Say Cheese

Hi My name is Marja Van Loon, I live with my husband Peter on a 40 acre lifestyle block in the Leith Valley of Dunedin, we currently run sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and of course Jersey Cows.

I made a life changing discovery in May of 2010 – I found an advert to make cheese with the marvelously passionate teacher called Dave Milner, we learnt over a weekend to make Camembert, Ricotta, Farmhouse and fresh cheese.

He told us cheese at the supermarket would never taste the same again ..he was right…………. it was brilliant, met some lovely like minded people on the course. We had to meet up 16 weeks after the course to share our farmhouse Cheese out amongst our class members.  This lead to my next “Life Changing Adventure” as we met at our now very goods friends Neil & Sandra who have a farm at Waikouaiti,  Neil happened to mention he had a calf that maybe I could have…………He sold us our first baby calf “Daisy” who was so small traveled home in the back of our Toyota truck in a wool pack.

Once we had her at home I had decided that I would have to wait two or three years to make cheese from her milk…………….That seemed like such a long time to wait, so along came “Maggie & Rosie”our lovely Jersey cows  with their two baby calves Petal & Pansy.

In the meantime my long suffering husband Peter set to work and built me a milking shed, as we were doing this and waiting on the cows to arrive, I had no idea of how to milk a cow…………………….So Neil volunteered to be my teacher so every morning for a couple of weeks I drove to Waikouaiti (25 minutes from Dunedin) to “Help”….. Jersey cows are a lovely size not particularly large, however Neil has Friesan cows they looked like giants & I had to climb under these cows to put four suction cups on to their udders without the air escaping or  they would fall off…….., there were some quite cross cows to begin with, however with Neils and the cows patience I mastered it of sorts.

Then the girls arrived, we added another Jersey calf called Sophie,…………………And so I begun, I wont say I didn’t make mistakes as I did, our chooks and pigs have never complained, when they get the failures.

As the years have progressed I have made more and more different types of cheeses, Feta, Camembert, Farmhouse, Ricotta, Liptour, Cheddar, Gouda, Cumin Gouda,Colby (nothing like in the shops), Emmental, Maasdammer, Sage Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Caraway Gouda, Swiss, and the list just goes on, its a very infectious adventure as each time you cut a cheese for eating its like opening a Christmas Present your never sure how much better it will be than the last one you had.

I  love making cheese just for family and friends, but find more people asking if I could teach them, so here we are……………………………………………

 Come and join the adventure………………….

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