Tag Archives: Ribblesdale goat curd

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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Three Silver Awards for Ribblesdale Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2014

I know I promised um, more posts and the next post would be about starter culture, but I digress.  What’s new!  Promise, I will write about starter because I have recently learned a lot about it and would like to pass it on, if it helps anyone.

Nantwich 2012 Gold Award Winner: Natural Rinded Mature Goat

British Cheese Awards Silver 2014 Great Taste Awards 2013 3 gold stars winner; Nantwich 2012 Gold Award Winner: Natural Rinded Mature Goat

The competition at the British Cheese Awards was tough and almost all of the big players were there, so we are really chuffed that we managed to achieve silvers for our

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Aged Goat Gouda, a relatively new invention – it is hard, nutty and sweet, our Matured Natural Rinded Goat cheese which has won more awards than any of our other cheeses, as stocked by Delifresh and The Courtyard Dairy amongst others and our goat curd won a silver which is nice, though it received a gold at Nantwich last year – stocked by Delifresh and Wellocks and used by Vanilla Black plus others.

We entered the British Cheese Awards (BCA) 2014 by the skin of our teeth.  It is usually in September, I think, but the BCA has amalgamated with the Royal Bath & West show and the date has been bought forward by several months which has thrown a good many people.

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate

Anyway, we had a great two day commercial cheese making course last Thursday and Friday with Becky, Chloe, Sophie and James and I completely took my eye off the ball about getting our entries down to Somerset.  Ooops, so it was with a great deal of scrabbling

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

around that we eventually managed to get our entries down to Somerset; don’t ask!

This year, I think that fewer cheese makers entered because the date changed and also, the competition was the day after a Bank Holiday which is not good for getting cheese down to Somerset.

According to this, 178 cheese makers entered the show with a total of 1,015 cheeses.  There were 839 cow cheese entries, 56 sheep, 102 goat, 12 buffalo and 12 mixed. 801 entries from England, 68 from Ireland, 74 from Scotland, 1 from Ulster and 70 from Wales.  The biggest category entered was cheddar with 150 entries, followed by blended cheese with 111 entries.  Five fewer cheese  makers  entered this year compared to 20134, I suspect because of the change of date.  Our poor friend Kristen at Gringa Dairy recently tweeted ‘epic fail, our entry parcel was not picked up last week’ – my heart goes out to her because there but for the grace of a bit of fast action and string pulling, went us too.  Only it was my fault.

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

Congratulations to our friends, Mrs Kirkhams to their gold for their traditional Lancs, Wensleydale Dairy, our friends up the road for their multiple wins, Shepherds Purse for their multiple wins, Belton, Quickes and too many more to mention.

For a full list of the winners and categories, click here.

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Finally, a New Blog Post

Apologies to those who follow this blog and occasional readers too.  I have been a little bogged (sic!) down with work, house and pig matters.

Well, where to start!  It has been an interesting and varied couple of months.  There is European legislation afoot to charge all food manufacturing businesses in the UK for their EHO visit.  Previously, the proposed legislation contained a small business exemption, but Brussels were voting in April to get rid of this, so there has been an online petition to reinstate the small business exemption, which I signed.  Personally, I cannot see British councils giving up on an opportunity to charge small businesses for their regulatory visits – we will see, talking of which, we are due a visit from Steve our EHO pretty soon.

Some of the judging tables at Nantwich

Some of the judging tables at Nantwich 2013

It is competition entry season at the moment.  It seems to come earlier and earlier.  So far, I think I have completed the forms for the British Cheese Awards and the Great Taste Awards (I think) and I am struggling with the Nantwich forms which for the first year seem to be available on line but you cannot write in the document, so paper again.  These are the only three competitions we enter.  I will not be entering the Yorkshire Show this year as quite honestly, it is a waste of time and entry fees.  Say no more, though I hear on the grapevine that the old cheese organising person has left.  Nor do we enter the World Cheese Awards.

