About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Holiday Report

Unbelievable!  Over a month since my last post!  Well, as predicted, we got hit with our busy Holiday season here like a row boat facing a tidal wave; no matter how sturdy the craft, competent the rower, and well-plotted the course, that boat is gonna get swamped.
And swamped we were! As a 2-person operation, already working at near-peak efficiency running the goat cheese dairy there isn't a whole lot more we can do to when candy season rolls around except work more hours to fit everything in. 
This year things were made even more challenging than usual in that we are normally in the process of "drying off" the goats by the time we need to get serious about candy making. Usually The Girls, once bred and with the days getting noticeably short and the weather getting considerably colder, start dropping their milk production all on their own.  With very slight encouragement from us (say by going to milking once a day) they will start reducing their milk production pretty quickly. 
This year "The Girls" had other ideas about that.  (Kathryn has a new favorite saying  "People plan.  Goats Laugh")  Even though most of them were well into their pregnancies, they kept cranking out the milk so we kept cranking out the cheese.  Our traditional "Let's go to once a day milking on Thanksgiving Day" turned into "Let's try milking everybody twice a day through the first week of December" and finally to "You know we've REALLY got to get some of these girls dried-off, whether they want to or not"!  It's important to give the does the last 8 weeks or-so of their pregnancies off from milking so that they can rest their bodies a bit, concentrate on building their kids (babies), and prepare for the next season.  Some of these girls were already inside that time frame.  So we drew our line in the sand and just started telling some of the does that they couldn't come in for milking, regardless of their desires.  I guess somebody has to be the adult in the family.
The end result... We continued milking most of the string and kept making cheese through most of the candy season.  As of this writing, we are still milking a quarter of our full herd and making cheese!
Candy Season was phenomenal, as had been the rest of the year for us.  Most of our long-time customers came back again this year with their gift lists for us to fill.  All of our last year  wholesale, corporate and business-gifting customers returned (and with larger orders than in previous years) and we added some new corporate customers and re-connected with some others.
2010 Customer of Note: Reconnected with a corporate executive who we had worked with supplying (and doing some catering for) in Tucson before coming to the Ranch in 2000. He had retired to a beach in Mexico 10 years ago but it apparently didn't take.  He's back in the corporate world (in Pago Pago AS, no less), and again doing his business gifting through us.
So now we're entering Winter Break mode.  Candy season is over and we're about finished with commercial cheese making for the season.  Lots of personal cheese making still happening to get us stocked up for the coming year with specialty and hard cheeses (Blue, Brie, Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, Havarti, etc).  Lots of charcuterie and smoking work to do on beef and pork we've previously butchered and now will have time to work on.  Lots of misc projects on the books for the break to get ready for the coming season (kidding pens, welding jobs, deck awnings, garden preparations, etc) .  And a few new things planned for the break:  gonna learn to perfect my bagels, do some more food writing and get back to doing some pen-and-ink drawing again.  The break lasts until about mid-February when kidding season starts and it starts all over again.

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