This is my first cheese blog post which I have created to record my next bureaucratic cheese hurdle with the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
First, a bit of background for those who know nothing about the various regulatory cheese battles I’ve been engaged in over the last 7 years. I am a post-menopausal cheesemaker living in the country on a small block of 4.4ha South of Eketahuna in the Tararua District of New Zealand. My husband, Colin, and I moved here some 20 years ago for a bit of peace & quiet. We are surrounded by Dairy farms which is nice as I’ve had a thing about cows since I was about 5 years old and succeeded in taming a number of them by feeding windfall apples over the fence while staying with my grandparents who lived in Hailsham, Sussex in England. Later, at 11, I learnt how to milk them by hand when I stayed on a school friend’s farm in Tenterden, Kent. The farm was several hundred years old and they had no power and all the cows were hand milked. Anybody staying there had to help milk the cows. If you’d never milked a cow before, the only concession made was they gave you a quiet one! I vividly remember the sense of history as I sat on a three-legged stool and watched the milk froth up as it hit the white enamelled milking pail, my head pressed against the cow’s flank as she munched the hay in the manger, just as cows had done in the same place for over 300 years.
Not long after we moved to Cwmglyn Farm in 1995, one of the neighbours gave me a late born Jersey heifer calf – he’d weaned all his other calves & the bobby truck had stopped coming and they thought I’d make a good job of rearing her. We called her Gwendolyn. She was much indulged. We inseminated her when she was 3 years old and I realised I had nine months to build a milking parlour. It occurred to me that she might well swamp me with milk so I built a cheese making room as well, as Fonterra do not pick up from a single cow. Thus I found my dairy career started the year I was 60!
Fortunately there are quite a lot of books written on cheesemaking. The first year was interesting. Some of my cheese was good, some ho-hum. We gave the hohum ones to the chickens and the egg production that first year was phenomenal.