Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cold cold ground

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Today is bitter cold. The farm sits in a little valley, so the cold settles here. I notice the pansies looked a bit dull as I walked up to the barn this morning. I reached down and touched a flower. It crunched between my fingers. Each petal was covered with a thick layer of ice. The rain from yesterday froze overnight. It was certainly below freezing this morning.

I felt sorry for Little Carrie and Ginnie. They were working the booth at the Triad Farmer's Market. The wind picked up later in the morning. Even though it was bright and sunny, it never warmed up.

Feeding the kids was a chore this morning. They were shivering as we fed them. Some of them clenched their jaws and didn't want to eat. The milk is nice and warm, though, so once they started eating, they sucked their ration dry. Today is the first day we feed only twice a day. The kids are getting bigger and are starting to eat hay. They build their rumen by instinct, so they like having food to chew. I can't believe how big they've gotten. These guys grow faster than puppies.

Steve is still working out the kinks with his pasteurizer. It is taking a long time to heat up and cool down--far longer than normal. A two or three hour process is taking five hours. Something isn't right. The guy who built it is in Tillamook, Oregon. There have been lots of calls to Tillamook over the past few days. It will be good when things are in a real routine. This limbo business can be frustrating for all of us.

Sammy showed up around noon. He had about 100 gallons of goat milk for cheesemaking. He stayed and helped us pour the milk from buckets into the pasteurizer. The buckets were then washed and loaded back into Sammy's red pick-up truck. Ginnie and Little Carrie returned from the Triad Market just before lunch. Ginnie prepared the meal while we worked with the milk.

Just before 1:00 we sat down to a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with milk gravy (made with some of the fat from the fried chicken and raw goat milk), and buttered peas. The fried chicken was amazingly tender and moist with a good crispy crust that was browned to perfection. Ginnie's white milk gravy was thick, rich and flavorful. She asked if we make milk gravy out west. I usually see gravy made from fond, stock, and flour; not milk and flour. I'm going to have to try to perfect this gravy technique at home. I think my family would appreciate it. Calories be damned!

Sammy kept us entertained while we ate our fill of Ginnie's chicken. He just moved into a farmhouse next to his goat dairy. He's living in the middle of lots of boxes while he remodels the house. Sammy doesn't have the best vocabulary, so he "improvises" words. He told us he needs to work on his windows. He needs to put up some Phoenician blinds. We all smile and nod our heads, knowing that this is just another classic Sammy-ism. Sammy isn't stupid, by any means. He's just self educated, it seems. He's got an incredible grasp of mechanics and the dairy business. Today he also talked about how he got his pilot's license. He just can't find anyone willing to fly with him. I must admit, I'd be nervous.

Saturday afternoons draw the tourists. Folks come around and want to see the goats, buy cheese, and chat. Being a working farm, most of us are usually busy and have to stop whatever we're working on in order to see what the visitors want. Today, a couple of families dropped in with small children. They just wanted to see and pet the baby goats. Not a problem, they just need to understand that the baby goats can be overly enthusiastic and will jump all over you. Plus, they nip. It doesn't hurt unless they bite your fingers with their back molars. If they're hungry, they'll suck on your fingers.

Another family stopped by because they want to buy a few kids for their farm. The father owns the Green Bean, a coffeehouse in downtown Greensboro. He has several acres and has been talking to Lee about what he needs to do to make a good goat area on his property. Lee is often consulted by the locals who want to raise goats, or if they have goats and there's a problem with them. Sometimes it is hard to be the local expert.

The afternoon has been quiet. Lee's cousin has come in from Nashville. She'll be here a couple of days. I've been doing chores like folding the towels and work shirts for cheesemaking. It is nice to have a quiet day. I borrowed some DVDs from Jessie, so I might watch one of them tonight. It helps to have my laptop.

On tap for tomorrow: dinner with Sammy! I'll be at his farm at 11:00am and we'll drive to Denton, N.C. to eat at The Classic. Oh boy! More fried food! And it will be buffet style, too! We'll get there around 11:30 in order to beat the church crowd.

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