I wish we had collected photos of Chloe for every year she's worked at the farm, starting with one weekend day in eighth grade, but here's something typical from this year, now that she runs tours, trains shop staff, owns a pasteurization license and is an all-round farm girl, not to mention her nursing career.
Chloe is an athlete - she has always understood working hard, reliability, teamwork and being funny. She is competent and kind to animals, but not sentimental. She is adored by our cheesemaking and farm staff alike, not least for her broad understanding of Spanish idiom. When she started here, she was shy. Now we can't get her away from visitors. We are so proud of our local staff, and Chloe is a stellar example of somebody who would be a fantastic employee anywhere but who has stayed with us to be a part of the farm. Thank you Chloe! and congratulations from us all on being accepted to nursing college!
Gordon Edgar was the voice on the telephone from Rainbow Grocery. Rainbow is a workers' cooperative that grew from a San Francisco ashram's food-buying club in 1975. If you have food-loving family in from out of town, Rainbow is a fascinating stop on a tour of foodie San Francisco. Practically all online reviewers ooze praise of the opulent cheese selection, which is Gordon's department. Your visitors will also enjoy the astonishing bulk foods, plus the occasional mob lynching of SUVs in the car park (leave yours a couple of streets away) and the European egalitarianism of packing your own bags at check-out.
I met Gordon face to face at one of the American Cheese Society competitions. In a distinguished cheese career, that began long before cheese careers were trending, he has judged and written about American cheeses with flair and humor. He makes me laugh and I trust his advice on cheese and selling cheese. Plus I love it when we can't make it to a cheese show, but Gordon will be there and if we've won an award, he'll collect it for us and bring it to the farm with fanfare!
I am both proud and humble to announce cheese classes with Gordon at Harley Farms. The first class, on farmstead cheeses, is on Monday May 28th. Your chance to meet Gordon, one of my cheese heros.
If we seem to tell you the trivial news each month - the limping baby goat, the latest elderly adopted labrador, the fat cats and their trophy mice - it's because laughing over light-hearted farm gossip and small endeavors like nursing Sunshine the baby goat is the best way to get through the physical and mental effort of the farm at this time of year. Almost all of the blue tag herd have had their babies. We milked the mothers by hand to save their colostrum milk for the babies, who were bottle-fed before they learnt to suckle on buckets with teats. Now we have to keep the babies warm and dry with plenty of play space, and can milk the mothers in the parlor, beginning the cycle of milking and cheesemaking that goes on for the rest of the year. Every action has to be on time, and carried out with care and respect for animals and staff.
This was Sunshine, who was born blind in one eye and could take only a few steps at a time. She got a lot of attention on the farm in her few days of life, because it was a joy to focus on a single happy event, like cuddling Sunshine outside in the sun, seeing her respond to the warmth and the bleats of the newborns outside in the nearby pen. But Sunshine didn't grow stronger, and died last week. It's hard for those who helped us with her care, but who weren't bound up in the day to day efforts of the farm and whose experience of her death was perhaps more upsetting because it wasn't balanced by farm work. Not all of our stories have a happy ending.
One hundred babies have arrived, with only nine more pregnant Blue Herd mothers. There is enough milk now to feed the newborns and to begin making cheese this week. We will have a couple of weeks to catch our breath - and bottle-feed - before the next clutch of babies arrive. It's been our smoothest season yet, with only tiny Sunshine, born frail and half-blind, needing special care. Happily, our friend Sande has not only cooked for us every day but nurses Sunshine with love and massages.
Sande keeps us and baby Sunshine nourished
Sunshine, who may need a splint to walk comfortably
Blue Herd mummy Bernadette had the prettiest babies, with white, brown and black coats
This baby will have an unusual wavy coat
The baby girls who can drink from teats on a bucket are in a line of little pens at our Big Barn. As soon as the oldest group learn a new game, like hilariously running at top speed into the plastic wall you see at the end of this pen, the next group copy them, and so on. Until all forty baby girls are running into the wall!
Kevin, who is raising our baby girls in his off season, points out the obvious joy of working with mammals rather than his birds. The kids love to be touched and respond very happily to attention
Dirty boys. We have a new water tank, so Jake and Sean Og shovelled out a river of mud from the old redwood tank this week
The first babies of 2012 were born on Wednesday. As in previous years, we will bottle-feed the babies ourselves in our new barn just across the field from the farm. Farm tours will begin at the nursery barn, where you will be able to see the babies growing in their separate dormitories. There'll soon be babies old enough to hold in Tony's Pen at the farm.