Last Friday night, all I could think is "I am dog-gone tired."
It had been a particularly long week of classes and social/work obligations. I thought about crawling into my bed and calling it an early night, a rarity for me, when my cell rang. It’s Mr. W and I pick up.
"Cheese, cheese, cheese," he chants.
"I know, but I’m so tired!" I reply.
"But cheese Š," he says in the most disappointed voice. I let out a sigh. I know he’s right. I’ve been hyping up that Cricket Creek is having a party tonight to announce the kickoff of their Kickstarter Campaign all week. The fact that there will be free cheese, a fridge full of their raw milk and Berkshire Brewing Company’s beer hasn’t escaped his memory. It would be cruel to cancel our plans.
So I find a way to put some pep in my step and get up to one of my favorite places in the Berkshires.
I’ve been heading to Cricket Creek dairy farm on Oblong Road in Williamstown for a few years now. It’s worth the commute from Dalton. They produce grass-fed raw milk and take any excess milk to make the most divine cheeses. Maybe I could find another cheese vendor, but I also go up to Cricket Creek because the experience of being there genuinely makes me happy and connected to my food.
But I don’t just go for the food.
I go to see the piglets each spring. I go because of the dogs and one-goose greeting committee. I go because it’s a sort of escape for me. I get out of my car and all the smells of farm life hit me. I see chickens running throughout the grounds, and I always see the orange and white cat, Creamy, outside their store door impulsively waiting for a pet or two.
I feel a real connection to this farm. It’s a place that I can go to feel like I have a relationship with my food and its producers. And to top it off, it’s the only place I’m aware of that still operates a goodwill paying system. To me, the people that operate Cricket Creek know the ethical food they produce will inspire customers who can be trusted to also act ethically.
So as we pulled into the driveway last Friday night, my sleepiness all but disappeared. Mr. W and I entered the familiar store and were ushered up a staircase I had never really noticed before. At the top of the stairs we were greeted by one of the farm’s dogs, Otto, with a heavy tail wag. We were there right at 8 and only a few people spotted the room. The lack of partygoers was soon forgotten as I noticed to my left the largest spread of farm-made cheese I had seen ever.
"I’m going in," I said to Mr. W.
I really did try self-restraint, but Cricket Creek favorite Maggie’s reserve topped with Hosta Hill relish and Night Owl crackers didn’t help my cause.
When Mr. W reminded me that other guests would probably also like a taste, I sheepishly backed away. Perfect timing as more guests had arrived, including my friends and newly local Red Apple butcher shop owners James Burden and Jazu Stine and my favorite local photographer Bill Wright.
Suddenly a duo of gents sitting in the corner, wearing flannel, wool vests and old-school style driving caps pulled out their trumpet and guitar and filled the room with upbeat folk music. Deep in conversation with my friends, I barely noticed that soon the entire room was full of flannel-clad partygoers all laughing, eating, dancing and drinking.
Cricket Creek operators Suzy Konecky and Topher Sabot ushered the crowd around a projector and announced the official launch of their Kickstarter online. The presentation, accompanied by a heartwarming video of the farm, which offered insight to the hard work everyone on the farm does, made us all realize only more why we were there.
The video also showed their passion and their plan to change and become financially viable. They need to be able to raise $85,000 by this March to renovate their existing stone barn, which when remodeled could host all types of parties at the farm and add a number of solar panels to help with operation costs and make the farm an even "greener" business.
The presentation ended, the crowd clapped and the musical duo struck up again. People dancing, stomping clapping -- the next hour was magical.
In the midst of being twirled around I stopped looked around and suddenly felt such joy. Here I was on a Friday night laughing, eating and having an amazing time with a group of people that also loved this place as much as I do. I didn’t want the night to end, but with my belly full of libations and cheese and my legs starting to feel like jelly, I bid my goodbyes and drifted back out into the cold night on Mr. W’s arm.
"I can’t think of a better night then a barn party," I said, as we drove away. And I meant it. It was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done all winter.
If you want (and I’m biased and say you should) to help Cricket Creek reach their goal by the end of this month, you can make a pledge online.