I think it goes this way, parallel.
No, the handles have to cross like this.
John attaches the hoses while I get the strainer ready.
Have you seen the filters? Oh, here they are near the back of the drawer.
Does it fit like this?
I think that’s upside down. Try the other way. Yes, that’s it.
Okay. I think we’re ready. Let’s go.
Stainless steel machine in hand, we walk outside in the evening’s glow to the shed where Folly and Dancer wait to be milked.
Years ago when John and I imagined retiring from teaching, we knew we wanted to create a schedule that was more farm-centered and focused on the simple ways we wanted to live. That meant many things: driving less, staying home more, and spending less money and more time together. A whimsical, yet practical, aspect of our vision was to milk goats at our friends’ CSA dairy once a week because we like what our friends are doing and we eat a lot of goat cheese.
Last night, we milked two sweet goats for the first time by ourselves and brought home two gallons of milk. We warmed it in one of our largest pots and added the rennet and culture for chèvre. It’ll curdle today and we’ll strain it tonight. Soon we’ll have cheese for eating and cooking and someday we’ll branch out to other varieties.
So Tuesday is milking day and the other days of the week are falling into place as well. We’ve got movement practice for our bodies and writing projects for our minds and farm work every day to keep our fields green and our community strong. We spend more time in solitude, away from the busy-ness of the world, and more time enjoying the company of friends. Some of the dreams we’ve had for years are coming to fruition. And in July, we’ll greet our new grandchild.
This morning as I walked over the stone bridge between our house and barn, I startled a mother Canadian goose and her six goslings swimming three by three at her side in the ditch below me. I’d seen the parents in the water over the last couple weeks and knew the babies must be near. Watching for spring goslings will be part of our seasonal schedule now, another way we measure nature’s passing.
We’ve worked hard to reach this point in our fifties where we have more control over our time than ever before. We’ll continue to work hard, just not at the place or in the way we worked for so many years to get here. Nothing is rosy—as farmers, we struggle with weather, pests, and an unending “to do” list; as activists, we face encroaching development, environmental degradation, and political injustice. We also know that our physical stamina won’t hold up forever. But for now, we’re making goat cheese and waking up each morning to face a new day on the farm, happy to be getting here at last.