New Kids on the Block at the Adamah Dairy
Adamah is a program of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Adamah connects people to their roots, to the land, to community, to Judaism, and to themselves by providing educational programs and products in order to build a more sustainable world. Adamah is a beneficiary of the New York Ride and Retreat.
By Stephen A. Sherman and Glenn Katz
“Okay, it’s time to pass the buck,” he said placing the kid in our arms with a seriousness that belied the playful tone of the pun. The rest of the Adamah staff sang a song, the lyrics of which are stenciled onto a rafter of the milking parlor: Ivdu et HaShem b’simcha - serve God in joy.
Aitan, the indomitable goatherd, built the thirty-head state-certified kosher Adamah Dairy from three goats and a homemade milking stand. As the dairy and herd manager, he taught how we milk on Shabbat, how to milk by hand, and the Jewish ethic of Tzar Ba’alei Hayim (prevention of suffering to animals) to six generations of participants in the Adamah Fellowship, the three-month farming-and-spirituality program at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Aitan created his own reality of dairying – one full of patience, love, and Jewish tradition.
Last May, Aitan’s new apprentice, Glenn Katz, joined him in this tradition of Jewish dairy farming, bringing with her the course-altering experience of working with the herd at Kibbutz Neot Semadar. Steve Sherman got a taste of the flavor that Glenn brought to the Adamah Dairy during his time as an Adamah Fellow in the fall of 2011, before he joined the Adamah Dairy staff full-time. At Steve’s first morning milking, Glenn shared the recipe for her sweet morning drink called the capraccino - a blend of black coffee and foamed goat’s milk straight from the udder. Steve had just framed his new diploma in Agro-Environmental Science from McGill University, but hundred of hours of lecture had taught him nothing as exciting (and practical) as the capraccino.
Maybe it was the magic of Glenn’s capraccino, or maybe it was the sweet mild winter, but whatever the reason, the Fall 2011 cohort of the Adamah Farming Fellowship inspired more than one long-term stay. In addition to Steve, Reesha Katcher joined the Adamah staff as field apprentice. With Janna Berger, the field manager, Reesha will be growing the delicious veggies and gorgeous flowers in the Adamah Vegetable CSA shares.
As we write this blog post, the goats have grown to twice their usual size, pregnant with up to four kids. Like new mothers ourselves, we are excited and anxious for the coming season. The goat kids are due in April, as are the first ever spring cohort of Adamah Fellows. For the following ten months, the Fellows will milk the goats and help create our certified-kosher dairy products: Holy Chevre, Falls Village Feta, and Goatgurt. This season the Adamah Farm will continue to deliver monthly vegetable, dairy, flower, and salty sweet CSA shares of our products to Falls Village, CT; West Hartford, CT; White Plains, NY; and the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan.
With humility, perseverance, and confidence, we aim to serve our goats and God in joy. It is our responsibility to impart the skills and values we use to run the Adamah Dairy to the Adamah Fellows, from the thorny details of goat herding to Jewish animal ethics. History and meaning seem to saturate every speck of soil here. And so we find ourselves compelled with confidence in our plans, grateful for what we have inherited, respectful of the many factors beyond our control, and careful not to drop the buck.
One milking doe
½ cup strong, black coffee
2 clean hands
- Get a goat. Make sure it’s a female, otherwise you may run into
- Get that goat pregnant. For that you’ll need a buck, an adult
- Five months later, that goat will give birth to beautiful kids
- Wait three days after the kidding
- On the fourth morning, make a fresh pot of coffee, pour into a mason jar, and bring it to the milking parlor
- Bring the goat on the stanchion
- Place coffee mug or mason jar in one hand
- With one hand, hold the coffee. With the other, clamp the teat with the thumb and forefinger and squeeze with the rest of your hand, with careful aim, until the coffee becomes a wonderful caramel color with a nice layer of foam.
- Thank your goat and enjoy your very own capraccino!
We are grateful to Hazon for their invaluable support of Adamah. Funding from Hazon helped us buy the house where the Adamah Fellows live, the greenhouse where we start our seedlings, and the technology to run our delivery truck on used vegetable oil. We look forward to hosting the 2012 Hazon Food Conference here at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center from December 6-9.
For more information about Adamah or its products, visit www.isabellafreedman.org/adamah.