Things are in full swing here (those who know us would say that things are always in full swing here!). We took the large pine trees down in front of the house and now have raised beds ready for seeds. The plan is to have a kitchen garden in front and to do rotating annual flowers in the other three beds. It all seemed like a great idea until I have to get the five cubic yards of soil from the driveway INTO the beds . . . then the whole project got decidedly less fun . . . but it is done now and I am so excited. We have raised beds in the garden too and will plant strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in the beds and close this part of the garden off to the chickens in Winter so we still have something left next year! It is going to be a gorgeous weekend and my job is to till the garden so we can get the Spring peas planted. I am always late with the peas . . . it hangs over me every year as the seed packs gather dust on the table waiting to be planted that I am LATE getting them in the ground. Again! And yet every year they put out their lovely purple and pink flowers and we have peas. This year will be no exception.
The goats are now officially dried off. I made the last batch of chevre with the final half gallon of milk and now we will wait until June for milk. The pregnant goats growing bigger daily and last night at feeding time I felt the faintest of kicks from Miracle's kids. Miracle has been spotting some and we worry she will miscarry so feeling the kids moving within her is a mixed blessing. I don't want to get too attached if we lose these babies . . . but do not know any other way. I get attached. The goats spend a lot of time eating and I watch them from the kitchen window in the lower pasture grazing. When they are not eating they lay quietly head tilted up to the sun, chewing cud and sighing. We have a little over a month before the first kids are due and have finished the extra kidding stall in the barn for Honeysuckle and have moved the milk room so we have more room and can set up both milk stands.
Last week we milked Miracle for the last time and I took off for a too-short trip to Vermont. I took the long slow Vermonter Amtrack to Windsor, VT. I brought books to read, knitting, seed catalogs, CSA things, etc. etc. but mainly I just sat on that train and looked out the window watching the world go by. I went to Vermont to visit old friends and to make cheese. My friends Clif and Colleen live at Cobb Hill — a co-housing community in Hartland, VT. The co-housing community is an amazing experiment in sustainable living and small-scale agriculture. They have many food ventures going on at Cobb Hill (sheep, chickens, bees, maple syrup, shitake mushroom and vegetable CSA). The land is farmed by horses (and people) and is thriving. Cobb Hill also is home to three cheese makers who produce Cobb Hill cheese which you can find at cheese shops and Metropolitan Bakery in Philadelphia. They make cheese using the raw milk from the herd of forty Jersey cows who live on the farm. (See the website on the cheese at cobbhillcheese.com.) So last Friday I spent the afternoon making cheese with Sophie. We stirred curds, hooped the cheese, pressed and flipped the cheese (and washed dishes!). Then I got to see the aging room where Cobb Hill ages their cheeses. The day with Sophie was one of the highlights of my cheese making life. All the pieces came together for me as I watched her work, asked (a million!) questions, and saw how a "home" cheese maker like me becomes an "artisan" cheesemaker. If you are interested I am including a short video clip of my time with Sophie in their cheese room.
The 2012 CSA will begin in June and I am making cheese to age for the CSA. Today I am making a caerphilly cheese with raw jersey cow milk from our friends Dave, Donna, and Tanya. I have planned the cheeses for the summer/fall CSA and am really excited for it to start. We have just a couple of spots left and then are full for the Summer CSA which is great. For anyone who has signed up for the CSA look for information to come out in the next week about the details of the CSA.
I will start my job in the next couple of weeks at University of Pennsylvania but this four months off has been such a gift. We have been able to spend time with Doug (and now Nancy since she has taken a leave and is home with Doug now). I have the bags of salted peanuts ready and we will all sit down to enjoy the start of the 2012 Phillies season this weekend . . . Doug cannot go to the game so we will bring the game to him!
Happy Easter . . . Passover . . . Spring . . .