Can Anyone Provide a Kind and Loving Home for Roxi and Butch (pigs)

Today I was going to go to Leeds to investigate the possibility of eyeing up carpet for upstairs, hey, why not, after eight years in semi-derelict squalor, but instead I did something far more exciting and besides, there’s a bit more work needed before carpets can go down.

I drove to Gisburn Forest to meet with Stephen and Teresa and their beautiful piggies, Roxi and Butch.  I found out about them from Twitter.

Roxi to the left and Butch to the right

Roxi to the left and Butch to the right

Roxi and Butch are pretty famous, don’t you know, they have had a book written about them.  They were bought for £1,000 each by a couple in Brighton, sold on the pretext of being mini pigs.

Ok, people, there really is no such thing as a mini pig – they grow and grow.  And this is what happened to poor old Roxi and Butch until eventually, two years ago, they were given to The Great British Farm Project to care for and love.

I went to see them because my heart went out to them and I really wanted to take them home with me, but on finding out more about their characters: Butch, the boy, is a big old softie and Roxi, the girl who can be grumpy like Penny Pig, but these grumpy moods go away when they get to know, trust and love you.  They are five years old and are partial to the odd jam sandwich as a treat.  Snouter, however, being a bossy, dominant male (with large and razor sharp tusks) may just be too much for Roxi and Butch, so it was a very sad and very sorry and very reluctant no.

Although their exact pedigree/parentage isn’t known, I would guess that Roxi is a Kune Kune crossed with Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig and Butch is a Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig.  Compared to Penny Pig and Snouter, they are quite small, but they still probably weigh in the region of 100-120kgs a piece.  Butch has been castrated.  They are pets and will only be re homed as pets.

But now, they urgently need to be re-homed, in the next week.  They will need a paddock or smallholding to root around in and they do not like straw in their ark.  Can anyone give them a loving home?  Please contact Stephen on 07538 213685.

I do hope that someone can give them a home and carry on loving them as they deserve.

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Tuesday Person Wanted to Help Us Wax Cheese

Stu waxing two cheeses at a time

Stu waxing two cheeses at a time

As readers of this blog may know, we spend our Tuesdays waxing cheese.

Our current Tuesday lady, Stacey will be leaving the area at the end of June with her children to join her partner, who is not very well, in Bradford.

This leaves us with a bit of a gap, so if anyone knows anyone who can work Tuesdays from 9am til 3pm and fancies their hand at a bit of cheese waxing, please get in touch: ionahill@gmail.com

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The Last Couple of Weeks at Ribblesdale Cheese

It has been a very busy couple of weeks.  Business wise, we have had both a good April and a good May which has been great, to be busy.  We have been making goat cheese twice a week and I have been practicing some

My latest NPD

My latest NPD which is actually, even though I say it myself, quite edible

potential new cheeses.  Maybe I am not very experienced, but it amazes me that it is possible to make such different cheeses from the same starter but using different techniques.

Our goat curd is going from strength to strength and we seem

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of Goat Curd

to spend a disproportionate amount of time potting and bagging it up, but it is all good stuff and I don’t mind, even if it is terribly time consuming, it’s great to get it out there!

The highlight this week has to be winning three silvers at the British Cheese Awards, for our goat curd, natural rinded matured goat and our aged gouda which I am thinking of calling something like Gouda Gold – what do you think?  Mind you, we only managed to get our entries in by the skin of our teeth, because I forgot…

Another highlight was scoffing Stu’s dad’s rather lovely

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate 2014

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate 2014

banana cake – thank you Mike!

I had a great road trip the other Tuesday, to Scotland.  My internet at home has been very intermittent in the last few months, (partly why little blogging) which caused a bit of a problem, for, when I sat in my car outside my house at 7.30am tapping in the postcode of my destination, the sat nav would not accept it and I had no internet to find an alternative.  So, after a little swearing, I thought there was nothing more I could do other than point the faithful cheesemobile northwards.  I knew I had to aim for Edinburgh, so I headed up the M6 and followed the signs to Edinburgh and somehow, quite out of character, I found the industrial estate I was aiming for with no trouble at all, no getting lost, most out of character.  The journey passed surprisingly easily, I listened to Radio 4 and my ipod thingie which streams music through my radio.

southWhilst I found the industrial estate, I drove around for 15 minutes looking for the right place only to be stumped – typical, hey, I get there without sat nav or maps but cannot find an industrial unit until I noticed a Cheese Cellar van.  Aha, I thought, follow that van and sure enough it took me to the door.  Excellent!

