Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Life on the farm 10/05/09: How The Day Went

This week at Burlington Farmer’s Market it was cool and wet, but not raining during the designated hours for commerce.

It was Homecoming Weekend for parents and alumni of the University of Vermont, which meant that tourists were packing the streets, restaurants, bars, and City Hall Park.

We ran out of cheese at 12:30 and from then on it was one disgruntled college-kids’ parent after another, bemoaning that we were “Green Mountain Blue Cheese” and had none available for them to sample.

Here is an inkling of how the day went after that:

A woman came into our booth, grabbed a ramekin of samples, shook it and declared to her companions, “Cheese samples? These are just crumbs!”

Another, “I’m not eating from that dish, it has a hair in it!” (The “hair” was sweater fuzz; I removed it immediately using the tip of a pen, without a fuss – but with every implication that each dish had had, at some point, a hair in it.)

“Are these cheeses famous in Vermont?”

I replied, “These cheeses are nationally famous, but the locals know all about them.”

When packing up to leave, one final couple blustered about us not having any blue cheese left for them to buy, stating that there had been plenty available earlier in the day.

I discovered a new “grazing-type” to categorize: the Hear No, See No, Grazer. This one asks what the cheeses are (and is told exactly that, whilst I point to signs next to each sample of cheese); they then proceed to eat each piece and repeat, “What cheese is this? What cheese is this?” Over and over again.

Then there was a young, pale woman just itching to pitch a fit over our farm selling veal out in public. She stood in front of our stand, at arms’ length.

“Is your veal confined?” she challenged.

“No” I said. I must have altered my body language because this is the point where Dan interceded.

He assured her that the calves had plenty of room; I started detailing what the three different styles of veal were and how each is kept, when she interrupted me.

“Are the calves left with the mothers.” This was a demand, not a question.

“No”, I said. “We are a dairy farm, the mothers are milked with the rest of the herd.”

At this point, she threw on a disgusted face, and looked about to have the above-mentioned conniption, but one of my regulars cut in front of her with an incredulous look on her face that anyone would be so rude and obvious about harassing me.

“Would you like to buy some veal?” I asked, with my very best Cheshire cat smile.

“I bought mine last week.” She replied, for anyone who cared to hear.

The girl dissolved into the crowd. At least she didn’t return with a protest sign, but there’s always next Saturday to look forward to.