Our new girls have been causing a bit of a stir after featuring on the local news and being talked about on Radio Kent. Lots of local farmers having been dropping by to check them out and are waiting to see how they settle into life here in Kent.
It is going to be a huge change for all of us here on the farm, after 20 years as a ‘closed herd’ of Holstein Freisians. From simple things like choosing different breeding bulls to just getting used to seeing shades of brown among the black and white!
It will be a gradual change though, we just couldn't bear to see our cow families disappear, and so will bring in the Brown Swiss as our others come to a natural end.
There are a few main reasons why we choose this breed, after an awful lot of head scratching, farm visits to breeders and conversations with cheesemakers using their lovely milk. Brown Swiss cows naturally produce milk which is higher in protein, while still enjoying a grass-rich diet – there’s no need to give them lots of high protein feed. We are hopeful that the milk will produce an even better cheese, as the type of protein, the BB variant of the K Casein protein is one that is important for coagulation and curdling.
As the change will involve buying in new stock, we have had to sacrifice being a closed herd for a few years whilst we build up the new herd and bloodlines, and are eagerly waiting for them to have their first calves from September onwards - perfect timing for Christmas cheesemaking!
June is here and has bought some sunshine with it!
Another busy month on the farm, with the new girls - the Brown Swiss heifers, settling into life in the Kent countryside. No mountains but lots of lush fields with slight slopes. Most will be having their first calf in September so they are growing daily.
Grass silage has been cut - it's great now that it is all done in one day, and is happily pickling ready for feeding in a couple of months time, another major job done. Now onto the gardening!
And a bronze award for Kentish Blue at the British Cheese Awards held this year at the Bath and West Show. We even had a day out at the show tasting lots of delicious Somerset cheddars, and a good old chinwag with Philip Stansfield of Cornish Blue cheese fame.
It was great to meet the members of the Hartfield Horticultural Society, who came over to have a look around the dairy farm and cheesemaking on a dry evening in May - even if it was a bit dark by the time we got round to the cheese tasting bit.Hope to see you again soon.
June should also see the final fitting out of our new Cheese office area above the cheesemaking rooms. Looking forward to having the electrics wired in so that I'm not working by torchlight this winter, all very exciting.
Out and about in June - full details of where to find us are on our THIS WEEK page.
No, we haven't gone colour blind! These are the first of our new girls, 20 Brown Swiss heifers, that will be joining our other black & white Holstein Friesians, all the way from the Swiss/Austrian borders.
After a lot of head scratching we have decided to gradually change our herd over to Brown Swiss - they have such wonderful creamy milk, high in all the right proteins for delicious cheese, as well as being great cows to work with.
Now...just need to get over the language barrier!
May - a very busy month for dairy farmers.
The cows are out grazing day and night now (however as soon as there is a slight drizzle they make for the sheds!), and eating lots of lovely lush grass. It will be a few more weeks yet before we taste the cheese made with the first spring milk - we'll be looking out for any slight variances
As for the fields, grass silage is due to be cut and conserved ready for next winter, maize seed has just been drilled and is hopefully germinating, another crop that the cows absolutely love! As the weather warms up, we'll take advantage and get some of the muck out of the sheds.
We are out and about at our usual markets and shows, starting the month with the Penshurst Place Craft Fair and ending with Whitsun bank holiday weekend at the Chatham Maritime Food & Drink Festival, more details on our This Week page. Look forward to seeing you there.
Well, April at last.
the cows and youngsters are loving the warmer days and fresh grass now that they are out in the fields again. They have a good charge around the field, checking out the water troughs, gates and any loose bit of fencing that might be an escape route! But of course, at the first sign of rain they really would rather be back undercover in a nice cosy straw barn.
We were making cheese with milk from the newly grazed cows this week. We'll look forward to tasting it at the beginning of June - a bit darker in colour, a bit more complex flavours for a few weeks whilst the cows settle into the change in their diet.
Let's hope for fair weather for the shows and markets that are going on during April, join us if you can.
Let's hope it's drier than February!
March is the start of the show season for us, with Hadlow Lambing weekend in the middle of the month. It was extremely cold and a bit snowy there last year for lambs, visitors and workers, so hopefully it'll be dry and sunny this time!
As we have been asked at markets for butter so many times, from March we will also be bringing along the delicious Cowslip butter made by our fellow Kentish cheesemakers, the Cheesemakers of Canterbury. Come along and try.
Dairy farm news - the cows and youngsters can smell the grass growing now and are impatient to get back out in the fields. We might need to do a few fencing repairs first though! The storms have bought down a couple of trees in our woodland which have fallen onto the fences as well as taking some sheets off the shed roofs - jobs for next week I think.
It was quite exciting to have the BBC Countryfile crew here for filming last week, I think the cows behaved themselves! It was one of the few dry sunny February days so at least the cameras stayed dry. Tune in on March 2nd to see John Craven helping us make a batch of our Kentish Blue.
Click here for where we are in March, come along and say hello and taste our cheese.
Well, a wet and windy start to 2014 - not too good for the cows, but it's lovely and warm in the cheese barn where I've been tending the Kentish Blue made over Christmas.
We will be attending our usual Kent farmers markets during January - flooding and snow permitting, so look forward to seeing you there.
Check out the recipe pages for Kentish Bluebell/Kentish Blue and Celeriac Soup, great for warming up with after a cold morning on the farm!
Last order date for Kentish Cheese boxes to be delivered is Tuesday 17th Dec.
After that you can to the farm to collect, but please call us or email first as we do not have a shop but are a working dairy farm.
Kentish Blue was awarded a Bronze medal at last week's World Cheese Awards 2013, out of 2700 entries!
Held at the BBC Good Food Show, it was a fabulous event celebrating thousands of differnt cheeses from all over the world.