Australian enquiry book of household and general information/The Dairy



NEARLY every farmer or farmer's wife in the bush has his or her own pet notion about this matter. One thinks underground places the best, another prefers it above ground. One says they should be built of stone or brick, his neighbour will prefer a lattice work building. I may say that I have tried a great many ideas from the most primitive to the most elaborate, and I am inclined to think that everything depends on the climate. I dare say few people have heard of a "portable dairy." The idea was my own I think, at least I never heard of anyone else trying it till after I published mine. It will only answer where there is not very much milk, unless you make a very large one. Mine was made of a huge packing case with shelves that would slip in and out to hold the dishes, doors back and front, and holes bored in doors and sides too, to allow the air to get through. This box (or dairy) I placed in the heart of the scrub where it could not get any sun, but plenty of air and shade. To prevent the dust getting through I pasted muslin inside. It answered well, and during a very hot summer I never had to boil my house milk once. Of course a place of this kind must be kept perfectly clean and sweet, which is easily done by scrubbing frequently. A good plan is to throw a couple of buckets of water into it and all over the shelves just before setting the milk.


Broad flat ribs, and far enough apart to let you lay two fingers between them, skin loose and flabby over the flank, veins under the belly large and prominent, broad between the eyes, bright prominent eyes, neck clean and thin, backbone strong, pelvic arch high, and hams thin, to allow of the udder being large, tail long and slim. The udder should extend well back and in front, and be soft and flabby when milked out, and when full, of wedge shape and powerful looking.


At two years of age you will find a wrinkle at the base of the cow's horns, but it is not fully developed till she turns three. When five years old another wrinkle will form, and after five she will get a new one each year of her life. So her age can be told in this way.


Many families buy a cow to supply the family with milk. Where there is a good town common or plenty of green pasturage on the outskirts of the town, the custom is to turn her out directly after milking in the morning, and either trust to her coming home to be fed at night, or else going or sending for her. A cow will not come home unless she is fed regularly, or she has a young calf at home to come to. But when a cow is bought for the purpose of supplying milk, it is wisest to get rid of the calf as soon as possible, as then you have less trouble, and all the milk. And it generally pays to feed a good cow if there are many young children in the family to benefit by the milk. You will not only get more by feeding, but it will be richer. But there is a vast difference in feeding, and a cow kept only for her milk should be fed to supply it. If she has access to plenty of grass, twice a day, that is, night and morning will be often enough to feed her, and then give a bucketful of warm water with two or three quarts of bran or light meal of some kind in it. Green sugar cane is excellent for a milking cow, especially if mollasses is cheap enough for you to use with it. The milking cows of the sugar plantations are often fed upon this, and do very well. A cow which has no calf must be milked quite dry, not a drop left. Brewer's grains are good food for milch cows, they are not fattening, but will make milk. They are also good for young growing pigs, and for poultry.


First and foremost, a hint that every man who milks a cow should bear in mind is never to make her afraid of him. A cow that is frightened, worried, or fretted in the least never does her best. She becomes nervous and irritable, however good tempered she may naturally be. The system of bailing up with a huge stick in the hand is bad, and the man who strikes the cow when trying to bail up, or for restlessness in the yard or bail, if he be a hired servant should be at once discharged, as he will do more harm than good for the master who engaged him. It sounds a strange thing to say, nevertheless it is true, that there is, or should be, sympathy between the milker and his cow, and undoubtedly a good milker is always in sympathy with his beasts.

If the cow is restless and uncomfortable in the bail, don't scold or become impatient with her, but try and find out the cause. See if the bail is comfortable and not too small, if her udder or teats are sore, if she is standing in slush or filth—this last is always a cause of unrest, for the reason that it irritates and stings the feet, and will often make the cow kick. If you doubt this try it yourself by taking off boots and shoes and standing in it for a minute or two.

Don't illuse the calves, make pets of them if you can, and don't starve them. Remember that your calves will be next year's cows, and unless healthy and well grown they will not make good milkers.


I will only give a few hints on this subject, as since travelling dairies have been instituted most people who have farms or anything to do with milk or cheese have taken lessons, so I will give but a short description of the process, though I may say that I have made and seen made very excellent cheese with only a bush press—made with a log for a lever.

In cheese making the evening's milk is mixed with that of the next morning, the whole being cooled to a temperature of 60° F. Then before adding the rennet a small quantity is heated over the fire and added to the rest to bring the temperature up to 85° Two square inches of rennet will be enough to make 60 lbs. of cheese if it is good, and it should be soaked in water some little time beforehand. The tub or vessel containing the milk should then be covered to keep in the heat, and left till the curd forms into a mass, if the curd is ready for breaking, it will cut clean when anything is dipped into it. Now break it up with a knife and let the whey be drained off and heated to 103 degrees, and poured back over the curd and left for a few minutes, then again drained off. Now place the curd in a cloth, squeeze the whey out, and then break it up fine in the hands if you have no machine. To every 4 lbs. of curd allow 1 oz. of salt. It is now ready to be divided into quantities for cheeses, placed in the cloths, then into the moulds, and lastly pressed till all the moisture is squeezed from the cheese. The cheeses should remain in press a week at least, being turned every day. On the third day a piece of thin calico is neatly and tightly bound round and pressed into the sides in the press. When taken from the press, after about nine days, the cheese should be placed in a well ventilated room to dry, and they must be turned every day, and occasionally rubbed over with butter to keep the flies and insects from attacking them. In three months, according to the climate, the cheese will be ready to use or sell. From eleven to twelve gallons of milk will make 1 lb. of cheese.


As a rule the cream should be churned two or three times a week, but much depends upon the weather. In small dairies where only a few pounds of butter are made each week, the cream should be kept in a cool dry place, and a few hours before churning it should be mixed up well, and if very cold stand the basin it is in in warm, water to heat the cream to the right temperature. Cows fed on hay and ordinary grass make the best butter. Turnips are good in moderation.


When the butter comes from the churn, and is prepared for the market, roll it in muslin cloths in cylindrical form in 1 lb. and 2 lb. parcels or rolls, and place them all when made up in a wooden tub containing strong brine with a little saltpetre in it. Let the brine cover the parcels of butter, the cloths will prevent anything from getting into them. If the butter maker does this she can keep her butter till she has a fair quantity to sell, as the brine keeps it perfectly fresh and sweet.


In the hot weather it is well nigh impossible to keep butter at all firm, but the following plan will do if any will:—Dissolve about half a teaspoonful of saltpetre in a medium sized milk dish or basin. In this place the jar or basin containing the butter with a clean square of calico or muslin over it, allowing the corners to hang down into the water. Keep this in a cool dark place, and change the water every second day.


Rinse all dairy utensils in cold water before scalding them, and again after.

Always use a thermometer, as the churn and the cream must be kept at a temperature of 56° to 58° degrees in summer, and 60° in winter.

Ventilate the churn freely and often while churning.

From 40 to 45 revolutions a minute is the right speed to keep up while churning.

When working butter with the hands have a basin of hot water by you in which to dip them now and then, this will prevent the butter sticking to them.