Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Marigold the Jersey Heifer

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.


Nancy M. said...

Marigold - what a wonderful name and a wonderful story. Maybe something for one of your future books??? I look forward to hearing more about Marigold.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh! Clotted cream! Fresh milk and butter! You must stop posting on this, Vicki, or you are likely to have me show up one day, toothbrush in hand. I made the bread and my family devoured it in one meal. If I find the little cord that goes between the computer and camera I'll send you a picture. Thank John again for me - it was delicious!

estaminet said...

"Jealous" doesn't come close to expressing how this makes me feel. "Wistful" and "approving" with a tinge of "desperately need to get out of the suburbs now," perhaps expresses it better! Enjoy the newest member of your homestead!

Carol Murdock said...

I'm so jealous too Vicki. Eric and I have discussed getting a Jersy or Brown Swiss milk cow but we feel we are not physically able to milk it, although we may try it one of these days, as we can always sell her if we can't do it.
That pottery is beautiful!

Vicki Lane said...

Nancy - We didn't bring Marigold home with us yesterday -- that will happen sometime next week and there will be more pictures as we get to know her. Trust me, you all will likely get sick of hearing about her.

Karen B.-- Is not that bread wonderful! Such a slick trick. I was telling Karen the potter about the bread and she's planning to experiment and come up with a ceramic baking container and lid of the correct size. And then John asked her about making a long skinny one -- for a baguette . . .

Estaminet -- we have been blessed, lucky, whatever, in that a decision we made almost forty years ago continues to work out.

Carol -- milking a cow isn't to be undertaken lightly -- first of all you have to do it twice a day. Every day. We wouldn't be getting back into it now if it weren't for the young uns. We can be back up so they can have a day off now and then, but it's going to be mostly on them.

Tammy said...

Wow Vicki, Marigold is a beauty. That room full of cheese looks wonderful! I know what you mean--about the added responsibility of milking though---even though the end reward is wonderful. My Uncle was a dairy farmer and I remember the little Guernsey cows he started out with. You don't see them around much anymore. Rosemary (the sheep) had her lambs yesterday. Quite an ordeal, but I'm hoping that both make it--they are so tiny. (A little ewe and ram). Take care,

Anonymous said...

A cow! I am so jealous--but maybe it'll get me out to visit. I haven't milked in decades but I won't ask to practice on sweet Marigold.

Well done, you! (And your demi-semi-hemi cousins)

Vicki Lane said...

Tammy - I've been enjoying your lamb pictures -- my vicarious flock. Good luck with the new twins!

BB -- This is exciting, isn't it? I'll be looking forward to that visit.