The (Non) Leap Year

As the Winter Solstice neared, my mind was ablaze with conclusions about my life and what I had to do to move forward.  Indeed, as I drove across Iowa on December 31st through the dark, cold night which could only conclude in the numerical New Year, my plan was mapped vividly in front of my eyes as I snaked down the interstate.

Then there was champagne, mint-chocolate brownies, McDonald’s fries (I know!), a Kansas City Chiefs game… holy holiday time-warp.  Suddenly, I didn’t know where I was, what day it was, or what I was doing.  As we drove home, I drank coffee and tried to re-formulate my thoughts and ambitions.

Now, it is mid-February and I’m reluctant to leap.  I am afraid.  Leaping (into becoming a Vet Tech) was what I did before and it ended badly, with mind-numbing stress and anxiety I hope to never endure again.  I know that I need to take things more steadily and that biting off more than I could chew was one reason I crashed and burned with my previous venture (and other ones before that, come to think of it).  That, and it wasn’t what I should devote my life to, I believe.

So here I am.  I gave myself nearly a year to breathe and gain back a sense of relaxation virtually non-existant in my life a year ago when come Spring, I would feel that I was quickly falling off a crumbling cliff.  I know stress is a part of life and you must push yourself, but I don’t think it should be THAT hard and anxiety-stricken if it’s something you know in your heart you want to do.

I think what I need to do is practice patience and take things one step at a time.  I used to think that, if you wanted something, you should leap blindly towards it without giving the how’s and why’s and in-betweens much thought. I thought of this practice as being “edgy and daring” and thus, exciting.  And then, you just hope it all works out.  But that path is flooded with uncertainties and can thus be derailed easily.  Therefore, it is necessary to clearly map out your game-plan, weigh your decisions and timing, put things off if you’re not ready or it’s not the right time (all that steady, boring stuff my dad would approve of, haha).

This can be very frustrating when all you want is to make things happen for yourself in your life.  You dream a big reality for yourself, scheme the quickest way to get there–if everything should go perfectly right in your little dream-world–and when it never happens that way, you get discouraged.

I’ve had people say to me after I’ve developed a sincere interest in cheesemaking: “why don’t you set up at the farmer’s market?” or, “maybe that is what you could do to make a living!” To both those ideas I say YES, but I’m not there yet.  I’m still learning and I don’t want to make the end goal my focal point because it is really not how one gets anywhere.  Maybe that can work for some people, but in my experience, start thinking too big too fast and you’re screwed.

I tossed around starting an apprenticeship at a goat dairy 1 hour away this Spring.  If the dairy were in the more immediate area, it would be a no-brainer and I probably would be up there pretty much every day, but an hour is just a little far and my weekends could be consumed by the venture, which might result in stress… not the right way to approach it.  That is the quickest way to burn out on it.  Maybe next year, or maybe eventually we’ll move and there will be a dairy closer.  Anyways, I just don’t feel that it is the right time to launch myself into that venture (though I can’t wait to!!!).

Whether I like it or not, taking things one-step-at-a-time is best and will get me the furthest in the long-run.  I had many things I wanted to focus on this year, but I have to pick a few, and one will be continuing to learn about cheesemaking.  I think this makes sense with where my goals are at right now: it will be quite a while before I’ll be able to consider getting a herd of goats.  Mastering cheesemaking is a skill that will come in handy when I finally get my goats and when the time comes, I’ll know what to do with the milk instead of having a surplus on hand and having to figure it out then.

So I decided to try making a different cheese today: cream cheese.  The recipe is only slightly different from Quark, with a little more Mesophilic DVI MA culture, and a little less Rennet (I think), so we’ll see.  Same process, except you put the culture and rennet in together, no waiting in-between.  Then you let it sit 12-18 hours, then hang the curds to drain from the whey… and voila!  …a good spread to put on bagels?  We’ll see when the time comes!  Cheese–like life–is all about waiting.  Maybe that is why it appeals so much to me at this time.20160118_155005

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