Newsletter

Katahdin on parade

Balancing Competing Herds

Our farm sits on 480 acres of land. Sounds like a lot, right? A large portion of that is woodland and wetland. Two sizable sections are leased to Z Food Farm and Cherry Grove Organic Farm, our local organic vegetable CSAs. That leaves about 230 acres to us for pasture land.

A farmer who wants to raise animals on pasture requires a large amount of acreage per animal. Not surprisingly, large animals need a lot of space to find the food they need to thrive. A cow needs to eat 4% of its body weight in nutritious forage each day. A dairy cow requires an even larger percentage to support a calf, and making milk. Pastures must be rested and maintained to support the nutritious greens the bovine herds require. Raising hay for the winter months is also a part of the equation. Good hay is expensive so we try to cut a lot of our own, and that takes acreage away from summer forage, reducing the number of animals we can support. The industry rule of thumb is 4 acres per cow if you also raise hay. (And lets not even get into the winter sacrifice fields.) Smaller critters, like sheep and pigs, can be kept on smaller plots. For example, you can raise 6 sheep on one acre, or 20ish pigs on one acre. But the animals still need to be rotated through the acreage so the grass and forage have time to rest and replenish.

Over the years, we have re-balanced our herds and flocks continuously. With a limited amount of pasture, and a growing demand for grass-fed meat, we have had our hands full determining what animals our pasture can realistically manage. Cherry Grove Farm is primarily a farmstead dairy producing cheese. So, dairy cows are our bread and butter. (Pun intended)

Because we believe in diversified sustainable farming, we raise about 40 pigs each year on 3-4 acres, with lots of room to root and forage. (Pigs consume the protein-rich whey that is a by-product of cheesemaking.) These days, we raise a few more beef than we used to, as the market pushes for that, but we cap it at eight beef per year. Sheep graze grass to its nub, making recovery longer (and problematic in droughty times). Last year we decided to cut back on our sheep production to allow more pasture for raising winter hay.

What can YOU expect to see in our freezer cases? A steady supply of pork and beef, raised here on the farm. Cherry Grove Farm lamb will become a seasonal product. We will be bringing in lamb from a grass-based farm in Delaware to satisfy our lamb customers. The farm we choose will raise sheep the way we have always raised them, on pasture without hormones or antibiotics.

And you can expect lots of cheese… a high quality, farmstead product from our own grass-fed cows’ milk, made by hand and fussed over by our dedicated cheese-making team. Because happy cows make really good cheese.

News From the Vat

Dearest Quesophiles,
 
In light of current events, let me share with you this excellent 1988 Eagles ditty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlR6ujpB89k

Winter is the time for farm and creamery planning and reflection. So while we inch along at 32 gallons a day right now, we are anticipating upwards of 125 gallons a day in the summer. That’s a lot of Havilah’s for 2019/20 and more tommes, Rarebirds, and Buttercups for this season too!

Here’s a picture of some winter foliage from the farmyard.

But now, what is on our cheese board this week!

Trilby: Everyone’s favorite boozy little stinker. This is the last week or two on this batch, then they go away for a month. (In case you’ve forgotten, Trilby is a small format cheese washed in Dad’s Hat delicious Rye Whiskey). No leaves on them this time of year, sorry. But still big, bold, sweet, vegetal, boozy and complex. Pasteurized milk.                            

Sugarcube (or Batch 328): This is an experimental mixed rind cheese with a line of ash through the middle for all the drama. May it bring a sweet light to your darkest winter. Pasteurized milk.



Mooncakes! A wilder, limited version of our Buttercup Brie. It features a smorgasbord of penicillium mold strains in addition to the pure-white that we’re accustomed to. PLUS, we’ve added a dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy, it’s like going spelunking in a cavern with pleasing mushrooms and sea of butter underneath you. Mmmmm….sea of butter.  Pasteurized milk.

Buttercup Brie: Petite but powerful wheels from November with notes of fresh hay, butter cooked oyster mushrooms and beef – vintage gems! Quarters from our large Buttercups, beautifully rumpled, very luxe n creamy with notes of buttermilk n creme fraiche. Pasteurized milk.

Bette Davis Eyes
A new batch, decidedly far better and creamier than the last. Sean continues in heroic efforts to hone in on this lil number. Now for our 2018 resolution: wood shelves! Mad fudgy, gorgonzola-esque, mint garden and light mineral earthiness. 8-10# wheels Raw milk.

Herdsman
Available now are our early November batches. Very creamy, stone-fruit and lactic aromas, classic tomme flavors. Favorite comment in French accent last week at a Whole Foods event “this reminds me of tomme de savoie, I’ll take it!” Notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk.

