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Cheese making & Herdsman Intern - Jay

I began my internship at Flint Hill Farm during August 2020. I plan to use the knowledge and experience I acquire here towards opening up career possibilities for myself down the road. I am a former baking/pastry and culinary arts student so I already understand the importance of cleanliness and hospitality. Below I will share the things which I have learned.

Becoming Familiar (Sept. 6th)

In my past I have had very little to no experience in handling farm animals. In just the first two weeks of being an intern here, my confidence has increased in dealing with the milking of goats, sheep, and cows. Not only did I learn the procedure for milking, but I learned how to set up the network of tubing in order to transfer milk from pail to tank to pasteuriser. Beyond just milking, I have learned how to clean stalls, how to handle the farm animals, and I am currently receiving a refresher course on microscope usage and am learning how to check for any diseases or other ailments that may cause an alarm to take the actions necessary to care for the animal.

Using What I Have

Plants, on the other hand, I have grown my own garden and am familiar more so with them than animals. Since the season is drawing to an end, I plan to take more lead upon myself to clean up the garden and greenhouse here on the farm. My intentions are to, by next season, to teach classes on how to plant, care for, and harvest crops. I look forward to putting in the hours to bring the garden and the greenhouse back to optimal conditions where I can begin holding classes. By teaching, I believe it will be a check mark of my progress and the opportunity to share with others the information that I have.

Teaching Classes (Sept. 13th)

Not even a month in, and I am already teaching classes on how to make mozzarella. Prior to the farm, I have never held a leadership position such as a teacher. I feel confident in what I am teaching for each class I hold I teach in the same exact way, one batch I demonstrate and the second batch I allow my students to make while I supervise, and each class has been approximately an hour in length. I look forwards to acquiring more knowledge so I may teach more classes more often.

Creative Foraging

Thus far I have used my culinary background as well as my advice from others on new and interesting flavour combinations for cheese. May it be sweet basil, wild blueberry, and honey; apricot sage; hot peeper chive... the list goes on. I find fresh sheep's cheese to be a good candidate to try flavour combinations as the results can be tried almost instantly, as well as the fact that sheep's milk contributes more sweet notes than cow and goat milk. Not just fresh cheese but even cheese that is pressed and aged I am learning that smoking cheese is possible as well as coating cheese in ash (burnt plant matter). Not only do the two add flavour, but it creates for a visual appeal as well as a natural preservative to ward of pests.

Preparing for a Bakery Outlet (Sept. 29th)

As I am gathering information on what the public might be interested in buying, I am gathering all of my baking equipment I plan to store in a tote for use in the commercial kitchen. So far I feel that bread and grab-to-go items such as muffins, cookies, and possibly miniature pies would be good products that will attract the eyes and sell. The other task I need to complete is gathering together what recipes and formulas I will be using to ensure consistency in products. On top of that, I will need to figure out the ingredients and their amounts that I will need to supply myself with. I believe with my prior kitchen experience I will be able to sustain a steady amount of baked goods depending on how fast they are sold, on top of while I am learning and doing other tasks throughout the farm.

Concluding my Internship (Nov. 12th)

Since my first week on the farm, I have learned surplus of information. I have become familiar with the standard milking procedure of goats, the steps involved of cheesemaking from transferring milk to pasteurizing cheeses to the inoculation and the aging and smoking and packaging of varieties of cheeses, as well as how to hold classes and become a teacher myself. My time here has also supplied me with more experience dealing with clientele who visit the farm; the demographics differ slightly from my previous place of employment. It has been a great pleasure in working along side all the individuals who put in their share to make Flint Hill Farm a sustainable and multifaceted working farm. For the longest time I have always had in interest in seeing how the operations of a farm work, and I am confident when I say that what I have learned here will help pave the road down where I take my next steps in my career.

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