Running with Scissors
The season is ending. I see it in the milk – the way its chemistry changes suddenly, its secrets elusive, it’s just – different. And although we’re still having days that soar above 90* (with 90% humidity), the mornings are soft and cool, a promise that seasons are slowly shifting. As the weather shifts, so does the milk, so do the hormones which dictate just about every single thing we do here on a goat dairy. Like the animals themselves, goat milk is unpredictable, unwieldy, temperamental, fragile, rich, sweet, tangy. These are reasonable characteristics to force a (reasonable) person to abandon the whole endeavor but it makes me love them more, it makes me appreciate the milk Even. More. For half the season we drown in its abundance, the curd is predictable, strong – then the first cool temps blow in, the goats go into heat, the pregnancies begin, and so do the challenges of hitting targets with pH in cheese making. I hate that I have to learn how to do everything again in the fall. And I love it, too. As a serial job-leaver, perpetually bored with convention, seasonal goat cheese making simultaneously frustrates and suits me. As it turns out, it suits me exactly.
Today we hosted what is officially my favorite event to date. Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, a nationally recognized, award-winning purveyor of incredible cheeses from around the world (and they sell ours!) – hosted a brunch on the farm. This means that 42 good people paid hard-earned money to spend 2 hours here, on our little farm, eating plates of our cheese paired with delicious charcuterie, then listened with (what seemed to be) genuine interest as I gave a tour of the dairy and talked about farmstead cheese making, goat husbandry, and my foolish desire to put all our eggs into this basket. It was hot as hell and the flies ate perhaps 25% of the food – but it was such a perfect embodiment of the exact purpose of our public spaces.
I’ve spent years scheming about having folks from our community come out and enjoy the farm, the goats, learn a little about farmstead cheese making, small-scale agriculture. To watch this all happen in the midst of such an exhilarating second season is something I can’t articulate. In fact, this morning as I was talking to the group about our background and story, I felt my throat clench with the emotion that grips words I’m trying to say. Because I haven’t yet processed the fact that what we’re doing now is precisely what we set out to achieve.
I haven’t processed that – in the midst of the shit and the perpetual heart break and sweat and exhaustion – we are doing this. So the emotion catches me when I wish it would not, in the midst of a casual encounter, as I hand over a small bulk package of cheese to a chef I’ve admired for, you know, years, or when I’m standing in the heart of a city I have loved so hard, for so long, at a farmer’s market I fought to attend, selling food to people who really, really care about where their food dollars are spent.
I don’t know what I’m doing. No, I don’t. I will maybe never firmly grasp these ephemeral seasons, these goals I set that expand and contract like the unfortunate clay soil where we’ve planted roots. I just know I love my goats. And I know I want to keep working for them, with them. As their milk changes, dwindles, frustrates and eludes me, I have to carefully edit my narrative to vendors, chefs, customers whose business I’ve worked so damn hard to earn. It’s just another element to this complicated business that continues to shock, delight, enrage, and seduce me. Today someone attended the brunch who is currently beginning her search for land, flirting with the idea of leaving a desk job to pursue a desire she’s not yet defined but can’t ignore. I grasped her arm the way I accidentally do when I want to get my point across and can’t contain the intensity of what I want to say: “Strap a saddle to that idea, and just go,” I told her. It’s something I’ve never verbalized, but it’s exactly how I feel about everything right now.
Get out there. Just. Go.