Laurie's Internship Story
After spending 17 years living in downtown Chicago, I was the last person you would expect to live on a farm. But I felt something pulling me toward learning about a simpler life, one that made more sense with the rhythm of the day and of the seasons. Flint Hill Farm was an easy choice, with its commitment to education, and the dairy production. You have to be careful what you say - I always used to say "one day, I'll live on a farm and make cheese!" At the time, it was just a casual comment; a silly joke. Little did I know!
I became the cheese intern at Flint Hill and lived on the farm from August - December 2014. To say it changed my life is a huge understatement. I'll never forget my second day on the farm, when the owner, Kathy, was showing me how to milk the cows. She finished with the first one, let it out of the stanchion, and said "ok, take her back & get another one.” GET ANOTHER ONE? Another COW? Did she just tell me to GET A COW?? Well, Kathy is not a person you say "no" to.
So I proceeded to take the one cow back to the enclosure (really, she took me - cows are creatures of habit, she knew where she was going, so I just followed & said "c'mon" a few times so it seemed like I was in charge). When we arrived, 4 other cows looked at me disinterestedly as they continued munching on their hay. (To tell you the truth, I was relieved that they were disinterested - I don't know quite what it would mean if they WERE interested!) So I did the only logical thing a person would do when asked go get a cow; I said "ok, let's go! Who's next?" And sure enough, one of the cows started moseying towards the barn. Unreasonably proud of myself, I trotted in behind the cow, proclaiming to Kathy, "Here she is!"
After that, anything else I learned on the farm seemed like a piece of cake. I would milk the goats in the morning, then spend all day in the Milk House making cheese. How could it get any better than that? The days were long, but I loved what I was doing, so it didn't seem like such hard work.
One thing that really surprised me was that I was constantly meeting people. I had thought I would be somewhat isolated, but the farm was alive with people, from the volunteers who took care of the animals, the beehives, and the greenhouse, to the families who visited for the educational programs, to the visitors who enjoyed all the farm had to offer during the farm stays. Through my contacts on the farm, I got a job which still seems like a dream to me - working with artisan cheese makers all over the world to bring their products to people.
-Laurie Ann Foote