Friday, March 30, 2007

The Kids are Here!

On our way to Dallas last week for the first ever meeting of Texas cheesemakers, we stopped in Ft. Worth to meet the lovely Deborah Rogers and her expanding herd of goats. When I called Deborah the week prior, she had a lot of pregnant mamas, but no kids. When we arrived, the first 7 or so had come onto the scene, the latest only 45 minutes before we arrived.

"I make cheese so I can have more goats," says Deborah. A mostly self-taught cheesemaker and farmer, Deborah operates her farm in a manner that is unconventional and decidedly pro-goat.

On land that was once her grandparents', Deborah feeds the herd on grass and boughs, making her one of a few completely pasture-based American goat dairies.

She's especially generous with the babies, allowing them plenty of milk, even at the expense of her cheese operation.

"Babies are the future of this farm," she explains. And mama's milk is key to their health: "If goats are unhealthy when they're little, they are never quite right. I suppose it's like people."
Deborah's indulgent with her goats in other ways. She keeps ten bucks, instead of the typical one or two. She likes them, for one, and wants to give the herd more genetic diversity. The bucks even get to keep their horns and hang out with the girls most of the time - she gives no credence to the belief that they can make the milk taste goat-y.

And what about her cheese? We're waiting excitedly for our first tastes, as soon as there's enough milk to spare!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

You know you're a cheesemaker when . . .

you travel with your own gallon of milk.

Connie and Stuart Veldhuizen did just that when they came to town this week for their debut at the Houston Rodeo. Monday was the Best Bites event, a wine and food tasting attended by Houston's finest chefs and nearly 4000 guests. The Veldhuizens were invited to bring their wonderful farmstead cheese and were kind enough to let us tag along.

Planning to be beseiged by the crowd, we prepared a bunch of samples ahead of time. In the end though, the hit was Stuart, who enthralled the crowd with tidbits of information about the farm while carving out samples from a half wheel of carraway cheddar.

The reward for us came the next day, when they gave us some of the richest, yellowest butter I've ever tasted and raw cream so thick it should be illegal - oh yeah, it is!

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX