Saturday, May 19, 2007

No regrets as the clock winds down

I have less than two weeks left. I can't believe how quickly the months have gone by. This internship has really paid off for me. Miriam, the energetic retiree who cleans the cheese room in the afternoon, asked me if I was happy I came all the way to North Carolina. I told her that I absolutely no regrets

Steve and Carrie Carrie seem to be pleased with my progress and have been giving me more and more responsibilities. This week I got to make the camembert, sandy creek and crottin from start to finish. I can read the curd ok, and can judge when it is time to cut the curd mass. Preparing to make the cheese takes more time than anything else. Countless molds have to be placed either on the draining table or in colanders. Each mold must be sanitized. Then, at a critical moment, the curd is dipped into the awaiting molds as fast as possible. As soon as you start to dip, the curds begin to knit. By the time you empty the vat of curd, the curd has shrank and has lost a lot of whey. In order to try to achieve a uniform texture in your finished cheese, it is very important to try to get the curd into the molds as quickly as you can.

It is late spring on the farm. The garden is looking spectacular. The lettuce beds are full of big, leafy heads of lettuce. Tonight I made a big salad for supper with a romaine style lettuce that I harvested only minutes earlier. Milk was still seeping from the cut stem. I love eating super-fresh veggies. A couple of nights ago, I noticed three small rabbits running all around the pasture next to the White House. They scampered around and around while the three month old goats stared at them. Two of them dashed under the fence and began to race around the veggie garden. The days are getting more humid. The high humidity adds to the lushness that I feel all around me. I love to sit outside at twilight and watch the fireflies emerge. Between the cardinals and the lightening bugs, I just can't get my fill of 'em. I can watch them forever. The cardinals are just such pretty birds, unbelievably red. The fireflies just swirl and drift around the bushes and trees like tiny fairy lanterns drifting on an unnoticed breeze. Summer is nearly here.

The young goats will be leaving soon. Sammy is supposed to bring a trailer and haul them back to his place. All 50 of them. Most of them are weaned and now they're just growing and growing like the weeks that they love to eat. I've been spending more time with my favorites, scratching them and letting them nibble at my clothes. I'm going to miss these youngsters when they're gone.

I like the Nubians, even though they're the most whiny and loud. The saanens are the most docile, but they all look alike (white.) The Alpines are the most aggressive and feisty. Should I choose to keep a few goats, I might look into getting a few Nubians. They're herd animals, so you can't have just one, they get lonely and depressed. I still want to buy my milk for my cheesemaking enterprise, but these goats have gotten under my skin and I find that I really like them. They're very funny, smart, stubborn, and useful. Perhaps I can train one to pull a cart for me. Plus, fresh goat milk is the best. It only tastes gross if you don't feed them well and let the milk get old. Sammy's milk is sweet and buttery. It makes great cheese and is perfect with my granola in the morning.

More happy dining: I just can't help myself!

A southern treat: pickled watermelon rind. Slurp!

Miriam invited me out to dinner a few nights ago. She took us out to Ye Old Country Kitchen, a restaurant/buffet located east of Liberty in the town of Snow Camp. The beauty of these county style buffets is that they make no attempt at being healthy. Sure, there's a salad bar, but the entrees are usually some form of fried food. This one had fantastic fried chicken and biscuits. The biscuits were the best I've had since I got here. They were still warm, crispy on the outside and tender and light on the inside. They didn’t need any butter. The salad bar had pickled watermelon rind. Not something I find too often. There were several different kinds of beans cooked in different styles, too. Miriam and I were really pleased with our meals.

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