Volunteering at Latte Da Dairy

One of the things I’m doing to fill the time while I’m waiting for this house to sell is to learn as much as I can about farming and raising livestock.  Since I’m still not sure what we’ll be doing with our farm, I figure I’ll try and get in as much experience as I can in the broadest swath possible.

That led me to volunteering at Latte Da Dairy, an award-winning farmstead cheesery not too far from where we live.  The owner, Anne Jones, kindly agreed to let me come out and work for part of a day.  After a tour of the goats and the cheese-making area, I set to work washing dishes from the previous days cheese making.  It was the only moment I felt comfortable and secure in what I was doing, ahem.

Because after dishes and some cheese packaging, we were off to trim the hooves of around 20 goats, ranging in age from a few months to 8 years old.  The goats sensed my fear, I suspect, because they’d let me clip one foot and then would protest the other three–often with violent kicks.

But overall, they tolerated my ineptitude and were kind and friendly, as you can see from these two LaManchas wanting to be loved.

I arrived at the dairy about 8:30 and left by 2:30.  Anne had already milked 20 goats that morning and started the clean up process.  When I left, she was packing to go to a show, preparing a half dozen goats for the trip, along with all their  accoutrements.  I know she had to milk again that evening, not to mention the dozen or more other jobs she’d do before she wound down her day.    Businesswoman, animal care-taker, cheesemaker, dishwasher, land manager.  Wow.  There’s a lot to running a goat dairy/cheesemaking shop.

So when you see that artisan cheese in the shop for $30 a pound, know that the cheese maker isn’t even making minimum wage.  Buy it, eat it, enjoy it.  And think of all the work that goes into that little slice of creamy heaven.

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