in loving memory of Cosette

Poor Gracie! She had lots of problems during her pregnancy and Beth was very aware of her lack of eating and just not looking or acting right. Maybe the triple birth was just too hard which, of course, made it hard on the babies. Cosette was so tiny and though she seemed like she was thriving I guess she wasn't.
Let's hope for the best for the spotted one to make it, she's our next pick.

i smell dead people

After 11 days of rotting in the basement, the rooster bleu is really.... coming...along. Man, does it smell like death! Joel says that's good, it is breaking down the fats & proteins. This one is definitely different from the first one we made. I added an extra tablespoon of Roquefort and boy is it showing! It turned bleu very fast, much faster than the first so again we are back to not knowing how it will turn out for another...79 days.


getting my gates built and up

After careful thought of what design I wanted for the gates, I finally came up with what I thought would work. I got my tools together and set up my professional fence building station which consists of 4 concrete blocks, you know the kind that people put their cars on when storing the car on the lawn.

I was able to get both built in one day but it took a week or so to put them up due to weather and laziness. But now they are hung and next I have to figure out what to do to latch them.

I bought latches but of course they didn't work so other than that I am pretty excited to have them up and neighbors seem to like the design and look of the completed fence which is also important. And Sunny really likes have a perimeter up, she runs and runs and is better able to protect her family with her property line more defined.


in loving memory of Carpet

Yet another tragedy has hit this morning and we realize again, how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away.

The Thurston's woke up this morning and checked on the flock and found that poor little Carpet had died in the night. We all knew he was very frail and slow and he just wasn't able to keep up with his sisters when it came time to feed. They kept a very close eye on him and were going to start bottle feeding today. We have all learned that it is very difficult when ewe's have triplets, not only is it amazing if none come out with problems but also important that the mother has enough milk for all. All these experiences are how we learn but it's still so sad.
He was the one we were thinking about buying and trying our hand at raising a few sheep. His wool was so amazing and thick, thus the name Carpet. Joel thought it would be fun to try and reproduce this wonderful wool. They may breed Gracie again next year so maybe another chance may arrive to get a black one again.

Many hands have held him and he was loved by all. Bye Carpet.


gracie's triplets

I will let the photos speak for themselves.
These are my neighbors Icelandic sheep. They have 3 ewe's; Ivory gave birth 2 days ago with 2 white rams. Gracie gave birth today to a black ram, a white female & a spotted female. We are still awaiting the arrival of Leah's lambs so hopefully any day now, she really looks miserable... maybe its my sympathy pangs from being pregnant feeling for her.


follow the rooster

For those who are interested in seeing how our cheese is made here is a brief presentation.

I took 4 gallons of raw cows milk which was milked that day and bring it up to temp. I then added the cultures and bleu mold along with actual Roquefort Bleu Cheese, mix well.
Next I cut the curd once it has solidified into a jello like consistency and stir continuously for 30 min.
Then it is drained and set into the mould to press. I then cut it again into cubes which will be placed into the mould.
Don't forget the salt.
Oolite Bleu after 4 days of aging... it's getting there!


the brilliant cookie

It has been suggested a time or two that I should sell my baked goods, so to all those who have suggested it here you go...


Truffles- Homemade Raspberry Perserve, Amaretto &
Dark Chocolate w/ nuts

F-Bomb Cookies (Salted Carmel Chocolate Cookie)

Thanks for all the support!
Hey Charno, check it out and give your 2 cents.


