Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Well the workload has increased sensibly since I've started milking the 4 sheep. The lambs and Mr Fecker are almost care-free and I only need to re-fence them with the electric netting every so many days.
I basically milk 8 liters per day and process therefore 16 liters every other day. The mobile home seems to cope with all this cheese making and is still pretty tidy, but surely it's not easy to eat 5 Kg of cheese every other day :) Well, actually most of it keeps piling up in the old house (pecorini to age). Still no proper aging facilities, so I'm using my old modified fridge as a cellar and plastic containers. I'm pretty happy with the cheese/ricotta duo, although the ricotta is the only one we tasted and frankly it is amazing. The pecorini look good but we'll see how they score at the taste bud test.
The ladies have transformed themselves into munching machines and to be honest the amount of grass on the fields at our disposal is not great. The spring is late and temps have been really low for the time of the year but today it's warm and we'll be in the 20s celsius for the next 7 days! :)
I have also tried mozzarella, failed miserably on attempt number one and succeeded satisfactorily the second time around. I would like to try a blue tomorrow.

On the milking side again, surprisingly the best sheepy is Selvaggia, she has the prettiest and better shaped udder among them all and stands still forever while I milk her, one wonders if she stands paralyzed in fear but I believe she's actually very cool, strangely enough.

As the title says, thank god for the piggies, lots of whey and cheese for them from my experiments, if Whizzie didn't have them I'd have a very fat dog by now. 11 liters of whey every other day are just fine for the 2 pigs but it would have been a pain if I had to dispose of it otherwise.
off to milking in a while, more soon.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sheep shearing and weaning.

Spring seems to have finally kicked in, although I shouldn't say it too loud. Sure for Italian standards the maximum temperatures are still a joke, but not so much if you go around in a 6 Kg wool jumper and you cant take it off.
It was time to shear the sheep and I was a bit worried about it because I never did it before and surely not with hand clippers! It did go alright though. I did Boss first, she is always very cooperative and it took me 1 hour and a half, would you believe it? The poor thing was about to die of shock. After I released she lied down for an hour or so to recover and I did the same. The other ones went a lot quicker and I managed to get good fleeces out of them, in one piece and clean.
In the meantime I have also weaned all the lambs in two different rounds. The last one went in the day before yesterday. P had prepared these lovely bras for them to help weaning without having to separate them from their mothers (they can't suck), but in the end I ended up separating them for 2 reasons, the first one is that the stable is a lot less busy, the second is that Little Fecker has some company and he's very happy about it (check the picture at the end!).
Finally, I have been making cheese! I have tried of course the Pecorino and ricotta duo, it took me a while but I think I got it straight in the end. The pigs are very happy with the whey. Tonight I'm going to try mozzarella and in a couple of days I'll try a bigger pecorino. So much happening, so little time.

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Thursday, 9 May 2013

I missed you Cheese!

I haven't made much cheese, and surely not hard ones, in ages! So this are the five liters I milked in the last 2 days. I actually miked more than 5 liters but Boss kept kicking like mad for the first day. So there you go, a tiny Pecorino!
On another note, on day 2 the weaned lambs were already absolutely fine and dandy and eating grass like if there was no tomorrow!
Back to work now! The piggies are going to enjoy the whey!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Things you'd never think you'll be saying.

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There is a jazz festival in a nearby village, not so near actually, but still within a reasonable drive. So we went the other day and there are a couple of friends that are staying over. Tom is sleeping at mine and I'd never thought that a conversation in the morning would contain the words: "Morning Tom! did you sleep well? Sorry about the ram in the garden".
Little Fecker has been enjoying the grass of the White Trash site and taking walks in the morning. The problem is that he keeps calling you whenever you are indoors or away :)
A bit disturbing if you had a late night and would like a "sleep in". Poor Tom.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Lambs 1 - Jonzie 0

That is the result of our first match. I tried the other day to separate the lambs, the 4 bigger ones, from their mums because it's time to wean them and to start milking! Well, those cheeky little things are excellent escapees! It was pretty easy to get the mums up the hill and keep the lambs behind. I then loaded them into the van and brought them in the field down the mobile home site, which from now on will be called the "kennel field". All fine. They made a lot of noise of course and called for their mothers but it was all to be expected. What I was not expecting was the determination they put into their escape. They first tried through a small gap in one of the doors and I promptly fixed it. Catching the one that had escaped was more tricky and involved a bit of stalking and a jaguar jump that saw me landing on my chest with all my weight. That hurt. I need a Shepherd's crook.
Then they tried to squeeze under the fence and managed alright! I was shaving then, and saw them getting out one by one from my toilet. The scene that ensued could have been in a comedy movie, with Jonzie running around in his long-johns and shaving cream on his face, crocs at his feet in the dry Irish weather trying to figure out what to do. There was nothing to do. Jonzie you fool! In the blink of an eye they rejoined their mothers plowing through the electrified netting with much commotion. In the whole process they all lost their ear-tags. Now their ears look like they escaped from a butcher shop.
So there, lambs 1 - Jonzie 0, although a 4-0 would probably be more appropriate.

Friday, 3 May 2013

This, that and the other.

Wow, t'was a busy week this one! For those who asked in the comments (I am sorry I never get to reply), Moro is a dear friend from Italy and he has been the first one to visit me here in Ireland. He was very well impressed with the farm and the things we achieved so far, took hilarious pictures of me running after some not-collaborating sheep (I will never post them) and managed to do quite a bit of site seeing. All of this in great, warm and sunny weather. Lucky bastard. Many thanks to Tom who showed us around in Cork! It was very nice of him and we had a great time.
Laura also visited and she took back Cleo. It was nice to have Cleo around again, first two weeks were paradise, then they started to fall into their old patterns and it became more difficult. The important thing is that Cleo is very happy to be back with Laura, as soon as she came back she was a different dog!

Luckily the grass has started to grow, it was a late spring this year and I was a bit worried because I lost half of the last bale of haylage because of mold. Tomorrow I'll separate the first 4 lambs and bring them to some nice young grass. They have been eating grass for the past 2 weeks and some creep feed through the creep feeder I made (which almost killed one of them!).
The milking stand is almost ready and so I believe in a few days I'll be starting to make some cheese!
Little Fecker has been enjoying the grass of the mobile home site for the past few days and seeing him out of the window fills me with happiness. I love the ram, he has a very sweet character (so far) and walks with you happily on the leash. I have to keep him tied to a post because I fear he'll take off after the ladies but he's happy with the arrangement and being on grass must be enough for him.
We are also getting a quote for the lane which is in terrible condition after the winter rains, and we are also getting an electric connection and a loft for the stable.
I managed to cut and stack a load of oak wood for next winter just before the rain started and tomorrow I will move the three bales of concrete block still lying in the stable, weather permitting.
So I feel like I've done plenty but not enough and there is still plenty to be done as usual. Off with my evening beer now and, if the connection is good enough, an episode of "Murder she wrote"! Yes I admit, I am a sucker for Jessica Fletcher.

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