East Forty Farm Visit

One of the special parts of buying locally is being able to visit all of the farms that supply us year round with well-thought and well-crafted ingredients.  Thankfully, the farm purveyors come to us in the summer time when I haven’t a second to do anything but receive all of their good work at the boat.  Yesterday, however, I had the special chance to visit East Forty Farm.

The cheesemaker herself

The farm is owned by Neal Foley and Allison Lakin who recently married and have only been on the property for a couple of years.  Individually, they’ve been honing their crafts for years with Neal providing nose to tail farming and cookery of all sort of animals from duck to beef and in our case, pork.  Allison is an award-winning cheese maker and supplies the Riggin with gorgeous cheese from her creamery, Lakin’s Gorges Cheese.  In addition to everything else, they now offer classes and farm to table dinners to draw fans of their good work to their spot in Waldoboro, Maine.

Deliciousness on a platter
Heaven

Neal and I actually met years ago when, on his former farm, he taught comprehensive butchering classes with Kate Hill of Camont in Gascony, France.  Kate lives in France and comes over at least once a year to collaborate with Neal on traditional French cooking.  My love of cassoulet didn’t begin with these two, but it certainly was fostered and encouraged.

Neal the farmer with maybe one of our pigs afoot.  Photo courtesy of East Forty Farm

For the first time, I got to see where our cheese is made and even the cows that supply some of the milk for said cheese.  And while I didn’t get to meet our actual pig (except in the form of cuts from the freezer), I did get to see where they wander and root in the wooded lots on the farm.  This is the next group to come up the ranks and with a couple more to follow.  In addition, the cows, milked daily were lazing in the sun when I arrived and as I approached, they roused themselves to greet me.

Isn’t’ her face pretty?

As I drove home through the Maine countryside on curving two-lane roads, I was surrounded by the last vestiges of fall – the colors of the leaves dimming to amber interspersed with clusters of green spruce and the splash of white bark from the birch trees.  The sun dappled the fields and farmhouses as I passed and I found myself grateful to live here and to be a part of a local economy that fosters a healthy, wholesome way of life.

Maybe there names are Pork and Bacon? Photo courtesy of East Forty Farm
Babies and their mama in the woods
Cute, huh?

Annie
Got my fill of farm goodness

Maine Farms – Visiting Dairy Cows

As I found more and more producers in the area from whom we could buy, Jon came home one day to my exuberance about having purchased both a cow and a pig.  This, just after my initial purchase of 25 baby chicks and therefore he understandably assumed I was talking about live animals which would require considerable care rather than meat which we would eat for the summer and into the winter. 

His reaction, "You did WHAAAAT?  A. cow. A PIIIIG!" is now comical.  After realizing he wasn't sharing my excitement, I back tracked and explained that they were already in the afterlife, not animals that I would be caring for – much to his relief.

I thought about this story as my eldest daughter and I learned how to milk Maggie, the cow who provides all of our families' milk.  She needs to be milked twice a day, every. day. without. fail.  While it was fun to learn about the process, I'm certain that for now, I wouldn't want to sign up for the daily commitment. 

Our travels down a snow-laden Route 1 behind the plow (which seemed as if it were planning on going all the way to Portland) caused us to be late.  Consequently, we headed right down to the barn where Maggie was uncomfortably waiting to be milked.  Her head was snugged in a wooden brace that kept her in place although she seemed docile enough without it.  Her udder and teats had already been cleaned with an iodine solution.  This was the same solution we used on our hands before touching her. 

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Christine, Maggie's owner, showed us how to squeeze our thumb and forefingers together first before closing the rest of our fingers.  This insures that the milk doesn't go back up the teat.  The alternating squeezing rhythm didn't take long to learn and pretty soon the level of warm milk in the stainless steal bucket began to rise.  Once it was full, we headed back up to the kitchen to strain the milk and cool it immediately in a bath of ice cold water. 

The top photo is Maggie and the one below is Wink, short for Winkle, short for Bullwinkle.  He'll become meat for the family in the fall, but right now he's just cheek-pinching cute.

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Later that day I made ricotta cheese, 2 flavors of yogurt, buttermilk, creme fraiche and whole wheat bread from the whey the ricotta produced. 

Annie
Feeling quite the farmer today

© 2008 Anne Mahle