A Cheezy Day - Home on the Range Blog at Allrecipes.com - 246188

Home on the Range

A Cheezy Day 
Aug. 6, 2011 3:04 pm 
Updated: Aug. 8, 2011 5:01 pm

After nursing the entire neighborhood, Dolly lost ALL her weight and developed a metabolic disorder known as Ketosis. The body quits using available food for energy and starts to burn body fat as an energy source. (Think Atkins) This is NOT okay for a dairy cow!! They stop eating and exacerbate the problem and go downhill quickly.

I knew Dolly was losing weight, but could not figure out WHY! We kept upping her feed and she wouldn’t finish it. Finally, I saw Emma nursing her and it made sense. The next day Dolly went off of feed completely. My poor little bag o’ bones was wasting away before my eyes. She barely had the energy to stand and no inclination to eat.

I checked the FamilyCow Boards and gleaned everything I could on combating ketosis. I made up a recommended drench, with real Apple Cider Vinegar and Molasses, and yogurt. I decided to dump in a half gallon of milk with the cream on it still, as I figured it couldn’t hurt. She slurped it up. I poured some over some corn and she took one bite then refused the rest. At least she ate a little. I turned her back out hoping she’d eat some grass.

Next morning, I fixed her another concoction. She refused it and refused to eat. I gave her a shot of B complex hoping to stimulate an appetite and fretted all day. I went and started fencing off a couple of acres in a draw across the way, where a lot of grass and alfalfa is growing. I dragged Dolly out there to see if she’d be tempted to eat fresh alfalfa and she was, just barely. She nibbled here and there as I strung up hotwire. I decided to leave her for a little while to eat while I hunted down Randyman to charge the fence. Dolly, sweet thing that she is, saw me leave and decided she did not want to be alone. She walked to the fence, reached out and tested the wire with her nose (she is braver than I am!) Finding it wasn’t charged, she walked through it dragging half of the fence behind her.

At least she ate a bit. I made her a concoction with corn syrup this time, as she decidedly did not want molasses now. She drank it with gusto and wanted more. She wouldn’t eat much still, but at least she had some available sugar in her system.

One of the baby goats has discovered he can crawl under the gate where the dogs go in and out to patrol. This is very unfortunate, as now the dogs have to be locked in, or out. I am thinking this goat may soon be invited to a barbecue. At any rate, I locked the pups out last night so they could protect the goats and sheep. As a result, they were unable to get back in the yard to protect the chicks as well.

This morning I found one of the meaties had drowned in my waterfall barrel. If the pups had been here, they could have alerted me, but they weren’t. Once again, I checked on the internet boards, this time the LGD board and decided not to let the chicken go to waste. I began plucking and cleaning the bird to put in the freezer for a few days and give back to the dogs for guarding them so diligently. I am so PROUD of these two pups, who only months ago would gleefully run around chasing chickens then catch and pluck them for sport, resulting in the death of the bird. Once they finally understood the chickens are MINE and to be protected, not molested, they have stepped up and guard them both up and down. NOTHING is allowed to bother the chickens, not from the ground, nor from the sky. Cletus, especially (formerly the worst offender, but ‘he who is forgiven much, loves much) spends his days in the yard where he can keep the chickens all in constant sight. He looks to be sleeping, but is instantly on his feet if he perceives a threat to them. Even Bruno takes his turn babysitting.

Even without Dolly having milk, I seem to have an abundance of it in my refrigerator, so I have happily taken advantage of that to practice some cheesemaking. It isn’t nearly as daunting a task as I had thought it would be, its actually quite easy, the greatest challenge to me being to stay focused and remember I am making it!!

Here I have poured 4 gallons of milk into my large roaster with some water under the big pan to act as a double boiler. It’s important to maintain temperatures for 45 minutes or so at a time so this works really well for me.

As I am using raw milk, there is no need to add calcium chloride to it. To make cheddars and jack cheeses, jack being my favorite, I add either a mesophilic culture (Clabber) or thermophilic culture (Yogurt). Either of those two can be purchased as direct set cultures from a cheese company, but if I have made my own, it all works better! The milk warms up then sits for about 45 minute to ripen then I add rennet and let it set another 45 minutes to coagulate and begin separating curd from whey.

The next step is to slice the curd, which allows it to release even more of the whey. I need a good knife or long cake icing spatula for this, but for now I am using the back of my bread knife and its working ok.
The cheese rests for 5 minutes to heal the curd, then is slowly heated up, about 2 degrees every 5 minutes til it hits the target temperature.

It holds there for awhile, then I drain off the whey, salt it, add my peppers if making pepper jack, and line my cheese press with cheesecloth. The cheese is put in and pressed at whatever pressure for whatever length of time the recipe calls for. 

