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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

I just rolled in last night from a two-day cheesemaking workshop at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT.  I had been looking forward to this for months - it was my first vacation in almost seven years!  What a surprise that my vacation had everything to do with livestock.  In this case, Brown Swiss cows.  It was an amazing two days, with so much information that I am still sifting through it.  Besides learning about the farm's history, eating delicious food mostly grown on the farm, seeing real sustainability in action, from the cows on pasture, their manure fertilizing the fields, their milk making the cheese that helps sustain the farm, the whey from the cheese going back to the fields and to the pigs, that are integrated into the Inn's dining menu, etc., etc.  It was inspiring.
And cheese .... we talked about cheese, learned about the varied histories of cheese, tasted cheese, made cheese.  Heaven.  Shelburne Farms came about in the 1800s and the Inn (pictured above) was the family house.  It is still furnished very much like it was back in the day - with most of the furniture still in its original rooms.  Thank goodness for farsighted and Earth-friendly heirs of the original Webb.  They have made the farm a not-for-profit educational and working farm, with some of the much-needed income coming from the Inn, the cheese, the dairy, and other enterprises.  It is situated on the shore of Lake Champlain and it is beautiful.  There is not one single bad view.  The farm raises and milks a herd of registered Brown Swiss cows and, during the spring and summer, all of their milk goes into the cheese-making operation.  Nat Bacon, an extremely generous and knowledgeable cheesemaker with a passion for the farm that was contagious, spent two days covering everything from the pasture the cows graze on, the health of the cows, the make-up of their particular milk, and the challenges of making a high-quality cheddar every day of the week.  Our group made over 500 lbs of cheese in an exhausting 7 hour stint - and that wasn't even a whole day of work for the cheesemakers.  It was enlightening.  And I learned
that there is no such thing as too much cheese.

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