I LOVE cheese day and it’s been a very long while.
It’s been several months since I’ve been milking our ‘old’ goat, Summer, and it will be a few months more before I start milking her again, along with Phoebe and Chestnut, intending that all will go well with their first kidding, and I will be able to train them on the milkstand, which will be as new to me as it is for them. Big intentions!
I’m not too worried about Phoebe, she’s much more tame and mellow and loves to be petted. Chestnut darts off as soon as you try to touch her and is even skittish when hand feeding.
The first lamb of the season has just arrived! Now that Handy Hubby is ‘retired’ he gets to handle all the stressful parts while I pop in for the awes and photo ops. Big win for me! It’s not that things are constantly going wrong, but it does take preparation and attention and concern, because sometimes things do go wrong.
But not this time! While Hubby runs around, making sure the little lamb latches on in due time, gets the feed and stalls prepped and ready for a bunch more births, I make cheese.
It’s a very slow process, traditional mozzarella, it takes all day. Yesterday I experimented with a new cheese of my own invention, which is just about my favorite thing to do in the world. I would bore you with the details, but I fear you’d be really bored.*
Another new Hubby project has been the ultra-high security broody fortress. Walls within walls. He’d finished the Tajma-coop and hoped our predator problems were solved. He’d planned for practically every type of previous invader—raccoons, hawks, possums, coyotes—with the exception of snakes. He’d hoped between one cat, 4 dogs and constant hoof traffic the reptilian raiders would retreat. No such luck. We lost lots of chicks and Bantams to snakes.
Surely this will be the ultimate solution?
Hubby sporting his wild side, which I much prefer to his straight-laced pilot persona. Though of course I have deep gratitude for his professional efforts too, not just the relieving of them, or we’d never be where we are now. (Thanks, Brandon?! And, where else shall I send the thank-you notes??)
I used to have regular cheese days. I would drive four hours round-trip for the only raw milk available in the vicinity and get up to 20 gallons and have a cheese-making marathon for four days straight. It was perhaps a bit obsessive.
That was a few years ago, now it’s a real luxury. Since then the cost per gallon of raw milk at that farm has gone from $6 to $9. Add to that the cost of gas and time (and my personal waning energy), we really can’t afford it anymore.
Instead I’ll be milking goats and making mostly small batch cheeses, including all my favorites, which is pretty much all of them, especially Camembert, Muenster, and traditional styles of aged chèvre. I do believe I’ll be very satisfied with my new arrangement!
This time I got 10 gallons and a friend did the pick up, another win for me. She, like me, started making cheese and bread mostly out of snobbery—we are ‘foodies’ (I prefer the French term ‘gourmands’) and the selection of these staples in these parts was akin to an inner-city food desert. Industrially-produced, plastic-wrapped crap only, of the lowest quality.
Like I said, it’s a luxury at that cost, but from it we will get better cheeses, yogurt and buttermilk than money can buy.** Not only do we get the cheeses, but the whey goes to great use too, for ricotta, for soaking grains, and for the critters at just the time they are in need of extra nutrition.
Incidentally, mozzarella is not a raw milk cheese. Still, the flavor of the traditional home-made style is far superior to those which are industrially-produced, including the ‘fast mozzarella’ that most home cheese-makers prefer, since it takes about an hour versus all day. That version is also delicious, and I make it sometimes too, but the flavor and texture between the two is very different.
Our semi-feral cat, Skittles, comes around regularly now that our house dogs are no longer a constant threat. She’s getting her day in the sun at last, enjoying her curds and whey.
As there is a lot of kitchen downtime with traditional cheese-making methods, I make sourdough bread and pizza dough between steps.*** Or sometimes pestos, or condiments, or Kombucha (my latest fantastic flavor is pine needle), or soups and salads. Before I know it, an entire day in the kitchen has swooped by, me barefoot and content, and still in my pajamas.
And very happily not pregnant!
*Actually, I’d be happy to bore you in the comments section if you have any cheesey comments or questions.
**Sorry to say, but the raw milk cheeses you think you are buying at the grocery store are actually semi-pasteurized, they just changed the definition. As per usual.
***While listening to podcasts, usually. Richie Allen was on the list today, a good choice as it was a call-in show on the subject of prepping. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-richie-allen-show/id1090284266?i=1000553479020
I don’t identify as a prepper myself, necessarily, even though pretty much any American who looked at our lifestyle would say we are. The third caller on the show is a self-identified ‘doomsday prepper’ in Alaska. She was great, shared lots of good info and talked about how she grew up that way, as did her parents. I don’t really consider that ‘doomsday prepping’ either. This is a lifestyle to me, one that deserves to be continued through the generations, not just during precarious times, and I’m sure she would agree. Being prepared is important and I think everyone should make a concerted effort on that front, especially in times such as these. But I see this lifestyle is a special sort of calling and it’s not going to appeal to many folks, and it doesn’t have to. It’s enough for those so inclined to preserve it and to treasure it and to keep that flame of living intimately with nature alive. It sets an example that is much needed these days as it is not in the modern Western way of a recreational relationship with nature or the profit-driven exploitive relationship with it, but a real, old-fashioned, hands-in-the-dirt sort of cooperation. You’ve gotta really love it, really want it, or it will never work for you.
But, what a blessing it’s been for us!