It has been a beautiful fall here. There is still plenty of pasture for the sheep; this week, they have been grazing a field of alfalfa, which they love. Alfalfa is high in nutrients, which translates into sweet, rich milk. While our sheep milking season is winding down, our cow milking season is ramping up. Vanilla had her calf on Saturday, a lovely heifer calf the kids named Violet (it is tradition to name a calf with the first letter of the mama's name). This brings our milking herd t o a dozen cows. We will continue to make mixed milk cheeses for the next few weeks until the sheep dry off, and then we shift to making cow cheese until lambing in April. Cows produce much more milk than sheep; last year, our eight cows produced as much cheese as our 120 sheep, so with twelve cows we will have plenty to work with.
Give the gift of cheese! Through our seasonal farm subscription, we send out a monthly shipment of delicious cheeses, with an additional gift of something that we are making at the farm at that time. In this way we strive to offer the recipients a closer connection to the farm and the seasons. To learn more, click here.
We make our cheese by hand. In the beginning, we heat the milk and stir it with a large paddle, to ensure that it heats evenly. When we add the culture, we continue to stir in this way. After renneting, we cut the curd using large cheese knives. At hooping time, we scoop the curd from the vat and place it in the cheese forms. With blue cheese, we drain the curd on a ramp, as shown here, and then gently place it in the forms. The blue mold needs air to grow, and maintaining the space between the curds in this way encourages the blue development. Other cheeses, such as Ben Nevis, are pressed by hand once they are in the forms.
Our hands have also been busy harvesting! Each season on the farm has it's own surprises. We started a fall raspberry patch eleven years ago with canes given to us by our niece as a wedding shower gift, but this spring we could see that winter had taken its toll. What a surprise then to find the patch loaded this fall, bees happily pollinating abundant flowers on the cool sunny days of September, and berries a-plenty for family and friends.
We'll leave you with this picture of two fall harvesters seventy odd years ago, standing on the same plateau where the sheep are grazing in the first picture, and not far from the raspberry patch. Neil's dad, Andy, is on the right, with his grandfather, Neil's great grandfather, James Urie, on the left.
May you enjoy the harvests of the season, and find some unexpected delights along the way. Thank you for supporting our family farm, and for being a part of our extended farm family.