Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

The daylight begins in a slower manner.  The morning sun takes a different path across the floor of my room and does not warm the floorboards as it does in the summer.  I, too, wish to begin my day in a slower manner;  it is so warm under my covers.  But I know today will be a long day.  After my lessons, Mother is taking me to a farm nearby to watch the task of making cheese.  Father said it is smelly work and not everyone makes a good cheese. The making of good cheese is not merely a task but a completion of a godly cycle.  I am not certain what he is trying to tell me.  He sells only the best tasting cheese in his store. The farmer’s wife who puts her cheese in Father’s mercantile receives store credits.

I hope Josh and Brent come along today to watch the making of cheese.  They will not be underfoot. No one ever seems to notice them but me.  They are my favorite friends.  Mother has told me that one must pay careful attention to make a really fine cheese.  She explained that fresh, raw milk is heated with rennet, which had been dried and saved from the fall slaughtering.  Rennet comes from the stomach of a cow.  Josh made a horrid face when Mother spoke about that.  I watched the curd form on the mixture of heated milk and rennet.  It took a long time.  Josh and Brent and I walked about outside while we waited. Brent was leaping about, trying to catch a fly in his fist.

Then Mother called me into the dairy house to see the farmer’s wife break the curds and begin to drain them. She worked in some butter and wrapped it in a cheese cloth before she placed it in a round mold and settled it in a cheese press. It seemed to take an hour.  She would change and wash the cloths as the whey seeped out. The whey was smelly.  It smelled sour to Josh and Brent and me.  Brent said he was breathing through his mouth the entire time!!!  She would repack the cheese in a dry cloth and put it back in the press for almost two days.  We went home while the cheese was aging.  But the attention to the cheese making would still continue.

Mother told me that the woman who is making the cheese will turn the ripening cheese each day and polish it with butter.  Sometimes sage is used to flavor a new milk cheese.  Father will only accept the best cheese in his store.  Because I have a good, light hand with butter making, it is his hope I shall become proficient in the making of cheese.  Josh and Brent have watched me making butter and singing.  They tell me that I know how to speak to the milk that comes from the cow that feeds on our tender pasture………and that is what makes my butter turn sweet.  I am really going to try to learn about this godly cycle.  I think I can.

A person who works with their hands
is a laborer,
A person who works with their hands and head
is a craftsman,
A person who works with their hands, head, and heart
is an artisan!


by Mary Beekman

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Beautiful story. Very well written indeed! Sadly, I wish I could eat the fabulous cheese, but as a 35 year vegetarian, I can't due to the fact of the process using rennet. I will continue to visit your store and buy the goat milk soaps and other local products you sell there. Hope to see you there, always enjoy talking with you and your staff.

Your neighbor in Howes Cave.


Sabino, it is so good that you understand about my

butter and the making of the cheese. It is difficult

for me to rest at this time of year. There is so much

work to be done and fun to be enjoyed……especially

in October. I am always about.


Dear Mary,

It is extremely interesting to learn about the godly cycle and the hard work it takes to make the great goat cheese your Father sells at his Mercantile. The cheese is one of the best in the world, Mary. You may know this by now.

You must be proud of yourself knowing that the artisans who produce the cheese at the farm use butter to polish such beautiful wheels of cheese, and – you know what? I am convinced the butter is made by artisans who use the technique you developed over hundreds of years to make the tastiest butter ever, using good and light hands like yours.

What makes the cheese your Father sells at his Mercantile be the best goat cheese is a special ingredient you and your imaginary friends Josh and Brent put into the secret recipe to make it. That special ingredient makes the cheese unique, like no other. You know what that special ingredient is, right? Well, now I know what that special ingredient is, after tasting and enjoying the cheese very many times. THAT special ingredient, not found in any other cheese in the world, is LOVE! The love Brent and Josh put into making the cheese.

Well Mary, I'll be waiting to read your next story. In the meantime, rest in peace!

Ruth Czerwinski

Mary, what a beautiful story but I don't think I'll attempt to make cheese. I'll leave that up to my friend, Jackie. I loved the poem by St. Francis – never heard that one before.

I am going to miss Mary………..