We are warm again! After a week with no primary heat (our wood stove), our roof finally cleared enough to have a chimney sweep out to look at the smoke problem. They cleaned the creosole blockage at the very tip top of our chimney and within minutes we were able to build a fire!
Dan’s takeaway? We need a 28′ extension ladder to access the roof and clean it himself again this fall. :/ Nevertheless, we are WARM now! The temps above 0 degrees obviously help, too, but we are incredibly grateful to be toasty again!
Other than the return of heat, it’s been a pretty quiet week around here. We sent in more milk for testing this month since we like to keep close tabs on herd health & milk cleanliness, especially in winter. We use Summit Laboratory in Grand Rapids for some of our testing, AntelBio Lab in East Lansing for pathogen testing (like we did last month) and Universal Labs in East Lansing for component testing (fat, protein, etc.) Each lab specializes in either herd health or food safety, which is why we use a combination of them – all of the data is important information to us and useful in different ways. Below are our January lab results, with explanations.
- Our Results: 300 cfu/mL
- Desired Range: Less than 1,000 cfu/mL
- What this is: an indicator of the level of bacteria growing in an aerobic environment (exposed to oxygen) and a mesophilic temperature (medium range). Generally, an indication of how sanitary the equipment and general conditions are. Directly tells us the number of bacterial colonies living in a product.
Total Coliform Count
- Our Results: 30 cfu/mL
- Desired Range: <50 cfu/mL
- What this is: another indication of sanitation and the number of pathogens/bacterial colonies present in a product. This looks more at fecal contamination, which creates the environment for strains of e. coli, staph, etc. to flourish. In the State of Michigan, the limit for milk transported in bulk cooling tanks is 100 cfu/mL for raw milk. Once the milk is pasteurized, the required coliform level is 10 cfu/mL.
Somatic Cell Count
- Our Results: 31,000 DMSCC/mL
- Desired Range: <200,000 per mL
- What this is: an indicator of white blood cell count, which shows is an infection is present in the cow (and thus the milk). Mostly, we’re looking for a mastitis, which is a combination of poor health and poor hygiene of the cow, and the milking/living environment. Levels higher than 200,000 indicate the presence of an infection and somatic cell count is by far the best indicator of over all milk quality – from its ability to keep fresh for long periods of time to how good it tastes and how well it can be made into other dairy products.
- In Michigan, somatic cell count levels for Grade A milk must be < 1,000,000 per mL – levels this high guarantee that milk from cows with mastitis (and the accompanying pus & blood from the infection) is being used and put on shelves. Of course, pasteurization kills pretty much everything so you’re only left with the dead sludge that’s homogenized into the milk.
If you’re curious about the MDARD requirement for dairy processing, here’s the PDF: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mda/MilkProducersProcessorGuide_215087_7.pdf
With the end of January approaching quickly, we are finalizing plans for this season including feed prices with our local non-GMO grower and quantities of each product we’re able to produce with our operating budget. We should have final prices for our 2015 season products out soon.
We also selling off our laying flock this week since they are nearing the end of their productive life and most are going through molt right now. With the sub-zero temps its been nearly impossible to collect any non-frozen and intact eggs that haven’t been cracked within minutes from the cold. We plan to buy in started pullets in early spring to restart our 100% non-GMO egg laying flock. For the time being, we’ll hopefully have enough eggs to supply our family’s needs but not any for sale for a few weeks. We are very sorry for the inconvenience!