We have met some great and interesting people on our recent cheese making classes.  I tell my cheese making class attendees that they could consider entering a competition as there are categories for newcomers and to win something would be fantastically validating.  It would be fantastic to see a Ribblesdale Cheese alumni win something at say Nantwich!  The competition is very tough and there are so many entrants in these things and there is some very good cheese out there, so we try not to get our hopes up.  Even one minor win is brilliant news to us.  Winning awards does not automatically translate into more sales, but it makes us feel better about life and hopefully means we are doing something along the right lines.  We shall see!

A good thing that happened in March was that I hired a new part timer, Stacey to take over my waxing duties on Tuesdays which has meant that I can start to get out and about and do a bit of new business development.  As a result of this, we have picked up some new customers and I have seen a couple of our existing customers with a view to persuade them to take a little bit more of our cheese.  Stacey is a mum of two: Magggie and Sophie and lives locally.  Unfortunately, almost as soon as we took her on, she became ill, ending up in hospital with suspected appendicitis, but she is a lot better and is now back with us.  Stacey has worked for Wensleydale Dairy in the past, so she brings some good experience with her.

Soft cheese trial - we will see!

Soft cheese trial, made during the RPA audit- we will see!

Our goat curd sales are looking up and if they continue, will account for a significant portion of our sales.  So, hot on the heels of the introducing the goat curd, I have set about developing some new cheeses.  I use the word developing very loosely as I make up the recipes, so they may turn out to be not very good.  With the help of Ken, my new starter culture contact, I have started some soft cheese trials which is actually quite exciting to me, at least.  We will see if any of them turn out to be edible; shall keep you posted.  See the end of this post for details of a 5% discount offer on starter culture.

We had a lovely article about us in the April edition of the Dalesman, written by our journalist friend Betsy and the article about us in Flybe was also put into Portfolio magazine for Emirates Business Class passengers, which can’t be a bad thing!  Thank you Andy and Betsy.

Last month, Wensleydale Dairy came and make cheese in our dairy one Monday, it was nice to see them again.  Oh and we had a very memorable audit by the RPA.  My back was up when the auditor made initial phone contact and ordered me around with zero nicety.  We were audited because we have changed purchaser status so we no longer have to submit monthly returns.  Things got considerably worse when she finally arrived an hour and a half late when I had deliberately planned my trial cheese making around her.  I find it hard to deal with people who treat you as if everything you do is wrong and you are stupid which pretty much sums up the experience.   She was horrified that we did not get our milk delivered by a tanker with a ticket and asked in accusatory tones, well how do you know how much you have got?  I felt like damaged goods after her visit.

I am receiving loads of unsolicited e-mails from lab and label companies in preparation for the new food labelling EU Regulation 1169/2011 will come into force on the 13th December 2014, stipulating that any products sold on the market must have labels that are easily visible, legible, indelible and have a minimum font size of 1.2mm and have a nutritional declaration – that is going to be extremely onerous for many small businesses – it is dreadfully expensive to get your product analysed for its nutritional/chemical composition.  We were lucky and managed to obtain a grant to help us do this last year.  Allergens must be emphasised in the list of ingredients using a specific type set which clearly distinguishes them from the rest of the ingredients.  Note to self: must get the wretched scales sorted.  You know, the ones we do not know how to use.  Before anyone seizes the opportunity to write in, industrial scales are not straight forward, easy to program with descriptions etc but the rest, Avery have the monopoly on being deviously, inscrutably incomprehensible.

Other than the RPA audit, the biggest trauma occurred when I had to put prices up on April 1st and even today I still get ripples from this.  Putting up prices is the most awful thing to do for a small business owner and I cringe each time we have to do it, which is not often.  I don’t put up prices on whim, I do it because our prices have gone up, specifically, we are paying 15p a litre more for goat milk than 2 years ago which equates to an additional £1.50 cost of producing just one kg.  Our cow and ewe’s milk have gone up significantly too and we cannot afford to keep prices the same.  It is basic business survival.  Having said all that, the best news all year is that we had the best April in 5 years of my records and that is after the prices went up!  All of our cheesey friends had a good April which is very encouraging, let’s see how it goes in May.

