Friday, October 22, 2010

Chickens, cheese, friends, lessons and bad acoustics.

Nettle Meadow Farm - Home of the **Kunik**.

Waiting for cheese on the dry front porch.
  I didn't get as many pictures taken as I wanted to, as it intermittently rained and shined all day.  And it mostly rained when I was outside the truck with my camera.  These were taken on the long front porch of Nettle Meadow Farm's farm/cheese house, where it was dark, but dry.  Melanie, Marianne and I had driven an hour to the abattoir to deliver our feathered pre-food products (aka meat chickens) and had time to drive another hour+ to Nettle Meadow Farm.  They produce some of the best cheese anywhere on this small farm, using goat and sheep milk and Jersey cow cream.  My absolutely favorite cheese is their Kunik, a blend of goat milk and Jersey cream.  It is almost like eating cheese/cake.  We were able to wander around the farm a bit, but the cheesemakers were up to their elbows at work so we were unable to spend any time with them.  However, we did get to meet some very fetching Friesian sheep, adorable Nigerian Dwarf goats, and an obliging farm manager who really seems to love his job.  Did I mention that they are selling some of same fetching sheeps' lambs?  I didn't?

We also got to spend the time talking and laughing, discussing everything from politics to farming methods.  Melanie had packed the most amazingly good sandwiches for the trip - pesto, mozz, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts on farm rolls.  They were delicious!  We stopped in a lovely gift shop and gallery where I found the perfect birthday present for a certain Els in Holland (in case you're reading this, Els, I'm not telling what it is), and overall had a wonderful time.  We picked up our now-food birds and had an interesting discussion with the processor on the vagaries of state regulations and what causes some birds to grow more than others - especially when they are from the same chick batch.  Melanie and I had birds that weighed in substantially less than Marianne's.  I think that we ended up figuring it was a combination of too-low-protein food (me) and predominately female birds (Mel) versus mostly male birds raised on high-protein organic feed and given 24/7 access to same.  Plus pasture, which I did not have.  It was interesting and I have tucked away the details for next year's birds.

After we got back and stowed birds and carriers in appropriate cars and freezers, we sampled a new Nettle Farm cheese called "Three Sisters".  It is made from a blend of goat and sheep milk, and Jersey cream.  It had a pronounced 'goat' flavor, with some definite 'sheep' and ended with a nice tangy-ness on the tongue.  And I discovered whole wheat saltine crackers!  Who knew?!  The day's discoveries were not over, however, as Melanie and I managed to squeeze in a quick felted-soap lesson.  She also bestowed upon me a large bag of arugula straight from her garden.  I believe arugula is my favorite green - with Swiss chard and kale coming in a close second.

After a lot of hugs, squeals and kisses (my new MO upon arriving home - hoping to overcome any anxiety over kittens in residence), the chores were quickly done and I headed out to the Town rabies clinic, where I volunteer twice a year.  As this is held in the Town's garage, a large, cavernous cement and metal building with puny heating system, by the time the line for dog inoculations forms, there is an impenetrable din.  The cats (6-7p) may be unhappy, but they do not vocalize like the dogs.  With the dogs, it's a combination of excitement and fear.  Lots of beagles, hounds and dachshunds.  I love seeing the dogs and their owners - great big, beefy farmers with Chihuahuas, young mothers with exuberant huskies and kids in tow, seniors with their senior dogs.  It's also a great opportunity to find out what's going on and who's doing what to whom.  When I came home and through the door for a second time, much later, there were more hugs, squeals and kisses.  Especially for Scrappy, who, sans diaper, did not pee in the house.  Yeah, Scrappy!  Extra hugs for you!


Michelle said...

I couldn't help but think the "Three Sisters" cheese was perfect for your outing of three "sisters." I call Melanie my twin separated at birth, and am trying so hard not to be jealous of your wonderful time (and sandwiches - yum!).

Susan said...

Michelle - Your ears must be burning! We were talking about you yesterday ~ and thinking it would have been so much fun to have you along. Who knows? A Four Sisters Cheese?

Michelle said...

Ah, I feel loved! :-)

Erin said...

That Kunik sounds delicious! I'm partial to sheep's milk cheeses, love them!

Susan said...

Erin, they've won a lot of rewards for that cheese. It is sort of firm-creamy, with a nice rind. It's amazing!