our bleu just got famous

O.k now it isn't famous in the true sense but it is getting noticed. Joel took our cheese to be tasted by a couple of guys in the restaurant biz who heard about our cheese biz. He begrudgingly took it in one night without much confidence since it didn't turn out exactly how he wanted but knowing it was a good opportunity he headed over. They tried it, loved it and by the end of the night all the customers had sampled our Bleu. People were coming up to him to shake his hand, "keep up the good work", and so on. Joel even noticed a guy moving closer and closer to his table until they finally asked if he would like to try it, "Sure why not." Now we all know Joel is a great story teller so he went on to explain why our Bleu cheese is so unique. He let them know that this cheese is a true product of it's environment. The milk is from Mt. Pleasant and they are grass fed and hormone free cows and there are about 6 different cows that give it the unique flavor and golden color. Also, Utah weather isn't like France or even California, it's Utah... which is a desert- thus a hard bleu cheese is created not a soft Roquefort style. Well Joel sat back the rest of the night listening to his story being re-told over and over as the guys introduced the product. It was exactly what he needed, to see that this was a rad & unique product that he could be proud of. They loved it so much that they took what was left, asked for more and have since put it on their cheese plate to sell. Yes, it brought a little tear to my eye when I heard the news. Not to mention when I was there for spring break I overheard a group order the cheese plate and the guys gave us props on the cheese they were eating. Progress is a good feeling even if it's just baby steps. The guys now are now taking dibs on what ever we make from now on and they will be following the newest addition to their family... What's Her Name (or as I like to call her Mt. Pleasant Gold) they will be watching her age and get mature and soon enough it will be on a plate near you! (If you live near Costa Mesa, CA)


visit peel farm

I took a visit to the Peel farm to share some of our awesome Oolite Bleu Cheese. I always have Dale try it to let me know what he thinks. We visited there for a while in his pasture and talked sheep but the funnest part was he was right in the middle of his lambing season. He would point out mothers who were about to give birth and he had some give birth the night before, it was so exciting to be there and though I only had my lame phone camera I took the best pictures I could. In the distance were these two little lambs; one black and one white- they played together the whole time... SO ADORABLE! Any day now I am expecting a very important phone call from my neighbor when her Icelandic ewes are ready to give birth. I will be helping and this time I will bring my good camera. And she did try and milk one ewe to see how she would react and she did great, no fussing and no kicking.
Who couldn't love a face like this!


bringing the house back to life

Not only are we trying to start our cheese business but a huge part of why we moved here was for this little adorable house so we are constantly working on bringing the house back to its glorious state. We met with the Kimble Brothers and they love to do historic renovations, needless to say they were beyond thrilled to work on our little piece of history. It is really exciting working with people who have just as much passion and desire to bring it back EXACTLY how it was. What impressed me the most about them is that they were working on a porch for some folks here in Sanpete and normally you would create the first spindle and then program it into the router and have it repeated twenty times over but being the true artisans that they are, they created each one by hand as to keep each one unique and with its own flaws- that's how the pioneers would have done it so that is how they do it. We are also having to re-point the house which means to chip out the existing mortar and refill it in with a very specific limestone mortar for which we have the recipe. Not only do we need to redo the outside stone work but the basement needs to be re-pointed as well. We need to replace the window trims and replace the new door, the one the previous owners put in, with an older door. seems a bit backwards but we want a true historic home. It has been suggested that next year we may get on the home show tour since ours is the oldest here. Now if you look closely at the little shack in the back, that was the original kitchen and we are going to be basically taking it apart piece by piece and turning it inside out since the wood is in better condition on the inside. I also want to move it closer to our big pear tree so it is more visible from the street. Basically there is tons of work to be done and we couldn't be more excited about being the ones who get to do it. If anyone is ever interested in helping you are more than welcome to come and stay with us and be very well fed for your services.... ;)


fence building party continued.

Our fence building party must continue on. This time we only had the kids and Joel & I to complete it. Oh, and Joel got there Friday at 10pm and left Sunday at noon. I was very nervous we wouldn't be able to finish it with only us 2 but with a bit of help from the kids moving wood and Jake manning the drill we were able to finish the whole thing, minus the gates. Compared to the first fence party, that one took 12 of us 3 hours to build 80ft of fence. This one took 3 of us 12 hours to build 190 ft of fence. The odds were not in our favor but Joel was a man on a mission and once we got a good system down we accomplished our goal. It was a fun experience for Joel and I to have a plan, get all the supplies, make the crazy drive and finish it by ourselves. We had a great time together creating something for our cute house. Slowly but surely it is coming together and with only one smashed finger (mine:). Weather was so cold, our fingers were numb same with our feet and after the first day we were so incredibly worn out. But again, it was totally worth it and even if it took Joel 8.5 hours to drive from Vegas home (usually a 3.5 hour drive) I know it was worth it to him... right babe?

