Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chicken Love and Costume Dramas

I was watching an old copy of a BBC costume drama. I watch them in the cold winter. They make me dream of being somewhere other than the arctic tundra. Maybe I am just an old sap. That or I miss my youth and the ability I had to just go when and where I want. Cannot just go to Paris on a whim for the weekend with a farm, child or husband to find sitters for. I don't like soaps or romance novels but some Bronte or Austen and I am there through two or three VHS tapes even with poor sound quality and my reels needing cleaning! My peace at horrid hours of the evening for a dairy farmer!

On the couch as I am getting up I find one of Claire's new Poultry mags. The british small holder one with the children in it. She loves that one. I like chickens. They have this peaceful thing about them like sheep do. A kind of equilibrium with the world.

When I was little, our neighbors had this farm. We lived in this cul de sac on the edge of their farm. The farm was eventually an island with developments surrounding it with possible roads ending on the edges of their fields. The place had tobacco sheds, a tidy New England barn with halls and rooms they said their father and uncle hid things during the rations in the war. In the cellar they had this chicken area. Not so much a room if I remember. Nests were wooden with tobacco leaves in them to keep the bugs out. Like everything else on the farm, tidy...

It was their place. The pride they took in it that got me into this "farm thing". We could set the clocks to Stanley mowing his lawn. My mother liked to watch them bring the milk cows (a guernsey and a jersey if my memory is correct) up the lane. They had this horse Chubby. A cross of Belgian and something. Maybe 15hh. I'm thinking Suffolk, but who knows anymore. They used him to cultivate tobacco. I use to love to watch Adolph cultivate tobacco. When the horse was tired, he'd step on a few plants.

Back to the chickens (I'll tell you about Katey, the jump roap and the heifer later). Britt and I were exporing as was our job at the time. It usually meant going to the farm to see if we could beg a tour of the grey barn. We saw this hen. She was limping or something. Just not right. We figured that to be nice, we'd catch the hen and show Stanley or Adolph so they could fix her. To make a long story short, we were caught "chasing chickens" and sent home. I was horrified. I was in love with everything about that place and it stuck that I was thought as mean enough to do that to them.

If I had Claire with me then... things would have been different. She doesn't have this fear of failure and she has this uncanny ability to walk up to any chicken and pick it up. She has even trained one of her birds (Salea) to swing on a swing with little protest. Chicken chores generally mean she hasn't collected eggs yet, or fed or watered them. She is basically on the floor of the chicken coop talking to and holding one of her birds... Mean old mum then has to open the window and ask if chores are done yet! She loves those birds.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It is dark and cold in Central New York in the winter. I dread going down to the lower shed to feed animals. I love to watch them eat and to visit with them, but the blast of cold coming down from Rte 20, across the pasture and slap into my face! We have changed buildings and slopes of things, so the drifts and wind currents are different. That and Dave snapped the dog run line with the spear and never found it necessary to fix it (it was a mistake you see), so my only support life line going down the hill from the side poarch to the sheep shed is, well gone. I tried the sled that I use to bring grain down, but well... a 50# sack of grain on the stomach hurts after taking a spill over a bank.

I think I mentioned my lack of grace once before... Marge is even naming a cheese after me "Grace". At least the wheel chair ramp is down. Poor Marcia has to be lifted into the house, but at least I don't do any more splat dives...

The aging/farmstand structure is done. Well the structure is. I am awaiting the final $$ to give to the great contractors on that project and to finish the guys that installed my boiler incorrectly and charged me for doing it wrong and then just looking at it! I got some aging shelves for Christmas. Thank you Dave. We dug the ditch by hand and pick on Christmas Eve. The ditch will be for the electricity line.

Hank still hasn't paid me for the bank charges he caused after bouncing a check to pay for the workshop I did for his organization back in August. I gave up a Farmers' Market and everything! I am becoming cynical about non-profit agencies that are here to help the poor disadvantaged farmer. If we get paid for product and services, we aren't poor then are we? I think he missed the idea. Well live and learn. I will not do workshops for non-profits unless I see the money up-front any more.

Shaun Lord bought two of the IN Kerry cows from me. She is a great person and I like how she has consistently improved her herd of Dexters. I have Kelmscott Larry up to Dependa Bull. I have to run up there to visit him and to get those measurements and all. Patti Adams is drawing Kelmscott Seamus at K State right now and Dana Wakefield has drawn Mountain Shade Ebon. They represent the three Kerry families in the US.

Looking for an intern for 2008. Someone interested in doing Farmers Markets, working on rinds and who is interested in developing their own cheese. With David's health and Marcia not in the best physical shape, I need to have more flex time while at the same time expanding the cheese side of the business. I think that there is real potential for someone who is really interested in becoming a cheese maker to try some things out while someone with more experience can help. That and they will have access to awsome organic milk, markets, etc...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Visiting with other cheesemakers

I got to see the Amish cheese maker today. Found this lovely little Raw milk cheese plant in Richfield Springs. Dan is a decent sort, clean and simple place, nice cheese. I like him.