Snouter today 9th March 2012

Snouter the most handsome pig in Yorkshire

Poor old Snouter has been very poorly with his little trotters.  He has an ongoing problem of split pads which get badly affected when his paddock is muddy and boggy.  Usually, a couple of doses of pain medicine gets him back on his feet, but this time, it wasn’t that easy.  I felt the rest of his little leg and it was hot, so I guessed he had an infection.  I went to the vet.  Was it the Big Fella or the other one?  Big Fella.  Ah.  The vet will not inject him because he is so big and his tusks getting larger each year and may hurt them, accidentally.  I asked if I could inject him, which I am happy to try to do, but they didn’t like that idea either.  So I came away with a small bottle of antibiotic powder: 10g for 20 litres of water.  It was interesting adding the antibiotic water to his food and also to his drinking water.  When they were small piglets, I told them that they should not eat food or drink water that didn’t taste right and I think they remember that conversation.  Initially, poor old Snoutychops was in so much pain he could scarcely get up, other than to do his ablutions, so he stayed in his piggie bed all day every day for about a week.  This meant I had to feed him twice a day by hand in his pig bed.  Dressed in my piggie suit with a hat and bin liners spread all over his bed, I hand fed him all over Easter and longer to make sure he got the antibiotics in him.  I looked like a brown Jackson Pollock painting and needed an immediate shower and the pig bed, no matter how hard I tried to keep it clean needed many replenishments of straw.  Eventually, with a combination of pain medicine and antibiotics, he started to get a little better and I tried to encourage him to leave his pig bed and eat by himself still in the pig house but outside his bed.  This met with an exchange of wills until one day I caught him out of his bed and he immediately scuttled back in and from that point, I no longer hand feed him (he has me wrapped around his little trotters!) and he now, after 3 weeks, is starting to eat outside again with Penny Pig, who by the way has been a model of  delightful piglet perfection all through Snouter’s illness, very out of character – no grumpiness or growling.

My next post will be about a new starter supplier.  Well, he is not new but I have only just come across Ken who owns the company and is offering a 5% discount on starters if you use the  discount code Iona23.  Take a look at his website as he sells smaller sachet quantities which is far easier for smaller cheese makers.  Also available are things like rennet, yoghurt making starter, lipase etc.  Ken’s e-mail address is: Sales@JKM-Foods.com

 

 

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A Long Ribblesdale Cheese Two Week Catch Up

Two sheep makes being put away in the cold room where they will mature for 12 months

Two sheep makes being put away in the cold room where they will mature for 12 months

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so lots to report.  Today, we are making the third of our four sheep cheese makes.  January was predictably a quiet month and so far, February has picked up a fair bit – time will tell, I don’t want to get too excited!

The quest for transparent pots to put our goat curd in has finally come to fruition and we received a delivery yesterday, but my goodness, I had to pester the company I bought them from because despite the fact they were the only people to send out a sample, they didn’t appear to want to make the sale.  The other ten or so pot makers I contacted just did not bother to reply to my inquiry for 1,500 pots: weird.

Snow outside our unit at 5.30pm Tuesday 11th Feb 2014

Snow outside our unit at 5.30pm Tuesday 11th Feb 2014

Snow!  There is no 2014 winner of the snow book.  It officially snowed here on Tuesday 11th Feb.  I shall do a dedicated blog post about the 2014 snow book.

