Friday, January 13, 2012

Milk & Butter

Getting back into the swing of things after an extended winter break is always easier when you start with a field trip! Before we took a break to celebrate Christmas and travel back to Iowa and Nebraska, Ellie was working on "C is for Cow". In that unit, we read a few books on farm animals, milking cows, and homogenizing and pasteurizing milk. One of the questions Ellie asked was: if cows eat green grass, why is their milk white? Ever wondered this? 

So to start back up with our schooling this week, we took a field trip to the Karges Farm (same place we went to study sunflowers last fall) and asked Mr. Marshall to show us how to milk a cow and the lovely Ms. Janice to teach us how to make butter from fresh cow's milk.  I tried to capture the process with this photo gallery: 

Step 1: We each took a turn of milking the cow and learning how to squeeze each udder. 

Step 2: The fresh milk must be filtered for anything that may have blown or fallen into the milk during the milking process. 

Step 3: Ms. Janice is showing Ellie how to skim the cream off the top for making whipped cream. 

Step 4: Mix the cream until it becomes "fluffy" and then add some sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. YUM!

Step 5: To make butter, we use the milk to churn until it becomes a grainy, solid consistency.  Here Abbie is churning the milk into butter until it is mostly hard. 

This particular instrument below was used at least 100 years ago to make butter! I can't imagine that kind of life. I feel blessed (and a bit spoiled!). 

Step 6: We pour out the remaining milk (now "buttermilk"), and remove the butter from the churn jar.

Step 7: The butter needs to be washed to clear it from any remaining milk or moisture. We just mix it up and work it over pretty good until the water is clear.

Step 8: Add some real salt and viola! It's butter!!!

Step 9: And just to be fancy, she even showed us how to use some old-time butter molds. Pretty, isn't it?!  

Total time from milking the cow to eating a beautiful pat of butter = 2 hours! What an amazing day and such fun for all of us. We all learned so much today ... makes me appreciate all that I have and humbles me to think about how "easy" I have it now compared to what life was like before store-bought goods and electronics. Such an important lesson for us today!

Thank you Ms. Janice and Mr. Marshall for a wonderful day on the farm!