Dave, Claire Tim Powers and I were on this road trip. We picked Tim up. Tim took us over the river and through the woods. We had no idea where we were by the time we got there. Got to see a lot though and there were plain and pretty roads along the way. Took Rte 20 back (needed to get Tim some Stewerts coffee and us some petrol). The trip made sense when we got back to Rte 20.

Met the other wanna-be cheese maker. Andelo. He, like Rosemary Belforti, is trying to make a cheese using Kefir cultures. Interesting. Reminded me of some of Brian Rivington's creations he made in our plant last summer. Rind is too dry, paste is yeasty, doesn't have strong goat flavor... Claire liked the older cheese. Not so much his younger one.

He has this neet goat barn and was in the process of making the milking parlor. I'll get photos developed and see about pasting on the blog at some time.

Would love a digital camera, but we need to make it through the winter. Maybe for my birthday...

I bought two wheels of the Caerfili for the market this weekend from Dan. I am short on aged cheeses and he is in need of thinning his inventory. He is learning. I think that he will become a very good cheese maker with time. He has the Margaret Morris book and is an inquiring mind. Something about him makes me think he'll do pretty good.

A couple of more cheesemakers on Rte 20 corridor and we can get a trail! Need that cheese cluster. Want the tourists!

My goats milk project is not so good. Looks like the volume is slipping with the quality. It was 1 mil. SCC again. I have to toss the wheel most likely. I don't need a "late blower" in the cooler. I'm going to put it into a seperate smaller cooler and see what happens. It will be an educational cheese for future workshops, not something I want to sell. I've already dubbed it "Stinking Goat". Some people seem to think that milk for cheese can be crap. Well, no. It actually has to be better than the stuff going into the UHT ultra-filtered bottles of fluid milk-food that supermarkets pass off as a dairy product. You want good-bugs working, not not-so-good bugs working. Neet thing if the goat boys get that.

Our herd will be drying off February/March. I need the goats milk until then. We will be milking about 6 cows until April. I'll be making a lot of cows milk cheese until then (and supporting the whole deal with cheese sales). Daunting yet somehow I like this challange. Bout time the cheese stepped up to the plate.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Splat Dives

My back hurts. I am squerming in my seat. Had to check bank balance for hundredth time. Did market deposit and all it did was cover some moron's bounced check and the bank fees. Thanks! No more favors for anyone. I cannot afford people anymore. I do workshops again, it is on my dollar. No more helping organizations use them as fundraisers or projects to check off of grant projects!

So, the splat dive. We have this handicap ramp outside of our house. It is our way to make the house more inviting to my mother in-law. She is in a wheelchair. I am determined a few times a year, however to try this ramp out to see how far and fast I can do a splat dive onto the ground! I think I have wheel chair envy!

Landed face down. Knee and left hip were involved somehow. Belle showed that she does care. Tail quiver. Tongue crazy trying to lick mud off face and I bring her back to house. Poor pup. I bet she never saw a chubby woman do such accrobatics before!

I am having more conversations with people who are actually interested in sustainable agriculture and great food this year. There was this shift of people in the region this last year. I am finally encouraged. Even looks like Green Rabbit is sold! I hear it is a young couple interested in farming. Great!

Brought Lorenzo home yesterday. Dennis MacDonald did the hauling. I like him. I do think he figures I'm off, but he is game to see what is next on the agenda here. Lorenzo promptly chased sheep, harassed the Kerry cows on the south pasture and jumped the fence to have closer discussions with the Dexter bull doing clean up breeding on the heifers (and now dairy herd). Too much testosterone.

Gailen Bridges finally sent the pedigree info on the KY Kerry cows.

Things are working out slowly. I am just pissed that people can still take advantage of my passions and cause wreckage in my finances just when things are starting to look up (again). A couple more days of wholesale sales and I'll be sorted, but damned if I help again!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

chevre and Steve Baker

Well we finally did it! Charles Farnham Sr. dropped off the first load of goats milk. Had to take sample to Verona Labs to get it tested for SCC and antibiotics. Made Chevre. 25 gal. for the first batch. I was relieved. I was dreading 60 gal for the first batch.

Seemed decent. Goats milk does smell different than cows milk. I've done it before, it is just a smell that takes me a bit to get use to. Thank God it is good milk. I'll get results tomorrow.