Havilah
August and Sept 2016 batches. This cheese just gets better and better over the years. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course: Butter. Raw milk.

 Toma
REALLY nice October batch – the rind is can’t miss plethora of roasted nut flavors. Slight paste break-down underneath the beautifully sunset hued rind. Endlessly snackable, crowd pleasing, meltable with a pleasant lemony zip and savory finish. Raw milk.

A brief plug for an awesome event we will be at, The Evening of Cheese at the Cheesemakers Resource Conference, 6 PM Tues Feb 13th. If you are a chef/buyer and want to taste the cheese of and talk to an array of Midatlantic regional cheesemakers all in one room, here is the perfect way to see what’s up! Come hungry. About an hour from Philly and right down the road from Stoudts brewing.
http://www.dairyheritage.com/evening-of-cheese.php

Always grateful for your support.

Paul Lawler, Head Cheesemaker

Notes From The Vat

Just back from a long sojourn to see my brother and his wife, plus an amazingly brilliant 11 year old nephew in London. SO MANY GREAT CHEESES! Got to meet up with Bronwen Percival, co-author of Reinventing the Wheel, and buyer at Neal’s Yard Dairy, a purveyor of fine (mostly) British cheeses. Reinventing the Wheel is really a must read for anyone who prizes the place of real cheese, cheese that gives meaning when eaten, in our world. It’s really made me rethink some of my opinions, and is the best non-instructional cheese book I’ve come across in 10 years.
https://www.amazon.com/Reinventing-Wheel-Microbes-California-Studies/dp/0520290151
One thing that struck me across the pond was acceptance and enthusiasm for a range of natural rinds, be they on bloomy rinds, hard cheeses, and in between. (See below.)
Note the raw milk farm camembert, bottom right, (its one wheel) full of creases, and lines. And the various British raw milk lactic cheeses, and the rind on a Cheshire.

My point being: embrace the mold folks. It’s not dangerous, and it many cases it is what makes the cheese. Feed your customers real, ripe farm cheese so they know what a live thing looks and tastes like. 

And now off my high horse: We have batches of BOTH Buttercup and Mooncakes that are delectably ripe right now. Crazy Pauly is putting MOONCAKES ON SALE!

Plus there is the newest iteration of Bette Davis Eyes, pleasantly outstanding and all for your delight! 

Trilby: TRILBY! Everyone’s favorite boozy little stinker. (In case you’ve forgotten, Trilby is a small format cheese washed in Dad’s Hat delicious Rye Whiskey and then wrapped up like a precious present in apple brandy soaked fig leaves.) It’s flavor is big, bold, sweet, vegetal, boozy and complex. Pasteurized

Rarebird: Just a select few wheels left.  First of all, the paste is unctuously buttery… it literally melts in your mouth. AND THE FLAVOR…! Our tasting notes for this one include everything from beef stock and mushrooms to shellfish and broccoli rabe. Every single bite is something different and the flavor is about as episodic as Star Wars. This is a beautifully complex batch that’ll go perfectly with everything. Raw Milk.

Buttercup Brie: The return of everyone’s favorite. Grassy, buttery, decadent! Mushroom butter and forest funk under the rind  Pasteurized.

Mooncakes, Mooncakes, Mooncakes! A wilder, limited version of our Buttercup Brie. It features a smorgasbord of penicillium mold strains in addition to the pure-white that we’re accustomed to. PLUS, we’ve added a dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cave-y, mushroomy, it’s like going spelunking in a cavern with pleasing mushrooms and sea of butter underneath you. Mhmmmm….sea of butter. Pasteurized.

Bette Davis Eyes
A new batch, decidedly better, and creamier, than the last. Sean continues in heroic efforts to hone in on this lil number. Now for our 2018 resolution: wood shelves! Mad fudgy, gorgonzola-esque, mint garden and light mineral earthiness.  Raw Milk.

Herdsman
Available now in petit wheels made in late July. They’re dense and cheddary in texture, with that nutty, grassy tang that everyone loves about Herdsman. A little taste of summer to brighten up the impending chill. Notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk. 

Havilah
This cheese just gets better and better over the years. Current tasting notes include: butterscotch, broth, grass, caramelized onions, and of course, butter. Raw milk. 

Toma
As always, get it before it’s gone… Prototypical Toma wheels. Slight paste break-down underneath the beautifully sunset hued rind. Endlessly snackable, crowd pleasing, meltable with a pleasant lemony zip, and savory finish. Raw milk. 

HAPPY MONGERING! 
Always grateful for your support.

