Sunday, May 18, 2008

Down at the Farm

I am living in a postcard and I am not even over exaggerating by one bit of parmesan cheese. The greatest thing about living in this postcard is that I get to experience the perfume the wonderful aromas like the large elderberry bush with it’s creamy white clusters of flowers (ok and sometimes the stench of the cheese but you can’t always see cheese in my postcard).
I am living in a wide part of the Val D’Orcia one km out of the town of Montichiello and six kilometres from the towns of Pienza and Montepulciano.
The farm, Podere IL Casale (meaning dairy farm), is perched high above the green valley. The last time I saw this valley in September of 2007, it was on the brown side due to the dry weather and the fact that most of these clay fields had been ploughed.

Now if we look at this piece of art that God has painted for us this spring, we can see that the spelt is headed out and if you catch it in the right light, it looks like bright green velvet. On one of the green hills he has painted yellow strokes to the detail the contours of the land (wild mustard). He has lightly brushed some of the land with wild mustard in a yellow/green shade that blends in nicely.
To compliment the mustard he has dabbed warm, sunshine yellow Broom bushes. Balancing out the green palate, God has placed a few symmetrical grey-green olive groves and lines of hunter green cypress add nice vertical contrast.
There is presence of a road down below ever so slight as it too contours the land. Except for one grey road which seems to run straight through a wheat field (and is paralleled by a set of sprayer tracks but we’ll just disregard that for now). And there appears to be someone walking down that road…who the heck???
Wait he has turned around and he’s waiving and calling out, “Ciao!”
!!Santa Madonna (Holy Mother of God)!! It’s the Gladiator, Russell Crowe!
“Ciao Russell!” I shout and wave back.
Apparently this road has been featured in many films. And I get to see it everyday! I know, it’s just a road but…

Now this compared to the restaurant is very peaceful of course – an absolutely different setting. Including the owners.
The owners of Podere IL Casale are Swiss and a lot of the people working for them or camping here are German, Austrian or Swiss. Needless to say there is a lot of German and Swiss spoken here. Their boys speak Italian to them and the boys speak Italian to me and as well they speak very good English – so if after an explanation if I still don’t understand they’ll explain in English which is nice.
As well there are Massimo and Ines who are Italian so I speak with them as much as I can and they both speak at a speed that is understandable.

I follow Sandra to my sleeping quarters. It is not in the direction of the caravans, but to this one level building that looks like it houses about 5 motel rooms. Hmmm.. I think to myself, so this is not a caravan perched on the cliff but looks something like a ‘hotel room’. It might not be so bad.
As Sandra opens the door she explains to me that I will only be staying in here for 2 days because there is someone in my caravan and we walk through the door to what is part of the cheesery – and it smells like it too. Santa Madonna….
White tiled walls and floors, 2 small porcelain white sinks and a big stainless steel deep sink. On the other side of the room is some storage stuff covered in blankets and a box of packaged herbs that they sell. In the middle of all of this is a nice cot with a small reading lamp placed on a chair. All I can think of is I hope that my stuff doesn’t start to smell like cheese. The German lady staying in my caravan thinks its kind of funny but is also concerned for me that I don’t start to smell or look like cheese and so she confirms to me that she will leave here in two days and I can have my caravan.
At supper I get to meet some of the other guests working here including Ronald the cheese maker from Austria.

Ronald looks like Santa Clause’s younger goofy brother. He has been returning to the farm now since 2005. Then he takes off travelling the world either making cheese or vacationing in some hot spot.
He tells me when I hear the tractor at 6 am I can wake up then. I think to myself 6 in the morning is not my kind of thing!!!
Because the caseficio (cheesery ) is so humid inside I wake up clammy and then get really concerned that one morning I just might wake up all mouldy like the cheese.
Things I learned this week:
- I have learned that making cheese is not too difficult of a process and it is interesting to learn about the different processes. As well I have been helping feed some of the animals using the good ol’ pitch fork and helping with some of the kitchen duties.
- Farmers in Italy complain about the weather the same they do in Canada. Too dry, too much rain….geeeeeeezzzzz!!!!!!!
- The Swiss make some neat food products including elderberry concentrate wich is really tasty and high in vitamin C.
- I unfortunately have learned to live in a state of paranoia. There are green and black snakes around which are apparently harmless but I am sure they are ugly. I don’t want to see one but I am sure I will and I wish I never knew this fact. Today I freaked myself out because as I was taking a picture, this thing was touching my ear and it was some really tall weed beside me but of course I thought it was a …..
- I realised I love meat. I love it so much that I have resorted to drinking the watery yellow whey left after all of the milk is ‘cooked’ and the cheese formed. I realise I must be missing protein after comsuming a million plates of pasta at the restaurant and not much meat or protein in these last few weeks. Its actually not bad it just tastes like cheese juice. Yellow watery stuff with little white chunks. Yummmmmmmmmm. I mix it with some apple juice and it goes down like nothing. Tastes like apples and cheese – a great combo.
It really is good for you!
Until next time §

1 comment:

Diane Anderson said...

Hi Rhonda.
I was hoping you could check your Facebook's important.
Hope to hear from you soon...