We couldn;t kill the broilers (gone mini-turkeys). I gave them to Steve Wratten. In our negotiations for the birds I saw the meanest little white bantam rooster! Dave has been asking for one for his cousin for 5 years! I figured it was an even trade! Steve moves fast with a net! Got the rooster and came home. Dave visits it a few times a day and is grinning from ear to ear! It is pretty with pink legs and a stut about him... Dave named it after Stave Baker. He was a friend from MA who had a run in with the first bantam rooster. Apparently the story goes that Chris Bruelman (when he ran the auction some 20 years ago) let it go from the box at the Northampton Cooperative Auction and it terrorized theplace for weeks! It will be fun to see how this revenge project goes. I hope he lives happily in the haymow on this pretty little farm on Rte 12 in Sangerfield!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

We Must Be Crazy

I have had nothing but emails and calls from people asking my opinion about Farmstead Dairy Processing. 16 requests for workshop information at the Farmers market! I know I am getting cheeky, but two people in 24 hours tell me they are into goats and cannot stand the idea of drinking the milk let alone the cheese! You gotta like the stuff you make. Passion comes from your love of something. You don't love it and all you are is talk.
I did arrange for two workshops. One in November and one in December. I can handle workshops right now. I do like doing them when I am in charge. (I get paid that way) I'm going to lay off consulting after Marjorie and Dave get up and going. They have the most viable of the projects. I like them all, I just need to focus on the me part of things. It is affecting the business, especially this year.
I do make goats milk cheese for a bit, but I will tell all after the first batch. Dave is so not amused with me. I need milk. Sorry.

Karen Baase came by with this Dairy Profitability facilitator. Sorry facilitator, I liked our conversation this morning, I just don't remember your name. I was being a good girl and answered their questions as best I could and as truthfully as I could. I think I have to be a little less blunt at times. I was pretty good there though.

I am plowing through the Kerry Herd Books Judy Sponaugle of Jams Hundred and the Legacy Dexter Project gave me (I borrowed). Editing the ones I've done right now. Photocopied the other two I didn't enter or scan. I want to get the books published on the web site and credit her for loaning me the books. I would like the Irish books 62 and earlier. I am not trying to form another registry. There are enough. Kinda two things. The Irish Strategy did say that one of the limitations to the genetic study of the breed is that it is in book and not electronic form (except for more recent pedigrees). I will get them a copy of it. I also want us (U.S.) to do a genetic study of the U.S. and international herd as well. We will genotype the remaining cows. I also want an analysis of the pedigrees with as much data as possible to help us develop a strategy for conserving our Kerry cattle. Judy was a HUGE help.

I did pull off the first Kerry Cattle Breeders Meeting since 1917! Robert Reilly and his assistant secured the space at the First Ever Shaker Settlement in Albany. Patti Adams, Dana Wakefield and Dave Adams helped tremendously before the meeting. Jonathan White brought cheese and bread from his operation. The conversation was great. ALBC and Rare Breeds Canada were there... See picture above...(need to figure out how to place photo where I want to in this blog).
Let me see, ~back row~Dave Adams, Jeanette Beranger (ALBC), Ted Lawrence (Rare Breeds Canada), Sean Stanton, me, ~front row~Robert Reilly, Liz MacKenzie (Rare Breeds Canada), Patti Adams, Dana Wakefield, Jonathan White and Jonnie Larason (Plimoth Plantation). Photo taken with Patti Adams camera.

Tom Tucker rang back tonight. The lads are in CA. Well some are there/were there... They are laying the new surface for the Thoroughbred Race tracks. After that one horse died from the leg break, most of the surfaces on these tracks are being done over. It is kinda neet. He will ring back with a start date for the aging/farm market building.
Have to get two more pages edited and go to bed. Chevre tomorrow!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fall Market Cheese

I'd like to start the blog with a title that actually reflects my mood. I don;t think it is appropriate for a mother of a 5 year old to swear that vehemently.

Day started ok like. Dave agreed to run the trailer plug to John and Lisa Kirby (yup John you are mentioned in the blog again). Claire and I went to church. A nice place. I like the people there. They had this dedication for a stained glass window. It is pretty. I'd like to hire the guy who installed it. Looks like he actually knows how to work on an interior of a house. Kinda rare to find in these parts. We stayed for cidre and muffins/cookies/cake. Claire got to tell people we were going to kill birds after church...

We got home. She was cooperative for the most part and did agree that changing out of her fashion statement of the day into something that is ok to get grubby in was fair enough. I went to cheese plant to acid wash cans and clean up some more. Move the small fridge back to the house. Get the drains cleaned. You know, tiddy time!

Well! While filling the vat up with water for its acid wash, I looked at the fridge. It was making on off sound. Sure enough, the Gouda's on the top (you know the ones ready to market this weekend) were kinda melty. The ones on the next shelf were cracked and melty!!! Crap. Powerful stink while I open the cooler door. Damn, the hose I dropped in the vat just flapped back at me and drenched my right leg...

82 degrees F after the door was open while I reached in to get the thermometer!

Cheesemakers need pigs.

