Valencay/St Maure Where it ALL Began!

Oct 05th, Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fest Cheesemaking.Alex and I went for a DRIVE…and checked out this little farm of 10 acres with a cheese making facility. We both had jobs that were quite secure at an aboriginal charter school near Stony Plain. We decided to take the plunge and by Oct 21st we had left our jobs and moved into a 3 bedroom mobile home with a cheese facility from a five bedroom home with triple garage on a lake. We got the bed set up and a few boxes and we were in the cheeseroom cleaning and making cheese by 7pm that nite. I think it took us almost three weeks just to set up table chairs dishes and basics.

One might think that the hard cheese wheels are a lot of work. That the pressing of the curd, brining the wheel, flipping and washing and closely monitoring the development of the rind and then wait. Wait for minimum 2 months as the rule of pasteurization. We can sell raw milk cheeses as long as they are ripened for 2 months. After that time the bacteria that is evident SOMETIMES in raw milk is either by a) pasteurization or b) 2 months ripening, been destroyed.

Fresh cheeses, Valencay St Maure and Brie have a 90 day shelf life BECAUSE we pasteurize and its the rule. But let me tell you the work and the patience that is required to make this cheese is phenomenal. First pasteurization 6 hours, cultures, 6 hours, time to curd 16 hours, time to mold. 2 hours, times to clean up 6 hours, time to dry 3-4 DAYS. Then ash and wait. Wait, Wait, sometimes 10-14 days to get the most beautiful bloomy white rind. Then sell. And as each day goes by that you don’t sell you are loosing your 90 days. The cheese gets smaller and smaller each day for 90 days. Then throw in the garbage or find some pigs or the barn cats sometimes. We have the most finicky barn cats. They live on MICE and fine french cheese. Beautiful cheese, lots of work.

Sustainable farming is difficult to start… we survived the first year strictly on the income from the farmers market but it was unsustainable so we now have off farm income. I work full time and Alex works 3 months on and 3 months off in the agricultural industry. Neither of us have every farmed or been involved in agriculture so our learning curve has been huge. Before this year we could not tell you what wheat or rye or oats looks like. The only thing we know is Canola cause its yellow in the field. Our jobs have given us an insight into the cycle of farming, the diseases the farmer faces in the field and many of the trials and tribulations. Millions of dollars in expenses, to provide food for our families around the world. ALWAYS THANK A FARMER. Sure the grain farmer can go to some warm climate in the winter , but you know the stress they are under during their season is great, and if nature is mean they do not get to go either. when they are in that warm climate believe me they are carrying a debt load to sustain us in the “bread basket ingredients” for next year. The livestock farmer has to go out twice a day EVERYDAY for feeding , and milking. The feedlot has all of the BIRTHING responsibilities RAIN or Shine.
It was a dream for ALEX and I to do the sustainable farm. The lifestyle seems attractive. Our goal is to reach the sustainable farm without off farm income but that is going to take some time. Off Farm income or not our favorite day of the week is going to the farmers market. We will make cheese and go to FARMERS MARKETS until we are six feet under. Hope to see you there! Remember we have the #cheesepalooza Cheesemaking Workshops at the farm. Next one is Feb Long weekend on the Sunday FEB 17th, 2013. We will be introducing a new cheese and some new product combos we will be including in our line-up. Cheese Chatter Boxes, What are those you ask. See us in FEB, Let’s Make Cheese!

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