Nov 1, 2010

"Tanks" a Lot!

Cheesemaking on the farm moves into high gear when the cows are taken out in the early summer.  That is because the very best tasting milk comes when they are out in the warm sun eating the natural grasses.  And the very best tasting milk makes the very best tasting cheeses.

All summer long they go out after the morning milking to whichever field has the best grazing (it rotates throughout the season) and they soak up the sun and eat up the grass or grönfoder until it is time to be milked again in the afternoon.

We had a great system going.  Maxie would bring them in from the field,  Gustav would hook them up, and I would do the milking.

Before the milking begins each udder has to be washed thoroughly with a soft cloth from a bucket of warm soapy water,

then the first few squirts of foremilk are expressed from each teat to clear any bacteria, and finally the udder is swabbed with an antibacterial wipe.  Only then can the milkers be put on.

Cleanliness in every aspect is critical to protect the health of the animals and to insure the production of fine cheese.  When we sent our milk samples away to be tested they came back with the highest quality grade and we want to maintain that standard. 

Our state of the art DeLaval filtration system is excellent. 
The milk is pumped directly from the cows into this glass receptacle in the adjacent milk room, passed through the filters and hoses, then piped by stainless steel tubing all the way from the main barn  to the cooling tanks in what was to be the "tank room". 

But as you can see from this picture, the "tank room" for the time being consisted of a temporary walled-off space at one end of the old machine hall, where we parked the cars. 
Not good. 
In the past Hans has been the soul of patience trying to make sure the milk was kept as clean as it must be while pumping it from the tanks out there into the dairy where the cheesemaking was taking place, but it was really difficult.
The picture above was taken shortly after the temporary wall was taken down as the decision had been made that an actual room must be constructed before any more cheesemaking could be done.  Hans had been balancing on pallets and scrubbing down equipment each time for hours on end, so before Manny left on his mission the work was started.
Footings were poured, insulation was put up and the permanent walls appeared almost magically with Hans, Manny and Gustav working together after school and on weekends. 

By the end of March, just before Manny left for the Missionary Training Center, the walls were up, the door was on, the floor heating and floor drain were installed, and they were able to pour the cement flooring.
You can see Manny and Gustav hard at it shovelling and spreading with the local cement contractor.

Fast forward to June... 

 With the cows out and Maxie to add another pair of hands the three guys started to bring in the tanks.

Hans drove and the boys balanced until they got the first one to the doorway, then they lifted it up and in!

The second one was larger, but went in even more smoothly.  They had it up where it was supposed to be and postioned perfectly with the pour spout over the drain channel.

And lastly, Maxie removed all the transport straps.
I thought it was quite an undertaking but they seemed to take it in stride.

We would have loved to have been able to tile the whole room before we moved any of the tanks in, but that will have to wait until the new cement floor has cured and dried for at least two months. 
We felt it was a great leap forward to have moved in the first two (of four total) and to have the room up and functioning and safe.
It made all of us feel better! 

Hans made his gorgeous and delicious cheeses all summer long. 
He said that having the tank room made a real difference to the already heavy workload.

And look at these beauties!

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