A Long Way From Home

Gor Blimey, it’s been a hard day.

And with unhappy snippets of news from the construction of the Dairy Complex starting to filter through, we really do feel a bit helpless – & rather a long way from home……

It seems that everyone struggled with last night’s course homework; so at least I don’t feel quite such a dunce.  Even our Swedish coursemate Erik – a highly-experienced Food Technologist – had interpreted a novel (at least to us unseasoned Luddites) method of how he thought said figures should be tackled; yet Senior Lecturer, Gianpaulo Valli’s, final & seemingly effortless explanation of how to achieve the desired perfect result, left us all appreciating we still have so very much more to learn.

At least Tony & I had got the first two balances pretty much spot-on; although we’d stumbled badly at the third & final hurdle, because at that stage we had neither the  sufficiently sophisticated practical experience nor the progressively enhanced calculation formulae prior to graduation, to fully complete the neccessary equations required. 

So with a bad result from the day’s outset, we initially felt pretty despondent – to the point that we had actually completely fallen out with each other (whoopee doo, roll on Valentines Day….!).

To compound all this stressful strain there were also – as expected – the inevitable frantic ‘phone calls back home, regarding the multifarious problems which had bubbled up back at the ‘ranch’. 

Apparently the Dairy Complex building materiels had arrived as expected on Monday, but the onsite team & offloading vehicle hadn’t; so our long-suffering Project Manager, Paul, had to hurriedly ask our thankfully generous neighbour if he could beg, steal or borrow some more equipment – to which the answer was thankfully, “yes” – albeit at significant cost to his own working day. 

Incidentally, discussing these perilous circumstances with an adjacent neighbour, we have concluded that our local ‘hero’ should by now, be wearing his underpants outside his trousers; because he has literally & fearlessly saved so many of us, time & again, from impending – nay inevitable – profound agrarian disaster. 

As reporter Clarke Kent hid behind his trendy haircut & suitably-slick glasses in the ‘Superman’ films etc, so our own Local Farming Superhero is similarly modest; sporting seductively shy ‘beanie’ hat in all weathers, & manning growlingly-gorgeous ‘all-man’ Manitou earth-moving machinery when not merrily shovelling cowslop from the holding yard & the milking parlour (DO DAIRY GOATS, BOYS – HEALTHIER MILK WITH MUCH LESS MUCKING OUT & ABOUT!!!).  

So; as I suspect impassioned Italian GelatoStud Gianpaolo, would doubtless delight at seeing said Superfarmer’s daring dairying skills – WOW!” 

Anyway.  Work on our site continued despite the dearth of expected staff & machinery despite our Project Manager having already arranged to be on a job elsewhere; after all, it was only his professionalism & philanthropism which led him to be there at all, on Monday. 

Meanwhile the construction team arrived on site on Tuesday: but only two people, not the multitudes we’d anticipated.  So instead of it only taking just over a week to erect the building as we’d been promised, because there are now only two workers allocated to the site it will take at least three whole weeks to finish – & that’s if all goes without a hitch, which experience tells us these things seldom do. 

And the goats – who need this building in which to live as the herd expands during the coming days & weeks – are due to start kidding in a mere fortnight……

To compound the problem the builders are complaining that the site isn’t level with a 4.6ft discrepancy between the upper & lower levels of the foundations – what an utter nightmare.  And poor Paul was castigated for not providing the Manitou for the build’s duration; as well as for not initially appreciating how to position the construction materiels as required by the build – which has also been unhelpful, as we appreciate Paul has been working very hard to keep the project on track.

Unfortunately, at this distance, there’s not much we can do; to be honest I feel a bit helpless, really. 

Then more bad news came, this time from our farm sitters: apparently our cockerel appears to be ‘under the weather’.  Quite what this means I cannot exactly fathom; suffice to say they are just hoping he ‘hangs on’ until we return & decide what to do with him.  Poor Myrddin; from the vague symptoms I’ve been offered (chickens are never easy, mind you) & without examining him myself, I cannot possibly begin to ascertain the problem. 

And with my mind increasingly on all these problems back in the UK, I find I’m not concentrating as I should on the course; which is causing more tension between Tony & me.  No surprises then it is the 13th of February – at least it’s only Wednesday!

Right.  My mind must move onwards, ever onwards……

After going over the homework we were introduced to a new & complex subject – the art of Fruit Gelato – from crafting it, to storing it in the cabinet; along with effective stock rotation & presentation. 

Then it was onto the even more sophisticated subject of Yogurt Gelato – more complex again; whilst Gianpaulo created for us a tempting vanilla gelato; a plain, tang-talising yogurt gelato, & an exquisite strawberry yogurt gelato  – the latter’s taste & texture of which can only be described, as ‘perfetto‘ in Italian or in Welsh, ‘Bendigedig‘. 

Next we examined the complexities of nuts (yours truly was not included, incidentally) – hazelnut & pistachio, for example – & the fact that if you add them to a mix, unless you balance the sugar accordingly, your gelato will prove rock hard! 

After this tightrope-walk of balancing we went on to discuss a myriad of different flavour combinations & the complexities therein – because tomorrow is the dreaded day – our practical exam finals! 

Fail these, & we won’t get to graduate as Gelatieres Artigianales…..although for us, this is not the only goal: we wanted not merely to pass, but to truly succeed – otherwise, we’d be insulting Mum & Dad by wasting their hard-earned money as well as betraying their faith in us to craft the highest-quality dairy produce, regardless of artisan scale: perhaps our hand-cradfted gelato for them as a treat; or our delicious cheese, for a wider audience to enjoy. 

With Tony & I having to work together on some pretty intensive recipe balancing this afternoon, we resumed at least civil speaking terms again; just in time to return to the hotel for a hasty bowl of pasta, before getting stuck into the books for some serious revision….& to complete the inevitable gruelling homework, today calculating firstly whether we can increase or decrease fruit or sugar on a given recipe for banana gelato; & secondly evaluating a recipe for a cocoa & chocolate gelato. 

Yesterday, these questions would have scared me witless; today, somehow, my confidence has blossomed & I really got stuck in – with no help from Tony.  Result!! 

However I slept (did I sleep…? Not sure) no better tonight, especially with the open curtains & an ever-waxing silvered moon….

After all, as well as the pressure of tomorrow’s impending exams, with so much going on & so much going wrong (apparently) back at our precious LittleFfarm Dairy; we feel small, helpless….& right now, a very, very, long way from home. 


About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Animals, Business, Dairy, Diary, February 2008, Food, Ice Cream, Life, Poultry, Smallholding, Travel, Yogurt. Bookmark the permalink.

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