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ing at all that she cannot do as she could fifty years ago, when, a ruddy lass of twenty, she was first hired by my grandmother in the
I believe, if I could make Susan understand that I was pretending to print in a book any part of the business of the dairy or henhouses, she would think the subject as much beyond my knowledge as I consider natural philosophy to be above hers. As I am quite certain she will never read my writings, I will venture to proceed with the best information possess.
I suppose I need not say that the material, the management of which makes the business of the dairy, is milk. This kindly and healthful fluid, the benign sustenance of the infant from its birth, and, in one form or another, of man in all periods of his life, is produced by
various animals in quantity sufficient to afford to their possessors an important measure of their food. That of cows is chiefly used in England, as being more palatable, and better adapted for those changes into solid forms, which we require in butter and in cheese. It is the process of transformation into those substances of which I am now to speak.
The oily and thicker parts of milk naturally separate, on being left undisturbed for some time. The cream, as we then call it, forms a yellow coat at the top, which is easily skimmed off and placed in separate vessels: but this, without further operations, would never become either butter or cheese. To make butter, a violent mechanical agitation is necessary; to accomplish which, various simple machines, called churns, have been invented. I believe the oldest sort used in England is
the common upright churn; consisting of a high narrow tub, with a stick, or stirrer, passing through the lid. To the lower end of this stick is fastened a flat round board, not quite so wide as the diameter of the churn: this is the beater; and, being moved rapidly up and down, will in time make good butter.
But the best and most expeditious churn is in the form of a barrel, supported on a frame, and whirled round and round by a winch. The time required for the continuance of this motion, before the butter comes, as they say, varies much, according to the nature of the milk and the management of it, from one hour to half a day. When sufficiently formed, the butter is taken out, and pressed with great care, to get rid of the remaining fluid, called butter-milk, which would soon turn it sour. Such as is intended for present use, or sale, is
called fresh butter, and formed into moulds, measures, or lengths, according to the custom of the county. In and near London, it is sold in lumps, by the pound; in other parts, in portions named from fluid measures, as pints and quarts of butter. Go a little farther, and you must ask for half a yard, or a yard, of butter, according to your need.
Salt butter is packed in firkins, and pickled, or salted, to preserve it for a length of time. Many tricks are played by dishonest persons in this business to increase the apparent weight, or bulk, and to impose a bad article for a good one. Sometimes it is packed hollow, with water between; or bad butter is placed within, and good just at the ends of the firkin. So much has been done in this way, that an act of parliament has been made expressly against it.
Epping and Dorset butter have each a name in the market; and vast quantities are sold as such, which could not possibly have been produced at those places. This commodity is a most important article of commerce; fifty thousand tons weight being annually consumed in London only.
Cheese is another form in which milk becomes manufactured into a substantial article of food, and, therefore, of trade. We make but little here, and none for sale; because our county is not famous for this article: nor, to say the truth, can we produce it of that mellow and flavoured quality which the Cheshire, Gloucestershire, and other dairies boast. The mere process is simple and easy enough. The milk is curdled—that is, the more solid parts are separated from the whey by a small quantity of a liquor, called rennet,