Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! Bring on 2011!

Happy New Year !!

Just found out the floor is finally done and it may snow up there this weekend!

I don't know about all of you but 2011 feels like it will be a better year than 2010!

I want to say thanks to all of you who have helped me this year at work and at home. I appreciate all you so much! (Especially you .... Mom, Dad and Nick)

I also want to extend an open invitation to anyone who wants to come up to the house, you are all welcome.
Best Wishes to all of you in the New Year...


Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas! Foothill Humor and Casey's Rebellion

Merry Christmas everyone! I can't believe it over and we are rushing toward 2011. Remember when Y2K was a huge deal? Now it is all a big yawn... :)

Christmas Eve (Happy Birthday Denise!) 
Nick and I drove to the house to get things spiffed up because the family was coming the next day. Since it was just the two of us, I decided to do things a little different. I stopped in Lockeford and got the Hawaiian sausage that makes me swoon. And then I stopped in Jackson at Vinciguerra ravioli and got some homemade ravioli from there. The man who owns it was very funny and gave me a hard time for trying to buy ravioli on Christmas eve without a reservation. But he said he knew he would have folks like me showing up and stayed up all night making them... all he had left was pumpkin, mushroom or spinach. I got one box of pumpkin and one of mushroom. Yum! So our dinner was all local stuff! Shoot, am I turning into a hippy?

Christmas Day (Bring on the people and food!)
For Christmas, we had my parents, my sisters family and my foster brother Landy and his wife Kathleen. It was a busy day... first was opening birthday presents. Then was opening Christmas gifts, and then they ran outside in the pouring rain to try and shoot them off. (The kids got marshmallow guns!) Then we ate and had a congratulations cake for Landy and Kathleen as they just got married, on Nick's birthday, this year. Then everyone got up and left, including Nick... and left me and casey collapsed on the sofa listening the rain.

Xmas Present time! My dad, nick and jacob with his back to me.

Laine and Denise opening her present.

Jacob firing one of the marshmallow guns. (Laine had one too!)

Casualties of the marshmallow war were all over the place.

Christmas Wreath

Day After Christmas
Sunday I decided to go see how the creek was doing after the storm, I could see water from my deck so I knew it might get to grow up and be called a stream someday! I drove the ATV down there and took a bunch of pictures of the creek and more mushrooms. (Sorry if you are getting tired of them, I am just fascinated by the different varieties that keep showing up. )
Then realized I had to turn it around on the trail because the marsh was so soft. It didn't work out so good. I got it mostly there when I got stuck backing up. So of course, what did I do? I gunned it to get unstuck and flung the ATV to the side of the trail. Normally I could right it and get it back on the trail but the dirt was too soft and gave way under the left wheels. I started sliding and realized I was going to roll it. So I did a full stop by killing the engine and as gingerly as I could got off. Then I stood there staring at this stupid thing and trying to figure it out. I realized I was not strong enough to wrestle it, and the truck wouldn't get down the trail. So I propped it up as best I could and am going to leave it for Nick. Nick has a new rule for me, no ATV riding when I am alone. I just get in the strangest situations. After that I drove into town and decided to drive Campo Seco turnpike road. Typical 1 lane road winding up a hill and down but the view was just incredible!

Casey - who hates baths, wouldn't stay out of the creek.

Campo Seco Turnpike "park"

View from Campo Seco Turnpike
The joke about the park and the sign is that there isn't a park at all. The land owner put it up as a hoax... no such person ever existed. But he fooled me! I googled this bartholomew guy and found on my geo cache site the joke... Foothill people are different in a funny sorta way.

If you see my pictures or know me, you know about my dog Casey. She is about 13 years old and a mix of a smooth collie and foxhound. She is very well mannered and well behaved and usually minds me... (ok let's not bring up the other animals things...) 
Her favorite thing in the world is to be by me and her second favorite is too go for a ride in the car. But today, she wouldn't get in the truck to go home. I really had to use my stern voice... and get her in. Then I stopped to lock the gate on the way out and looked down and she was standing there at my side. She had gotten out of the truck and was walking away. She didn't want to go home to Moraga. She wanted to stay at mokehill... first time she has ever done that.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Dec 19th and I am back from Cheese School

Wow - what a week! I am so exhausted from the cheese class. It went all day and was a lot of work. The first day was all about what makes milk become cheese and lots on chemistry of milk and cheese. Then we went into coagulants and starters and a lot of math and details you don't think about when you eat cheese. 
Day 2 - we went to Rinconada Dairy in Santa Margarita. This is a cheese maker who makes it from her own sheep. We saw her milking operation, her cheese making shop, her aging rooms and had a nice reception at her house. I loved her dogs! They are McNabb Collies... thinking they may be my next dog.. :)

Here are some pictures from that tour:

Oona - the McNabb collie

Milking Barn
Cheese Making Room - Vat

Christine - Owner

Aging Room


The other big event was the day we actually made cheese... My group was the one who made Gouda and it was a real learning experience. My teacher that day was Dr. Nana ... and he is just an expert on this stuff. 

All the teachers and helpers were fantastic and you can tell they love this job.
Cal Poly Dairy
Cows we got the milk from..
View from Dairy

                    Calf Huts ---->
Dr. Phil Tong
Dr. Nana Farkye

 Cheddar cheese group... had a lot of work! --->

 Making our gouda, you stir and wait and then press and wait and turn and wait... you get the idea.

 Dr. Phil holding our gouda... it was the prettiest cheese in the class.
Stacey and I with our cheese!

 Some of the really nice people I met at class.. we went to the Farmer's Market on thursday and out to dinner.

Everyone is asking me now what are you going to do? I really don't know yet.. but I still have time. I feel like I know the right way to make cheese and the rules and regulations surrounding the process. It is expensive and time - consuming to say the least.. but there is money in it if you can find the right product and the right niche.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

***I am off to Cal Poly Cheese School!***

It is finally here... I start the "13th Dairy Science and Technology Basics for the Farmstead/Artisan Cheesemaker Short Course" on Tuesday morning. It is at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and we have 2.5 days in labs and class and 1.5 days at Rinconada Dairy.

I am so excited!  Here is the link to it:

Last week on my way home from Mokehill, I stopped at Lockeford Meat and got the best sausage! They are a butcher there and you can see them processing meat from the store front, which is an ancient building with just a meat counter. I bought some hawaiian sausage, linguica, and some basil/pesto sausage. All fresh made with natural casings and wow, the smell walking in to the store gets you excited!

The hawaiian sausage was the absolute best sausage I have ever had in my life! Not kidding! I am a person who eats because I am hungry and food doesn't make me swoon like some of the gourmands in my family. ( My mom and nephew can get excited watching a commercial!) But I swooned... and moaned with delight eating this stuff. It was heaven and now Nick and I are making a pact to get some at least every couple of trips. (We don't take 88 usually but 26, so this is a small diversion.)

If you are near Lockeford, stop in.. you can't miss the store. Has a big steer for a sign as you can see...