|the Little Flower Farm-Stand|
Some people have met the crisis binge watching their favorite BBC melodramas. Some have carted off cases of Guiness from the liquor store. One guy in the St. Croix river valley who shall remain nameless filled his grocery cart with the entire Cub Foods stock of Yoplait yogurt cups.
Our family has geared up for the future by reinvesting in the old- fashioned ways of living.
“A what?” the grocery clerk asked me, face blank, and fingers paused mid-air over the keypad.
“A Jersey cow.”
“ You know, a cow! A real cow! So I can make my own butter and icecream, and cheese. A cow.”
Once she realized I was not talking about some product called “Jersey Cow” which was the go-to item of the Corona Virus season, but a living breathing bovine- the kind we all remember from our kindergarten picture books, she chuckled.
“Well, if you got the land for it, why not!”
|Guarding against Frost|
Which is exactly what we were thinking, looking at our 6 acre farm. A good portion of it went to burdock last season. I have since learned that all parts of the Burdock plant are medicinal. So I’ve made some peace with the stuff. But after days of pulling it out of our pasture and pausing only to disentangle burrs from our hair, boots, jackets, gloves, eyebrows, and one year old baby, we were ready to consider ruminants.
Two steers to make meat for us and our neighbors (and save us runs to Cost-co.), and a cow to give us milk, butter, cheese, whipping cream, ice cream, and a calf to boot. That sounded like a pro-active way to respond to “Shelter in Place”. While we reaped all those delicious rewards, they would be fertilizing our fields and keeping the burdock at bay.
|Marigold gives birth to "Boots" and "Dame Judi Dench"|
Anxiety was heightened because I was waiting for a shipment of freeze-dried cultures to inoculate my milk with, and start using my milk for cheese. Until it arrived I felt my hands were tied. On the plus side, the hens were laying more, as I poured surplus into their scrap bucket. The barn cats were sleek and lazy, their bellies filled with the high butterfat Jersey milk.
Eventually, with the help of a man named David Asher I was rescued by the very thing that was overwhelming me: the milk itself!
|Making Hard Cheese for Aging and Fresh Chevre|
One remarkable thing about the Covid-19 pandemic is that it has found us all sympathetically suffering many of the same things around the whole world. Less socialization, more isolation, a change to our normal routines…we are united with so many around the whole world in these new privations.
But for me, I found that the positive activity of making cheese like this has also given me a feeling of solidarity with much of the world that I didn’t have before. It’s easy to forget that not everyone in the world can just haul off and got to the store for cream cheese or crème fraiche if their recipes (or tastebuds) call for it! Straining yogurt like cheeses through cloth is how most of the cheese in the world is made and has been made for centuries.
“Shelter-in-Place” has made us rethink what both shelter and place really mean. We have found richer meaning in both words, since all this began.
|Early Spring Brassica Planting|