I had a great meeting with some lovely, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people.  It was a pleasure to meet them.  We had a good cheese tasting session and I was treated to a look around their cold room – wow, some fabulous cheeses in there and I hope ours will join them.  Coming back, I tapped ‘Home’ into the sat nav which told me to turn right after 3.4 miles.  Hhhmm.  It was considerably more than 3.4 miles when I realised that the sat nav was no longer talking to me.  In fact, it had died.  Not only that, I was not going back on any route I remembered, the radio wouldn’t work and my ipod gizmo had also expired.  Almost 50 miles later after having driven up and down a mountain pass with zero villages, towns or any obvious landmark, just forest and a helpful sign saying River Tweed, I finally reached the motorway and mysteriously joined the M74 2 junctions further down than I had got off coming up.  I have no clue where I had been, still don’t, but that less than enigmatic sign saying ‘South’ was a very welcome relief.

We had a great two day commercial cheese making course.  It was intense, but I enjoyed it because the four people all had a great deal in common and all were some way down the road to starting their own dairy, which is exciting, not to mention life changing – good luck to Becky, Chloe, Sophie and James and I look forward to hearing how they each get on.

Our annual EHO visit is booked for the middle of June so that is one to tick off.  Hope not to forget it this year!

Other things that have happened include sending for the doctor again for the forks as its little rubber feet had come apart, making it hard to manoeuvre, so Ray the forklift mender came from Darlington and ministered to it.  We had a ratty man visit and I am trying to plan our dairy expansion which is proving very tricky.  I have asked for some help from a very experienced cheese maker friend who is so busy we haven’t yet been able to meet up, but it’s one of those things that I know I cannot do by myself and I am afraid of not doing it properly.

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

In brief, I have bought a boiler to generate steam and an oil tank to feed it.  We plan to convert to using steam to heat a new large  vat and our new pasteuriser.  We are going to have to rearrange all of our dairy equipment (again!) to make best use of the space and possibly move the dividing wall between the dairy and the wholesale area.  It’s a really big job and to be honest, I am dreading the upheaval, installation and commotion.  In my experience, it’s when you change things that things start to go wrong so we are going to have to be extremely careful to maintain our routine and quality.

We also had a visit from one of our larger customers, in person, so we were very honoured; it was a pleasure to meet with him at our place.  I showed our guest one of my new product development trial cheeses (pictured above) – and he liked it and said he would take it!  Yay!  So I have to start scaling up and perfecting it.

I have had a hideous time getting quotes for more labels.  I asked for a quote from 12 companies.  Seven replied and quotes ranged from 3.3p per label to 12.1p.  It was a 50/50 mix between digital and old fashioned plate printing, for the first timeI have opted for digital, so it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in quality.

I started a Twitter account which allows me to have conversations with people I don’t know, but would like to.  I

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

am a real newbie so am probably not doing it very well, so it’s early days.  Our Twitter is: @RibblesdaleC.

Thursday was a really busy day, some end of month orders, which is great, but very pushed to get them out in time and a funeral to go to.  Stu came in for half a day to cover for me which was very noble as this week has been a holiday week for Stu.

The major lowlight was the death of our part timer Andrew’s step dad, Dave aged only 48: too soon and too cruel.  The funeral was on Thursday with an amazing turnout and a lot of lovely shared memories to keep thoughts alive.  My thoughts are with Dave’s partner Heather,step son (our) Andrew and Dave’s mum and dad.

Friday, I was scheduled to do a cheese tasting at a customer of ours, but my car died, right outside my front door – it simply would not start.  I felt awful about letting our customer down, not to mention piles of cheese samples, clean apron and Ribblesdale Cheese banner languishing in the back of my car.  Yesterday, Monday, my faithful cheesemobile was returned to me, with a new battery but no radio.  I would rather have a functioning car, though but how to get radio 4 back?

Let’s see what June brings us!

 

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Two Places Available for a One Day Goat Milk Home Enthusiasts Course Thursday 5th June

We have two places left for a one day home enthusiasts course on Thursday 5th June if anyone is interested.

We will be using goat milk – but it handles the same as cow’s milk – no difference between the two

Thursday 5th June 2014 using goat  milk

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes that you do not mind getting wet or clean wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £125 +VAT = £150 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  During the day, we will discuss the science behind cheese making, common pitfalls, cheese safety awareness, the various steps to hard cheese making, answer any questions you may have and you will be able to help make a larger vat of cheese if you fancy it.

We hope to give you enough knowledge and confidence to make decent cheese safely at home.  We always hold cheese making classes at the same time as making 1,900 litres of goat cheese in our large vat so it can be interesting to compare small makes to large makes – it is the same process.  Goat milk handles in exactly the same way as cow’s milk for anyone wondering!

