Irons in the fire

It’s been a quiet old time since leaving Holker in many ways but as the title says, with projects in the offing.  The first one is hopefully about to become practice rather than theory quite soon.Old Hall Farm is a multi-disciplinary smallholding near the village of Bouth in Cumbria, not far from Cark, Cartmel and my old stomping grounds indeed.  It is owned by Alex and Charlotte Sharphouse who in their spare time (the farm isn’t yet their day job) have bought the place, are doing it up and setting up a very old fashioned way of farming.  They plough their fields by working shirehorse, grow their own feed for their jersey cows, have a few rare breed chickens (producing delicious eggs by the way) and thresh their grain by steam powered machinery.  In other words they are farming as it was done over 100 years ago.  Their plan is to open the farm for open days during summers to let people see the old fashioned way of farming and take part up to a point but they also want to have a range of foods, made on the farm that they can sell through a farm shop and to some local places.  They currently have some market garden veg and eggs and in due time hope to be selling cheese. This is where I come in, to try out a few recipes with their jersey milk and once we’ve got a good recipe and got the storage conditions worked out so it matures well, pass on all my knowledge to Alex and Charlotte themselves or their full time cheesemaker.

So far, the first cheese we’re going to try is a soft, mould-ripened Camembert / Coulommiers type.  To that end there has been a lot of perusing of the online catalogue of Andre Coquard for equipment.  Now for making a few trial batches of cheese it might seem a bit over the top to be ordering in equipment from France, but having researched this, I have to say I’m convinced it was the right move.  Not only does it mean you’re buying things that are designed for the purpose of making a Camembert type of cheese (which let’s face it can only help), they also turned out to be substantially cheaper than the UK vendors, so much so that it’s even worth paying for a more expensive delivery charge to get everything over from France.

So order in and paid for, goods due to be delivered this week – perhaps even tomorrow, who knows, next week I might even be up there making the first batch of cheese.  Is it too early to stop crossing my fingers I wonder?

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