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From the Farm

That’s a lot of cottage cheese

May 1, 2009
By Kerry Hoffman

Please enjoy a previous column. Kerry's on hiatus.

What one person believes to be funny, another person might perceive as pure disaster and embarrassment. Sometimes what has me in stitches may not be all that hilarious to Steve.

Monday morning, I thought what happened to Steve and I was pure, unsolicited humor and a superb topic for my column. Steve, on the other hand, failed to see any humor and wasn't so sure he wanted me to write about it. (Until some time passed, then he also saw the humor.)

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Kerry Hoffman

It all started around 6 a.m. I was lying in bed thinking I should get outside to help with chores, and then the phone rang. It was Steve. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew it would be him. Who else calls me at 5:59 a.m.?

"Honey, I need your help," he said. "Actually, it would be better if Joey and Russell came out."

"Why?" I asked. "And you're lucky I was actually thinking about coming out anyway."

"Well, the cooler on the bulk tank never ran last night, and it's full of cottage cheese."

"We'll be right there," I said.

When the cooler on the bulk tank doesn't run, the milk in it has a tendency to curdle and start smelling like baby vomit really fast. The fat in the milk rises to the top and coagulates to the texture of cottage cheese. But, unlike the fluffy cottage cheese a person purchases in the store, the curds in the tank were six-inches thick, very heavy and cannot be legally labeled as cottage cheese.

Russell was the first person out the house door. By the time I walked into the milk house, he was immersed in the bulk tank slicing and scooping out piles and piles of cheese with the feed scoop.

Steve and I stood at the end of the bulk tank watching Russell work his little butt off inside the smelly and hot bulk tank.

"It's gonna take him forever," Steve mumbled under his breath.

"I spose I could climb in there with him," I said.

Yep, in I went - into the white-curdly, baby-puke-smelling abyss. And let me tell you, a six-year-old body fits into the bulk tank better than a 33-year-old body.

Russell and I filled three five-gallon pails with our quasi-cottage cheese and then climbed out with the same cheese mashed into our hair and clothing. I don't know how we managed to get it in our hair. Once I climbed into the tank, I made Russell scoop and fill the bucket faster than a robotic arm in a butter plant. It was awful.

"You know, how is it that I ended up in the tank?" I asked Steve.

"Well, you volunteered."

Steve was at a loss at to what should be tackled next. He paced the room wondering if he should call an electrician, because he "was positive it was an electrical problem," or a refrigeration guy, because, "It could be the cooler."

I reassured him that the refrigeration guy would have to know something about electrical wiring. Refrigeration units don't run on batteries. Steve was so wound up he needed a well-grounded wife to get his brain wires working properly.

After we sanitized the bulk tank and started milking, Warren Holland, from Ron Holland Air Conditioning and Heating, drove into the yard as our savior. We were so glad to see him it was as if he had a glowing aura around his body.

Here is what I perceived as hilarious, and Steve didn't.

Apparently, somehow the breaker switch in the circuit box, that keeps the cooler on the bulk tank running, had gotten turned off.

Steve said he felt like a "butt," because he had to have Warren come out to tell us to turn the breaker back on.

All I could do was giggle. I thought it was funny.

I bet the next time the cooler isn't working Steve will check the circuit breaker.



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