Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crazy like a fox...or more appropriately...the joys of a cream separator!

Okay, call me crazy (and by now I'm sure most people think I am!), but I've been having the time of my life these past few months re-learning some old things and trying out some new "old" things, most of which involve a little bit of intensive work! Illness and diagnosis' has a tendency to do one of two things: make you change your way of thinking or make you want to give up. I don't care much for giving up, so the changing was just a no brainer for me. Now obviously, not everyone would go to quite the extreme in the changing as I'm attempting to do, but like I said, I find it all fun and sometimes the biggest boost to a person's health is just all in how you mentally perceive it! I do believe there is a lot of truth in the statement "laughter is the best medicine"...I think it goes hand in hand with "there is joy in the doing". I've just been pretty "joyful" here lately!! ;)

In a previous post I wrote about my excitement in getting enough cream from my goat's milk to produce was heaven...seriously!  That led to me thinking (which can sometimes be dangerous!)...if I had one of those cream separators how much more cream could I get? And being the sometimes extremely frugal person that I am, that followed with the brain blips of cost effectiveness. I'm not one to just go buy something just has to have a reason and a purpose and most of those reasons involve dollars and cents! ;) If I can't make it profitable (in terms of use for my family) then it doesn't happen, no matter how much I may want to try it. So in order to determine that profitability, I started on a search to find out....and that's what I've been doing for the past two weeks...finding out!

I did the usual internet search...Google, Amazon, Ebay, ect. Read various blogs of those who have gone before me, some who use a separator, some who don't, and weighed out the pros and cons. The first thing I learned was that separators are NOT cheap, however, there are foreign companies who do make and sell  fairly reasonable models. Having no experience whatsoever in the area of cream separating though, I wasn't sold on the idea of a foreign model, even though there were many who recommended them. So my reading and research continued throughout the days and I had pretty much come to the conclusion it wasn't going to be within my reach...more so that I didn't want to take the chance of having wasted money! And then came a miracle....okay, so it wasn't miraculous, but it WAS a very joyful moment!!!!

When picking up my milk a couple weeks ago I was relating my thoughts to my "milk lady" about trying to retrieve the cream, getting my first round of goat butter, and all my excitement in that. While I know all of this news was old hat to her, she had the patience of a saint listening to me rattle on about my experience. And then, with the hint of a smile beginning to form, she says to me, "did you know my husband is the cream separator man of the world?" What??!! Noooo!! She places my poured milk back into the cooler and goes off in search of her husband! A new adventure was about to begin!!

'...In the world of long ago, man made a machine that would separate cream from milk, and he determined it was good...' From that first machine, came others, the manual crank type, to the manual/electric, to the all electric. There were floor models and table tops, ones for major production, and ones for the lowly one cow farmstead and thankfully...some of those are still around today! And one of those has now made it's way to my kitchen!

Bless these folks with their patience and endurance, along with their willingness to let me trial this thing to see if it was even something I wanted to get in to. With only a crash course in operation, I loaded my separator into the car, along with my weekly two gallons of milk, and headed home ready to "play"! I couldn't have been happier! Once home, I waited impatiently for the hubs to get there after work in order to bolt this thing down to may be considered a table top model but this thing was going to require some steadfastness with that cast iron base! Enter my trestle sewing machine table, turned plant stand! It also has a cast iron base...perfect!! Hubs bolts it down, I put my parts all together, warm my milk, and pour it in! Since the hubs gets almost as excited as I do over these things (yeah, we're weird that way!), he wanted to be the cranker! ;) So he's cranking away, building up the speed, and I turn the valve. I get all giddy watching as the milk begins to run out the spout and into the bowl and turn my attention to the cream spout...and then...I feel it....splatters on my foot!! We both look down at the same time to see milk running out the side onto the kitchen floor....WHOA!!! That's not supposed to happen!! Hubs quits cranking, I'm grabbing towels, and we're both trying to figure out what we have close at hand to stop up the hole this stuff is running out of! I stand with my finger jammed against the hole, while he runs to the shop to find a plug...nothing fits that stops the incessant dripping! So we switch places...he plugs the hole with his finger while I quickly ladle the milk out of the bowl....strike one!!

A quick call to my separator man reveals I have a faulty O-ring, easily fixed...not to fear, all is well! Two days later, with O-ring replaced and water run through so as not to lose  more milk, I have a working separator! Once again I warm the milk, pour it in the bowl and begin to crank...I was on my own this time because I was too impatient to wait for hubs and he was otherwise in engaged! ;) Milk begins to run and I wait for the cream...and then I wait some more...and wait some more...where's my cream? I see a slight trickle start, watch it last a few seconds, and then stop...ohhhhh the disappointment.....strike two!! Not really knowing whether I should do this or not, I run the milk back through...get a little more trickle and stop. I stop, not only in frustration, but because my arm has give out with all that cranking and I've worked up a good sweat!! I determine it is not wise to keep running the milk back through and begin the process of taking the thing apart for clean up. As I remove the top portion and reveal the cream spout I see, wonder of all wonders...CREAM!! Heavy, THICK, thick and heavy in fact it couldn't go through the spout! It is about this time I get a call from my separator man to find out how things are going and I tell him my dilemma. This voice of experience tells me..."you're cranking too fast"!! Well, that would certainly explain the loss of the use of my arm for about 15 minutes!! Apparently, in my over exuberance to pull that cream out, my speed was such that I was practically on the verge of butter!

And once again, bless their hearts, they tell me to come get more milk and try it again! While there getting my milk they've set me up a demonstration with their own machine, so I can "see" the process and what to look for and expect...these are good people! They send me off with two more gallons of milk and the understanding they will continue to supply me with milk at no cost until I can get it figured out, we argue that fact, and I lost the argument...again....very good people!!!!

It is with much happiness that I can relate in this post, I finally got my cream!! Not as much as I had hoped for, but certainly more than I could have possibly skimmed and I have no doubts, with a little more playing, I will actually increase that amount...ohhh the joy! The picture is not an indicator of my amount, this was actually what I got off of what was left of our drinking gallon in the fridge and the pan full of milk is what was waiting to go in. From my newest two gallons I basically got a full cup of cream per gallon, which is not bad for a first full try...I have hopes I will be able to produce pretty close to a full quart with a little more experimenting. This should equate to about a pound of butter and at $4 a pound for store bought "so called real" butter, and even more if a person was to buy organic and/or Amish butter, I'm starting to see the financial benefits. Adding to that is the milk left to drink, which is also $4 a gallon for store bought and then there's the cheese that can be made from the extras, also running pretty close to $4 a pound depending on the type. By my calculations I'm ahead $4 already, since I pay that amount per gallon of goat milk! With the cost of my separator being only $75 I feel like it's not only justifiable, but it will be more than profitable for our eating habits.

Is it work? Yep, sure is...not only in the cranking, but in the clean up afterwards, however, it's the joy in the doing that is just priceless! I realize not everyone would find this type of experimenting fun...not too many would even care to go to all the trouble it's taken me to get to the end result of butter, but it's seriously enjoyment for me. I've always liked to learn new things and I've always been curious as to how things work or how they're done, so just the trying makes it fun for me. But you can't help but get a sense of accomplishment in setting down to a meal at your table knowing that everything you're about to consume was grown, made, and/or produced by your own two hands! Whether doing any of those things makes a difference to anyone else, doesn't matter...whether it makes a difference to you DOES! It's been a long standing theme of this modern society we live in that we should "do whatever makes you happy"...well, these are the things that make me happy! Some folks might call you crazy, but crazy or not, you might just find a little..."joy in the doing"!! :)


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