A lovely post from Kim …There is that old saying, “…to start as you mean to carry on.” Well it can definitely be applied to the month of January as it has certainly stuck to its guns with the challenging temperatures it has thrown us from beginning to end. Today, the last day of Jan began as -9C and crept up to -5C….fffffffreezing! Roll on spring!
For me, now confined to the warmth of the office due to an ever, increasing bump, can appreciate the added extra’s a day like today can bring. Looking out the window as I write this, the fields and mountain behind the house are illuminated by the winter sun giving the land more colour than it can produce itself at this time of the year. Whereas for those in the confines of the dairy the focus is more on the number of layers you can conceivably wear while still being able to perform cheese-making duties without inflicting personal injury.
One good way of shifting focus away from the cold is to occupy your mind with some good tunes from a favourite radio show. ‘Listen Again’ has been our god send over winter and one show which we will now struggle without, was Mark Lamar’s ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ Radio 2. He’ll be sadly missed.
I shouldn’t grumble about the cold so much as in the past if ever it were a competition, I would’ve won the most layers ever worn in the dairy on any given day. I so much feel the cold that it is not until the middle of summer that I finally feel sure enough to shed my little blue woollen hat. So synonymous am I with it that I am hardly recognised without it snuggled atop of my head. So grateful am I for finally being warm.
Our cheese making days are drawn out on cold days like today as it takes just that bit longer to warm everything up. Our cold water comes from a long way below ground and takes a long time to heat the vat up. The milk temperature is always colder than usual so will take a while to warm up and there is no requirement to speed things up as that’s not what cheese making is all about for us. You just have to take each day as it comes and let it happen in it’s own time so our days can vary a lot.
One lovely thing about milk deliveries on a very cold day is the amount of cream floating about on the surface. It is a struggle to prevent yourself from plunging your face into the frothy, warming milk and take a massive drink. (The image of our EHO’s face as you do it is enough to keep you standing upright!). More cream/fat is naturally produced when the temperature dips, which is another factor influencing the flavour and texture of our cheeses during the winter months.
Some interesting visitors have graced the farm gates over this month, mostly of the 4-legged kind. A couple of foxes have ventured in quite close in search of food and it’s been a pleasure huddled at the windows to watch them. This Wednesday we will also be hosting the head of the Catalan Group of Cheese makers as he includes us in his tour around Britain observing how small producers manage with the amount of support we not only get from our customers but also from within the industry. And I shall be making my own visit as I’ll be helping Fred out in the shop on Saturday for a couple of hours (mostly as an excuse to chomp on some of my favourite cheeses… sorry Fred!).
Keep warm and lets hope for some more reasonable temperatures throughout February. Now, where’s my hat……………..
Kim and Maugan Trethowan will be speaking at Cheese School this sunday in Bristol