Mary is doing most of the cow milking (that would be Coco's baby.) The goat babies are doing most of the goat milking. I milk Coco once or twice a week to get enough milk for our family to drink.
Back in the day, I would make cheese weekly. It is one of my favorite things to do. But these days we are mostly buying from the store or from other farmers. A lot of life is about letting go, and so I have been letting go of things that used to work for us and now do not.
At times I allow myself to grieve those things. On the good days I remind myself that life is all about seasons and constant change and evolution and growth and I tell myself it is good to take a break. Cheese making was one of those things I had to let go. I just couldn't keep up with the different tasks of dairying on top of other daily chores.
But today we finally managed to fit in a class for some friends who had been trying to get together for some time. I pulled out the recipes that fellow farmer and blogger from Brambleberry Farm had collaborated on a few years ago. Got out the ingredients and pure white goat's milk and creamy ivory cow's milk, pulled out the thermometers and sterilized the stainless steel pans.
We milled wheat to make flour for the homemade pizza crusts. We added the rennet and watched liquid milk turn into curd. It truly is magical. We compared the mozzarella made with Coco's raw, full cream milk to the mozz made from pasteurized milk from the store. We heated whey. We minced garlic and thyme and zested lemons for the chevre. Bea picked cherries from the tree and we pitted them and added them to the fromage blanc to make a sweet dessert cheese good for tarts. Everyone got to take a turn rolling out the pizza dough.
The house was filled with sounds of laughter as a group of individuals found their place on the farm. Outdoors was hot and humid, but we enjoyed the a/c and the magic of different personalities working together to create something. Herbs from the garden. Onions and peppers. A smidgen of capers and who knows what else turned into platters of crispy pizza, and plates of olives and goat cheese and crackers. We gave thanks for the magic of cheese making, for Coco and Portia, LauraLee and the other goat whose name I have forgotten. Those wonderful dairy animals give us such amazing milk.
Tonight I sit on the front porch in the hazy humid evening air. The sheep are enjoying the newly bushhogged west field (thanks, Patrick!). Meat chickens and goats graze in the middle little field. Dishes are washed. Big kids play on their Ipods and Nora and Rose play ball on the front lawn in between moments of severe sisterly negotiation. Rose asked me how I could type while not looking. Who wants to look at a keyboard when I can watch sheep and kids and goats and chickens and smoky blue hills?
The sun is down but it is still light outside. I smell sweet mown grass. Evening birds sing their goodnight song. Blackie reclines on the porch, keeping an ever vigilant eye open for predators. A very subtle breeze carries the echo of the snort of grazing cattle across the road. I think I heard one burp! The ducks waddle up from the pond and the new lambs frisk and frolic one last time before bedtime.
It has been a long day. The last day of school for the kids. A year completed. Not only did they survive, but the kids thrived. I guess we could have gone out to celebrate but we were too tired. It is nice to be still and quiet. Perhaps tomorrow we will go to town to buy an ice cream and rejoice. Lots of awards. So many it would take paragraphs to list them! Math, science, history and reading. Each child with his or her unique strengths. I am proud of their independent spirits and ability to self-start and be motivated to study, read, learn and do their homework. I think that they each made the most out of the lot they were dealt this year and I am very proud of them.
So now the swallows are coming in to the eaves of the house and the barn to go to bed. I can almost feel the dew fall upon me. A ewe cries out for her lamb. Ducks are mumbling about something in the front yard. I keep hoping to hear a whipporwill, but not yet. The little May lamb tries to confront a February lamb. The giant February lamb put the little fellow in his place, firmly, but gently.
All common things, but transformed into something magical. Milk, rennet, friends, school, kids, farm animals, green grass, blue mountains, loud peepers.
I hope you would pause in the middle of your hustle and bustle and impossibly busy schedule to be still and look and listen and smell and feel and taste. It is a pretty magical world in which we live. And one that beckons us to join in the creativity.