It is the summer of milking. Three days before Christmas our neighbour took delivery of a house cow to be shared among several families. We’d been talking about buying a house cow for about a year, ever since Toni did a cheese making course. And here she was, a Jersey Friesian cross from Derek Hill’s dairy farm at nearby Bowling Alley Point.
The first milking of Honey the cow was a social affair with six adults and three children on hand to try their hand at milking. It was years since I’d milked a cow at Hurlstone Agricultural High School and watching Ian Worley’s skilled milking, I had a lot to learn. Ian’s father Ian senior, who started milking when he was six years old, is even more proficient. Keeping with milking tradition, the women took to milking with the most enthusiasm. We couldn’t stay away, enjoying the earthy connection to a food we consume every day. It could have had something to do with the opportunity for a natter and a cider while we milked.
Honey is a remarkably quiet cow and soon fell into a routine of waddling up to the bails with a full udder, happy to be milked and relieved of her heavy load. She supplied five households and two calves in the first weeks.
With the huge supply of milk came the need to do something with it. Out came the recipe books and tear sheets from newspapers with recipes for yoghurt, labna, ricotta and cheddar cheese. Deb’s ricotta flavoured with sun dried tomatoes and herbs, and Toni’s gelato are favourites. We tucked into a salad of homegrown greens and balls of homemade labna, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar and relished the flavour. Now it’s time to become more adventurous. Toni makes beautiful haloumi, marinated feta and parmesan so I’m on the look out for a cheese making course. In the meantime the CWA Cheddar recipe and The Dairy Book of Family Cookery picked up at a second hand book sale inspire.