Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Witch aint so crafty


My consistent inability to make butter would have, at one time, been a great reason to lash me to a flag pole and roast marsh mallows by my blackened toes.

That's not going to happen... I don't think. I'm not mean and I don't have any warts on my face, although I do have a single hair that springs out now and again. You haven't noticed it because I pluck it often. I enjoy the moon, but I don't ride a broom, though I do seem to be spending an awful lot of time with it lately. And, unfortunately, I think bats are important.

The difficulty of buttering has piqued my curiosity and I found myself pouring over my new library of cow and cattle books to discover what was wrong. Nothing like a repeating failure to goad me in to finally reading the directions!

Here is what I discovered: February cream doesn't butter, but June cream does. Cream from a fresh cow butters, but cream from a cow over half way through her milk cycle doesn't. It's apparently about the size of the fat globules. Too big or too small and they won't butter. And the size is determined by juiciness of grass and duration of milking. AND...that's not all! I also read that getting butter is a random act of god, hence the burning of any woman who couldn't do it. I have no idea how Darigold sorts these things out.

We've got a September cow on her 6th month of milk, so fresh butter will not soon be spreading on my toast. She'll dry up before June and won't freshen again until Sept. We may never butter our buns on that schedule.

I've tried blenders, hand mixers and food processors, everything but the whole day with a stick and a long wooden barrel. I'm starting to follow the directions, what I've read of them anyway, as best I can.

I thought I'd have a leg up on all this. I thought that helping my grandpa with the cows and my mother's childhood on a dairy farm and my dad's youth spent milking a few cows for his enormous, non-Catholic, non-Mormon, absolutely-no-known-reason-it-was-so-big family. You'd think something would have trickled down the gene pool. Maybe I'd osmotized the farm. I hoped my childhood with steers just outside my bedroom window would have prepared me for a cow and her calf and their milk and all the milky endeavors thereof.

But, alas, none of it means anything except that I began this endeavor knowing what a cow actually looked like and that their eyes were juicy and listeny, ten times more soul-matey than a dogs. And their shit smelled familiar, homey even. My mom said it smelled like "money." I suppose my cow ownership is much like smoking for those who had parents that did: the odor of home, objectively offensive it may be but to me it smells like mom. Maybe that's what drew me out here, to put a bucket under a heifer and squeeze until the sun shines: the smell of a good home.

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