Saturday, September 7, 2013

Good Morning and a Goats Milk!

I woke up this morning and went about the usual morning chores. The temperaturs seem back to normal and the morning was somewhere in the low fifties. What is it about fall that has us reaching for our sweaters on a fifty degree morning of dapple sunlight when in March I would be tempted to don a sundress?! I suppose it depends on what season you are emerging from and after this summer of rain, heat, and sporadic/manic temperatures I find myself wanting hoodies and hot coffee. I'll take it. I'm more than ready for fall, emotionally at least. Physically I have a lot of wood to chop, chimney's to sweep, and still other odds and ends to take care of. I have packages to mail, proposals to work out, logos to finish up and all the other little tasks you never seem to forget or have time for. My life is just like everyone else's in that respect. It's different only in what causes the demands. For instance, right now I can hear Bonita bawling. She isn't due to be milked until this evening but maybe I'll take care of her sooner. She's on a 36-hour milking cycle as her bag slowly declines with the season. By October (or sooner) she will be dry and ready to be bred again. But there's a whole lot of milk, soap, and cheese between here and there. I want to have a stash of her milk frozen and put up as soap for winter before she dries up. I also want to keep enjoying the crumbly, simple, pure and wholesome cheese I make with a few drops of rennet every other day. It's a perfect time of year for the cheese, at least for this farm. Just as the pigs are getting more and more ravenous I am producing enough whey-soaked windfall apples and garden scraps to feed them for free sometimes for days without getting a grain bag open. That's a real gift from this land and the animals on it. Anyone who raises pigs know the real cost isn't the animals or the butcher's bill. It's the feed.

I think I like the idea of having cheese draining over the sink while I head north to the town of Salem to give a talk at a beloved McCartee's Antique Barn. This weekend is a big time around here, as it is the Washington County Cheese Tour! You can drive around our local cheese and dairy farms and get a real taste of the area (pun intended). We have sheep, goat, and cow dairies opening their doors to the public and offering talks and tastings. Local busineses are in on it too and that's why I am heading to McCartee's Barn to talk about my own adventures in dairy. I want folks (most probably have not heard me speak or know much about the farm) to get an introduction to me and my story, and then hear about how easy and rewarding cheese making is. I'll tell them the story that (I hope) happens after I finish this blog post. I'll talk about milking Bonita, taking the warm canister inside to strain into a half-gallon mason jar, and then heating it on the stove in a steel pot. I'll talk about checking the temperature as it crawls up between 90-110 degrees and stirring gently. I'll talk about adding a little vinegar and some drops of rennet and the amazing chemical reaction it causes separating the watery whey from the milk fats. I love this little bit of science and wonder. It makes me bristle sometimes when people use chemical as a dirty word. Water is a chemical, after all. And the reaction in the pot may not include test tubes and explosions that burn my eyebrows, but it still entertains and awes me. Cheese is in the cloth straining within twenty minutes of milking the goat. Now that's some fresh chèvre!

P.S. Gibson will also be out with me at the talk in Salem at 2PM! Come meet him!