I could tell you more of her story, but Suzanne was a writer before she became a farmer. In fact, she had 26 romance novels published and translated into many languages! My point is that she writes well (much better than I do) so I would rather give you the basics by sharing excerpts from her blog. For example, here are a few paragraphs from the first article she wrote:
It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either.
My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die.”
Products of suburbia, my three children wondered why there was no cable TV or Target, not to mention central heat. My daughter, hungry from the trip, tried to call Domino’s. My cousins explained gently (and without laughing) that they don’t deliver pizza out here. I think it took her a good thirty minutes to believe they weren’t making that up.
People around here don’t have much if you compare them to suburbanites. Even if they can afford it, they don’t buy granite countertops or designer clothes, and there’s not much competition at the high school for the swankest car. As my son likes to say (in his exaggerated teenage way), “They’re all driving cars their grandfathers bought in 1950.”
You can read all about Suzanne and her life on her website. In fact, we hope you will because it will increase your enjoyment of her new cheesemaking adventures every month in our Moosletter and here on our blog. I did ask her a few questions based on her articles:
What happened to the slanted house?
At certain times of the year, 4wd is necessary to get to our house and up our driveway. Through most of the year, it’s not. Three to four months over the winter, you can’t get here without a 4wd and we are sometimes quite isolated and stuck due to the road conditions. From our farm, you can either get out by crossing a river ford (which doesn’t work in high water or ice) or the other way over two miles of dirt-rock road up and down hill (which also doesn’t work too well in snow and ice).
I was making the traditional cheddar recipe about every other day back in June and July.
I make my own butter regularly, and of course have all the light and heavy cream any one person (or an army) could want. I made what I thought was a fairly fascinating “cream discovery” last spring as to how to control how much light vs heavy cream I got out of my milk after pasteurizing.
Note: This is a great article called “On the 8th day the farmer created cream.”
(The other way to get a lot of light cream is to NOT pasteurize before letting it set, of course, and I do that sometimes, too–it depends on what I’m doing with my milk whether or not I pasteurize before or after taking the cream off–or at all.
I don’t pasteurize my milk if I’m making hard cheese. I do generally pasteurize before making soft cheeses, butter, and for drinking milk and coffee cream–though I sometimes pasteurize the coffee cream AFTER skimming if I don’t want the milk pasteurized because it’s going to a hard cheese. Raw milk just curds up better for hard cheese.)
All that to say, I didn’t feel as if we knew that much about her. We got her in April and I dried her off in August thinking (guessing, based on a vet who checked her after we got her) that she might calve in October or early November. (Turned out she calved in September, but we just had no idea when she was bred because they had her with the bull on the buffet plan.)
I never have pasteurized my goat milk, but I know the people we got our goats from very well, so I felt comfortable there.
I didn’t feel as if I knew a thing about the cow. Now that we’ve had the cow all this time, I’ll probably get over the pasteurizing as I know now that she’s healthy. I started out pasteurizing all her milk all the time, just to be on the safe side. Then I couldn’t make hard cheese to save my life with it and I stopped pasteurizing milk for hard cheese. I’m on round two with her now that she’s had her calf and I’m milking again.
This article is just the beginning of a series. We challenged Suzanne to make a different “hard” cheese every month from our book, Home Cheese Making. She has accepted our challenge and we think this proves that Suzanne ain’t no “chicken in the road!” So, watch for her stories to appear here every month on the 15th when our Moosletter comes out. (Note: If you become a “follower” of this blog by clicking on the button on the nav bar to the right, you may opt to be notified whenever an article is posted.)
Here’s a great little video about Suzanne and her farm: