Saturday, January 30, 2010

hay and cheese sandwich?

howdy folks!

today was the day of hay replenishment-- tom went to a hay auction in zeeland and brought back 110 bales (including some alfalfa which the does will get closer to kidding time). we unloaded the wagon and truck and stacked it all up in the barn this afternoon-- whew. i am enjoying getting acquainted with hay-- it gets in your clothes like the stray, itchy bits of a haircut-- can't wait to learn about harvesting and baling in the summer! the barn cats liked the new hay quite a bit too-- they couldn't get enough of exploring and sniffing. (the cats are named pumpkin and betty white, by the way-- bet you can't guess which one is which).
so now the little goats will stay warm and full through the rest of winter-- it's nice to see hay bales stacked up to the ceiling again. ah, the transformations-- sunlight, grasses and legumes, hay, milk, cheese!

okay, next time: cheese lesson.

farewell for now and happy full moon!

the light returns and the fire burns

good morning to all-
it's a bright and freezing cold saturday in west michigan! yes!
i thought this would be a good time to draft my first blog post, as we come to the end of january and as i come to the end of my first three weeks here at evergreen lane...
the time has been both momentous and mundane. i have settled in to a low-key winter routine: feeding the animals in the morning and evening, and the various small details of these chores-- carrying hay bales, breaking up ice in water buckets and troughs, latching and unlatching gates and doors. The goats are sweet and funny-- the does are very pregnant-- the older ones that were bred first are getting huge, they will begin kidding in the beginning of march. so this relatively quiet time won't last too long, and we have some pre-birthing tasks to attend to very soon-- immunizations, worming, selenium supplements.
here in the cottage, i have been tending my little woodstove fire, carrying and stacking wood, brewing lots of tea and coffee, reading and writing and working on knitting projects, as well as slowly preparing the little hoophouse for planting.
cathy has been getting some beautiful jersey milk from a farm in holland, so we have been making some different cow's milk cheeses in the creamery-- chaource, camembert, tomme-- and I have been able to participate in some parts of the processes for each of these-- ladling the curd into the molds, salting, flipping the cheeses as they drain and ripen, wrapping, and of course, washing and sanitizing lots of dishes!
a little cheese-making lesson will be forthcoming, for those who are interested, to give you a sense of the basic processes as i understand them thus far!
it's pretty beautiful to see all of the little cheeses laid out on their mats when they come out of the molds, and to witness the various stages of transformation as the salt and ripening cultures do their work. i expect that "transformation" will be a thematic word for me, so watch out.
the most time- and labor-intensive job i have done thus far (besides marathon dish-washing--and actually, wrapping cheeses took me a pretty long time too) is trimming the hooves of all the goats, which cathy and i did last week. it felt pretty weird to be cutting away at the overgrowth of their feet like that, and it was hard for me to get a feel for when i had trimmed enough-- i was worried about hurting them somehow. trimming hooves also involves a lot of bending over, and holding the does in positions that they don't entirely want to be in. the clipper blades dull pretty quickly-- we had to re-sharpen once before we had finished with everybody. so that was an interesting experience that i will have much more practice with-- hooves should be trimmed every 6 weeks.
well, that's all for now-- i hope that this little blog is useful and interesting for me and you-- i'll say right now that i'm a bit apprehensive about keeping up with it, but i want to practice this kind of disciplined writing/recording/reflection. so! thanks for listening.

much love,

p.s. want to share this link to an old post from the cricket bread blog:
i have needed this as inspiration recently, i've been missing the Student Organic Farm folks-- my little farmer community in Lansing.