Its flipped and repressed a time or two, then set on a bamboo mat to dry for a couple of days. Once it forms a rind, I melt cheesewax in a double boiler set up again and wax the cheese, taking care to leave no open spaces where bacteria and mold could grow.

The cheese is marked, then set in my little ‘cheese cave’ to ripen for a few months at 55 degrees. I turn it once a day or so for the first few weeks and wait anxiously to try it and see how it turned out!

During the 45 minute breaks that the cheese was doing its thing, I move Dolly and Em back and forth from the pasture. Cletus plays dead as Dolly walks by, as she likes to head butt him a lot. Again, the Maremma version of extreme sports. I always choke on my breath, afraid he’s going to get hurt.

In the evening, I go to put the older chickens in their pen and lock up the new little eggers in theirs. They are the same age as the meaties, but only weigh ounces, where the meaties are already weighing pounds. I find, to my surprise, they have decided to move their badselves into the big chickens pen and sleep on a roost like big kids. One MORE problem solved!
Aug. 6, 2011 4:59 pm
Luke 7. God bless Cletus, Bruno and all the critters. God help Dolly, and God bless you, Petey.
Aug. 6, 2011 5:01 pm
So glad Dolly is doing better. I could just take both of those dogs to live with me! They wouldn't be happy, though, as I have nothing for them to protect except a 19 yr. old kitty! Hope the cheese turns out yummy for ya! Great BLOG, as usual!
Aug. 6, 2011 5:04 pm
Great Blog Petey... as usual. I sure hope Dolly pulls through and starts eating again. Beautiful picture of the cheese making process. And, of course I'm loving your chickens. Two of my nine have started laying. I so love fresh eggs. Thanks for sharing with us.
Aug. 6, 2011 7:38 pm
Awww! Poor Dolly! Hope she continues to improve. I seem to have a lot in common with her! Uncontrollable weight loss, no appetite, etc. Don't call her a sack of bones to her face- that hurts!!! Love the pics of the cheese- pepper jack is my favorite. Thanks for another awesome blog :)
Aug. 6, 2011 8:00 pm
Note that the second chick from the left prefers to remain anonymous...
Aug. 7, 2011 6:07 am
Coffee in hand and another great Petey blog, thank you!
Aug. 7, 2011 8:14 am
YUM! There isn't much I won't try in the kitchen but cheese, I dunno. I'd certainly sample yours though! I so want some laying hens. Soup Loving Nicole brought me some of her fresh eggs when she came to the roundup. Yum! Poor Dolly hope she gets better.
Aug. 7, 2011 9:58 am
awe Petey, critter problems seem to follow the farmer. Hope poor Dolly improves. Our first pail bunter steer was named Norman (yes from the City Slicker movie), he hurt his knee and RnGrampa and I contemplated putting him down early and eating a little less meat. Our oldest son decided to play nurse and dietician to poor Norman. He was out there 3 times a day, everyday helping the young steer along. Soon his knee healed and he had a few more months to grow before hitting the freezer. Farm critter love, there is no other:)
Aug. 7, 2011 2:58 pm
She's doin good today. Her milk is even starting to come back!
Aug. 7, 2011 3:20 pm
So glad to hear Dolly's doing better. Thanks for the update Petey!
Aug. 7, 2011 4:03 pm
Oh gosh - so glad to hear Dolly is feeling a bit better. I love your cheese and your cheese cave! :) Your guardians are angels! Bless them for learning to not eat the chickens alive.
Aug. 7, 2011 5:57 pm
So funny to see Cletus so attentive to his flock - rather than fleecing them! (lol) I remember some of the earlier blogs when he was the chicken rustler - my how he's changed! Another great read Petey - thanks!
Aug. 7, 2011 9:05 pm
Cletus has become devoted to his chickens. It's pretty funny. These are truly unlike any dogs I have ever known...and Dolly gave me a gallon of milk tonite out of just one quarter! Mo couldn't drink it all so I had to milk her. She's bouncing right back!
Aug. 8, 2011 10:23 am
I would never have thought cows could have such personality, but Dolly surely does. I am so glad she is doing better. All your animals are amazing, somehow I think it has to do with the owner. Thanks for letting us look into your life.
Aug. 8, 2011 4:56 pm
Woo hoo!! Hel-LO, Dolly :)
Aug. 8, 2011 5:01 pm
PS - I laughed my butt off at the "anonymous" chickie!
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden. forpeteysake.blogspot.com http://throughthedarkestvalleys.blogspot.com/
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
My cooking triumphs
Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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