We had our annual visit from the bank manager, Wayne, who came and went.  I read somewhere that Google was more trusted than banks.  No surprise there.  Personally, I think it is only a matter of time before our high street banks become obsolete or at least have to radically change their practices and start to compete (really??) and offer service and value for money.  If you think about it, all a person or business really needs is a current account to receive money in and make payments out of.  Why can’t we all shop around for current accounts, loans, mortgages, savings deals?  I don’t see why anyone, be it Google, Amazon, Coca Cola et al couldn’t offer better, more competitive current accounts, taking into account better rates from different jurisdictions and associated financial products for individuals and businesses to pick and choose the best deal from, much like any other service or commodity we use;  I do not go to the same supermarket all the time, why should I use the same bank for everything?  UK supermarkets have made

My very hairy journey home on Tuesday evening.  We don't get gritters or snow ploughs up my way

My very hairy journey home on Tuesday evening in a snow storm. We don’t get gritters or snow ploughs up my way

a bit of an attempt, but I see it changing much more in terms of new more trusted entrants offering a more innovative and flexible range of financial products and a change in customer habit – consumers being encouraged to cherry pick the best deals (and switch) and having choice to use several ‘banks’.  Here is hoping!

The award competition season seem to start earlier and earlier.  This week, I received notification that we should enter our cheeses in to the Great Taste Awards – five months before judging – and have a 2 week window during which each cheese entry costs £31 + VAT as opposed to £41.  I am in two minds about this – £31 to enter one cheese in a competition is to my mind, really expensive.  We have been lucky enough to win awards in the past and whilst I would love to say it results in additional sales – it does not.  It adds to our credibility, that we can and do make fabulous, award winning cheese, but if you are thinking of entering a few cheeses, it becomes really expensive and one wonders about the benefits.  We usually enter three competitions: The Great Taste Awards, Nantwich and the British Cheese Awards.  I have given up on the Yorkshire Show as I don’t think we stand a chance – say no more.

I am still no closer to working out how to program our new scales.  I have left two messages now with Avery Berkel who show no sign of getting back to me.  The manual is utterly incomprehensible.  How stupid do I feel that we have scales that we do not know how to use?  Very.  Anyone who uses commercial scales that spit out weight tickets will know how frustrating programming scales can be.  Talking of weight ticket labels, I have been having ongoing discussions with our label printing company who took over from Clearprint in Lancashire after it closed (we miss you, Elaine!) about 50,000 weight ticket labels that do not work in our scales.  Eventually, I sent them all back and reached an amicable agreement with the printers who finally agreed to give us a refund, though come to think of it, that has not arrived either.  Sometimes I feel that I spend a disproportionate amount of time chasing people up just to get something happening, like the customer who, according to Sage, take on average 153 days to pay us, so I sent a reminder e-mail (and have left two telephone messages) to the business owner and the accounts dept five days ago and have not heard a thing, let alone received payment.

Me and Stu with our Superior Goat: Yorkshire Gouda

Me and Stu with our Superior Goat: Yorkshire Gouda

The scales issue is becoming very irritating as it would solve receiving rude and unnecessary e-mails like the one I received on Sunday evening from a man who signed his name with an ‘F’ in between his first and last name and managed to use the word ‘disappointing’ about 8 times.  He left an exceptionally rude tirade on this blog (I receive an e-mail copy) about how he bought some of our Superior Goat Gouda, as it was promoted as being a British made cheese, during British cheese week, which readers of this blog know we started to make ourselves about two years ago, making it not just British but Yorkshire!  He left this message, saying that our Superior Goat Gouda was Dutch on the blog, but did not bother to search for it on the blog, if he had, he would have seen pictures of us making it.  Because we cannot change our scales, unfortunately, the weight ticket says, in very small writing, that it is made in Holland.  It was, but no longer is – we make this.  And that is why we put a ‘we Make This’ sticker on the front of the pack, but this man seemed to be on a mission to be as unpleasant as possible on the blog.  I trashed his blog comment and replied as graciously as I could muster at 11pm on Sunday evening and pointed out the truth and invited him to come and make Superior Goat Gouda with us.  As is always the way, he did not have the courtesy to reply.

And still on the subject of labelling, I received an e-mail from a customer asking us to confirm that we complied with EU Regulation 1169/2011.  I had to admit that we did not, but did not want to say only because I don’t know how to program the wretched scales and Avery Berkel sneer at me when I ask for help and don’t get back to me.  I did send the tech spec document which contains all the data anyway; we have all the nutritional information that we need to disclose, courtesy of Rosie at York Uni.  Hopefully I will sort out the scales before December 15th 2014 when this piece of legislation comes into force.

