catching up is hard to do

Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, I didn’t post anything — not even a picture. Shame, shame.

To make up for it, I’m going to post a ton of pictures today, and try to teach you a thing or two about my arch-nemesis plant: the tomato.

I’ll explain why it’s my arch-nemesis in a sec, but in the meantime, I’ll give you a quick photographic recap of the time Emmett and I spent on the east coast visiting pasture-raised dairies and small-scale organic farms. Part of the reason I’ve been struggling to find time to post is the massive amount of catch-up we’ve had to do upon returning from our vacation. (That, plus the chicks who are growing rapidly but still ridiculously helpless, plus other work.) So it seems fitting that I catch up on the blog, too, and get a few of these pictures up! Here goes.

In upstate New York, around Hamilton — home to Colgate University, which actually does link to the toothpaste via trustee — local food is easy to find. Driving along a rural road, you might happen upon a cheese shop tucked right next door to the milking parlor and approximately 100 yards away from the cows that produce the cheese. (Yes, it really is this picturesque. Note the wind power being generated in the background.)

Or you might happen upon another cheese shop that’s home to New York’s largest reservoir of fine aged cheeses. You can buy 14-year-old cheddar here, no joke:

Jewett’s also has unbelievably delicious cocoa-coated-almonds (not like anything you’ve ever tasted — dusty, bitter, silky, sweet, in that order), and an excellent selection of local jams, honeys, and dry goods. And, of course, cheese — if you’re a sucker for flavored cheese like I am (think: dill, garlic, sun-dried tomato) or fresh cheese curd that squeaks when you bite into it, this store is the place for you.

But back to the cows. The photo at the top of this post is proof that dairy workers rise at O Dark Thirty (my family’s way of saying Way Too Early) every morning. The sky was still dark, but the cows were in the milking parlor, the lights were on, and the guys were milking! ‘Course, the pictures are better in the daylight — here, the cows are coming out of the milking parlor, udders drained, to find their way down the dirt lane to the pasture:

And finally, a contrast for you. This dairy used to be a conventional, confined operation. In the first photo, my arms are opened to the amount of space that each cow would live in — in the cement floor, you can still see the sockets where posts previously divided the stalls. (You can see why I’m looking a bit melancholy in this photo. A cow would live in this space her entire life, 24/7 — eat there, poop there, sleep there, and be milked there. She’d be fed at the end in front of me, and her poop would drain down the gutter behind me.)

The last three photos depict Emmett’s cousin’s cows, free-ranging in beautiful upstate New York.

I’ll put the tomato story in a new post, so that people looking to learn about tomatoes won’t have to scroll through my make-up pictures first!  Over ‘n out.

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