Goat Farmer Cheesemaker, Gardener and Farm Educator
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September 24, 2002
Gray's Chapel, NC
I would ask people to look closely at the soil because it is the source of all that we do as farmers. It is alive. It is not "dirt." For a sustainable farmer, the healthy, living soil represents what must be preserved. Too much farming today destroys the life of the soil. Unless we see what's in the bowl as beautiful and life giving, we won't nurture it.
This cheese represents seven years of perfecting my craft as a cheesemaker. This is the best cheese I've produced so far. So, when I look at the cheese, I remember the thrill of learning the craft. Cheesemaking is a kind of alchemy . You carefully mix and manipulate precious ingredients with the right time and temperature, say a little prayer and wait for the magic. The chickens got a lot of not very good cheese in the beginning, but now the magic works so when you savor our cheese you can taste the good earth, smell the new mown hay and know that the fresh milk has reached for immortality. The thing about being here - with the cheese and the compost and the soil- you really feel the motion of life. It's like riding a wave, sometimes it breaks right and sometimes it doesn't. You're beside it,moving with it, and you hope to go in the right direction. With this Gray's Chapel cheese, because it's a raw milk cheese, its got the life of this farm in it; the organisms, the good bacteria, the enzymes that come in the fresh goat milk. When I make the cheese I slow them all down so I can transform the milk. In the cheesemaking process you slow them all down so they do their magic. We don't kill them, which happens when you pasteurize, we harness them. It's named Gray's Chapel after our neighborhood, signifying that the cheese contains the life and taste of this place.
Farmstead cheese is special because it's handmade from the milk of own animals. We don't buy milk from any other farm. Our goats harvest solar energy from our woods and pastures, often eating plants that nobody else could eat and turning it into sweet milk. Then we carefully change the goat milk into unique cheeses. We think you can taste the sun, fresh air and meadow in the cheese.