The past week or so at the farm, I’ve been on dairy duty. This is the real business side of Goat’s Pride. When you’re doing other duties such as feeding or milking the goats, you kind of forget all about what it’s going towards. But being in the hub of activity that is the dairy processing room, where we prepare everything ready for sale, it really hits home that you’re contributing to the sale of this produce. The idea that someone in Vancouver has a piece of cheese I’ve helped make or a pot of yoghurt I’ve prepared seems pretty sweet.
Back home, whenever someone mentions goat’s cheese, it’s just used as one bracket term, as opposed to saying cow’s cheese, a term we never use. Since working at Goat’s Pride, I’ve come to the realisation that is a massive generalisation. It’s not just the standard goats cheese we are all familiar with that we produce here. We make various cheeses with different strengths, textures and consistencies. Feta, Gouda, Capramonte, Blue Capri, Caprabella and Chevrotina are amongst the list; and these are all strikingly different.
As it turns out, it’s not just me as an Englishman being ignorant of these varieties. Even whilst we were working at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market on a frosty Saturday, almost every customer that came to us questioned that they were all produced from goat’s milk. Our response of ‘yes’ was often met with a surprised look; people just don’t realise that so much more can be done with goat’s cheese than first meets the eye.
The obvious perk of working in the dairy is that I get to taste the produce. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit there and gorge upon cheese all day, we’d be losing a lot of money that way! But the odd tiny morceaux passes my lips when we’re cutting up samples. My favourite would have to be the Smoked Capramonte; an aged cheese that Jerry (chief cheese packer and delivery man) and myself lovingly smoked with applewood chips from our very own apple tree. It all went a bit wrong when we left it a little too long and the wheel collapsed and sunk a touch, making it look a bit wilted; but the taste was just as exquisite. When working at the market a week before Christmas, I think I forced most customers to have a taste of this one, as a smokey alternative on their Christmas cheese boards.
But it’s not just cheese that is made, of course the milk is processed and sold; I have bottled several hundred myself. Plain, Bluberry and French Vanilla yoghurt is also part of the deal. This mainly involves a lot of waiting; waiting for the milk to warm up, add the extra ingredients such as blueberries, sugar and live bacterial cultures, and leaving it overnight at 120 degrees to let it do it’s thing and ta-daaaa! Yummy yoghurt is the result. It’s slightly runnier than the yoghurt I’m used to, and is often just consumed from a glass as drink. I myself still eat it with a spoon straight from the pot like any other yoghurt!
The last job is packaging everything. Many an hour have we spend slicing, weighing, vacuum packing, labelling, dating and storing cheese to make it ready for sale, either at the market or one of the many stores in West British Columbia where it is sold. When I’m in Vnacouver I’m tempted to hunt one of these stores down and take a peek at our hard work, swelling with pride. I suggest you do the same.