Someone recently asked me if ‘we were still doing that goat and cheese thing’. I paused only a moment before answering that it isn’t something that we do, it is really more something that we are. The question came as if we have a choice in the matter; which of course we really do, but honestly I am not sure that we do. For us, the farm is so much a part of who we are that I am not certain that we would be complete without it and I am so grateful for the daily dose of gratitude that it gives in keeping me in touch with the nature.
Shaun and I often (I am a little embarrassed to admit) chuckle mockingly at the people that call in late October and want to pick blueberries. It is hard for us to imagine that someone is so out of touch with the cycles of the seasons and what food is produced when that they actually have no idea what a precious short window in July provides that luscious fruit that they have become accustom to getting whenever their hearts desire. We, on the other hand, live by the rule my niece recently noted: ‘that point in the summer when we are eating as many fruits and vegetables as humanly possible in some kind of heroic attempt to keep them all from going to waste’, because, as farmers, we are painfully aware that there is a season of abundance and time for preservation and a season of scarcity and time for thankfulness that you were able to preserve. Grocery chains disengage people from the awareness of this cycle, but I assure anyone reading this Blog, you really can’t get fresh blueberries in our region grown outdoors in January—sorry to rain on your parade, but it just isn’t real!
As dairy farmers we recognize the peak lactational cycles of animals and so we make cheese with surplus milk in the summer; that is why cheese was originally produced-it was an effort to preserve excess milk! Summertime gives us excess milk, so we make cheese! Yes, my friend, we are ‘still doing that goat and cheese thing’ because that is what nature has provided us with.
I suppose it would be easier to just drive on over to our local grocery store and purchase any particular food item we want any time of the year (blueberries in October, for example), but would it really taste as good as if we hadn’t grown, produced or preserved it ourselves? Doubtfully! You see, in addition to being in touch with the rhythms and cycles of nature, living on the farm gives you an appreciation for all the work and ‘messiness’ involved in making the food we eat. Everything—the work, the time, the attention and sometimes the sacrifice. All of those things combine to give a profound appreciation for the food on your table. We would prefer to live in a way that keeps us humble enough to recognize the sacrifices of producing food, so we ‘choose’ to continue to do that goat and cheese thing.
Each year in August we find the garden overflowing with food, the spring livestock is growing fat, and the apples and fall fruit are starting to turn to shades of all ripeness. It is the same every year. For us, it is natural; it is comforting to know where we are at in the seasons. As we start to see the vibrant beauty of autumn we also know that in that beauty we are beginning the season of fall harvest. Things will begin to slow down. We will have made all of the necessary preparations to enjoy the summer abundance for the next six months through preservation and storage, and we begin to look toward shorter days and warmer meals with the foods that we have preserved from summer’s bounty. For us this is natural; so when people ask us how we manage to do everything we do, I try to remember what a gift it is that we live in a way that keeps us so connected with the rhythms and cycles of the farm because for so many, this is a lost reality.
The ‘cheese and goat thing’? Yes, we are still doing it and if I have to choose between that and losing the connection with the cycles of nature, I am afraid we will always ‘do the cheese and goat thing!’
Until next time, we wish you an abundant harvest, many enjoyable meals and happy preservation from the season of plenty.
Shaun & Lorrie…’still doing the goat and cheese thing’…..