Friday, January 15, 2010

Lazy Cheesemakers? Perish the Thought!

Today is the first in a semi-regular series showcasing cheesemakers across America and beyond.  I'll share them as I learn about them, so no promises on a regular Friday series, though I may tend to share these stories on Fridays...

This Friday, we celebrate laziness!  Not that there is one cheese maker alive that could even remotely be considered lazy.  What with the waking up at 4:00 am; herding goats, sheep or cows to the tastiest foraging; milking all these beasties twice a day when they're full; not to mention the processing of the milk, turning it into curds, shaping the curds, and watching over the infant cheeses as they age into politically correct cheese ready to take their place in society - there is absolutely no time to be lazy!

Enter, Lazy Lady Farm in Vermont where Laini Fondiller makes cheese with her herd of 40 darling goats, working 14+ hour days to bring the world cheeses like Tomme Delay and Barik Obama.  Hee hee!  Apparently, she listens to National Public Radio while she milks the herd, makes and tends to her cheeses, and generally goes about her day.  Why does she call her farm the Lazy Lady given that in addition to her goat and the many, many, MANY tasks involved in exquisite cheesemaking, she and her husband (along with a cheese apprentice) are responsible for cows, pigs, chickens and a vegetable garden?  And did I mention that they are totally off the grid - their milking machine is solar powered?!  (For more info on how to run an "off the grid" goat farm and cheesery, check out this fun little paper from University of Vermont)Well, it turns out that goats have a definite "season," and they just don't produce cheese-quality milk when it's been too long since they've given birth.  As the availability of goat milk declilnes, she begins to add cow's milk to the mix.  Totally lazy, right?  That's it.  That is how lazy Ms. Fondiller is.  But keeping with her political cheesiness, she calls this cheese "Bipartisan."  I love this totally un-lazy lady!  She works her butt off and still has time for a sense of humor!

Ms. Fondiller started her cheese making career in Corsica, and has been creating high quality cheeses for 22 years.  Her advice to people wanting to leave it all behind for the romantic notion of living off the land with a herd of friendly goats?  "Don't.  It's a lot of work."  I think I'll stick to eating it, and keep that cheese dream for another day!

For more info, there is this great New York Times article about the Lazy Lady Farm from last weekend.  I think it is a testament to the "cheese revolution" that I am convinced is sweeping the nation!  This slide show is fun too!

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