Friday, March 09, 2007

Goats, goats, and a pint of ice cream

Adored by my new friends.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

I woke up to a cloudy sky. No rain, just overcast and cool. Lee and Steve were feeding the goats this morning when I walked up to the barn. Little Carrie and Jessie were assisting a friend with kidding.

Lots of care and maintenance of young cheese today. First order of business, unhoop Providence. Trim Providence. Brine Providence. Apply a thin coating of clear wax to last week's goudas. I like Providence. The gouda I need to explore some more.

Noon feeding for the baby goats went smoothly. Most of them understand how to use the lamb bar, so feeding them is easy. The newborns need to be bottle fed and then trained on how to feed from the lamb bar. A lamb bar is a bucket with holes drilled in it. Nipples are stuck through the holes. Tubing stretches between the nipples and cups that hold warm milk for the kids. When the measured amount of milk is consumed, the kid is picked up and put into a holding pen. This routine is repeated until all baby goats are fed. This allows us to monitor the health of the kids. If someone isn't eating well, Lee may give them something to settle an upset stomach. She treats them first with homeopathic or natural remedies first. A little baking soda works well if someone has indigestion. She also has a probiotic powder that she’ll sprinkle in the milk. Seems to help ‘em digest the rich cow’s milk.

After feeding 40 baby goats, it was time to feed myself. Ginnie decided to take me to "the truck stop" over on Liberty Road. It is a restaurant called the Four Winds Café, former truck stop, but now it has white tablecloths and serves better quality food. I had a salad with shrimp on it. I've been craving seafood, so this was my chance. Naturally the shrimp was lightly breaded and fried. I suppose customers around here would send it back if the shrimp were not encased in a little jacket of breadcrumbs. It was good. Ginnie joked that they don't eat much seafood around the farm. Since they were raised in the Midwest, they never had fish. Norma hated it, so they rarely had it in the house. She asked if I could teach her how to cook fish. Sure! But I've got to find some fresh stuff. And I won't bread it unless I'm making fish tacos.

Miriam joined us for lunch. Miriam is about five years older than Ginnie and is one of Ginnie's closest friends. She's full of energy and is quick to give you a big smile and warm hello. They attend church together and Miriam is a fixture around the farm. She helps clean up the cheese room and Ginnie's house for some extra money. She's got many stories to tell and has a great the gift of storytelling. She loves to talk. Like most folks around the farm, she'll share her opinion about any topic. I like Miriam.

Our ride home included a detour to Bowman Dairy, home of Homeland Creamery in Julian, NC. A local dairy, they make delicious ice cream. Ginnie has a fondness for ice cream, so we had to pay them a visit. She got a chocolate milkshake, and I got a butter pecan cone. I brought home a pint of coffee ice cream for a good test.

Liberty is the town at the other end of Old Liberty Road. Goat Lady Dairy resides at the intersection of Jess Hackett Road and Old Liberty Road. Food Lion, a local grocery store, is in Liberty and so is the bank. Ginnie was kind enough to drive to Liberty so I could cash my stipend check. I don't have anything to buy, but it is nice to know where I can take care of business should I need to do so. Liberty is home to a chicken processor, a furniture manufacturer, a hardware store, a Mexican restaurant, and a small theater. A Johnny Cash tribute band is playing there on Saturday. There is a nicely restored old railroad depot near the center of town. It is about six miles to Liberty from GLD.

Ginnie had one more errand to perform so she took Old Liberty Road past the dairy and on to Asheboro in order to pull a plumbing permit. I really like Ginnie. She's got some great stories to share about her life, and we seem to share similar points of view. She is incredibly smart, outspoken, and doesn't put up with close-minded people. She seems to like being "the Goat Lady" and a local character. She went to school in Boston and got a masters degree in nursing. She's lived in Chicago for a while before she moved to North Carolina in the early 1980's. She purchased the Goat Lady Dairy property in the mid '80's and began restoring the old Blue House. Today she's retired from nursing and works primarily around the dairy. She's also quite active in a small informal church that provides a lot of outreach to the homeless and poor. The amazing thing is that she suffers from several health issues and lives with a great deal of pain. She moderates the pain with medication, but I haven't heard her complain, she laughs about it. The Tate family does not dwell in drama. They are very level-headed and matter-of-fact about everything.

We returned to the dairy, I threw my pint of coffee ice cream into the freezer and painted the six goudas with another layer of wax. Steve returned from town with new clothes for Saturday's funeral. As he put it, he had to get some new "going to town" clothes. Not much call for them, here in Climax.

Happy Birthday Mom!

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