The goats are visibly pregnant now, we're shipping exciting parcels of cheese all over the country, and our Christmas Faire is next weekend. These are the usual routines of our farm and business. For all the routines of summer - such as the hauling of the irrigating pipes across the pastures - there are corresponding jobs in winter - regular mucking-out of the straw in the loafing barn, as the waddling goats spend more time indoors. But we also have the routines of a family, the traditions that bind us as a group. So, December 1st was our annual picnic at our neighbor Sande's house, up in the hills of Pescadero. Her garden's a mass of Christmas trees jostling for sunlight, needing a man with a saw. We thin out a few, and dress the barn and shop for their most beautiful appearance of the year.
Which of these hundred identical trees do you want?
Yum. Lime and pistachio cheesecake, coming to the farm very soon.
Just out of the oven. You can't have any yet!
Just recently, a beautiful, vibrant woman introduced herself to us at the weekend. Kathleen has the enviable poise and tone that you might expect from her twenty-five years of professional dancing. She doesn't dance now; she makes goat milk cheesecakes for her dessert company in Healdsburg, Ca. But this isn't a straightforward story of another food-loving entrepreneur. Kathleen can't tell you her story because out of the blue, at the apogee of her dancing career, she contracted meningoencephalitis, and lost full speech. Twenty years later, she brings you Speechless Cakes.
Speechless cakes in our farm kitchen
Kathleen came over last week to make some cheesecake in the farm kitchen, using our cheese. We lingered over the lime-flecked batter and chilled pistachio crumbs, and oooh-ed over the goat stencilled dusting of sugar on top. You too can keep your dancer's body, given the healthier fat content of goat cheese compared with cream cheese, and Kathleen's subtle hand with sugar. These were farm treats snaffled up by staff, but the real thing comes to our shop very soon!
Pre-order a Christmas cheesecake at our Christmas Faire, December 11 and 12!
We aim to feed you literally and figuratively. We grow and cook for you, but hope to feed your soul as well, with the practical and original talents of our community. The baroque folk artist Three-Fingered Bil made our barn furniture and iconic goatherd girls; sculptor and jeweler Dan Geraci made our pewter goblets, magnificent spoons and pizza oven. The artist Mary Collins is making five curved concrete pots for the farm garden.
I met Mary several years ago when her friend's child needed fresh goat milk. She casts her curved shapes from fibreglass molds, and adds layers of pigment mixed with concrete. Her pots have the strong and surprising pleasure of a hot pink wall in Mexico, a jolt of color applied to an everyday surface. They are extraordinary on their own, perfect planted with succulents. I can't wait for ours!
Mary ships her work all over the United States. These blue and thistle-colored pots are for a private garden in Malibu
From left: Janet, Chloe, Lesa, me, my mother Molly, and Eilis. Even though he has a strong feminine side, Joe our cook declined to be in this photo. He did however drive us there and back and played Barry Manilow loudly
Last Thursday night was the 2010 Women's Initiative Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award Ceremony for Silicon Valley and the Peninsula, California. There were thirteen awards this year, for businesses ranging from a school for children with movement disorders to dog day care. We each brought family and friends to an evening of dinner and short, poignant speeches.
On the right is award-winner Jesse Ziff Cool, owner and chef at the Flea Street Cafe. Jesse's philosophy? The customer comes last, after passionate attention to gloriously-cooked and sustainably farmed organic food. Jesse is a hero, for her dedication to real food and her gusto in bringing nurturing food to Stanford Hospital and in gardening and cooking projects with local elementary schools. Jesse began her organic restauranteur and cookery book career in 1975, when her kids "wished she was more like Betty Crocker", but now she's absolutely mainstream.
"Women of the Year" is the headline, but our farm depends upon everybody, from the milkers to the cheesemakers to the tour guides, the farm manager and the farm cook. All our awards reflect the Harley Farms community.