Saturday, July 18, 2009

July 15, 2009 Urbana (or is it Champagne?) Illinois Café Paradiso Cary is at work doing composting council lobbying on carbon credits and incentives for composting. I’m about to find the local food co-op. We’ve just left Leslie Cooperband’s farm, north of town, where she milks 54 goats twice a day and makes prize-winning goat cheese. The operation reminds me of the dairy farm down the street from us in Woodstock with big shiny stainless steel tanks and lots of thermometers and hoses and pipes. The goats come into the milking shed on an elevated walkway so that the milker can stand and work. Fourteen goats milk at a time. Apparently they are picky and always enter in the same order.

The goat milk is made into six different kinds of cheese currently, from a soft chevre to a montchega (a Spanish hard cheese). Each requires a different set of cultures to inoculate and different conditions of temperature and humidity. The cultures come from Europe and each cheesemaker uses a slightly different combination. Apparently the milk changes throughout the seasons, somewhat dependent on the feed. The whole operation is done under very strict standards of cleanliness since ambient microbes from the environment can disrupt the quality of the cheese. Some of the cheese rooms are very high humidity and others are very cold. The process can be speeded or slowed with small changes in the temperature. It was all very marvelous.

Cary knows Leslie because they are both compost experts. It makes me laugh to see her working with a new set of microbes but still using the same principles and concepts.

The farm is 39 acres with some of the land in alfalfa, some in hay, and a fair amount used to pasture the goats. The goats prefer weeds and high growing plants but to get a consistent milk they favor a controlled pasturing.

Leslie’s husband Wes showed me a core soil sample which demonstrated black loam (the O horizon) down almost 3 feet and good soil down another 3 feet. Illinois has beautiful soil.

No comments:

Post a Comment