Where's the cheese?

All right, I searched the forum for mention of cheese specifically & the diet of mice in general, and I came across a suggestion of making cheese from beetle secretions, but there must be a tastier way for these hunter/harvester mice to manufacture cheese. They’re making ale, after all, so why not cheese?

Most of the mouse “recipes” I’ve come up with in my playing group has involved nuts, walnut paste, a variety of dried fruits & grains, but I’m trying to figure out a way to introduce cheese into the campaign which doesn’t involve beetle secretions. If the mice could manage working with rabbits as mounts perhaps they could domesticate pigmy goats for the production of milk? Also, those cheese rounds could be stored for winter banquets. And, frankly, what mouse doesn’t tire of eating nuts & bread all the time?

Surely the availability of cheese has come up in other campaigns. Any ideas?

Cheeeeeese Gromit.

Eh, I dunno. Good question.

It’ll be interesting to see what others bring up in the discussion.

Now go milk a pigmy goat.

You can make ale from wheat and hops, which mice gather. To make cheese the way we do, you need to milk a large mammal, and mice just don’t have the size for that.

Besides, have you ever tried beetle secretions? How do you know what they taste like? You have to admit, without your prior associations, “cow secretions” wouldn’t sound very tasty, either.

Even a baby pygmy goat towers over mice like a monster. Their relationship with rabbits looked a lot more like an alliance to me, than domestication. Maybe if you could work out some kind of alliance where pygmy goats let mice milk them, but I don’t know–that sounds pretty extreme. We have to do some pretty terrible things to cows to get them to produce milk all the time. Normally, mammals only produce milk when they have children. I can’t imagine anything agreeing to that willingly.

Actually, mice eat just about anything, not just nuts and bread. They have diets almost as varied as ours. But the kind of diet you consider confining has a lot to do with both nature and experience. Do you think a koala ever gets tired of eating eucalyptus leaves? I imagine that a specialized animal like that has such a refined palette for the subtle differences in texture and maturity, that he finds endless variety just a big pile of eucalyptus leaves. Or, to put it another way, do you ever get tired of just eating plants, animals or mushrooms all the time? Would it ever occur to you that you could eat anything else?

All a matter of perspective. Something I really love about this game, frankly.

They could make “cheese” from fungus or nuts.

I’m with Jason, though–I don’t see cheese as a big part of Territories’ diet.

All right, some good points made about cheese in the Territories. Perhaps chees is another common association with mice which should be shelved along with the house cats.

No milk or eggs, so looking at some vegan cookbooks might serve for inspiration on the diet of mice.

I have to admit I love the image of the sheer production of milking a goat. Scaffolding and ladders. Mice to feed the goat and keep it calm. Mice hanging from udders or some mouse in Sprucetuck coming up with a contraption. Lol.

I’ve been wondering about the difficulties of metallurgy on a mouse scale, or even glass blowing; actually, I’ve been thinking spear tips & daggers made of shards of glass might be easier for the little guys to produce than iron pieces, not to mention the scale of mining needed for collecting ore. Construction of milking scaffolds to attend to pacified pigmy goats might prove less difficult than manufacturing an armory of steel weapons.

But I’ve been thinking of those chimpmunks–not so difficult for a mouse to milk, and they might be pacified if paw-fed as babies, etc.

People make cheese (well they call it cheese) from soy beans, so that is always an option. Im pretty sure they use a chemical to harden the soy milk. Im sure you could boil up some nuts or grain to make a milk like substance.

Any mamal they can domesticate can be a milk-source.

Robin and humming bird eggs are to mice as ostrich eggs are to people, size wize. So eggs are NOT out. They just are group foods, not individual foods.

While reading the responses to my original post about cheese in the Territories I have come to a more interesting idea aboout domestication & ownership of wildlife. The Mice are at the lower end of the food chain, and their approach to survival in the wilderness might make more sense if they work together rather than dominate as humans have done. The idea of keeping chipmunks in captivity, or any other mammal of the forest, seems wrong to Mouse Guard sensibilities. Their relationship with insects seems to be more symbiotic rather than a matter of domestication. And do they eat those insects? I’m still not sure what the mice might actually hunt with that hunter skill–every character in my campaign so far has been a harvester, baker, cook, etc. The Beetle Wrangler hardly seems to be comparable to a cattle rancher. Certainly no butchers.

I’m beginning to think ownership over anything beyond what a single mouse can carry, make, or eat may be beyond the nature of mice in the Mouse Guard. Most of my players feel passionately, in non-gaming life, about animal domestication for food, so I may explore the idea of owning & exploiting wildlife for food in future game sessions.

Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Mostly, their hunters! They don’t hunt for food, they hunt for protection.

Same here. I really like your point. The comics have shown us cooperation as an alternative to domestication quite a few times, whether with the hares, or with Roibin and Conall. I like that a lot.

That’s what I thought too, a more ‘‘military’’ skill than usually. Actually in Swedish some special troops are called ‘‘jägarförband’’ which translates to ‘‘hunter troops’’.

In background reading for my Marquis: Pour Liberté MG hack, I’ve come across some great cheese-related quotes. Cheese will therefore be making a debut in at least one MG hack if not MG itself and I’m going down the hand-wavey route to rationalize its existence. There are going to be cars, Mouser rifles, trilbys, mouserschmidts and railways after all in my alternate MG-verse.

The best cheese related quote so far being…

“How can any weasel conquer a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?” General Gwendolyn (Radio Free Territories broadcast from the Northern Isles 1941)


Hunters can get skins, according to the Skills chapter these are supplies for some crafts.

I am not sure if the mice use paper or some kind of vellum type thing and hides might be handy for that.

Obviously their National Nature was reduced to zero by some harrowing series of events…

Of course; belts, scabbards and a lot of stuff will be made of leather.

The yellowish colours on the maps and other documents suggest papyrus. Given the period I would guess on mixes of papyrus or the like from some other grass (can be hard to import real papyrus) and vellum. As I remember it papyrus could be used on both sides but was more fragile and more expensive. Vellum was cheaper but could only be used on one side. I don’t remember when ‘‘paper’’ made out of for example linen became frequent. Paper like we see it today probably needs technology the mice don’t have. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Update: did some skimming and it seems like linen paper could be the new thing, hi tech - still expensive but coming into use.

Vellum and Parchment are the norm, and are leather. They CAN, if properly tanned and treated, be used double sided (by treating with a thin glaze that reduces ink absorbtion). (Modern vellum is often not really vellum, but plasticized cotton.)

The yellow-tan is pretty normative for unbleached animal vellum; papyrus often has tone-variations in checkerboard-patterns, from the strips.

Aha, didn’t know that. What did they use to bleach vellum? Urine turned into ammoniac as sometimes done with fabric?

Depends. I don’t know exactly, but yes, bleaching can be used. White uterine vellum is made from calf, generally, so doesn’t need bleaching, just careful preparation.

Pigskin vellum, when carefully tanned to such, is a very pale beige, assuming a pale pig. A darker pig is darker tan, even to a khaki, sometimes with brown splotches.

A parcemenaius’ skill was measured in how he cut the skin to maximize the useful area. An illuminator’s in makeing use of the extant skin blotches.

Also, some are treated with a white chalk glaze made with VERY fine powdered chalk. That wash both provides a near-white surface, but also slows ink absorption, and a better writing texture.