Sunday, April 01, 2007

Awash in milk, curds, and whey

Little Carrie has been gone for most of the week. Her ailing grandmother has died and she has traveled with her family to bury her grandmother in the family's hometown in eastern Kentucky. Very sad.

Operation chicken roundup: The renegade chickens must be captured in order to protect them from predators. Raccoons could kill them easily during the night. Unfortunately, chickens run away from you when you approach them. Steve got us together in order to try to drive them into their new pen. We managed to get a few to follow Jessie. She lured them with chicken feed through the enclosure gate. The rest just ran in every direction. We chased a bunch for over an hour. We gave up after that. The next morning, Steve noticed that the escapees were roosting on the compost heap. He shut them in and we tried to catch them all over again. This time we were more successful. One by one, we caught the chickens and got them into their new pen. Steve plugged the holes that they had used to escape. Now they're happily laying eggs in their new enclosure.

It looks like someone has taken a paintbrush and added color to the naked woods next to the farm. Splashes of color stand out against a gray background. Yellow, fuschia, white, and green. Redbud trees line the edge of the woods and roads, creating a pink border along all verges. Mother knew them as Judas trees as a child because they bloomed at Easter. Dogwoods are just beginning to reveal themselves near the redbud.

This week has been a whirlwind of activity. Sammy's goat milk production is on an upswing, and Steve is taking all the milk he can get. We've been cranking out the curd!

In the past few days we've prepared batches of goat-milk camembert, crottin, smoked chevre, feta, Sandy Creek (the aged chevre with an ash covered rind,) a double batch of chevre truffles, 100 chevre logs, and many kinds of flavored fromage (soft goat cheese). Lots of time spent in the cheese room. We made the biggest batch of camembert ever this week. Steve wants to make lots of cheese in order to keep up with the demand. Springtime is when milk production is highest, so we make full use of all the milk we can handle. Extra chevre curds will be set aside and frozen in order to have cheese throughout the winter. Fresh curds freeze very well and make excellent soft goat cheese. Many cheesemakers freeze curds so they can have a supply year-round.

We've also wrapped the first camembert to sell at the farmers markets. This first batch is still a little young and could ripen for another week. By selling them now, they'll hold up better. We're saving some to serve this weekend at the Goat Lady Dairy's "Dinner at the Dairy," The highly sought-after dinners hosted by Steve Tate at the Barn.

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