Farewell Ontario

Made cheese. Found clients. Sold cheese. So short-lived it wasn’t funny. Sorry to get hopes up, Ontario. I know the future did look awfully bright.

NS will be home to Red Door’s permanent home. It will take time to build a dairy, but it will be done. Sheep? Goats? Where? With whom? These questions will be answered in good time. Think life has a few good things lined up already.

The I-can’t-name-for-legal-reasons dairy’s sweet hospitality for my brief stint there was unrivalled…hope I can replicate it down the road.

Red Door is excited for the next chapter. Don’t worry authorities, I’ll contact you first.



cheese is really just a distillation of love: the Dutton
cheese is really just a distillation of love: the Dutton
guilty as charged: cat adoption
guilty as charged: cat adoption



Cheese. Again.

Good things are happening. Hard work pays off, people keep telling me. And now I believe them.

Mid-February happened to give me an opportunity to work with an established Ontario dairy to get my processing up and running…nothing’s set in stone yet so I don’t want to risk mentioning names, but it looks like I could be in production as early as late June. Too good to be true maybe? Just waiting for the shit to hit the fan…and reading some Zen texts (Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh).

Work is play with purpose, I say. Had to change my perspective as I was feeling overwhelmed. That does not mean I am not putting in the hours, but now able to spend more time focused and less time frazzled.

And yes, working on CFIA requirements today, assisted by pillows, coffee and my new favourite cabbage recipe. Oh, and if you make it, add garlic!

And I finally have a business name. Red Door Dairy. And yes, I will be on twitter *soon* with a logo and everything. This blog will be going on hiatus. Priorities! Life is one great balancing act. And good things still take time.



Cenno Storico

Piedmont (Italia!) for the last month, now back under the wing of Paul Georgelet in Poitou-Charentes. Highlights: Alpine milking parlours, Castelmagno, Peccorino Sardo, (the) + buffalo (that make the milk for the) + mozza, Slow Food’s Cheese in Bra, herding goats in Roccaverano, Nebbiolo, Barrolo, stracchino, 4 month old peccorino sardo, robiola di roccaverano (I daren’t mention tomatoes, as they deserve a whole blog of their own), amazing hosts, even more amazing family businesses + visions. Inspired!

I will be adding more photos very soon, as I have to collect them from others. Stay tuned.

Lactic sheep + Paris + Spain + solar  options + a (finally!) finished business plan await.



Just finished up a season on Ile de Re, and am now finally answering Italy’s calls. Yesterday Toulouse, today Marseille, tomorrow Milan (en route to a cheese festival), then to Castelmagno, then…stay posted.

My two months on the island can be condensed to the following formula: bike + cheese sales + market politics + fish + salt = a warm, constant rhythm.

Happiest moments: giving cheese and talking about cheese with children. Adults and their more refined tastes are also interesting, but there’s not the same light in their eyes when you give them one year old comte 


who stinks?

I am currently in Siruela, a little village about 300 km SW of Madrid. Historically, this area was known for livestock production and many living here still raise sheep (Merino and LaMancha), goats (Murciana is maybe the most widespread in this area but others breeds are common and there are lots of Saanen crosses) and cattle. When a citizen is born in this town, he or she receives a parcel of land from the town for farming, viable and fair land management, no?

So, to make a long story short, things weren’t working out at River’s Edge, but I’m so grateful for my five weeks there. Through various contacts, I found some opportunities in Spain, France and Italy and so, until the end of November, I am a nomad. The goals are many, but first and foremost to glean as much from the wealth and diversity of cheesemaking traditions in this part of the world as is humanly possible.

My Spanish degree is finally being put to use. Por fin, no? Although poor Spain! High unemployment and imposed austerity measures, cuts everywhere: the economic situation here is dismal. The cheese factory where I work is entering the market at a really challenging time, both with the crisis and an already saturated market. I recently learned that the Spanish government is helping people look for employment abroad. I’m here until the end of the month, and then headed to France.

Anyway, I’m going to try to tell this part of the story through pics only. Seriously, no more text. At least I will try.


Art! http://www.grizedale.org/projects/mobile-dairy-school

Recently watched The War of the Stinky Cheeses (La Guerre Des Fromages Qui Puent) What exactly is happening with French cheese? Just take a look at Lactalis’ growth to give you an idea. Will the pendulum swing back the other way? Only time will tell. Will the farmstead tradition in the US be taken over in a couple of decades by Kraft, producing not artisan singles of course, but mass-produced Harbison? hmm.



beyond hubris

I am leaving the city tomorrow and likely won’t have much time for another of my lengthy posts for at least two months. I’m taking an online business planning course through Cornell’s Small Farms Program and am about to go into kidding season (cute baby goats are loads of work), so likely won’t have time to do anything other than survive.

