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.