Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Projects

We had a nice long list of projects to complete today, but to be reasonable, we prioritized them and expected that not everything would get done.

First order of business was to skim some more milk. We now do about 8 quarts at a time as I just don't have the storage containers for more than that. We moved the separator from the workbench in the basement up to the 'desk' in the kitchen. This made a HUGE difference in the 'dread factor' as the process is MUCH easier when it's in the kitchen and I won't be dreading the next batch when the time comes. Bascially, we have to warm the milk up to 100F. I do this while my H assembles the unit. Then while he's turning the crank, I pour 4 quarts of HOT water into the feed bowl. As H turns the crank, this water flows through the unit to heat up all the machinery.

Hot water running through the machine to warm it up for the skimming process.

Then, once all the water is out, I pour the warmed milk into the feed bowl. When the crank is turned at a consistant speed, we get cream out one spout and skimmed milk out the other. While this is going on, I have to keep track of how full each contatiner is getting so that we don't overflow anything. We end up with 2 half gallon ball jars of skimmed milk, one half gallon pitcher and a little more than a quart of milk to freeze. We also get about 2 cups of fresh cream. The last batch went towards making butter (which is delicious) and this batch will go towards making ice cream later this week.

Milk getting separated: skimmed milk on the right, cream on the left

We also had 'working on the chicken coop' on our list for today. While I cut a pattern for a light floor out of cardboard, my H began work on building nesting boxes. We have 12 chickens, so we need 3 boxes (4 per box). We suspended the boxes in the coop so that they were essentially using 'wasted' space. We are also going to put down a heavy duty cardboard floor next weekend. We are waiting because we are still 'collecting' the chicken poop for the garden. Once we move it off the garden, we'll install the floor and fill it with shavings. This will allow the coop to get a little warmer now that winter is moving in quickly. The floors will not be permanent, so come next spring, we can remove them and start the rotation around the yard once again.

Nesting boxes - filled with pine shavings and ready for eggs!

Lastly, I continued work on winterizing our row garden area. We've already covered the entire area with quite a bit of chicken poop by methodically moving the coop across it, one week at a time. Then we covered each poop-laden area with either soiled hay from the goat shed, or with leaves from the apple trees. Lastly, we are laying cardboard over everything. We figure that this will allow moisture to soak in, but it will retard the growth of grass and weeds. In the spring, we'll remove the cardboard and get to planting.

Row garden area: back left is covered with black plastic from last summer (to kill weeds), back right (near white posts) is garlic planted under pine straw mulch. The front left is where the coop was last - still needing straw or leaves before we cover with cardboard. Right front is the area that we covered today.

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