One of Hackfall's goats

Milking goats

For the first time ever in the history of us making cheese, our regular Tuesday delivery  of goat milk arrived but then had to be sucked back up again at the end of the day due to an antibiotic failure.  Just goes to show that product recall systems really do work.  It was a bit of a shock, but thank goodness we found out before Wednesday when we would have processed half of it.  Antibiotics would have destroyed the starter which means the milk would not become acidified which in turn means we would not have been able to make cheese – in case anyone wondered.  This really threw our week, last week and Stu and I could not get used to the days as we did not make goat cheese on Wednesday or Thursday, it was weird.  Andrew came in on Wednesday and with Stu gave the three maturing rooms a complete deep clean over two days.  Wow, they really look spotless now.

My working week is slowly starting to change.  I mutter darkly from time to time about not being able to get out and about and see customers or develop new business because there is always too much to do, nearly all computer/ paperwork which I hate.  That, combined with bloody annoying arthritis in my fingers which makes

Newly waxed Smoked Superior Goat Cheese

Newly waxed Smoked Superior Goat Cheese – we not only MAKE this cheese ourselves, we also smoke it ourselves too

waxing very painful and difficult and slow – I have lost my ability to grip – the fact that I drop keys, teaspoons, lids, pens, (cheese), can’t do up buttons finally made me decide to take on some help with our weekly Tuesday mad waxing sessions which relieves me of my waxing duties and frees me up one day a week which I hope to use to get out and about, which I enjoy!  As a result, I have managed to see three new potential customers, two of whom have already placed orders which is far more satisfying than not being able to wax cheese.

I have applied for a grant to help us do some PR and marketing work with a mentor.  We have chosen Yorkshire based Annie Stirk who is a bit of a food PR and marketing guru to help us and the grant is called the Growth Accelerator.  Before anyone asks, no, you can’t use it for capex.  It involves meeting up with a coordinator, answering 100 questions on-line and costs £600 plus a lot more VAT and can be used to employ a consultant to help you fill in gaps in your business knowledge and capabilities.

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of  250g shrink wrapped Goat Curd

Another little initiative I have got going is that I am planning a bit of NPD and have been working with a very helpful chap called Ken who is very kindly going to let me have some starters for me to play with.  We’ve even been talking lipase.  I am hoping to trial about 4-5 new cheeses and if I can get one of them right, I shall be a happy bunny; it will take time.  I am really looking forward to developing (making up!) some new recipes, I enjoy that.  It will be um…interesting!  I tend to think that making the cheese is the relatively straight forward part, it is the maturation and keeping the cheese that can be tricky.  But we will see.  My last bit of NPD was our goat curd back last summer and I am really pleased with the take up of that.  Watch this space!

I think it is about time that we started to sell cheese on our website/blog.  This is something I have wanted to do for a while, but as always, it is a question of time.  I have started investigating making this blog into a proper website and adding an e-commerce platform.  It is a fair bit of work but I have started investigating how to do it, so once again, we will see how it pans out.

I think I mentioned a while back that we had a media company come and do some filming with us.  They have made a 90 second webtease for us and here it is.  It shows me at the height of my podginess, Stu stirring the vat and Andrew polishing cheese but it is a really good bit of filming, even if I say it myself.  Thank you to Simon and his team and  also customer Country Harvest for letting us film there.

We had a great five person cheese making class two Mondays ago and everyone had a lot of fun, but more importantly, I am hoping that we have given enough knowledge and confidence to our attendees to make good and safe cheese at home.  Two of our class were already fairly experienced and both said it was good for them to compare their makes with everyone else’s and our main big vat as it gave them the experience to be able to judge acidity development, which is really good.

We still have places left on Monday 17th one day course, if you are interested, please-mail Iona at: ionahill@gmail.com and we have room on our first two day commercial cheese making class on Thursday and Friday 20th and 21st Feb.

