Friday, March 4, 2011

The Kid Who Walks Through Walls

The reason for those two fleeting days of Mongolian cheesemaking experiments is getting big and strong fast. We may never have another chance to make eezgii -- which is a little sad because I think I screwed it up on the first try. Do not let your eezgii hang for more than two hours, and unless you want your bosgooson uurag sweet and super-mild, add the salt while heating the colostrum. Now back to the kiddy ...

Chiquita may have been a little early and weak to start but she is a bouncy healthy girl now. This morning I decided to let everyone out while the weather was nice. Ish. In less than an hour Joy (the mom) was happily browsing in the front pasture with the other two goats -- not a care in her world -- and ... there was no kid to be seen. Also no bleating.

I assigned my trusty assistant Gromit -- whoops, Ronan -- to go find Chi. Which she did fairly soon. Chi had probably popped under the pasture gate, crossed the foyer pasture to the milking parlor and had wedged herself between the wall and the hay bales and gone to sleep. Only problem being that she could walk through the pallet walls without much effort and then be out in the dog-patrolled area. So before we could have another at-risk kid knocking about the place I let the dogs out the front door and the kids in the back door and everyone home at the time time had a nice little snuggle session with Chi until it was time to pull Joy off the pasture before she ate too much too-fresh grass.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bosgooson uurag, and while we're at it, gloria palletorum

The wee nanny baby is standing on her own four feet. The bosgooson uurag is hanging to drain and I found that by the time it self-curdled (whey cool! self-curdling cheese!) it had reached pasteurization temperatures, which was good because milking in Joy's stall instead of the milking stand presents some challenges. Here is a picture of the bosgooson uurag (remember to put two dots above all four "o's" -- and let me know if you know how to pronounce that).

And a bonus picture that Ronan took some time back of morning light from the front door. I'm calling it Gloria Palletorum -- the glory of the pallets.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

As eezgii as pie -- what to do with colostrum

Joy's udder is huge and she only has one dinky kid. So why waste the colostrum? I started looking around for colostrum cheeses and found these two handy recipes from a vastly cool website promoting Mongolian nomadic life. I'm going to try the bosgooson uurag first and then the less easy eezgii. For the curious this website is detailed and involved and goes far beyond dairy products -- but probably exceptionally handy if you keep Bashkir ponies for dairy purposes. Or camels.

Here are the recipes:

Bösgöösön uurag

The colostrum secreted for a few days after parturition. This milk has a high protein content and produces a thick, cheese-like substance when heated, which can be sliced and eaten. The colostrum is collected in a special container, which is then suspended in a pot of water that is heated to a boil, taking care that the boiling water does not spill into the container of milk. The milk can also be heated by steaming. The resulting product has a sweet flavour.

Uurgiin eezgii

Eezgii made from the colostrum of cows, sheep or goats. The colostrum is boiled and caused to separate, then continued to be heated until the whey has been boiled off.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to work

I haven't written much about writing in this blog allegedly about writing and rural living. Today, though, I go back to my fourth day at my new job (more on that later -- or not) and back to co-teaching the creative writing elective at the alternative high school. This term we're doing poetry. After feeling actively thwarted and nearly defeated by -- uh, hmmmm -- certain processes within the school system, I am gathering up a little emotional momentum as I pack the books Olive and I will need for the class. Whether we get much writing done is one thing, but we will get some "enrichment" in.

The plan for today is for the students to each write a catalogue poem. AKA, a list poem. Part of the rhythm and structure is provided by this repeating phrase:

If I were a _________,
I'd be a _______________,
because __________________________.

The first two parts is where exploration comes in as I have brought in books on native plants; horses; birds; art by Michelangelo, Brueghel, and Goya; Chinese characters; saltwater fish; knots and splices; mushrooms; and weather. We will also wing it without books on such possibilities as tools, geometric shapes, land forms, architectural structures....

The "because" part is where the students work on "unpacking". I've noticed that the teens have a tendency to compress all their thinking and description into single words that are often so general as to convey no significant meaning. Words like: awesome, cool, hella.

If someone writes:

If I were a mushroom,
I'd be an amanita muscaria,
because they're so awesome!

That doesn't really tell you much about what's going on in the writer's head or even anything identifying about the mushroom if you don't know it. (But, yes, this species is a favorite among high school writers.)

But if someone writes,

If I were a rock,
I'd be malachite.
It emits a poison gas when cut -- don't mess with me!

That at least is telling you a little something about the rock but also about the state of mind of the writer. (It also shows the writer how s/he can play with the suggested rhythm of the poem, breaking it and reintroducing it, to manipulate and maintain attention.)

But -- wow! time is getting on and for now, I gotta go let the ducks out, milk the goats, and head off to work.