Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Visit to Blue Heron

Last Sunday the New York Times ran an article about a youth movement in agriculture. College-educated 20 and 30-somethings are seeking the outdoors, where, often without any experience, they are starting small sustainable farms. The article pointed to Michael Pollan and his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, as one of many inspirations of this new “back-to-land” idealism and activism.

Reading it I thought, with a smile, of evidence of this “small farm” thinking in our big state of Texas. We encountered it most recently at Blue Heron Farm in Waller County.
Two years ago, Lisa and Christian Seger were living in Houston and working respectively in marketing and country music when they decided contentment lay elsewhere. As Lisa explains it, “my marketing financial services job wasn’t making anyone’s life any better.”

Somewhat impulsively, they made a move that was as much a lifestyle decision as a political stance: they bought a 10 acre farm.

Neither has a direct farming background, but Christian’s family had farmed in Texas for generations. Relying in part on that lineage, he says, “something made me think I was going to be a farmer.”

Starting a farm without farming experience is one thing, but Christian is the first cheesemaker I’ve met who admits he didn’t like cheese. Nevertheless, they bought goats and started making fresh cheeses. Today they have about 16 milkers and have almost completed the building of a fine cheese-making room. Besides the goats, they have a few ducks and guinea hens running around and a couple of hogs fattening themselves on discarded whey.

And their cheese? They are making a variety of flavored chevres, a dry-cured feta, and a rich, creamy mozzarella. Made with the extra-rich milk of their Nubians, the cheeses have a luxurious tongue-coating texture and pure, clean flavor.

These are good cheeses: even Christian likes them.

To be featured soon at Houston farmers’ markets near you. Get there early before the mozzarella sells out. . . .

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rodeo 2008

This year's Best Bites Competition at the Rodeo was another adventure with the Veldhuizens.

Stuart brought along his cousin, Casey, who is the first vegetarian truck driver I've met, and one of the more effective cheese enthusiasts I've worked alongside.

The massive crowd was as welcoming as last year, and, like last year, got more and more jovial as the evening wore on. It made for a fun night, and gave us thousands of opportunities to answer the question:

"Where is Dublin, Texas????"

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX