Thursday, November 13, 2008
That is correct, 13.77%. Nice try, Xie Xie.
This Just In: The Rain Stopped Falling. Large Round Ball Sighted Briefly in Sky.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The farmer made three different batches of cheese, from three different batches of milk, on three different days. Everything looked nice. The cheeses were aged for a while. The farmer went to taste the cheeses. On the outside, fine. On the inside, a surprise. Eyes. More eyes than an elderly potato.
The farmer tasted the cheeses. They all tasted nice, but they all tasted like swiss cheese. Because they were. Because propionic acid bacteria, the culture that gives swiss cheese its eyes and some of its characteristic flavor, had apparently somehow invaded them. That's right, p. shermanii, aka Propionibacterium freudenreichii subsp. shermanii.
Well, how did that happen? We don't have any p. shermanii here since we don't make swiss cheese, since you can't sell swiss cheese at the Farmer's Market, that would be like trying to sell organic Velveeta. A posse of angry epicureans would be on your tail in a heartbeat. They would put on their Neal's Yard Dairy t-shirts and their Herve Mons baseball caps and run you right out of town.
The farmer went to a dark secret corner of the Internet where the cheesebrains (different from cheeseheads) lurk and on bended knee asked the oracles what might be causing the p. shermanii invasion.
First there was silence on the other end, then hypotheses started coming in. It turns out that this is the time of year that the wild propionics begin to emerge, as the animals move onto their winter feed. Some feeds make a better home for the wild propionics, and it turns out that pea hay is much more hospitable to p. shermanii than alfalfa.
Usually we eat alfalfa, but this year we're eating pea hay. It's delicious, I can see why the wild props like to live in it.
Anyway, that seemed to solve the mystery, but not the problem.
The farmer was talking to another much better and smarter cheesemaker and bemoaning the accidental swiss cheese. Who wants to buy farmstead swiss cheese? Swiss cheese comes in sandwich slices in a plastic bag, swinging from the supermarket hooks.
The smart cheesemaker tut-tutted kindly. "Don't be silly. People love swiss cheese. You just can't call it swiss cheese. You have to call it Gruyere."
Ah, of course, Gruyere.
Or as they say at Microsoft - that's not a bug, that's a feature.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Apparently the exact headline in the newspaper was: "Rain Keeps Falling."
I felt like I knew that already. That's why I was standing inside, as a matter of fact. Because outside the rain was falling, and falling in such a way that it appeared to me, illiterate as I am, that it intended to keep falling.
"Rain Keeps Falling" is not that good of a headline, in my opinion. Not around here, anyway.
"Rain Stops Falling" is something you could put in the paper, right on Page One.
Anyway the two Nigerian bucks, Marquee and CJ, came up to the big barn today because their buck shed, which is halfway down the hill toward Lost Beaver Lake, had been transformed into a mudbath.
They were very pleased and made fools of themselves. Their manly aroma filled the air. Almost to bursting.
"What is that wonderful smell?" Boo asked me.
Oh great, I thought. Soon enough she started in moaning and sighing and all but waving a hanky at Marquee.
"Yoo hoo," she warbled, in Nubian.
Oh great, I thought.
I wished I could go outside.
But Rain, for those who can read, Keeps Falling.
Monday, November 03, 2008
"I am doing an optimistic collection, because things are going badly."
-- Coco Chanel
Well, here we are on the first Monday in November, on the doorstep of winter, and the endless gray rains have started, the economy is in ruins, the mud is already ankle-deep, the farm dog died, the pox lives on, the leaves turned, the cheese in the cheese room got invaded by wild props (more on that later), the furnace broke down, the roof started leaking, and Viceroy the Lamancha buck somehow broke out of his pen and went on an unseemly rampage of goat passion, the details of which are far too frank for the tender ears of the general public.
The creek, you can bet on it, will almost certainly rise.
And how does that make me feel?
Come on, tomorrow!
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Most of us really couldn't care too much about it except it is kind of a pain. The Nubians didn't notice it, I don't think, and the LaManchas only had very mild cases. But a few of the goats were miserable, including Cammy who had a nasty pox blister right under her eye, but especially all of the Toggs and Togg crosses.
For some reason they were hit very hard. Penrose was miserable and got lots of sympathy until her daughter Lucy got the pox, then she was shunted aside because Lucy had the worst case of all, much worse than Penrose. But even Eo was under the weather.
The only ones who didn't get it were the fat girls. The fat girls have their own separate shed where they are served a complete bread and water diet. Just kidding about that, they don't get any bread. It is a maximum security facility with no outside contact or grain-smuggling visitors, and that's why it remained pox-free. They just get little dry twigs of grass hay, like something you would throw in the bottom of a hamster cage. Every day they stare at the feeder in disbelief - is this a joke?
Then they gobble the dry sticks like mad, like the old Catskill Mountains vaudeville routine - the food here is so terrible! And such small portions! If it is their birthday they get a leaf of chard as a special treat. You think that is a joke but food is so scarce in there that they fight over the chard when they see it coming. The ground shakes, believe me. If you have never seen a chard riot, it is really something.
The fat girls are Breezy, Tubster, and Snow Pea. Not to say there aren't other fat girls, but these three are the ones who have gone beyond the pale. Tubster in particular from a very young age has been remarkably spherical. No amount of dieting reduces her; somehow she is able to skip the step of digesting and gain weight just by thinking about food. It is kind of a miracle, like the loaves and fishes, only in reverse.
Or something like that.
Anyway, now that we are starting to come out of the end of the pox tunnel, everyone looks a little brighter. I don't want to jinx anything but still - STILL - there are three goats who have never gotten the pox, in spite of living right at the center of the outbreak. Two of them are mother and daughter. The other is probably just too dumb to catch anything. I won't say who they are, but you probably know.
Don't worry, unless I decide to do another one, this will be my last post on the tiresome subject of the pox.
Friday, October 31, 2008
There have been complaints, as there always are, regarding the current election (see below) for the cutest kid of all time. This is always a problem in a democracy, especially if the democracy is rigged. Anyway, some people have intimated that Peanut might be cheating.
"So what?" I said, when I heard this allegation.
Then there were some sour-grape complaints from some of the unnominated goats and their mothers. The minis in particular were complaining. Peaches asked everyone - what about my kids? What about Ginger Jones? What about Augie and Hermy and Julius? Why weren't they nominated? Because of mini prejudice, she implied.
"So what?" I said.
Being extremely polite I didn't mention that Peaches should go take a look in the mirror. I noticed and you probably did too that she didn't mention her daughter Tubster. Tubster is no beauty queen, and minis in general just aren't as cute as Nigerians. That's the way it is.
If anyone should be complaining, it's me. What about my adorable son Bobby? What about Huckleberry? What about my other supermodel grandson Goatzilla? Or Harley or Cora Belle? Or Betty for goodness' sake? The list goes on and on.
Well the farmer ignored all the grumbling because who has time for the complainers of the world. But then Betsy came up, and since she hardly ever complains, she was allowed to speak her mind, which in my opinion is a big mistake, because she is part Nubian.
"What about Moony?" Betsy wanted to know. Moony is Betsy's brother.
Everyone shrugged in a very French way. "What about him?"
"He was really really cute."
"So what?" I said again, because get over it, Moony wasn't nominated.
"Yes, but he was an orphan," said Betsy.
Well, that's true. He was an orphan.
What about Moony?
The polls will close in one hour or whenever the farmer finishes milking, whichever comes first.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The gauntlet has been thrown down. Smidgen, the tiniest doeling ever born at Herron Hill, dares to challenge kid-of-the-year Peanut, the tiniest buckling ever born here, to a cutest baby of all time (so far) contest.
Betty has not protested, even though she was very cute when she was born, and neither has Goatzilla. So the fight is on.
Good luck Smidgen. You will need it.
Th Poll has ended. Peanut "Mayor Daley" The Kid won. Smidgen came in second. For a while she was ahead. Then she was behind. Good try, Smidge.
Monday, October 20, 2008
My daughter Blue Umbrella, aka Baby Blue, aka Blue, is certainly the prettiest of the regular milkers and obviously the smartest, and her milk tastes the best. The farmer uses Blue's milk as the daily latte milk, since it is the sweetest. But the farmer didn't want to put her on regular milk test since she is a first freshener and only had a single kid, so she is just milking once a day. On test everyone is milked twice a day.
So the farmer decided to do a one-time test on Blue's milk just out of curiosity. All the other milkers average between 3.5 and 4.5% with their butterfat. They do go up some in the winter, to give them credit for their mediocre efforts, but usually they average around 4% for the year. The butterfat is what makes the milk taste good, and it is what the cheesemakers want to make beautiful cheese.
Sheep have high butterfat, maybe starting around 6%, and this is why people milk sheep, because why else would anyone milk sheep? No offense to the sheep of the world, but if you think the Nubians are low on the IQ totem pole, what until you see the sheep.
There are sheep out there that make Boo look like Stephen Hawking. And that isn't easy.
Anyway, the test came back and of course Blue had the highest butterfat of anyone, and almost double some of the big girls. That's right, 7%. One of her great-grandmothers milked 11%, so we will see what happens in the winter, she may go up even higher.
But anyway, ha. Meanwhile the big large bossy girls fill the pail with water. Yum, delicious, tomme de l'eau, save me a piece, I bet it goes good with gruel.