Luckily, I recently had the good idea to get back into good stress management habits. Don’t quite know how I managed to lose those along the way. Yoga has been a part of my life for a long while now, but it was probably working for a yoga instructor (thanks Lisa!) that reminded me how key it is in keeping the balance. Yes, people do come into your life for a reason. And things happen for a reason. Case in point: the cheesemaking workshops I mentioned in the previous post were cancelled. It’s a long story (at the centre of which is regulation and the capacity for human error (my error in this case), but it was great to see so much interest, and glad to have avoided a possible legal battle for a license. I did let some people down in the process though, which was not so much fun. Finding my horse sense again.

I’ve been reflecting a lot these past couple months on a lot of things not related to cheese or goats, or business plans. Actually, one is related to cheese. Control. It is one of those words in the human experience that we don’t like to delve too deeply into, for fear of what is on the other side. Is it fear? Is it ego? Is it something else? Looking at the function and expression of control in my own life has shed light on a lot of things. But just how does this relate to cheesemaking? I know, it is maybe a bit of a stretch, but there are many things that you control/monitor/regulate when you make cheese: pH, TA, temperature, type and amount of starter and aging culture, not to mention feed considerations for the livestock producing the milk…the list goes on. So you could almost view it as a healthy way to exercise your inner control reflex. Or you could call me strange. Just indulge me.

It’s easy to get ahead of myself in this process. I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and…idealism and naivete. I’ve recently found myself in the place between hubris (which was definitely one of the factors in getting me this far) and that rich, bright place of rebuilding that comes after. Lots to digest after these months in Toronto. Cautiously excited about the next steps. And being back in goat company.

I know, I know. You wish I would just write more about cheese, and cut the introspective meanderings. Here you go. Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese (WI) recently stole my heart/palate. It’s made from fall unpasteurized evening milk in the Vacherin-style (eatwithaspoon-style), wrapped in spruce bark. Woodsy, meaty, velvety complexity. Yum. Uplands only makes two cheeses: the aforementioned Rush Creek, and a firm, Alpine style Pleasant Ridge, and they do a damn fine job.

My February trip to Ann Arbor, rife with sampling, was a good reminder that I am still on the steps of the church of cheese, but the doors are open. I went with one of my classmates at VIAC, Tanya, who is well on her way to starting her own production. We went down to visit Aubrey, another classmate, co-owner of Zingerman’s Creamery, part of the Zingerman’s community of businesses. Aubrey shared some great cost-cutting ideas, not to mention a whole wealth of other info. She’s a gem. We also had the opportunity to visit Cornman Farms, which is adding a goat dairy, and the Detroit farmers’ market. Photos below are courtesy of Tanya. She has her own blog about adventures in cheesemaking, which you care read here.

A big thanks to Afrim (at Cheese Boutique) and Shep (at Gunn’s Hill) for sharing their business and other insights with me this week! Truly appreciated.

I got my first update to my advisory board out yesterday. Their input is really valuable at this stage in the project, but I also know I’ve asked a group of already terribly busy people. We’ll see.

I’m also working on a profile for a business partner. Universe, are you listening again? Paulo Coelho quotes are my daily bread these days.


Currently reading a neat article about creative competencies for leadership in navigating complex challenges, or rather what to do when you are facing a seemingly unsolvable problem. Visioning is one of the competencies mentioned, but read the article yourself and you might find something useful. Visioning comes in handy first thing in the morning, when you’re mapping out your day, or whenever you’re feeling a little fuzzy about your direction. Or overwhelmed. Or insert a different scenario here. It might even be one of those seven elusive habits of highly effective people, although I’ve yet to read the book.

I recently watched Le Quattro Volte (dir.: Michelangelo Frammartino). It’s a dreamy narrative of the life of an elderly goatherd in Calabria, Italy. This is a cinematic genre I have not spent any time with, where the viewer is left to simply observe tradition, but I will definitely be looking into what else can be found. It’s a beautiful, slow meditation on life. You really should watch it here.

Ok. Once I surface from kidding and business planning, you may hear from me once again.



me + goats

new barn at cornman

Tunis lamb and momma

who needs a hydraulic press? old tech is good tech...especially if you got the skills to fix it yourself