Ah, July. The time when kids are out of school, normal people go on vacation, and we just keep on working. We used to try to go on vacation during the summer months, but packing luggage for fifty cows was too much of a pain.
July is the middle of our summer breeding season. Every morning and evening we watch the cows to see who is ready to be artificially inseminated. Thankfully, the weather remained cool for the first few weeks of June, allowing us to artificially inseminate most of our cows. All of the cows bred during late June and early July should calve sometime in March and April.
Now that almost all the cows have been artificially inseminated, we bring in our herd bull to breed any of the cows that we might have missed. We raise a new herd bull every year. Most of our bulls are pretty mellow, but we are still careful when he is in with the cows. We also put a bell on the bull, so even when the morning mist blankets the pastures, he reveals his whereabouts with a rowdy “ding-a-aling.”
We have finally weaned all of our calves off milk. They now eat only pasture and a little bit of grain to keep them healthy. They also get all the whey they can drink, and they are growing like weeds. We sold most of the bull calves to local farmers who raise them for beef, but we still have around thirty calves to fill out our milking herd in the future.
Our Royer Mountain recipe is changing slightly this summer. We altered the recipe to make it more like a Romano and less like a baby Swiss. During the cooking phase, we take the curds to a higher temperature. This difference makes the curds more firm and encourages different cultures to grow that prefer higher temperatures. It requires a little more work, but it gives this cheese that delicious romano flavor. We can’t wait to start tasting the difference, the only problem is we have to wait until next year before these wheels will be ready to sell.
We are grateful that school is out for the summer, and our youngest children are willing to work on the farm. Vannika and Austin work 10-15 hours a week in the creamery as well as milking the cows twice a week and helping at our four weekly farmers markets. They also have been working with their show cows in preparation for the local fair in August. It’s a busy time, and we are grateful for their willingness to help.
Everyone loves Cheddar. Four Leaf Clover, our one year matured cheddar, and our milder version, Clover, were our two most popular cheeses in June.
Our summer farmers’ market season is here. Boalsburg Farmers’ Market is in the Boalsburg Military Museum parking lot on Tuesday afternoons. Huntington Farmers’ Market is held on Thursdays. Juniata Farmers’ Market is inside the Station Mall in Altoona every Friday. Ligonier Country Market is every Saturday morning.
Well, that’s all the news from our farm and cheese cellar for the month. Would you like to get an monthly email every time we post our newsletters? You can sign up for our monthly updates via the form at the bottom of our How to Purchase page.
Thank you to all of you who support our family farm and allow us to keep making great products.
Dave & Terry Rice and family