Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

Last weekend, we rolled up our sleeves and spent an entire Sunday discovering what it takes to make 12 wheels of aged cheddar goat cheese. And folks, we're here to tell you it's no walk in the park....

Through what must have been a cosmic connection, we made contact with the owners of The Old Windmill Dairy in Estancia, N.M., just east of the Sandia mountain range (opposite Albuquerque on the west side of the range). Ed and Michael Lobaugh each hold full-time jobs, but spend their evenings and weekends tending a herd of over 60 goats and milking about 1/2 of those about twice a day--once before dawn, once around dusk or whenever they come home from work.

We felt like losers compared to these two Energizer bunnies. PLUS they were stuck with us for about 10 hours, taking us through each step of making the cheese and keeping the facilities clean and functional, all while staying cheerful and congenial. Amazing!

They only started seriously making cheese last summer, and their products are on the shelves of New Mexico's food co-op, La Montanita, and at the local farmers' markets each week. They blend herbs like garlic, dill, and capers into their raw cheeses, and they are the only aged-cheese producers in the state (there are only about seven artisanal dairies in New Mexico, including Old Windmill).

We met Michael and Ed under circuitous circumstances...our friend Lauren (whom Val met on a plane a few years ago) was visiting her parents in Santa Fe and attended a yoga class where she met a friend of theirs, another Michael. He told her that he makes goat cheese on weekends at the Old Windmill, gave her his card, and she encouraged us to call him, so we did. He referred us directly to Michael and Ed, and we made arrangements to visit their dairy. Incidentally, the other Michael was working with us on Sunday, where he revealed that his brother has been working for Autodesk--the company where Val works--for a couple decades! Small world....

While Ed and Michael aren't farmers, we learned so much about carrying the responsibility of a day job and a mortgage (and a farm mortgage) while trying to establish a dream. These guys are determined, and they taught us a lot about what it will take to achieve our own dreams. Thanks Michael and Ed!


Jennifer said...

You guys have such awesome adventures! Mmmmmmmm ... CHEESE! I never did meet a cheese I didn't like. Well, no, that's not true. I don't care for brie. Can you believe that?

Love you guys!


Jennifer said...

Uncle Mr. Ashe, you look like you are having a little too much fun milking that goat ;-) Thanks for sharing your adventures.

Have a great day!
Papa Lucero