Family Cow Workshops at Local Farm in Cornwall, CT

Local Farm offers workshops throughout the year on the care and keeping of a family cow in cooperation with the non-profit Motherhouse, Inc.

At the workshops, you will:

• Try your hand at milking.
• Learn about finding, feeding, housing, fencing, breeding, and caring for your cow.
• Make butter, soft cheese & ice cream.
• Go home with a slew of recipes and resources.

The workshops are on Saturdays, from 10 am to 1 pm at Local Farm in Cornwall Bridge, CT. Cost is $35/person or $50/family (up to 4 members). For more information and to register, call (860) 672-0229 or register on-line. The Keeping a Family Cow Workshops scheduled during 2017 are:

• June 10, 2017
• September 23, 2017

You may also be interested in our Family Cow Forum on February 25, 2017 or in visiting our photo collection from past Family Cow Workshops.

Excerpts from Margaret’s Report on a Keeping a Cow Workshop

8 keep a cowSaturday, September 12, 2009
[after milking the cow…]
We took a little bit of the fresh warm milk (milk comes out of the cow at about one hundred degrees F the perfect temperature for making cheese and yogurt) poured it into a quart glass jar and added about two tablespoons of yogurt mixed it up and then filled the jar the rest of the way with the warm milk. It then needs to be kept warm over night. An oven with a pilot light works well. Debra says “this particular batch has been going for over two years now. When I have to start a new culture Dannon yogurt works the best…

11 keep a cow…Next Debra brought out a bucket of milk that had been sitting out at room temperature for two days so the cream had risen to the top and gone slightly sour. To skim the cream off the top we used a cup by pushing the bottom of the cup down and letting the cream slip over the edge. Not scooping out the cream just letting it slip over the edge. When the skim milk begins to show through the cream when you lift your cup out it looks like blue swirls. Then we poured the cream into an old fashioned daisy butter churn and cranked it as fast as possible trading off when the cranker got tired. As the cream is agitated the fat globules bump in to each other and latch on to one another and get bigger and bigger until you have butter!…

Margaret  has been helping lead Family Cow workshops since she was seven years old  and wrote this report at age 14.  Visit the Motherhouse blog for her full report.

Ken’s Report on an August Keeping a Cow Workshop

Ken McCarthy, formerly of San Francisco and now of Tivoli, was an early pioneer of the movement to commercialize the Internet. His great-grandfather Patrick McCarthy was a dairy farmer in East Jewett in Greene County, New York. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Andrew Paretti, started his working life delivering milk to Manhattan residents with a horsedrawn wagon. Ken thinks the revival of local milk production in the Hudson Valley is more interesting and important than anything going on in cyberspace and attended one of our workshops. Here’s his report:

We had a small, but enthusiastic group which included Debra Tyler’s young daughter Margaret who served ably as co-instructor. The weather was lovely after such a hot, dry summer. The sky was overcast with a fine misty rain.
…..One thing we learned right away was that weather has a big effect on pasture and the summer’s weather has reduced the productivity of the pasture. Since Debra’s herd is largely pasture-fed, she has reduced her herd to adjust to the changed circumstances.
Class began with a walk in the pasture visiting with the cows and learning about their habits. Debra’s herd is made up a Jersey cows, a very peaceful and agreeable type of cow.
Interestingly, Debra does not own the land the farm is on. The 20 acre field which makes up the core of the pasture is made available to her by three land-owning neighbors for free. The additional 80 acres that the farm draws on for hay are on free loan from an another fifteen land owners. A community venture.
…..The farm is beautifully sited and lies in the hollow of a grass-green bowl surrounded by a rim of multi-layered hills.
…..After visiting with the cows in the pasture, we tried our hands at milking them. I now know why my great-grandfather had such huge forearms in the old family photos we have of him. Milking a cow by hand is a serious workout. When you get the hang of it – practice makes perfect – it takes about 20 minutes to milk a cow. He milked several, twice a day, every day by hand.
…..Milking is a cooperative effort between the cow and her keeper. Calm, focus and awareness help the process go most smoothly.
…..We learned that the cow, with its four digestive chambers, is uniquely gifted in the art of converting grass to milk – a miraculous process when you think about it.
After milking, we turned our attention to working with the milk itself. One project was making butter which involved learning to skim cream off the top of a pot full of fresh milk. Debra pointed out there are machines that skim cream and make butter, but with the time it takes to set them up and then break them down and wash them, you can get the job done by hand just as fast.
…..Butter is best churned at 68 degrees. The result of 20 minutes hand churning (a shared task) was a globe of sun-golden butter floating in a sea of buttermilk. Butter is best consumed right after it’s been churned. (To preserve it you must thoroughly wash all the buttermilk out of it and salt it.)
…..We also made ice cream, observed the process for making yogurt, and made a kind of fresh cheese called vinegar cheese with apple cidar vinegar.
…..Then we ate. Heaven on earth is sitting at a picnic table; watching cows you’ve spent some time getting to know; and eating fresh butter, fresh cheese, fresh yogurt, and finishing it all off with fresh vanilla ice cream.
Hope to see you next time.
Best, Ken McCarthy