In this photo the curds have been cut and some of the whey drained out. (We reserved a few pails for feeding to the piggies). On the side of the tanks you can see the milk fill line because some of the curd is stuck to the side. It takes about 20 minutes to drain completely; the waste goes into the manure pit out back of the barns and gets spread on the fields as fertilizer twice a year.
This morning we started with 2800 pounds of fluid milk (350 gallons) straight from the cows as they are being milked. That should yield 280 pounds of cheese, about 60 -65 wheels.
On any other day, milk goes into a bulk tank to be cooled, stored, and picked up by the milk truck later. On "cheese day" it is diverted to this vat, still warm from the cows; cheesemaking begins around 5:00 a.m. and ends in the late morning the day after.