Gathering enough hay for winter feeding was a challenge across the region. People from Colorado, New Mexico, California and Arizona are seeking hay wherever they can find it. We managed to get enough hay in the barns to meet our needs this winter, but this year has definitely made everyone think more carefully about how precious water is and how sustainable our farming practices are. Actually, this is a blessing. We need to be more conscious of every aspect of our lives and recognize the impacts of all we do.
At the dairy we have five cows ready to calve. Once the babies are here, we will begin drying up the cows that are on the milk line now. We have finally gotten a good seasonal rotation of some cows calving in spring and some in autumn so our milk supply is year round. We alternate the cows so that they always calve in the spring - their natural rhythm - every 18 months to two years. It means our production is less as we have a longer dry period between calves, but we believe the health and well-being of the cows is most important.
Autumn and on into winter is when there is more time to attend to things that get set aside during haying. We will be making more cheese this winter. I attended cheesemaking class in Vermont this summer and will hopefully be improving my techniques. Our signature cheese - Blumenkase or Flower Cheese - was a big success at a local cheese tasting event recently. It is based on a Tomme cheese and then coated with herbs and flowers from our farm. An herbal wash or a tomato balsamic vinegar wash are other additions I frequently use.
Cheesemaking is a fine art requiring quality testing and careful attention to time, temperature, pressure, humidity, etc. We hope to improve our aging cave this winter and eventually make our cheeses available to our shareholders.