Wandering Ewe Dairy – May

Hugh and Pippa Stables run Wandering Ewe Dairy in North Somerset.  They produce a hard, unpasteurised, ewes’ milk cheese from their own flock of sheep.  2021 was their third year of commercial cheese production.  This is the eighth of 12 monthly blogs, which are intended to give a flavour of the year.

We are off and running with 2022 milking and cheesemaking.  It is eight months since we finished in 2021.

Weaning lambs is our least favourite part of farming.  We try very hard to make it as easy as possible for everyone.  But there is inevitably one noisy day until everything settles down again.  As I looked out of the window during cheesemaking, I was able to see groups of lambs eating, sunbathing and moving around in small groups.  So all is calm now.

We feed a few alfalfa pellets during milking.  This means veteran ewes bound up onto the milking stand.  Newcomers usually need a little encouragement.  A calm persistence is required for milking new sheep.  There can be some stamping on wrists, and they always come up last.  So you think you are nearly finished – but you are not.  But a calm dairy sheep will quickly settle into milking routines.

It was a complete joy to start making cheese again.  The milk looked really fantastic.  Routines came back quickly, despite the break.  Our hard cheese recipe has been stable for a number of years now, and doing things in a consistent way is important.  But we do have new moulds this year to give the cheese less sharp edges.   This should make them easier to look after during their year maturing.

There is one thing that has not changed.  We have a slope down to one corner of our make room.  Great for cleaning.  But our rectangular vat is not very level.  So when the milk in the vat, you must measure the depth at the corners, and then average to calculate the volume.  I had planned to create extensions for the legs to level it out.  But with present volumes of milk we can cope – so it dropped off the winter list.

The pigs had warm whey with their supper and it will be whey soaked barley for breakfast.  They always look like they are smiling, but I am sure their smiles were a little wider last night.

Text and Images (c) Hugh and Pippa Stables www.instagram.com/wandering.ewe

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