Empty-nesting

Whoa, empty nest again. Another year of apprentices come and gone. I know I make ironic jokes about them every year, but really. I enjoy each and every one of them and miss them fiercely when they go. I guess it’s been part of the higher purpose of my life. I have knowledge and skills to share with more than the one child I was gifted, so I take on apprentices like foster children in the hope that some will follow in my footsteps and learn from my mistakes.
It makes me terribly sad when I don’t hear from them, like lost children, I wonder where they have gone and what they are doing now. Why don’t they write? We did our best…. and It makes me extremely proud when I see the strong young farmers and artisans and advocates and activists they grow into. And the both of us love it when they flock back for a visit. Flung the world over: Alaska, Washington, California, Vermont. Or right in my back yard: North Haven, Thorndike and Lewiston. They are making cheese, or raising goats, or sharing the farm life love, or raising awareness of local food systems.
My kids.

Local, continued

Finally, our supplier has found domestic garlic for us! Not local, not yet, but at least it’s not from China. How crazy is that, imported garlic from China?
This season, we have learned how to make rennet! Most people won’t really want to hear where it comes from: a kid’s stomach. Of course it makes a lot of sense that the very enzymes needed to separate curd from whey are found in the stomach. It also makes sense to use surplus kids (mostly the males who will NEVER be milkers on the farm) to harvest the stomachs to make rennet, and then roast the meat in celebration. Our friends John and Mary at Little Falls Farm, who taught the workshop where we learned this new skill, report that they are able to harvest exactly the amount of rennet they need for the year from the surplus kids they process from their herd. It just makes sense.
Meanwhile, we continue to experiment with vegetable-derived rennets. Unfortunately for us in Maine, the plants most used for rennet can’t grow here, but we can try. We’ve got some cardoon growing in the garden, and we will report back on how it works. All our experiments last summer with nettles were grand failures. Fig plants are also used, but also don’t grow here.
We are also experimenting with the most local of cheese packaging: beeswax. How cool is that? Renewable, recyclable, reusable, all natural, smells really good, and very subtlely flavors the cheese. And beautiful!
Now, we’re going to experiment with using kefir as a culture, so we would truly have a locally produced cheese from start to finish.
In love with local.