Eric Smith of Pugs Leap Farm and I were talking about our favorite words the other day. I told him that mine was lithic scatter (stemming from Neolithic) which is an anthropologist’s slang term used to describe shards of arrow heads, tools, pottery, and a myriad of other artifacts left behind by indigenous cultures, all of which serve to tell the story of how ancient cultures lived. Because I have spent quite a bit of time hiking through the desserts of the Southwest, lithic scatter has become a favorite buzz word of mine for the treasures that can be found in the wilderness when I am alert enough to keep my eyes open and focused in the moment.
But when Eric shared his favorite word aesthetic sacerdotalism with me, I decided I might have to trade lithic scatter in for a new and improved term Considering I have small children, just hearing the word scatter only serves to conjure up visions of how my house is going to look at the end of the day, after my two daughters have systematically trashed it beyond recognition.
In the dictionary sacerdotal means “of priests, the office of priests, or priestly” and when the word aesthetic is added, it means to add a priestly aesthetic to an environment or object. After visiting with Eric and his friend and business partner Pascal Destandau it’s easy to understand why this is his favorite word, because both the life and environment they have created for themselves and the beautiful goats they tend, is very priestly indeed, although they might be a bit too humble to admit it themselves.
Pugs Leap Farm and micro-dairy is situated on three acres nestled on a slope just off of Dry Creek Road. The land has belonged to Eric’s family for several generations and like many of the artisans I have met during my meanderings around this county, Pascal and Eric were seized by the desire to create a life style that was as far removed from the hectic corporate lives they lived in the big city as possible. Pascal was born in Bordeaux and schooled in Monte Carlo. From there he moved on to study and work in London, Sydney and finally San Francisco. Trained in biology, chemistry and environmental sciences he worked for many years as a product development manager for the personal care and pharmaceutical industries. Eric the son of a local teacher and artist, studied architecture at UC Berkeley and put his skills to work in San Francisco, until he finally (as he puts it) came to his senses and returned home.
The name Pugs Leap Farm came about when Eric and Pascal (who own several pugs) decided to take the leap of faith into the goat’s cheese business.
It took them several years simply to acquire the use permit and proper equipment to begin the process of actually making and selling cheese. Pascal learned to make cheese during and internship Craviola, which is a communal farm in the French Alps and they had to re-develop these recipes to accommodate the need for pasteurization required in the United States.