Who am I?
I'm Sarah. I'm following my dreams. I'm a cheesemaker. Do I have a farming background? No. I grew up in the suburbs: San Rafael, California. My dad owned a men's clothing store and my mom is/was a food & travel writer/poet/English teacher. I've been a cheesemonger, an land conservation operations guru, an art school fundraising flunky, a music business geek, an independent record store taste maven (read the book High Fidelity for more details,) a radio station promotions and production wizard, a concert usher, and a music and travel writer. I also like to cook, bake, and make stained glass windows. You don't have to grow up on a farm. All it takes is having a vision and the desire to do something in order to make it happen. In this case I'm making cheese. I've been blazing my own path for most of my life.
If you tell me not to do something, that's EXACTLY what I will want to do, just to see if I can do it. In high school a radio disc jockey came and talked to my class for an afternoon. Her advise: don't work in radio. If you're a woman, it is a terrible career. No job security. I didn't listen. I had to learn that lesson for myself. She was right. I have been told that if I want to earn money, don't go into cheesemaking. Cheesemaking is a "lifestyle" career. If I want to have a day off, don't go into cheesemaking. I'm not listening to the Greek Chorus. I'm making cheese. I guess the life lesson I'm learning is this: if you dream it you can do it.
What do I want to do?
I want to make my own cheese. I want to make all kinds of cheese. Fresh cheese, soft cheese, aged (firm) cheese, wash-rind (stinky) cheese, blue cheese. I will use the best milk I can buy from local cows and goats. I'd be happy to make sheep's milk cheese, too. Some cheese will be pasteurized. Some will be made with raw milk. I want a life, so I will let others milk the cows, goats, and sheep. Making cheese is enough work for several people. I have my hands full taking care of my three cats. I want to craft a product for which I am proud. I want it to be the best cheese that I can possibly coax out of the vat of milk. I want to share this cheese with those who want to eat it.
Why do I want to do it?
Because I love to make cheese. I can't see myself doing anything else anymore. Is it a calling? Perhaps. Cheesemaking has been a passion I've been harboring for years. I'm finally doing something about it. This is a very scary journey. I've been pretty comfy, enjoying my life in San Francisco, eating out, walking to the bank, riding public transportation, living in vibrant city. I'm trading this life for something more rural. We'll be moving to a small town. A place where your neighbors make eye contact with you. I can come up with all kinds of reasons why I should stay. Most of them are meaningless. The restaurants I patronize don't make me a better person. I'm not really giving up that much. I'm gaining a whole lot more. What makes me nervous is my future's uncertainty. It will always be uncertain. Why should I let my fears stop me from doing what I want to do? I've got a dream, dammit. I'm going for it. I want to live life to the fullest by doing what I love.
How do I want to do it?
I want to make a hand-crafted cheese in the Oregon wine country, using the techniques that I've learned from those willing to teach me in California, North Carolina, and England. I want to produce my own cheeses for as long as I can. I want to have a cave to age my cheese. A real cave, nestled in the earth, nurturing the young, firm cheese into delicate, rich morsels, The atmosphere of the cave bathes the cheese with the scent of the land, permeating it with its signature. My cheese will be a part of me and my land.
Where do I want to this?
I want to make cheese in Oregon, south of Portland in the wine country. We like it there. We've wanted to live there for years. We're selling our house. Anybody want to buy a beautiful, three bedroom, two bath house with a view of Mt. Tamalpias, the Marin Headlands, and a kick-ass, recently remodeled kitchen in the Inner Sunset of San Francisco? We are going to buy a house on several acres in Yamhill County, Oregon. We're still looking for that house. I know it's out there somewhere.
When will I do it?
Now, yesterday, tomorrow, as soon as possible. I'm ready to go! I want to make my own mistakes. I've got so much more to learn, and I want to learn in my own space. My business has a name. Now it needs a form. I've already got the website and I'm just taking care of the legal stuff. It's going to be an LLC. I'll post the name and the link to the proto-website once the paperwork has been completed.
Ready! Set! Go! I feel like I've been pregnant for years and I am ready to give birth to this cheese dairy NOW!
In the words of a contestant on Wheel of Fortune:
Pat, I'd like to buy a vat and solve the puzzle....