the farm life... is hard

There are many perqs to living the farm life. There is a certain amount of true freedom- living for yourself and no one else. We are wanting to end up a bit off the radar and being more self-reliant. We have always wanted animals, some for milking, some for eating, some for protection and so forth. Though it is a lot of work, and money, we have enjoyed the benefits that animals can bring. We have our dog Sunny Two-tox for protection and she is REALLY good at barking and chasing people, thus, the need for the fence. We don't have sheep yet but in the next few weeks I am hoping to be part of the birthing of new lambs, very exciting! We also inherited 8 chickens which I have to drive and feed each morning and carry 100lb. bags of chicken feed (heaviest thing I have ever carried). Though it was a rough beginning, (8 eggs over the past 5 months) we started to see the fruits of our labors. Just 2 weeks ago we started collecting 5 eggs one day, 3 eggs another and even up to 7 eggs in one day! It was so fun, kind of like opening Christmas presents or finding Easter eggs- just a fun part of the farm life. But, as I mentioned, the farm life can be hard physically and emotionally because you get quite attached to your animals so when the dog is in pain we are in pain or when I go to feed the chickens and find the rooster and a hen outside the pen I get concerned. Well, Monday morning, still trying to recover from our fence building weekend, I had to go feed the chickens and there they were, a hen and the rooster... out of the pen. As I looked into the garden I saw a black chicken on the ground, not moving, which made me concerned. "Is she sleeping?" Then, I looked further down the garden, two more chickens laying on the ground. I started to panic and then I looked by the gate and saw two more dead and then another! "What happened!" I yelled to no one. I couldn't believe my eyes, didn't know how to react. I am not used to this! I just had to leave and talk to Joel or anyone who could explain what was happening. Well, I called my friend Beth who has Icelandic sheep and chickens. She let me know this happens and it was probably a dog who got in there because he just killed them and didn't eat them. Man! Am I cut out for this? She came over with me and we had to shovel them into the trash, we took the two who made it out alive and she took them home to add to her bunch. I am sure it was amusing to watch us trying to "clean up." There was a lot of girly screaming and trying to talk ourselves into being brave. It was not fun. I didn't know if I should be crying out of sadness or what. It has left an impression on me and I have gained a new respect for the farm life, it isn't all happy times. The reality is that we have to treat these animals like family members and love them for what they do for us. I have a new found respect for life and not just the human ones.


bleu boy makes his first appearance

We decided to break into bleu boy as a thank you to those who came to help build the fence and yes it's scary trying something new with a big crowd. I slowly cut into him and boy was he firm! I aged him for 3-4 months so it is very exciting and nerve racking to see what we got. Everyone was eager to try it and as always we learned a few things; one: It was very hard, almost like a Parmesan cheese, very crumbly and dry. Two: The bleu didn't travel down to the center where I poked the holes it stayed close to the surface. Even though we knew we wanted to change the recipe and several of the techniques as soon as it was made and as I watched the aging process we decided on a few other changes to make... we know better what to do next time. This is all part of the learning process and it will be exciting to try it again. Taste wise it was very interesting, not a very strong bleu flavor but what you feel is the numbing effect that a good bleu produces. I really liked this batch, it is like nothing I have ever seen, a hard bleu, and though it's a mild flavor it has a really strong after taste that is delightful. People who don't normally like bleu really loved it and people who love bleu also really loved it. I think it was a success, Joel on the other hand, isn't too happy with it since it wasn't anything like what we were going for. Needless to say it's still ALWAYS a hit.

fence building... PARTY!

