We took a long drive yesterday to visit a hemi-demi-semi cousin of mine (her mother was the sister of my father's sister's husband) in Graham County at the far western end of the state.
Karen and her husband Bruce are some of 'them that's doing,' as The Mother Earth News used to refer to involved back-to-the-landers. They have a small herd of lovely doe-eyed Jersey cows and Bruce turns out some of the best cheese I ever tasted.
Karen makes beautiful pottery and together they are Yellow Branch Pottery and Cheese -- their website tells the story more fully.
I'd been wanting to go over to Yellow Branch for years and years -- but it's about a three hour drive and somehow, it just never happened. Karen and I would exchange Christmas cards and lament that we were both too busy in our respective worlds. I would see Yellow Branch cheese for sale in fancy stores or on the menu at fancy restaurants and feel a little surge of pride -- 'That's from my hemi-demi-semi-cousin's farm!' I would say to anyone around.
But what finally got us to make that long-postponed visit was a Jersey heifer named Marigold.
We're buying her from Bruce and Karen with the intention of making her into a milk cow so that, as in past years, we'll have our own milk, butter, yoghurt, cream, (clotted cream, too, Karen B.!), soft cheese and maybe, maybe someday, hard cheese too.
Justin and Claui are the reason -- they say they'll take on the milking. I'll pull my electric churn out of storage and try to remember what I once knew about dealing with great quantities of milk. Probably there will be a pig or two to raise on the excess. In short, back to the small farm economy we practiced for years.
This is all a year or so in the future. Marigold is too young to breed yet. But as we sat down last night to a meal of Justin's turkey vegetable soup, John's bread, and cheese (including one with flecks of basil) from Yellow Branch, we all felt that the future couldn't come soon enough.