It's All About The Cows
A seasonal grass dairy making farmstead cheese needs a very different cow than a conventional dairy farmer. When we first started the dairy in 1988, it was with purebred Jerseys. Jerseys are aggressive grazers and not as highly bred for production as the typical Holstein.
To get more strength into the pretty but fragile Jerseys, we began crossbreeding to New Zealand Friesians. This gave us a sturdy grazer, one that could handle the long walks to steep mountain pastures and let us double our herd size in under 5 years because of their longevity.
But what about the cheese? Rich Jersey milk is great for butter and ice cream, but for cheese, the ratio of fat to protein is just too high. In search of the perfect cheese milk, we started crossing our herd with breeds from France whose milk had been used in cheese for centuries, including Tarentaise and Normande.
The breed we've had the most success with are the Montbeliarde, an Alpine breed from the Savoie and Jura regions of France traditionally used in making Comte. The Montbeliarde breed is well-established with the large genetic pool necessary to get the herd we needed.
A seasonal grass dairy making farmstead cheese needs a very different cow than a conventional dairy farmer. Our quest for the perfect herd has led from our original herd of purebred Jerseys to New Zealand, France... and beyond.
For a raw milk cheesemaker, the quality and integrity of the milk is essential. As a farmstead cheesemaker we have the luxury of controlling every step of the process.
Each of our three cheeses has its own original recipe and its own specialized make process; our seasonal raw milk means no two makes are the same.