Shady Apple Goats Newsletter


News from the North Forty Farm, November 2011

Laurie and Buttercup lead the procession at the wedding.

Doug and Nancy
Doug on his wedding day at Shady Apple Goats

Soon to be winter

Thoughts on loss...

The snow came early this year. The time of year that the late flowers are in their glory was snatched away from us overnight with a quick frost and a sprinkle of snow. We all suffer the loss of those last bouquets of dahlias like rays of sunshine on the kitchen table. The leaves fell off the trees too quickly then and the ground went soft and muddy.

We still get lots of milk and I am making all sorts of experimental cheeses to age over winter. I just finished a honey-rubbed montasio that smells divine. Then there was a saffron infused manchego. And the aged goat cheese salted and herbed and rolled in cognac soaked fig leaves... I am flipping and rubbing and hovering over all of those aging cheese now hoping they are successful... and delicious. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t and the failed experiments become chicken treats. The learning curve is steep when it comes to cheese making. We have stopped milking Buttercup at night now and by next month will start to dry off all the goats. This is a most welcome break from the grind of twice a day milking but there is sadness too in losing that connection with the goats. And knowing it will be months now before the next fresh goat milk is available and abundant again...

Sometimes now the volume of milk exceeds my time to make cheese. This is when I make vats of gogurt and when I freeze milk in preparation for winter soap making. We made the first soap of the season in the CSA soap making class on Saturday — a honey cream soap infused with honey and goat milk and cream and topped with dried lemon verbena and melted beeswax. Our marvelous creation now sits on the dining room table drying and aging. In mid winter the smell of that verbena will cling to us after warm baths.

There are things that are hard to write and hard even to think about. It is difficult to think about cheese aging and next year and the year after... it feels selfish to plan for the future when our beloved Doug fights the battle of his life against metastatic pancreatic cancer. He and Nancy married in our yard near the barn two weeks ago. It was one of those rare warm sunny perfect russet colored fall days. These kinds of days disappear overnight, melting into the same grey stillness of winter. There is a sadness that lurks now. It is in the cold air of dark mornings when we sit in the barn milking and I think of Doug feeding baby goats, checking in on goats in labor, standing by while we wept over the loss of Buttercup’s babies. Giving updates of Philies scores in the dark middle night of Olive’s labor. He is as much a part of Shady Apple Goats as we are. He has been there since the beginning. He designed our sweet website. He believes. He is a lover of goats and all things creamy that go on fresh bread... he is a friend in the truest sense of the word...

So fall rolls into winter...the goats will be bred soon and then we will settle into the quiet of deepest winter. We will go inside then and help Doug and Nancy through this journey. And dream of a future that we all share together...