Saturday, March 17, 2007

New toy!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Freshly salted Sandy Creek goat cheese.

Today was another warm and humid day. I walked up to the barn as the day was brightening. It was already in the 60s, not much of a morning chill. A chorus of songbirds surrounded me. Everyone was singing, telling me to wake up, it's time to eat, let's get busy, here I am, good morning! I could see a red-wing blackbird, several cardinals, some sparrows, a hawk, geese, mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees, and mockingbirds. A nice, diverse crowd is on hand this morning.

I go into the Barn and it is already a hive of activity. Lee is busy feeding goats. Steve, Carrie Carrie, and Little Carrie are in the cheese room, hard at work. I throw on my clean cheese clothes and enter the cheese room We wear hospital scrubs, hairnets, and waterproof clogs in the cheese room. Cheese needs a clean environment in order reduce the risk of contamination. Plus, who wants to find goat hairs in their cheese? No thanks.

Steve is in a state. He's excited because the new pasteurizer arrives today. He's running all around the dairy, getting things ready. Bobby came and fixed the tractor so we could use it to move the pasteurizer, if needed. It wouldn't start so he tinkered with it and finally jumped on the seat. I guess there are sensors on the seat that apply the brakes if you fall off. The sensor had gotten out of whack, so a good kick to the seat was all it needed.

Little Carrie got to dip the last batch of fromage from the old pasteurizer. I got to salt the camembert, the Sandy Creek, and the crottins, Together, we all made the chocolate truffles. They're fun to make. They're made with fresh chevre and semisweet chocolate, then rolled in cocoa powder. Quite rich. I can eat only one. When I roll one in my gloved hands, it feels like I'm making mud pies or playing with sticky, chocolate Play-doh. You roll these little balls of chocolate and creamy cheese until they're perfect little dollops of soft, chocolatey goodness. A dusting of cocoa powder envelops them, then they firm up overnight before packaging. Tomorrow we'll package them, six to a tray, then send them out to be sold at the farmer's market as well as a few retail accounts. They seem to sell out each week. Perhaps we should make more.

While we're working, conversations flow easily. Carrie Carrie and I were talking about the need for quiet time; time by yourself, away from your spouse. She said she loves sitting in her deer stand and just reading or knitting. Bobby has his own deer stand, so she relishes the quiet time without the demands of her family. I look at her. Deer stand? "What's a deer stand?" I asked. "What's a deer stand?!?" she says with disbelief. She turned to the gas man working across the room and says, "Did you hear what she asked? What's a deer stand??? Sarah, we're gonna have to give you some redneck lessons," she replied while laughing. I envision something like a farm stand, a place where you might buy or sell venison. Carrie explains, "A deer stand is a platform on stilts or built into a tree from which you hunt deer. You're sheltered from the weather, too." "Ohhh, we don't have those things in San Francisco." I say. Deer season is November and December, so I guess I won't be hanging around any deer stands.

Carrie Carrie is now on a mission to educate me in the finer points of how to be a redneck. Next time they go to the stockyard for an auction, her family is going to take me. They say it is the best place to get burgers. I guess it's the freshest meat around.

All work stops around noon when the UPS freight truck pulls up with a big, heavy crate. The new pasteurizer is here! For the next hour everyone joins in helping move the crate off of the semi, onto the back of the pick-up truck and up to the barn. Next, Steve, Tommy, and Bobby make a sling and use the tractor to carry the pasteurizer over the front porch where it is lowered onto a piano dolly. It is carefully unwrapped and moved into place in the cheese room.

Steve is elated. Everything appears to be here. The rest of the day is spent assembling the meters, running power to it, hooking it up to the water lines, and getting everything to work properly. Of course there is no manual, as it is a custom-built piece. Many phone calls are exchanged with the guy in Oregon who built it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working with the goats and just staying out of the way.

I was by myself for supper, so I borrowed the car and drove over to Randleman. I went to Bojangles. I've been talking about it so much that I had to take care of the craving for some fried chicken and biscuits. Carrie Carrie gave me good directions and I found it easily. It is in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Randleman. It is just beginning to get dark as I pull up to it. There are two Randleman police officers in line ahead of me. Looks like they're buying dinner for the entire police force. I order as the assembly line is putting lots of fried chicken into styrofoam containers. Bojangles makes two types of friend chicken: Southern style and Cajun. I can't decide, so I order a three-piece combo with both Southern and spicy Cajun. I got it with coleslaw and mashed potatoes. A biscuit comes with all orders. Unsweetened iced tea to wash it all down completes my order. My mouth is watering.

The teenagers assemble my order quickly, and I take it and drive back to the farm. It's only about 8 miles due west to Randleman, but the roads are narrow and twisty. The light is fading fast as I navigate the maze of roads back to the farm. I gobble down dinner and am left feeling a bit overwhelmed. The fried chicken is perfectly crispy; salty and delicious. The grease is nicely cut by the tea. Good coleslaw--slightly tart and sweet. Mashed potatoes are just average. My craving is now satisfied. I don't have to go back to Bojangles for a while.

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