Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Up and down and all around

Suzie Q, the runt visits the older girls.

This week is the busiest week of the year in the cheese room. We have been producing logs, camembert, sandy creek, crottin, marinade, flavored fromage, truffles, goat milk gouda every day. We are still struggling to get a consistent texture with the fresh chevre. It seems that there are always some curds that turn out too soft.

Fortunately, we had time to catch some baseball before Jim headed back to San Francisco. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are a single A, minor league team affiliated with the Florida Marlins. The small stadium in downtown Greensboro is fairly new and a great place to watch a game. Tickets range from $6-$9. Cheaper than a movie. Steve joined us for the evening and Nate dropped by, too. The weather was perfect. It hovered around 70 degrees for the entire game.
We got to see the Grasshoppers pounce on the Lexington Legends. I had a great time and I think everyone else had fun, too. One novelty: the team has a dog that runs out and picks up bat and delivers balls to the umpires. Her name is Babe Ruth. She also runs the bases at the end of the game. The food selection was a bit lacking. We all ate hot dogs. Steve was sad he couldn't get coleslaw for his hot dog. I guess it is a local way of eating hot dogs. I might have to try it before I go.

We put Jim to work on Monday and Tuesday. He helped us dip curds, turn ripening cheese, package fromage and just be another pair of hands where ever we needed them. He even got to try his hand at milking! We were all sad to see him go on Wednesday.

On Thursday we had to pitch a batch of camembert. The pigs were thrilled. They gobbled up the flimsy discs of nascent cheese with great vigor. The cheese didn't acidify correctly. Steve suspects that the culture used to initiate ripening had gotten too old. It essentially became sluggish and quit working. It is like adding old yeast to your bread dough. It just doesn’t rise to the occasion. The day after the cheese was made, the pH wasn't right. It must be at a certain level in order to demould the cheese. It never reached the right pH. We waited another day and checked it. Still not right and it began to smell like bad buttermilk. Not a good sign. It also could not hold its shape. It was extremely soft and began to turn into little blobs instead of springy discs. After much debate, the call was made and week too all of the cheese, put it into buckets and fed it to the pigs. We had a bunch of very happy pigs that afternoon.

We made another batch of camembert with new culture. It turned out fine. Nice texture to the curds and the pH is correct.

Little Carrie and I got to represent Goat Lady Dairy at the Triad Farmer's Market on Saturday. Steve stayed home to make cheese and prepare for the spring Goat Lady Dairy Open House on Sunday. Steve never stays home on a Saturday so this was a big vote of confidence for our selling abilities. Our goal was to sell as much as possible as quickly as possible. We wanted to lighten our load and head for home. Selling lots of cheese wasn't a problem. The market was swamped. People were lined up three deep to buy our cheese. We were slammed from about 9:30 until we left at 4:00. There was a North Carolina wine festival going on in the back parking lot. There were lots of folks getting tipsy on some mediocre wines. Naturally they were eager to buy some cheese and we were happy to sell it to them. We tried to quit around 3:00, but didn't pull away from the stall until 4:00. We were sold out of most of the cheese yet they still wanted to buy anything we could sell them. I hope I can have such demand for my own products in the future! Carrie and I were exhausted by the time we were through. We couldn’t wait to go home and take a nap. The thirty mile drive back to the farm seemed to take forever.

Steve was waiting for us when we pulled up to the Barn. He was finishing up in the cheese room. We gave him a full report as we unloaded the coolers out of the pick-up truck. He was happy we sold so much cheese. We almost sold too much because we needed lots for the Open House. It is hard to anticipate how much cheese is needed for the Open House. We've never had this much publicity for it before. We had several mentions in the Greensboro News and Record, Fox News 8 did their live broadcast and put it on their website, the 3000+ folks on the GLD email list had the word. We were bracing for an onslaught of visitors at the farm.

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