We should finish at about 2.30pm, but you are welcome to stay on for a brew and watch or even join in the rest of the cheese making in the large vat.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

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Gloucester Cheese Rolling is Back!

Gloucestershire cheese-rolling champ ‘doesn’t really like cheese’

Pinched from the BBC website

Competitors in the Cheese Rolling on Cooper's Hill race near Brockworth, GloucestershireThousands of spectators gathered on Cooper’s Hill for Gloucestershire’s annual cheese-rolling races

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Thousands of people gathered in Gloucestershire for the traditional cheese-rolling races on Cooper’s Hill.

The unofficial event was organised by rebel cheese rollers, after plans for an official event were shelved in 2010.

An estimated 5,000 people turned out to watch thrill-seekers chase a 3.5kg (8lb) wheel of double Gloucester cheese down the 1:2 gradient hill.

The winner of the first race, Josh Shepherd, said he was “really happy” but “doesn’t really like cheese”.

In total, four 3.5kg (8lb) and three smaller 1.5kg (3lb) cheeses are used – made by Diana Smart, 87, who has been producing them for the event for more than 25 years.

Last year, in a bid to make the race safer, revellers had to chase a foam imitation of a double Gloucester 200m (656ft) down the hill at Brockworth.

But this year, the fake fromage was binned in favour of a real wheel of cheese.

‘Roll with the flow’

The winner of the first race, unemployed Josh Shepherd, 19 – from Brockworth, Gloucester – said he was “really proud” of himself.

“I’ve run quite a few times before but it is the first time I’ve won,” he said.

“My tactic was to stay on my feet and go as fast as I can and roll with the flow.

This year real cheese was back on the menu, as Laura Jones reports

“But I don’t know what I’m going to do with the cheese. I don’t really like cheese unless it’s melted, cheese on toast maybe.”

The second race was won by another local man, Ryan Fairley, 24, from Brockworth, who said his tactic was “just to go”.

“I didn’t do the first race this year but it’s absolutely brilliant to have won,” he said.

“I also won a cheese last year.”

The women’s race was won for the third year running by Lucy Townsend, 17, from Brockworth.

Roads closed

The tradition dates back to at least the early 19th Century.

In 2009, the official event was axed after more than 15,000 people turned up, sparking safety fears over numbers at the site.

Every year since then unofficial races have been organised during the late spring bank holiday by local enthusiasts.

This year, Gloucestershire County Council closed roads up to 2.5 miles ( 4km) around the slope to keep disruption for residents to a minimum.

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New Dates for Cheese Making Courses

1 day enthusiasts course: cost £150 per person, minimum 3 people, max 5 using goat milk

Thursday 5th June 2014 using goat  milk

Thursday 12th June 2014 using goat  milk

Thursday 17th July 2014 using goat  milk

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes that you do not mind getting wet or clean wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £125 +VAT = £150 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  During the day, we will discuss the science behind cheese making, common pitfalls, cheese safety awareness, the various steps to hard cheese making, answer any questions you may have and you will be able to help make a larger vat of cheese if you fancy it.  We hope to give you enough knowledge and confidence to make decent cheese safely at home.  We always hold cheese making classes at the same time as making 1,900 litres of goat cheese in our large vat so it can be interesting to compare small makes to large makes – it is the same process.  Goat milk handles in exactly the same way as cow’s milk for anyone wondering!

We should finish at about 2.30pm, but you are welcome to stay on for a brew and watch or even join in the rest of the cheese making in the large vat.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

2 Day Commercial Course: cost £450 per person, minimum 2 people, maximum 4

Wednesday and Thursday 25th and 26th June 2014

Wednesday and Thursday 9th and 10th July 2014

Wednesday and Thursday 23rd and 24th July 2014

The first day is discussion day and is geared towards the activities you need to consider to make cheese commercially, from what to make, how much, how often, equipment needed, financial costings, where to sell, the legalities and so on.  The course is tailored to your needs and is completely flexible but very intense.

Start time for Day 1 is 9am.  Bring a note book, I will provide a comprehensive set of notes for you to take away.  We should finish at about 4pm.

Day 2 the start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes or wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.  We should finish at about 2.30pm and will take a break for 30 minutes whilst I clean down and this will give you chance to consider any questions arising from our cheese make and the previous day’s discussions.  We always hold cheese making classes at the same time as processing 1,900 litres of goat milk so you can compare small scale to large scale and see us at work on that.

The cost is £375 +VAT = £450 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.

If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

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