Caring dairy is a project for farmers sponsored by the cooperative of Beemster.
Caring dairy is about sustainability, that means a good balance between:
Happy cows & Healthy cows, feeling good and living longer. (Welfare)
Happy Farmers: The farmer has to be able to earn a good sandwich with his farm. (economic healthy farm)
Happy earth: There is care for the environment where the farmers live and work. (Energy and climate)
Our cows can go outside, jumping by the grassland, grazing fresh grass. The cows can have a free life and sometimes I talk to them. That’s why Beemster cheese has a special taste.
The grass cheese with its special taste, delivers us one eurocent a liter milk extra..
This is what makes: Happy farmers and Happy cows.
But the cows can only be happy when they are healthy, then she can live longer at the Spaander farm.
Monday I had flashbacks to every moving day I have gone through in my adult life. Forklift-full by forklift-full our garage was emptied of all the cheese making equipment that had filled it from wall to wall and floor to ceiling for the last 4 months (the garage being the most accessible and securable location available). I spent the better part of the day in the creamery directing equipment unpacking and placement, answering “Yes, I do need this many cheese molds,” scouring discarded cardboard for missing bits of stainless steel, and racking my brains trying to recall where we intended this or that shelf to go. Of course it is during this process that forgotten items become apparent, so there was also lots of darting back to my computer and my ever faithful Nelson Jameson catalog to add to the growing list of “Still to Buy.”
Farm visits are always exciting to me. After a certain point, cheese alone doesn’t satisfy me, and I really begin to hunger for the history behind the plate. My recent visit to Achadinha Cheese Company in Petaluma, California, was richly rewarding. Joined today by my friend Gavin (wedding photographer by day, cheese and farm photographer a couple times a year), we wound our way along Chileno Valley Road, past rolling green hills, up to the wagon wheels gracing the Pacheco Dairy entrance. Along the driveway, we could see grazing goats, but also nearly 30 cows, some chickens, a dog, and a cat. There are also pigs on the property, but I think they kept out of sight that day.
I recently received an e-mail from a good friend who was back in California taking the Cheesemaking class at the College of Marin. Tamara, a veterinarian, moved to Alaska some years ago and has very much been leading the adventurous life since, such as undertaking (and completing) the Ididerod dog sled race.
Anyway, Tamara recently acquired some dairy goats, providing the catalyst to learn how to make cheese. As well as hands-on cheesemaking, the class also went on a field trip to nearby Nicasio Valley Dairy.
Update: contest closed! The judges are conferring
Competition is heating up for our Grilled Cheese Photo Contest. Folks are sending in photos of themselves with their master- or monster-piece grillies, competing to the grand prize: a stylish Romano grater, fabulous cheese curler, and innovative partyclette from Boska USA:
Five runners up will also receive Boska's no-fuss, sandwich-ready toastabags, which can make grilled-cheese in your pop-up toaster for near-instant grilly satisfaction:
The cows are very happy here on the farm. We make sure all the baby calves that are inside have a nice big hutch of straw to keep them warm and clean. When they get older they have a skippy ball that hangs by a rope, sometimes they play with it to push it around by hitting their head against it. It is very funny to watch. Then the calvess are going jump because they have fun with it. The cows from two year and older have a rubber mat on the floor, like having carpeting at home, so the cows can walk softly and it’s better for their feet.
The cows do have many things to make it comfortable and when the cow is happy: she gives more milk. Their bed is made of a mat between foam, then some clean straw. The cows can lay by a good, softy bed. Sometimes the cows have itch, the itching brush helps the cows.
Consumed in moderation, and with the force-multiplier of a good piece of cheese, beer can be quite the frugal beverage, turning a modest investment of money and a small amount of preparation into an outsize portion of happiness and health.
Okay, holy smokes. Apropos of lambs, here's something you don't see every day: a pair of baby lambs paling around with a whistling tupperware nest of little goslings.
In the wake of the California Artisan Cheese Festival, publisher Stephanie Skinner and I took a trip out to visit Joel Weirauch at his eponymous Weirauch Farm in the hills of Sonoma County, California.
Joel's holding Irene, who was bottle fed at home for the first month—her mother had udder problems, so Irene got very comfortable around people. She's one of the older lambs: some of the wee ones in the barn were only a few days old, but they all have names that start with "I"; Irene, Iris, Ivy, etc. Nex year, every lamb will have a "J" name, and so on.
Joel and his wife Carleen are making humane, organic, farmstead sheep cheese in an old-fashioned, new-fangled way: bootstrapping their way into the business, renting land and using recycled schoolhouse trailers for aging caves. Never throw anything out, eh?