Vile smelly unruly undisciplined (however tasty) pigs eat cheeses that go off and then supply you with the most wonderful bacon and chops...

So much for fall market Gouda! I only have one wheel in the house right now.

Did talk to the goat guys. Goat guys don't even drink their goats milk. Not sure if that is a good thing. They say more than a couple words on this visit. They have less milk to offer than I thought. Maybe I can help them this winter...

I need about $7000 - 10000 to finish this cheese project. I make damn good cheeses in a retrofit milk house attached to our barn. I age the poor buggers in reach in coolers (kinda like shack farming).

I hate shack farming! We did that when we bought the place. Looks a lot different now. I feel better about inviting people here. Sheeps don't have the best place, but at least the pastures are nice this year. They get posh digs over the next 12 months.

I'll keep on this digression mind thought instead of trying to paste lines here and there. I have a hard enough time making sense of this vent, let alone trying to edit a vent!

Basically depressed in afternoon. Craving any carbs after this allergy sniffing diet thing. Coffee is one of them, by the way. Cannot have that nectar of the gods anymore...


Went to Quacks with Dave and Claire to consume carbs. Had a Reuben sandwich and their horrid fries. The sandwich was good. Claire likes the grilled cheese. Dave not so much his meat/gravy/potato thing. He never likes it and yet orders it most every time. I guess expecting that you will not like it, yet with the hope that maybe you will like it is an ok menu item search technique.

I don't know. I guess I will have to bite the bullet and sell Moose (pregnant with Irish semen) and Lorenzo. Damn the cooler!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sooooo Cooold

I have these sayings going through my head. You know like --
"Be careful what you wish for" - 'we need some cold days for the maple trees to run sap'
"too much of a good thing" - global warming means the cows get to graze in January
"Biological Systems are Cyclical" - very warm, now very cold

All these things. Pipes burst in dairy plant. Someone or somehow the door was open 1/2" on the night of January 5th. That was the big wind -22 degree day... Also took out a check vlave in teh vat. That took $204 to fix. Pipes another $34 in supplies and time.

I am just cold all of the time. The poor small ruminants in the pole shed are cold. 4 lambs so far. Only one ewe. No kids thank God! I am hoping that they will hold off until it is consistently 40-50 degrees out.

Cheese has been put on back burner again. Doing wonderful experiments. The Appenzellar is actually very nice. The Asiago needs to be lower in fat, but promising. The Wenslydale is not quite there. The Double Gloucester needs more salt and something... not quite balanced and too bland. Toasts like nothing else though. The Leicester is getting there. Better than fall, but needs another 4 or 5 batches and another 5 months...

Entering the Colwick in a cheese cake contest on March 31st. It is a lovesly rustic cheese. Lactic drained one. Goes best with a glaze of bluberries and cultured cream.

Yoghurt/Labneh experiments going VERY well. Need to see what is up with the new TA 060 cultures. I am not the only one having problems with it. Elmond said a batch of moz. was crap after using that culture. My Cacciocavallo took for evvvver to get going and then dropped acid like a rocket. It was during a rainy period and Dave did start feeding the haylege in teh silo. It just seemed interesting that Elmond has a similar experience with it...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

Almost said Happy New York... I'm posting while listening to Fords funeral on radio. Unger is here to look at some animals. Not worth starting the bull calves we found. Got $50 for a 8 week jersey cross and $200 for a 450# holstein bull calf. Well, not unless we sell them in plastic packaging anyways.

I just did some research on catching up on registrations of Ayrshire, Kerry and Arapawa animals. Did the To Do list for the New Year. Getting the house organized for the first time since we moved here.

I meet with a bee guy tomorrow to trouble shoot the beeswax issues I have. He gave me some good ideas. We'll wax cheese tomorrow. Tomme and Appenzellar, which will be interesting to see what turns out. Nutty cheese with mead character. Maybe called Backlava??

The order report stuff is on-line now. I'm going to see how that works out today. Promised to get them in on a timely basis for now on. My bad. Seems a shame to send in a report and pay $.46 for one month and a couple of dollars for the next. Planning on making a bit of cheese this year, so that will change.

Artisan cheese listserve was ended abruptly. Hope it wasn't because people told the moderator that she was sarcastic to a newbie. Seemed more agressive a post than she normally does. I hope things are ok with her. I was enjoying the conversations about the swiss style cheeses. I wouldn't worry so much about the eye development as I would the flavor. Flavor is what gets the price. Eyes are free to the customer. Besides, I prefer Guyere and Beufort types of Apline cheeses and they don;t have the ementaller type eyes.

Siobhan calved. Got her to milk with machines without kicking too bad. She is not going to be the most friendly cow in the earth, but by the time Patti gets her, she will be a good little dairy cow! Bull calf. We will name him Kieran. After St. Keiran (and St Piran for Cornwall). Vigorous little guy.

I hope all who read have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!