Monday, March 26, 2007

Gathering eggs and making chevre

Wednesday, March 21

As it stands now, the new pasteurizer is fixed! Chris the stainless steel welder, added an air vent to the side of the machine. Apparently in the rush to get the equipment out the door, this critical part was overlooked. Air could not escape so it was essentially trapped inside. Since the air had nowhere to go, the water couldn’t enter so the unit couldn't heat nor cool properly. The cracks were fixed and now it works as promised. The builder was incredibly apologetic and embarrassed. He obviously didn't test it or else he would have found the HUGE mistake he had made.

The first batch of milk to be pasteurized after the fix turned out fine. Steve and I watched it every second. Nothing like watching a large, noisy steel kettle cook for three hours. OK, I was slightly bored. I DID get to learn how to read the paper record that is recorded in order to verify pasteurization. It is critical for a licensed cheesemaker to have a paper trail for every batch of cheese.

The now pasteurized milk was cultured and turned into fresh chevre.

I got to gather the eggs today. I walked into the chicken enclosure after feeding the kids their supper. I opened the lid on the nesting boxes and peered inside. Eggs! Lot of eggs. We've got some happy hens. I went from box to box, gathering fresh eggs and putting them into the wicker egg basket. Seven out of the eight boxes had a eggs. The eight box had a chicken in it. Lee warned me about her. She's a brooder, meaning she likes to sit on eggs. Not just her eggs, but any eggs she can find. Her maternal instincts are on overdrive, I guess. She's also cranky and will peck you if you try to take her eggs. Lee and Steve said she doesn't hurt when she pecks. I look at her and she looks at me. She fluffs her feathers and looks threatening. I stick my hand in and she thrusts her head at it. Peck! Peck! Ow! She hurt me. It feels like a stabbing pinch. It's not hard enough to break the skin, but hard enough to make you stop. In my case, she just made me annoyed. I jabbed my hand beneath her plump body and found a stack of warm eggs. One after another, I brought out eggs. She squawked, pecked and began to bite me. Good thing chickens don't have teeth. The more she pecked the more I pushed her around looking for eggs. I finally just lifted her fully out of the next and two more eggs fell out from her underside. Grand total, at least ten eggs from this one next box. The eggs are from multiple hens because they are all sizes and colors. Everyone else is scared to move her. My hand is red from every place she pecked me. Now I want to gather eggs every night, just so I can get even.

I'm seeing lots of birds pairing off in the trees doing what birds do. The world's largest bumblebees are flying around the garden doing intricate dances in midair. The trees have tiny green buds on them. The naked woods are slightly green, highlighted with splashes of pink, red, and yellow. I can't wait to see it all burst into color over the next couple of weeks. The forsythia in the garden has bright yellow flowers all over it. The number of insects seem to double every day. Happy Spring!

No comments: