we were in WA.  Lydia has been looking after a lady’s wallabies lately and Kim has been going along, both to supervise Lydia’s driving practice and to take pictures of the Green Rosella’s that come for the food as well.  He always did love taking photos of birds!
Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus)
Kim has also begun pulling out all our old slides and photographing them so we can have them all available digitally now.  He has done over 2000 so far!  It is fun to see old pictures as they bring back lots of memories.  Many of them are nature shots from when Kim used to submit photos to Landscope the CALM magazine, but there are some family ones too.  My, how we have changed.
We bought a new mac mini to replace the more power hungry computer we used to use in the lounge room.  We are expecting the power pole to be disconnected in October so we have to cut down on our power usage as much as possible, as our solar system is not very big.  Kim has been researching micro hydro again and we are planning to put a small system in place as time and funds permit.
We had one interesting day last month when we decided to find out why the slow combustion stove had started smoking so much.  It turned out there was a problem with the flue and so Kim was up on the roof pulling the flue apart to see what was wrong when he accidentally dropped a piece.  It rolled down the roof and quietly tipped off – right on top of our solar hot water system, smashing one of the tubes in the process.  Hot water was bubbling everywhere – so now we had to fix the stove and the HWS!  Thankfully we had a replacement tube for the HWS on hand and were able to fix it without too many problems, at least once the water had all emptied out, and when the flue was reassembled our stove started working much better again.  So it all worked out well in the end, but we had a few hairy moments along the way.  🙂
My parents have been away for an exciting trip to Germany recently.  They stayed with my eldest sister who is enjoying Germany while her husband is working there for a couple of years.  From all accounts Mum and Dad had a fantastic time and we are expecting to be inundated with photos and movies as they get them all up on a blog that Dad is preparing for that purpose.  If anyone is interested to see their pictures just let me know and I’ll send you the blog address.
Anyway, I think that is enough news for the time being.  Take care all.