Monday 14 January 2019

Dairy workshop at The Farm

The trip to The Farm was looked forward to as the kids knew that they may see a lot of animals and had expectations to pet them. 

But the surprise came when we reached there and were informed that every kid will milk the cow today.  Oh! What an experience eliciting mixed emotions of fear and joy at the same time. 

We met Shalini and Arun who gave us an overview about the day's activities.  We were then led by Arun who explained to us the routine at the farm and as all his cows had gone to graze we were glad that one cow was kept so we could milk the cow.  First the calf was allowed to drink the milk and then every child had the opportunity to milk the cow, the only caution being not to go too close to the hind legs as the cow may kick if she gets startled.

We were then to witness the making of paneer and Mr. Arun patiently answered all questions as they came down by buckets.  How many liters of milk is produced in a day, how is the milk put to use, how much of paneer is made with what quantity of milk, how is the paneer used, what if there is excess of milk, is there a shortfall of milk, how do they manage all the day to day functions, etc. 

Finally, around 16 liters of milk was collected and we saw how fresh paneer was made by adding vinegar which elicited the inquisitive mind of the children.  Again after all questions were satisfactorily answered we had the opportunity to experience the transcendent taste of fresh paneer.  

We then moved on to the main restaurant where Shalini was to brief us about other things.

We were gathered around a huge table and we saw two pots placed there.  Now it was time to churn butter from fresh cream.  One child held the pot while another churned the pot with cool cream in it.  They took turns to churn vigorously hoping to see the magical transition of cream to butter.  The pot was passed around the second time for churning and then within a few minutes we saw the cream thicken.  Then Shanti akka churned vigorously and Voila! there was butter.  We were reminded by Shalini about the tongue twister Betty Butter had some butter…… and she told that the butter thus churned may be slightly bitter and needs to be washed with water and so we saw the butter being washed two or three times with water and all water drained. 

We then were presented with a pot of thick yogurt to taste and it just melted in our mouth tantalizing our taste buds.   Shalini then went on to explain to us about cow and buffalo milk and their difference and about the ghee that is made from it moving to further explain the process of making cheese using Rennet and the different types of cheese and aging of cheese. 

She mentioned that Rennet is used to make yogurt in packaged yogurt while at home culture or yogurt starter is used to make it and it is a probiotic. 

We again tasted mozzarella cheese with its sublime taste lingering in our mind.  We learnt about cheddar cheese, blue cheese where Penicillium culture is injected into the cheese, parmesan cheese, and the oldest cheese being the Monterey jack.  We were given the different cheese to hold and feel their texture.  Having learnt all of that we were to return back to school but we had a surprise blessing come our way.

As we were getting ready to leave, we saw a set of ornithologists at another table chatting.  They walked to us and asked us if we would be interested in seeing a sleeping Indian Sops owl on a nearby tree which they had photographed and had focused on their spotting periscope.  We all took turns to look at the owl on the periscope and then spotted it on a branch sleeping.  They also showed us a picture of the paradise flycatcher they had spotted early in the morning and briefed us about the difference between the male and female bird.  Now it was indeed time to head back to school.

- Naqeeb Sultana

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