I go to the barn where the calves are fed and cared for, I’m lucky enough to catch the evening feeding when Michelle hops over the gate and pours fresh milk into a gray bucket-like vessel with 10 plastic nipples lining the bottom. The calves jockey for position and Michelle makes sure that everyone latches on. What I am delighted by is not just the sight of this ritual, but the sound of 10 calves drinking. It’s a rippling symphony of sucking.
Instead of seeing cows in digital perfection, I see them for the first time not five feet away. They have dried dirt on their asses because if they’re tired they sit down during the day like the rest of us. They scratch their heads with their hind legs, and they poop wherever. What I hear while they graze is, well, them grazing…the sound of those beautiful beasts tearing up fresh grass, it sounds like soft baritone Velcro being pulled apart.
I walk through the maze of cheese racks in caves One, Two, Three and Four when I take temperatures of the caves and dump water buckets. Each cave has a smell…Cave One, where cheese is only a few days old, smells sweet like butter. Cave Two has the same aroma, although there are far fewer wheels inside so the scent is faint. Cave Three has a meaty, oniony character, and Cave Four, where the oldest cheeses live, smells of ammonia and cedar boards on which the cheese wheels age. The humidity causes condensation on the cooling pipes and it drips into a PVC gutter and gets captured in the bucket below. Plop, plop, plop a sound I never before knew existed in cheese caves. Some things don’t translate to image and that’s ok…a reason to get out there instead of scrolling through life.