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The Work We Do: Janene Curtis, Goodale Farms

My name is Janene Curtis and I’m interning here at Goodale Farms to be a cheese master. I started working here last year. Generally around this time my responsibilities are: I’m in charge of making the milk, making the cheese, doing the yogurt and also just making sure the room is clean at the end of the day.

It took me a while [to pick it all up.] Just in general in this room, there’s multiple processes going on at once and I have to keep track of all of them and I have to switch between them. It’s not quite multitasking, it’s more like task switching and just keeping track of everything.

When I first started I had to learn to keep track of time and to do things in the correct order. That’s usually what would mess me up. The feta wouldn’t come out good. I wasn’t proud of that feta then, but I’m proud of the feta now.

On a typical day, I get the milk, put it in the pasteurizer [and] that should be done by 7:30 a.m. It depends on the day, but [sometimes] there’s cheese that needs to be hung up and if the tank is full, the tank needs to be emptied. If there’s yogurt in the coolers, that has to go into the freezer here early so that it can cool down for the next day. If there’s feta on the blue trays it needs to be removed from the molds, flipped and salted.

A lot of this is heavy lifting, like getting the milk into a pot for one thing. [Hanging cheese] in particular, took a lot of concentration because I just did not have the physical strength to lift it. My arms would be shaking when I would tie [them] up. Also figuring out how much to add to keep it from overflowing, that took some getting used to and some figuring out.

I’m proud of the work I do here. I like packaging, I love making actual yogurt that tastes really good. I like the cheese. This is an intern position so I’m still learning. I don’t understand all of the science behind it yet but it’s been pretty rewarding just learning something new.

This is something I could become a master in.

‘The Work We Do’ is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. This weekly feature is made possible by Peconic Landing. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview.