A lot of water has rushed under the bridge and over the dam, since I returned home more than 6 weeks ago. A whole bunch of wonderful things have happened that I should have written about already.
Bob has had a hard time sailing the long distances this year, both going south and returning north, but he managed to get home just a few days before this holiday weekend. He had to leave Pandora in Hampton, Virginia, and drive the rest of the way home. Hopefully he’ll make the last few hundred miles back home in late June. It’s terrific to have him back!
For now, I’ll write about this holiday weekend.
Since we’ve moved to Connecticut it has been our new tradition to take a drive through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley each spring as part of our Memorial weekend festivities. Yesterday was a glorious day, one of the first days without rain in about a month. I put together a picnic, and we headed out in our toy car to visit a sheep farm/dairy and a local winery.
Only a week before I learned about this sheep dairy from a friend who traveled with me to a long weekend lace conference. On the other side of the Ct River there are three dairy farms that make cheese: a cows’ milk dairy called Cato Farms, a goats’ milk dairy called Beltane Farm, and a sheep and cow dairy called Beaver Brook Farm. Imagine that! All three right within a few miles of each other!
Here is bucolic Beaver Brook Farm, owned by the Sankows. The farm has been in their family since the beginning of the last century, and they’ve been raising sheep and making cheese since the current generation bought their first sheep in 1984. I found some newspaper articles tacked up on the walls of their farm market that date from the early 2000s. These articles came from the New York Times, “Saveur” Magazine, and several local publications.
It was a stunning day for a visit. First came looking at the new lambs.
Then we met Suzanne who gave us a tasting of fresh sheep’s milk cheese covered in herbs de Provence, feta, an aged cheese that she calls “Farmstead,” and even a fresh sheep’s milk cheese mixed with pesto. All of it was delicious!
Here is Suzanne cutting some feta for us.
And here is a counter of aged Farmstead ready to be cut and packaged. It is a semi-firm cheese with a LOT of great flavor.
Suzanne gave us samples enough for a meal, and we enjoyed all of it. Afterward we visited the small building next door called the Wool Shop.
Inside the shop is more of an idea in progress than a fully functioning shop. They are just now branching out with the idea of making and selling things from the wool of their sheep. (Did I ask what breed these sheep are?? How could I neglect to do that?) The raw fleeces are sent to a mill in Massachusetts to be washed, then sent south for spinning at a mill in in either North or South Carolina. Some of the yarn is used to weave fabric that becomes blankets or clothing items, like capes and vests and sweaters. But look at all those piles of socks!
Recently Stan bought a sock knitting machine from China and is busily making hundreds of socks per machine knitting session. Sometime back, I remember reading in the NY Times that there is one town in China that produces almost all the socks sold in the world. Is that where Stan got his knitting machine?
It takes only 3 minutes for this machine to knit a sock. There are lots of choices of sizes and designs for the socks. When the sock is finished it shoots out into the blue plastic bucket in the foreground. I burst out laughing when the sock came shooting out!–sans toe because Stan has the toes done elsewhere and also has the socks washed elsewhere which makes them much softer than what we are holding here.
Want one? Here’s the info on that. The basic machine is about $6,000. You’ll need to fork out more for all the design possibilities.
A sock in progress down in the center. That plastic tube is where the sock will get shot out of the machine and into the bucket.
Just a head’s up for friends and family. There will be sheep socks coming your way this Christmas. How can I resist?
There are many to choose from!
Then we went to take a look at the sheep in the field. What a bucolic setting….
The farm is in Lyme on Beaver Brook Rd, in Lyme. Suzanne says they are open 7 days a week. That’s hard for me to believe with all the chores that must keep them busy, but she says they always have time to greet visitors and give you a cheese tasting. We went home with the fresh cheese covered in herbs de Provence, two hunks of feta and and some Farmstead. Yum…
We capped off the day with a stop at Priam Vineyards in Colchester, just a bit north of Lyme, and a lovely drive too on a spring day in a very old MGA. Cato Farm, where you can buy some wonderful cow’s milk cheese is just around the corner from them.
We sat on their shady terrace overlooking the vineyards and had a glass of chardonnay with our picnic.
What a way to celebrate the beginning of summer in New England. It is the best time of year for remembering and acknowledging how lucky we are to have such freedom and so many opportunities to enjoy life.