Friday, August 28, 2015

In The Pail

This morning I did something I have not done in far too long, I poured a steel container of curds and whey into cheese cloth. With all the activity of summer — raising the pastured poultry, getting pigs into the woods, sheep moving, horse training, puppy raising and the graphic design work — the daily milking of my two goats left the world of my kitchen and became a free way to add protein to the pigs diet. I would do all the chores in the heat, milk the goats, and pour their full milk pail directly into the pig pen to their squeals of delight. It added yummy dressing to their grain, fallen apples, and kitchen scraps. They were fattening up so well it seemed a shame to bring any milk inside and so for a few weeks only the bacon seeds got watered with that amazing stuff.

Not this morning! This weekend Patty and Mark are hosting a Garden Party and I offered to bring some chèvre. I forgot how amazing the process of making cheese is and how ridiculously easy. All I did (I swear!) was milk my goats into a pail, strain that pail into a steel saucepan with a milk filter, and add one packet of chèvre culture. That is it. I didn’t need to use the stove because the body temperature of the goats is already perfect for making chèvre if you do it instantly after milking (milk was around 90-95 degrees). I let the culture dissolve and hydrate for a few moments and then mixed it in with a steel spoon. I set the cover on it and then went out to the Argyle Brewery to meet friends and enjoy my version of Cheers. Cheese making level 34, done.

This mooring that pot-o-raw-milk that never saw heat and never saw any skill besides stirring in $1.50 worth of culture powder was a perfect division of curds and whey. If you’ve never done this, imagine someone took greek yogurt that was REALLY thick and plopped it in some warm water. That’s how stark the divide is between the curds and whey. I got out some butter cloth, poured the container right over a bucket of pig chow, and let the whey spike the grain for the pigs’ breakfast.

I took that bucket outside with Gibson and Friday galloping at my sides. Gibson is 95% healed on his paw but he still favors it sometimes. Friday is all hell out there, running at his side and pulling at his ears until he growls at her to stop. His patience amazes me. I thought for sure he’d put up with zero fuss from her but he turns into a golden retriever with a toddler when she is hanging off him. My hats off to him.

After pigs were fed I took the fat-pigeon-sized meat birds and separated them by half. Putting the now older birds into two tractors instead of the one they were sharing. Friday thought this was magic. The fact I could make things chirp and squawk in my very hands had her eyes bugging out of her head. I think I made her day.

So this morning was cheese and chores and I had to wear a hoodie to ward off the chill. It was a reminder how fall is on the way and I better start getting in wood and figuring out some solvency before snowily. Working hard to sell another book with my agent and doing enough graphic design work to keep wolves from the door and for that I am grateful. But in the meantime there’s the Washington County Fair, Garden Parties, and a last hurrah of weather in the high eighties due for next week to remind me that the river is still for swimming and the sun can still lighten my hair.


Blogger Joanna Miller said...

What an amazing day. And what an amazing life you are carving out for yourself and for the rest of us that have the pleasure of living vicariously through your hard work, guts and determination. Can't wait for the new book, but I would love it if you put together your "music playlist" as your choices sound mighty fine.
Keep on...

August 28, 2015 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Léah said...

I love these posts about your day. Fuel for my own daydreams. I also can't wait to get my eBook copy of Birchthorn! Hope that editing process goes quickly. :)

September 3, 2015 at 4:56 PM  

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