For the last 5 years Mr Fresh and I have had a dream to buy 5 acres of land in a pocket of Melbourne we love. We want to be able to create a beautiful family home and live as self sufficiently as possible, with the aim of working towards making some money from our little farm.
We have ended up in an entirely different part of Melbourne in a nice home, with space to grow a decent amount of our own produce. Other than being able to have a couple of chooks we really do not have the space or ideal location for any other farm animals. I feel fortunate to be able to have part of our dream in place and working well – until I met Debbie of Home Made Produce ……. now I have serious farm-lifestyle envy!!
Debbie’s family farm:
- Has a house cow called “Rosie” (plus a few others) and make all their own dairy products
- Debbie explained that they decided to get a house cow as they worked out the cost of dairy products for the family equated to $2,500 per year. A house cow would cost them $600 plus feed. Rosie produces at least 10 litres of milk per day. With the other cows there is up to 25 liters per day every day, except for about 6 weeks a year when a new calf is born. Debbie makes her own butter, cream, cheese, ice-cream and yoghurt from the milk.
- Has bees and grows a wide variety of produce
- They produces their own honey, sauces, jams, chutney They make enough for themselves and to sell.
- Swaps produce with their neighbours
- She exchanges some cheese with the neighbours for their olive oil
- Has sheep, chooks, recently added pigs, and has an Angus beef cow called “Hungry Jacks”
- Grows florist grade Orchids
- The farm gate is open to visitors each Saturday
For those readers who visit here often you will know that I have been progressively making more food from scratch this year. I do this because:
- I like to know what is in the food I eat and feed my children
- Most things can be made easily and more cheaply than purchasing them
- I am specific about the quality and origin of the ingredients I use
- There is less packaging involved
- I like to learn new things and find it satisfying to make things I have previously purchased
Next on my list of things to make was cheese. I really would like to know how to make hard cheese as it is something my family uses alot of.
Debbie Parsons runs a Gourmet Fetta and Sourdough Workshop at the farm and I called her to find out about her courses. She explained to me that it takes 1o litres of milk to make 1 kg of hard cheese. Hrumph!!! There goes that idea…..the cost of 10 litres of unhomogenized milk versus the cost of buying a kilo of cheese doesn’t add up (if you do not have a house cow).
So…. Debbie was lovely enough to invite me to come and learn to make fetta with her. I am thrilled that I did. We use a reasonable amount of fetta. I buy a good quality marinated fetta that I now can make myself very easily. Hooray, another thing I know how to make from scratch, and it equates to a saving on my food bill.
I learned that making fetta is very simple:
- Add the milk to a clean tub
- Stir in the culture
- Add water and rennet and leave overnight
- Drain the whey and place it into a jar to marinate with herbs and oil
If you live in the Melbourne area and are interested learning to make cheese and sourdough bread I encourage you to book into one of Debbie’s classes. You can even schedule a class on a day and time that suits you if you bring along 3 friends. You will leave the class with a full tummy, your own tub of fetta and cheese making supplies (including the rennet and culture), recipes, lots of know how and a memory of a great experience.
Some of the other things I have learned to make from scratch this year include:
- Dried Fruit
- Gnocchi – Pumpkin& Carrot, Spinach
- Baked Beans
- Chilli Jam
- Basil infused olive oil
- Icy Fruit Blocks
- Jam – Vanilla Peach, Feijoa
I am told that ricotta is also easy to make so that is next on my list. In the mean time one of those pictured jars of fetta is already empty so I will be making more fetta this weekend! Debbie – I think I need another tub so I can make a larger batch…
Thanks Debbie for allowing me to come along to your class. I had a great time and will be back out to visit one Saturday soon.
* This is not a sponsored (paid) post. I did attend the cheese-making part of Debbie’s course as her guest. I purchased my own cheese kit (and some of her glorious honey). My opinions and experience about the class and her farm are my own.
*The milk used in the classes is not from the farm cows due to regulations that govern the use of fresh milk.