The Bread Shed
After the week and celebratory Friday night we all had, one would think one would like to sleep in and I did want to but there was an extracurricular "class" this morning on sourdough bread-making that Arden and I wanted to attend. At least I stayed in bed until nearly 8:30. Much earlier than that, I was aware of the light beginning to peep in through our farmhouse curtains and realized that the resident cockeral was considerably less vocal than in previous mornings. I smiled to myself, lying there contentedly and wondered if he was under strict orders to STFU on the weekends. 🐓🔫
One of my favorite things in the morning is my hot tea full of cream and sugar. As I'd chosen to stay in bed for so long, I only had a time for two or three long draws on my cuppa before we needed to leave. Big bummer for me. We were the first and only two who showed up so we had a private bread lesson from Timmy, who as it turns out, knows all things yeast and bread and it's he who's responsible for all the bread the shop makes and sells. He truly has his "hand" in every aspect of this farm, from keeping up with the bread starters to making both bread and compost, etc, etc, etc. It's great to have someone of such vast experience to learn from.
Interestingly, the shed is an old trailer from an 18-wheeler. They can only be used for so many years before they no longer pass inspection so they’re perfect and relatively inexpensive for someone to buy and transform into some purpose on their land for something like bread-making. There are two massive bread ovens and an industrial-sized dough mixer, a walk-in fridge and plenty of counter space and windows along one side with a spectacular view of the farm.
As we worked along, Timmy asked us our names and we told him. When I said my name, he said, “OK, Janet…” I quickly told him it was “Shannon” and he exclaimed, “OH! Sorry.” When he was showing Arden something he called her “Ardent” and we sneaked a look at each other and smiled. He said, “It is Ardent isn’t it?” Arden set him straight and yet, he persisted. And, I remained "Janet." Finally he questioned that too and I said, “Shannon. Like, the river?” He laughed and shrugged his shoulders at that. He’s fun to work with and has a quick wit, but of course he would, he’s Irish.
I wish I could tell you exactly what we learned and what we did but there was so much to do and so many types of dough and starters we had to feed and add to and pour out onto the counter and shape into loaves that it all sort of ran together. It was nearly noon before we were finished. Timmy’s tradition is to make a baker’s dozen of one of the sourdoughs so his helpers can have one. Once we cleaned the shed and all the messes we’d made, we took our bounty over to the shop and sat outside by the Airstream café, armed with soft butter and jam and warm beverages and devoured half a loaf on the spot. There is nothing more delicious than homemade bread, fresh from the oven.
While we feasted, slathering our warm bread with homemade Ballymaloe butter, (some people call this place "Buttermaloe" with good reason) we talked about cows. Their herd is Jersey and Timmy thinks that there is no milk equal to that of a Jersey cow’s. News to me, the Jersey breed originated on the Island of Jersey, a small British island in the English Channel off the coast of France. It’s one of the oldest dairy breeds and is reported to have been purebred for nearly six centuries. I told him, when we left here, we'd have the opposite problem to the saying, "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm, once they've seen gay Paris?" How are we going to eat factory-produced butters and milks, not to mention ordinary super market "organic" produce, now that we've become accustomed to this? #snobs
The day has turned gray and cold and it's begun to rain and we in the Coach House have all huddled up in our cozy living room around the little wood-burning stove doing little to nothing but filing, reading, blogging and relaxing. I had intended to go for a long walk, at least, but just couldn’t make myself when I had the chance. Now, I think I’ll head into the kitchen and make a fat omelet from one of these free-range hens' eggs and another big slice of our bread. I just heard that we're going to be watching Outlander later. Perfect.
Enjoy your Saturday, all!