So yesterday was Saturday, May 4th, which was FAMILY FARM DAY at Veldhuizen Cheese! Although we have visited their beautiful farm and shop several times over the last few years, we’ve never managed to be there when tours were available. That means we never got to see the INSIDE of their self-built cheese cave. So you can probably imagine how excited I was on Friday night when I came across a Facebook post announcing that they were having their open-house farm day in the morning. Troy and I already had plans to go visit my parents Saturday afternoon, so I quickly called them and informed them that we were ALL going to Veldhuizen Farm ~ bright and early! Not only would there be tours all day long, but there would also be hay rides, demonstrations and other area farmers sharing their knowledge and bountiful harvests… I didn’t want to miss anything!
I LOVE CHEESE! It’s not a secret, either. I mean it’s beautiful, delicious and nutritious… What’s not to love unless you are lactose intolerant!?!?! We even make our own goat cheese here at Dancing Moon Farmstead, but it cannot compare to the big, bodacious wheels of perfectly aged bovine cheeses at Veldhuizen’s farm!I love rich, MOLDY cheese, like their “Bosque Blue”, however Troy won’t even kiss me after I’ve taken a nibble of any STINKY CHEESE… So we usually go for a cheese we both enjoy, like their “Texas Star”, which is a unique creation of a smooth Cheddar/Swiss mix that is aged in the cave for 3-4 months. We’ve not yet tried their “Redneck Cheddar”, which is made by soaking the curds in beer! According to their description, this “creates a deeply flavorful cheese with a tart tang”! Another of their unique artisan cheeses is called “Paragon”, but now they have a version called “Paragon Reserve”. It’s aged longer (9-12 months), which produces “an extra sharpness while retaining the creamy texture and tangy flavor”. Mmmm… sharp, well-aged cheese ~ Just the way we like it!
This is just a portion of the cheese currently aging inside their cheese cave! There are over 1,000 wheels of cheese currently stored here… each one coated and turned several times by hand, too. I mean, this is REAL CHEESE, the way is should be made!!!
But as I said at the beginning, yesterday’s Farm Day wasn’t just about CHEESE. It was about family farms coming together to share their knowledge and their goods. Best of all, it was a good day to network with other local farmers and make new friends, too!
Everyday we make choices some big, some small, and many are made without much thought. Yesterday was a lovely day to be reminded of the beauty and bounty around us. We could SEE, smell and taste the rewards of making conscious decisions to not only live better lives ourselves, but to make our small corner of the world better for all around us. We could see that we weren’t alone in our crazy dream!
Veldhuizen’s Farm Day was truly a FAMILY event, which isn’t surprising once you meet them and their seven children! Most of the older children are grown, but this is a three-generation family farm, so there is always a Veldhuizen or two greeting you whenever you visit! At this weekend’s event I finally got to meet a couple of the older boys, including Caleb, who is as bright and cheerful as the rest of the clan and sports the most beautiful beard. Somehow I never managed to snap his photo on Saturday, but that’s probably because he never stood still long enough! Eli, the youngest, greeted us at the gate and directed us to the pasture parking for the day. Usually when we’re there he’s out mowing, which seems to be one of the many never-ending jobs around the farm!
Some of the day’s activities included delicious FREE samples, both inside the Cheese Shop and outside at the other area farm booths! There were at least a dozen or more vendor booths set up outside along the main drive and they, alone, were well worth the trip. Yes, there were many exciting shopping opportunities, but more important to ME was the chance to meet other like-minded people working hard to make their dreams a reality. Because they are all so passionate about what they do and why they do it I was able to find local products to use here at Dancing Moon Farmstead. One of the products that has been high on my list of priorities was NON-GMO chicken feed and I found it on Saturday: Coco Chick by Erath Earth!
One of the best finds of the day is this precious 50 lb. bag of “Coco Chick”, a GMO-free chicken feed!
The truth of Genetically Modified Organisms is that they are in just about ALL commercially processed animal feed! I’m not going to jump on my NO-GMO soap box just now, but I’ve been wanting to find GMO-FREE feeds for ALL of our animals. I’ve even been doing research into making our own feed in case it became my only alternative. I think I might have squealed out loud when I first caught a glimplse of Sabino Cortez’s big bag of Coco Chick!!! I know I clapped my hands like an excited three year old when he told me the price, which is comparable to what I’ve been spending at my local Tractor Supply Center! I’ll do a more comprehensive write-up on the dangers of GMO’s later, so please be sure to look for it.
Whoops, I’m jumping ahead of myself a bit, here… before I made my way to Erath Earth’s booth, I was drawn to one of the most delicious smells known to mankind: BACON! Turns out it wasn’t just bacon, but sausage, too. Bacon is a rare treat for us because it’s not available locally without being cured with cancer-causing Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrates. I was delighted to meet Scott Cooney and his crew from Pederson’s Natural Farms located down in Hamilton, Texas. They were cooking up samples of their natural bacon and sausages for everyone to try. My parents were especially happy to discover that Pederson’s makes an Uncured NO SUGAR Hickory Smoked Bacon which is absolutely delicious! What I like is that their “pork is raised without the use of antibiotics or growth stimulants and fed no animal by-products… EVER!” Check out their website for more information on the products they offer and recipes, too. By the way, that’s my mom joking and sampling their Sweet German Sausage. We were all laughing because she’s German, a native of Berlin!
Another one of my favorite vendors was Jan Pack of SoZo Life Global. Just a few weeks ago I gave up my morning cup of Java… it wasn’t as hard as it sounds, really, because I only started drinking coffee a few years ago. You see, I don’t like coffee – I do, however, like fru-fru coffee drinks! My poison of choice being a Caramel Frapaccino. So on Saturday Jan was there with her little table set up under the shade of a beautiful oak tree with innocent offerings such as SoZo Instant Latte. I blatantly eaves dropped as Jan explained to Jesse Velduizen about how “Coffeeberry contains extraordinary levels of plant compounds reported to have great potential to support human health.” Of course, the latte still have cream and sweeteners in it, so it’s a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, I suppose! Oh, and yes I’m going to be placing an order for a box of the Instant Latte ASAP!
The last of the vendor’s from Veldhuizen’s Family Farm Day that I’m going to highlight here actually had Mesquite Bean Flour for sale at their booth. Now I’ve heard of Mesquite Bean Jelly, and asked if they had any, which they did not, only Wild Plum. However, I believe they might have a recipe for it on their website. Mesquite trees often get a bad rap here in Texas, with most folks thinking their only usefulness is as wood chips in the smoker! This is unfortunate because the mesquite pods are actually quite nutritious. We have about 40 acres here at Dancing Moon Farmstead and that includes several stands of Mesquite. http://www.desertharvesters.org has some interesting articles on harvesting and processing Mesquite Pods. Think I’m going to have to do some research and experimenting this summer! Stay tuned as I’ll be sure to share the whole adventure right here on my blog…