Stock up on holiday cheeses at Appleton Farms’ Dairy Store…we’ve got farmstead cheddar, triple cream and a variety of herbed rounds! We’re open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm and Sat & Sun 10am-4pm!. See you at the farm!
FROM GRASS TO MILK TO CHEESE TO YOU
Our grass-munching Jersey herd is making history at the farm. Thanks to quality pastures and feed, careful and knowledgable cow-handling and expert cheese making, our dairy store is chock-full of tasty farmstead products, just in time for the holidays. So how does this happen?
Appleton Farms’ jersey herd eats about an acre of pasture a day during the growing season (late April to early November). With 80 acres for grazing, the dairy herd is rotational grazed, allowing pasture to rest for three weeks to month between grazings, and providing the cows with the finest in grass. During the winter months, the herd feeds on more than 1,000 round bales and 5,000 square bales hayed at the farm. The fields are carefully managed by the farms field and equipment crew, maintaining a diverse blend of nutrient-rich grasses like orchard grass, timothy grass and clover in wetter fields and alfalfa and orchard in drier fields. In addition the crew spreads the farms compost on the fields two times a year. Its our high quality prime hayland and pastures that really fuels our cows!
It starts at 4am as the morning dairy crew pushes the cows in from pasture. The morning milker preps the machines for while the feeder grains the cows and feeds the heifers and calves. As the milking gets underway at 4:30am, the feeder also tends to a slew of chores throughout the morning, including scraping loafing sheds and fixing fencing. When milking is done, around 6am, the crew pushes the cows out to pasture (or to the loafing shed in winter). The “late” crew arrives at 7am, allowing some overlap for the staff to check-in with a short coffee break. They’ll jump in with chores like bedding barns and making sure all the equipment in and around the barn is working. The morning crew’s day ends around 1pm, and the afternoon schedule of chores and milking and feeding wraps by 5pm. Of course, there’s the evening night check on the heard. And over the course of the year there’s breeding, health checks, calving, setting up pastures, training heifers, staff training, public programs and more. As any farmer will tell you, there’s always work to be done.
Cows eat for about six hours a day, nap on and off for about four hours a day and chew their cud for about eight hours. One dairy cow drinks about a bathtub of water a day and eats approximately 63 pounds of grains, grass and hay. The dairy staff ensures that the cow’s diet is well balanced in order to produce high quality milk and dairy products. One dairy cow produces about 6 gallons or 50 pounds of milk a day. That means the farm has more than 550 gallons of farm-fresh milk a week to sell locally, some in the form of fluid milk and some the form of value-added dairy products, namely cheese and butter (and yogurt coming soon!).
Every Monday morning about 250 gallons of milk are pumped from barn to the dairy plant (just yards away in the old bull barn). This batch is used for cheddar. So what happens? The milk is pasteurized and cultures and rennet are added. By 2pm the cheesemakers are elbow-deep in a vat of curd, expelling the whey. Next, the cheese is formed – pressed the old-fashioned way with buckets of water and boards. On Tuesday, the weights are lifted and the wheels are flipped. If they look good, they go to storage – if not, more weight. The two-day process yeilds By the 30 ten-pound wheels of cheese that will age for at least a month or up to a year. The cheesemaking process starts all over again on Thursday and Friday for our soft cheeses and triple cream. The process for the soft cheese is more simple, and the cheese is ready for tasting in just 24 hours.
When the cheese makers aren’t making cheese, or butter, or other specialty seasonal items, they are likely caring for their aging cheeses that must be flipped and rubbed in the aging room every other. Or, they’re doing dishes, and lots of them. A friendly word of advice from our cheesemaker – if you want to be a cheesemaker, you should also want to do dishes.
Appleton Farms’ dairy products don’t travel far to reach you! The store, just on the other side of the veggie fields from the dairy plant, features the farms very own jersey products like, triple cream and cheddar cheese, an assortment of soft cheeses, milk and butter, and seasonal items like crème fraiche and whipped cream as well as Appleton Farms beef. Other locally sourced products for sale include maple syrup and honey and artisan crafts. The store is open daily:
Monday - Friday, 11am – 6pm and Saturday & Sunday, 12noon – 4pm.
Stop by to sample and buy your cheeses for the holiday season, join for a Saturday Meet the Cows program (3pm; meets at the Visitor Center, $4 Trustees members. $5 nonmembers), and stay-tuned for cheesemaking classes at the farm this summer!
HOW TO FIND US
To visit the store, enter the farm off of Route 1A (219 County Road) in Ipswich. For more information call 978.356.3825 (dairy store) or 978.356.5728 (office), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the dairy operation visit the website at www.thetrustees.org/dairy or join us on Saturday’s at.