Friday, December 12, 2008

Goat update

It's been awhile since i posted about the goats, and that's really a shame. They're remarkable creatures, and they deserve a shoutout every now and again for the hard work they do.

We've been down to milking once a day for quite a while now, and some days we don't milk at all. Breeding season is over, but after contact with the bucks the ladies are smelling quite funky, and as a result the milk is a bit more...well...pungent, shall we say. I haven't really been bothered by it. I just pour it on the cereal and don't smell it. I think it's easy to psych yourself out about things like that, and i have a certain antipathy to finickiness, so i just don't allow myself to think about it too much. I couldn't tell a difference in the flavor, but when you're eating honey nut cheerios you don't really taste the milk so much as the honey nut goodness.

In any case, end-of-season milk has a much higher fat content, mostly because they're eating much less grass now and much more hay, alfalfa, and grain. Thus, less watery, succulent matter and more dry matter. This does affect the cheese, and although you might think it would be positive it's actually a pain in the ass. The high fat content promotes geotrichum growth. Geotrichum is the white mold that makes camemberts and bries so tasty. As the mold develops on the cheese it works its way into the curd and creates that amazing creamy layer between the rind and the harder curd. Unfortunately, right now the mold growth is so fast (and we have some wild geotrichum growing on the cheese too--uninvited guests) that the rinds on our lovely little bloomy cheeses are slipping off, creating an awful mess. I've been trying to wrap the cheeses before they get runny, but sometimes it happens so fast that it's all you can do to peel them off the drying mats and hope the rinds don't break off. Needless to say, we're selling the cheeses cheaper. They taste just as fabulous, but they're hardly beauties. I actually prefer a rustic looking cheese, but i have been known to love homely, even ugly things. This summer i had a passion for this monstrous looking reishi mushroom, which i thought was just the coolest thing ever.

Unfortunately, today was my last day in the cheese kitchen before i go to France for the spring semester. It was very sad. I didn't even mind tubbing chevre, which happens to be the most tedious job i can think of. To think that i still love my job after all the blood, sweat, and tears (i'm pretty certain all three were involved at some point this past summer) is really amazing. I never thought that would happen to be honest. I thought i'd end up resigning myself to a tolerable job. But no, i really love what i do, and i don't see that changing.

I've been battling a lot recently about what to do with myself. My life. I should remind you that i'm a French major. I chose this because i like it. The end. I feel i should have a degree for multiple reasons, only one of which is a backup plan. I mostly feel i should get a degree because i want to learn as much as i can while i can. I believe learning is something to be done every day, all your life. But i do know that i will not be able to do as much learning, by the book learning, that is, when i start working full-time. Hence, i am a student bearing my academic cross for now. I've been thinking maybe i should get a teaching licensure even though the thought of teaching children, tweens, or teens appals me. But then, with the advice of a former teacher i decided that would be an unfortunate mistake. If i'm not cut out to be a teacher, i shouldn't be one. Students should have teachers who are passionate about what they do. There are already too many nonchalant teachers. Besides, i'm having more and more trouble withholding what i think, and i am told that tact is important for things like teaching.

So, i've decided to forge ahead with my plans to farm. Someone needs to do it, and it might as well be me. It won't be easy, and i'll probably be poor all my life, but that's fine. I really don't think i'll mind so long as i have bread and butter (and maybe some sorghum molasses--this has been my fix of late) and goats.

Back to the farm. We recently had a buck die. You'll never guess why. It's actually funny. You have to develop an odd sense of humor when you work on a farm. See, during breeding season the bucks are "in rut," which essentially means that they are horny, in a way that only goats are horny. They give off this musk that is augmented by their own urine, as they piss on themselves and on the other bucks (if you'll believe this, they piss on their own faces--a sight to behold, really). They fight amongst themselves, hump each other, and mostly stop eating. That's right, they get so horny they stop eating. This is why bucks don't live as long as does. The stress of rut is pretty hard on their bodies. So this year our new buck, Savoy, was going through rut, and he completely stopped eating and died. I think to think of it as dying of horniness, which is essentially true. The humor in this lies in the fact that the animal died of the characteristic that goats are known for--their virility. It's like a pig dying of overeating (which also happened fairly recently--but that's really, really disgusting, and i won't describe it) or a hen literally pecking another to death or something. Again, odd sense of humor.

I plan to return to the farm when i get back from France. I'm very attached to the place. I really can't imagine coming back to anything else. So there will be more posts about the farm, just not for a while. I have contacted a farming family in France that i hope to visit and work with for at least a week or two, so that could make for some interesting future posts. I plan to have a seperate blog dedicated to my escapades in France, but i haven't created it yet. I'll be sure to let you all know when that's up and running. It is possible that i won't post much or at all during the christmas season simply because i will be very preoccupied with travel prep and just the hubbub of the season in general, so whether my next post is tomorrow or sometime in january, when i'm in France, cheerio!


Kiashu said...

It's interesting to read about your desire to farm. You may change your mind with experiences in France, overseas travel has a way of changing our perspective on things.

It's remarkable how your written voice has changed over the period of writing this blog. I think we can blame the goats :) It's more mature. In the beginning it was obvious you were a young woman, now you could be anywhere from 20 to 50!

Anonymous said...

Think I'll go eat a piece of fruit from Spain...