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Our First Official Week Back in 2014

Once again, Happy New Year to all and wishing everyone all the best for 2104.

We started back, officially on Monday 6th January 2014 to a very cold dairy.  It was about 8 oC at our place which is usually, when not making cheese, about 4 degrees warmer than the outside temp.  But at least it has not not snowed, not at work, anyway, and it has, in reality been quiet mild.

The newly potted out Tasty Yorkshire

Newly potted out Tasty Yorkshire

I did half days over the period except New Year’s Day so had already sorted out the post, the bankings, paid the wretched tax bill on 2nd Jan and rustled up a few customer orders.  On Monday, we made a small vat of Tasty Yorkshire, portioned up a load of goat curd for a Tuesday customer collection, prepared the first order to go out in 2014, put the smoker on and tried to keep warm!  We received our first delivery of goat milk yesterday, on Tuesday and in all honesty, we were expecting to be shorted (I am not complaining!) as there is usually very little available in the early part of the year, due to kidding etc and again, more often than not, snow.  So, no snow is a good thing as hopefully the goats are happier and warmer and producing milk early.

And talking about the lack of snow…when is it safe to take off snow tyres that have been on since November?  Update Thursday 9th Jan 2014: not yet!  It snowed at home last night and ‘the tops’ as we call them were very snowy when driving in to work this morning – total absence of grit – no surprise there.

Tuesday was a mad waxing day and we waxed several tables of Superior Goat Gouda including green halves which Goat Curd 2neither Stu nor I enjoy doing, Original Goat, all of the smoked cheese and some Wensleydale.  Stu has bought an internet radio so can now listen to sounds of any decade of music he likes, though I notice it was on the 80s today!

Today is Wednesday and Stu and Andrew are making a 1,900 litre vat of Superior Goat Gouda.  I have been working out what starter culture we need to order for the next few months and liaising with the supplier and am on almighty e-mail catch up, feeling thoroughly ashamed of not answering e-mails for quite some time.  I am also thinking about some NPD when I can get some appropriate starter.

The main time suck all week so far has been finding a sensibly priced energy supplier for March 2014 when our contract expires.  I am glad it expires as it was really expensive, but having never done this before (for a whole variety of reasons), I did not realise what a minefield getting quotes and dealing with people, especially the comparison type organisations would be.  So far, I have had an Indian firm put the phone down on me because I wouldn’t say ‘yes’ to the biggest hard sell I have ever had in my life, I have had people lie to me by telling me I should accept their quote because theirs’ is the cheapest and has no other charges and I have discovered that quotes are only valid for hours and the price keeps going up.  Mind you, when you tell each of the people who phone up the cheapest quote you have, it is amazing how they

Picture of Steve, stolen from the Craven & Herlad newspaper 8/1/14

Picture of Steve in happier times, before he got ill, stolen from the Craven & Herlad newspaper 8/1/14

manage to beat it despite telling you this is definitively THE best deal, ‘you won’t get better’.  I think we have now achieved the most sensible price with a company called SSE.  I am going for a two year contract, because a) I do not want to go through this again any time soon and b) it looks to me like energy prices are going to continue to escalate and we should take advantage of a two year deal which, oddly, in the end, turned out cheaper than the best one year deal.  Strange that.

I have been speaking to the soon to be new owners of Yellison Farm, Ed and Sharron who are hoping to move the goats to their spot by the end of February and take over cheese making and goat milking from that point onwards: I wish them all the very best of luck.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Stu and Andrew are making a 1,656 litre vat of Original Goat, I am going to continue my e-mail catch up but have to nip out for a couple of hours  and on Friday, we will be vac packing today’s gouda make, sorting out today’s goat curd make and bagging that up plus it is the day of Steve’s funeral: Skipton Crematorium, January 10 at 12.20pm, followed by a wake at Skipton Rugby Club.

I noticed on Monday that someone from Mongolia viewed the blog 12 times – if you are that person, please e-mail me and tell me who you are, what interests you and why you are reading our cheese blog!

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