Milk Milk every where, yesterday we got together with our Dutch neighbours and armed with large quantities of fresh milk, our cream separator, their cream separator, and the guests staying in their holiday cottage. We inherited our cream separator with the house and it is in excellent condition. It was a wonderful opportunity to try it out. Having got it spinning at speed milk was poured into the large bowl and the tap opened - wow we were all covered in milk. Out came the other one to compare and we found that ours was missing a vital bolt which holds the conical disks in place.
Not to be deterred we assembled the other one and started again. Litres of milk were poured into the top bowl and milk gushed out of one spout and then amazingly cream started to pour slowly out of the other - a rich thick cream - it was working. All the men got involved with the spinning of the handle and the topping up with milk and the collecting of the skimmed milk. There were the usual jokes about how many men does it take to separate 35 litres of milk.... 3 men and 3 women. We had great fun despite us being covered in milk and the floor awash with it too.
This morning the fun continued when we assembled to churn the cream in to butter. We now know why farming families had so many children, as we all took a turn at swing the handle.
Two hours later - about two kilos of butter was ready - possibly the most expensive butter ever produced considering the man hours involved but never mind it was a good experience and we all learned a lot from it. Next time will be easier - we hope.
We also had a day on the coast this week. We went to the small village of St Jean le Thomas, situated on the bay of the Mont St Michel between Avranches and Granvilles. We collected some cockles as we walked on the beach then had a good lunch in the Hotel des Bains. One day we will remember to take our foraging gear with us - bucket and rake etc., anyway we improvised with a large handkerchief tied into a bag to hold the cockles and oysters we found. On the way home we stopped off on the off change of finding some family friends at their house. We spent a pleasant hour or so catching up on the news with Allan. We ate our cockles and oysters for supper along with a salad of garden delights.
The garden continues to feed us well. I started to harvest the carrots - and as well as being tasty they also have amusing shapes. As the summer comes to a close I am surprised by how much we have grown, broad beans, peas, carrots, beetroot, red onions, garlic, swiss chard, potatoes, courgettes, blueberries, radishes, rocket and lettuces. The aubergines are still growing bigger everyday, the butternut squash are starting to ripen. Another crop of peas is heading skywards and the late crop of runner beans are in full flower. The leeks continue to get bigger and there are second crops of beetroot and carrots. The jerusalem artichokes have grown well as usual and have been trimmed down a couple of times to keep them under control.