Though she be but little, she is fierce
I should not be sitting here quoting Shakespeare. I should not be. I should be pasteurizing milk and turning it into cheese. I should be trimming the overgrown hooves of a herd of goats. I should be inputting receipts. I should, should, should. But today I’m giving myself this tiny luxury of sitting in a silent house. No babbling babies toddling across the floor, no grandmother (who is our nanny) chasing behind them, no husband bustling through the room on his way out to fix whatever is broken (he’s in the office). There is always something broken.
Today I am stopping for an hour to pause and reflect on the past month, and I am going to marvel at this very unlikely farm and this very unlikely career. In just over a month the dairy has started operation. It’s woken up blurred and hazy as the humid summer mornings. It’s nudged the goats awake and coaxed them into a parlor, sanitized the equipment, fired up the motors, cleaned udders, milked, emptied the milk tank, cleaned, pasteurized, cultured, stirred, scooped, salted. This little dairy that gets its milk from this little farm – it’s making cheese now.
In fact it’s making enough cheese to fill a few orders, and very soon, to sell at a farmer’s market. It won’t pay the bills anytime soon, but it is a base and a beginning. This season I am milking only 11 goats and every single time I pasteurize the milk collected from these girls over the course of just a few days, I am an awe of how much cheese they create. And the real miracle in all this? We don’t feed them much. They get a scoop of oats and sunflower seeds while being milked, a few flakes of alfalfa in the morning and night – but most of what feeds them is whatever is growing here on the farm. Cedar elm, post oak, bermuda, bluestem, milk thistle, and the mesquite we’ve battled for so long is a delicacy when they can reach it. Talk about terroir, our land is woven deep into each little cake of cheese that’s packaged and sent out the dairy door.
Reflection feels wasteful right now when, more than ever before, I’m pulled in so many opposite directions. But I am forcing myself to stop for one whole minute, to turn around and look at what’s been carved from the rubble of someone else’s neglect, to be able to physically weigh and handle food that this land creates, land that we clipped and opened just enough, just enough so that livestock could spill out into all its crevices, nibble at the edges, bring it back to life. Without that reflection, the victory would get lost in the drudgery of daily farm operations. You have to stop and pat yourself on the back sometimes.
We are so very little compared to so many, so little, so new, but good lord this month has made me realize how much a little farm can do.
Whoever you are, reading this right now, whatever it is you’re chasing, dream bigger – even if you feel very little.
Let your own ferocity surprise you.