Paul

Holiday Notes from the Vat

Kohlrabi the cow says to eat more cheese.!
Hello, hello. Ho Ho Ho. Happy holidays. Its the countdown to Christmas (and New Years)! 

Hopefully, this finds you adequately egg-nogged and ready to face what is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year. But fret not, we have some deliciously special holiday offerings to share with you, your friends, and loved ones. Give a warm season’s greetings to the return of Rarebird and Bette Davis Eyes!

 

 

CHEESE! CHEESE! CHEESE! 

The Unctuous Rarebird

Rarebird: The cheese that definitely keeps on giving! First of all, the paste is unctuously buttery, it literally melts in your mouth. AND THE FLAVOR! Our tasting notes include everything from beef stock and mushrooms to shell fish and broccoli rabe. Every bite offers something different with flavors about as episodic as Star Wars. This is a beautifully complex batch that’ll go perfectly with everything Holiday. Raw.

Buttercup Brie: The return of everyone’s favorite. Grassy, buttery, decadent! Why be nice when you can be naughty? Pasteurized.

Mooncakes, Mooncakes, Mooncakes! A wilder, limited version of our Buttercup Brie. It features a smorgasbord of penicillium mold strains in addition to the pure-white that we’re accustomed to. PLUS, we’ve added a dash of vegetable ash mixed with a delicate dusting of smoked paprika in the background. What you’ve got here is the unctuous butteriness of our standard Buttercup, plus an intriguingly earthy, mushroomy, vegetal finish. Distinctly cavey-mushroomy, it’s like going spelunking in a cavern with pleasing mushrooms and sea of butter underneath you. Mhmmmm….sea of butter.  Pasteurized.

Toma Birra
Similar to Herdsman but with a frat party, hoppy-edge from the lager used in the wash. Sharp n sweet, flaky texture. Late June milk, a lil slice of summer party. Raw Milk.

blue-veined cheese

A rustic blue, our Bette Davis Eyes

Bette Davis Eyes
This is a decidedly rustic blue. Did someone say Ovaltine?! Fudgy texture with a host of malty notes and overtones of earthiness and slate. This would be great partner to the dark beers of winter or a port wine.  Try on a broiled cheesey toast with mushrooms and thyme.
Raw Milk.

 

Herdsman
Available now in petite, personal-sized wheels made in late July. They’re dense and cheddary in texture, with that nutty, grassy tang that everyone loves about Herdsman. A little taste of summer to brighten up the impending chill. Notes of candied lemon and horseradish. Raw milk. 

Havilah
This cheese just gets better and better over the years. Pictured below are some tasting notes from recent Official Tasting Panels. Raw Milk.

 

Full Nettle Jack, Lawrenceville Jack, Jack Reserve, and what will likely be your only week chance at Abbruzze Jawn till May/June.
HOOO HOOO HOOOO! Merry Christmas and Happy Jack. The rare and the illusive make a special Holiday appearance for one week (maybe two) only. Get them while you can for your  holiday cheese plates, or you’ll start the new year full of regret. Raw Milk.

Rich, Smoky Ham Hocks and Collard Greens

Braised collards in rich pot likker (pot liquor), simmered with smoked pork and onions until everything is meltingly tender, is a classic Southern dish. Don’t discard those braising juices, either—sip, slurp, or sop them up.

 

Why It Works

  • Simmering the ham hocks until the meat falls off the bones creates a deeply flavorful broth.
  • Chicken stock adds even more flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (680g) meaty smoked ham hocks (see note)
  • 2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound; 450g), sliced into 2-inch lengths
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 quarts (1.9L) homemade chicken stock, low-sodium store-bought chicken broth, or water
  • 3 pounds (1.3kg) collard greens, woody stems trimmed and leaves cut into thick ribbons
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Apple cider vinegar, to taste (optional)

Directions

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine ham hocks, onions, garlic, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until hocks are very tender, 2 to 3 hours.
  • Remove ham hocks from liquid, transfer to a cutting board, and pull bones from meaty and fatty parts. Discard bones. Chop up meat into chunks and return it to pot.
  • Add collard greens, pressing down to submerge in liquid. Return to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until collards are very tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add vinegar to taste, if desired, then serve. (You can add vinegar to the pot, or let individual diners season their greens with it at the table.)

 

Notes

You can swap out the ham hocks for other smoked or cured pork products, like slab bacon or salt pork, as long as they aren’t lean meats, like smoked pork loin. Lean meat will dry up and toughen with extended cooking.

Taken from Daniel Gritzer and Serious Eats


1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
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