Today I drove down to Chehalis to meet Brad and Meg of Black Sheep Creamery. They and many other farmers in the area were hit incredibly hard by the floods that wreaked havoc over southern Washington about two years ago, and they are now back up to a flock of about 70 sheep, who graze peacefully in pastures just a bit down the road from their farmhouse. They have a fairly small operation, and it is just magical to see where some of my favorite cheeses come from.
I met Meg, the lady of the farmstead, and their silly herding dogs. Then it was into the cheesemaking den for an hour or so observing Brad and their current intern Jess, as they worked on a batch of experimental pecorino. I had to hold myself back from just diving my hands into the sultry curds and gobbling them up by the mouthful. They kneaded and pounded the curds into 4 cheeseclothed wheels, then set them up to press, all the while patiently answering my every question. I got to walk through the cave and see wheels of Mopsy's Best and their fabulous Tomme in various stages of ageing, plus a few odds and ends that they are currently playing around with. Whether I'm at liberty to really say much more about them I'm unsure of, so I'll leave it at that.
I'm scheduled to head back down and start putting my nose to the cheesestone, so to speak, on July 6th. I'll have a few days to work with Jess before she's off for a week and then I'll get to be the one heaving and hefting buckets of whey and wheels of glorious cheese for about 10 days. There is so much for me to learn, and I'm so grateful that these great folks are giving me the opportunity to get up close and personal with their operations. And hopefully I'll get to work a little sheep canoodling in there as well. I can't wait!!!