At the World Cheese Championship Cheese Contest held last week in Wisconsin, our Cottonwood River Cheddar Reserve scored 98.55 points. We are pleased with the results, even though we didn’t get into the top three. This contest has cheese from all over the world, and I find it very interesting that an entry from a cheese maker in the United States hasn’t taken the Grand Championship in over 20 years!! We continually work to improve our cheese, so maybe some day…
The weather has been warmer lately, and things are greening up around the farm. While it may be a little early to say we won’t have any more cold weather, spring is just around the corner. Here at the dairy we have been saving our whey from cheese-making for about a month now.
Before this, our whey ended up on the fields as fertilizer for the next crop, but now we are feeding it to the cows and heifers as part of their ration. Both Jason and I like the faster turnaround of using the whey in a productive and conscientious manner. We have been able to adjust some of the amounts of other feeds for the cows, and it gives us another incentive to make cheese!
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We had the darling-est little calf born on our farm yesterday! It was born 25 days early. (In case you didn’t know, a cow’s gestation is normally 282 days.) Normally we move the pregnant heifers to another pen before they have their calves so they can be under a roof and in thick straw but this little gal was born before we had her mama moved. She is doing very well. We needed to borrow a goat nipple from a neighbor to feed it as our regular calf bottle nipple was too large. The normal birth weight for our calves is 70-90 pounds but this calf only weighs 27.6 pounds. It is dark brown and is very cute.
Jason Wiebe Dairy made headlines this week! Well, at least we were featured in the business section of a local newspaper, the Hillsboro Free Press. The article provides some information about how our operation started, gives a basic description of how 5500 lbs. of milk becomes 580-600 lbs. of cheese in our plant, and also shares some of the exciting recent developments as Wiebe Dairy continues to strive to bring consumers a high-quality delicious product from our family farm to your table. So, go ahead and enjoy some of our cheese, and while you are at it, check out that article.
I would like to just briefly introduce myself. Aaron Herbel is my name, and I’ve worked here at Jason Wiebe Dairy since September 2007 (Almost 5 years ago… Wow! Time flies when you are having fun). Anyways, I guess my official title here would be Assistant Cheese Maker, and if it has something to do with the cheese plant here, I have at least helped with it. I manage our inventory and the packaging operation in addition to helping Jason make out tasty cheeses. Or I even find myself milking the cows from time to time, although I am more at home in the cheese plant. Well, now you know a little more about me and maybe you will get to hear more about what I am doing as time goes on.
Today was a beautiful, warm day in the mid 70′s, and the pasture had grown enough to start grazing again. It looked really good to see the cows out on the green pasture again. Hopefully we’ll have enough rain to keep things growing and hopefully not have a repeat of the drought of last year. Our cheese sales are good, and the new cheese we’ve been selling since last summer (Cottonwood River Cheddar) is increasing in sales with lots of good reviews. Another interesting point is that our Raw Milk Cheese has become our best selling cheese.
Yesterday we started the second time over on the 60 acres of triticale that we have for them to graze. It had regrown just enough that they have some very tasty eating…
We are grazing ALL our milk cows starting yesterday. We don’t know how long that we’ll be able to graze as the weather is getting cooler and the crop grows very slow. It will go dormant sometime when the weather gets cold enough, and then we won’t have any thing to graze our cows on so we will go back to giving them all they can eat of a mixed forage and grain diet. We always try to feed as much forage (alfalfa hay and corn silage) as we can, to keep the cows very healthy.