It's been a while since my last post but it's been a busy month. It was my birthday and I wanted to throw myself a "fence building party".
That's right folks, It's a wonderful way to get people to come help, guilt is your best weapon in this instance. There are so many people to thank but it was seriously amazing! We had 80 feet of fence to build and we started at 11am. Now what needs to be known is that the weather was predicting snow all Friday and Saturday. Knowing this I decided to have a guy come and cement the posts for me, something I didn't want to do by myself. Well, it didn't snow at all on Friday and flurried just a bit int he morning on Saturday. Everyone showed up at the same time and we gathered everything needed. It was a little discombobulated at first but once everyone had a job it was just plain magical to watch. All 12 of us working together non-stop and it only took 3 hours almost to the minute. It couldn't have gone anymore perfect and everyone was pretty proud of what we accomplished. It was a perfect day, lots of fun and I even shed some tears as I thanked everyone for helping. One step closer to getting our house the way it used to be. This is going to be a good year as we see it come together not only for us but for the business, it's all part of the image we want to carry... quaint & country.


the stars must align- part 2

If you were to read back in the September posts of 2010 you would find my "the stars must align" post. Well today I am happy to report that a few more are falling into place.
-Boötes: Business Plan & correct licenses-
Boötes has just aligned as we are in the planning phases and getting bids for the garage/make room. We are getting everything in order to present to the banks. Scheduled for this week is the appraiser and we will see how that goes. This is make-it or break-it time.

Not only has Boötes lined up but so has...
-Mensa: Milk supply ready by spring-
After the Intermountain Dairy Sheep meeting Dale is very pumped and ready to get him operation going by mid April. He has already had others offer to buy his milk but he let them know that we are taking it all. We have also found a hormone free grass fed cow's milk dairy that is also in Mt. Pleasant. They are willing to sell us all their milk when we are ready. We made "what's her name" with it as well as our bleu and so far it is fantastic. The milk is very rich in beta carotene due to the fact that they are grass fed. Something we haven't seen in other local cheese- makers products.


bleu cheese- 68 days old

It has been a few weeks since I have updated our bleu cheese. He is doing well but I wasn't super happy with the looks of him so after watching how they prepare Stilton I decided to do some minor surgery on him... just to make him look a little prettier. Here he is before and what you can see is that the chunks are very firm around the edges so I shaved them down just a bit to soften the edges.

I then took my supplies and began salting him down with a little water and using the cheese brush to scrub and smooth out the edges even more.

Now that he is all scrubbed and salted Joel suggested I poke holes in the top & bottom to make sure there is proper air flow to the center. If you see bleu cheese with long veins running down it is due to this process and allows air to penetrate the middle. Anywhere there is air present bleu mold will grow.

He is now aging again in the basement and keeping the humidity level up is the biggest challenge since Utah is so dry but I tend to him every day. He will be ready for eating by the end of February. And yes, I did sample a small shaving and what I found so far is it is quite firm in texture but possibly more moist on the inside. The flavor is there and it does taste like bleu cheese but what was the most impressive was the numbing of my mouth the second it melted. I know a good bleu cheese makes your mouth numb but this was right at the onset so not sure how that will turn out... interesting stuff! Let me know if you'd like a sample.


2nd annual Intermountain Dairy Sheep Producers Association

Welcome to our 2nd annual meeting for dairy sheep producers! Last year there were 15 people who showed up from Utah, Idaho & Wyoming. This year we had about 27 so hopefully each year it will grow.
Dale Peel set up the meeting this year and it was held in Logan, Utah. Utah State University is located here and this is where Joel took his cheese course. The location was perfect and we are hoping to have it there more often. We all arrived on the Wednesday evening before the actual meeting and we were lucky enough to take a tour of the schools cheese-making facility. This is where Joel took the cheese course (highly recommended). These are the stainless steel canisters used to hold milk throughout the process. This is their fancy cheese pressing machine. We aren't quite to this point yet but maybe someday.
The following morning we had a breakfast and meet and greet. This is where we got to just talk with friends of the industry. I made 6 quiches for the breakfast and we got to have lamb sausage. It was a great meal. We then adjourned to the classroom and heard from several different specialists in the field of sheep, genetics & land pasture maintenance. So much valuable information. We broke for lunch where we had fresh lamb sandwiches and I made Roquefort blue cheese mac n cheese. We also had those who could bring in samples of their cheeses. It was so much fun trying all the different types of cheeses. Joel brought Whats Her Name and it was a hit and one of the cheese-makers who analyzes cheese and invents new cheeses wanted to take a sample of Whats Her Name. Not sure what he wants to do with it but they were all impressed with the color we are able to get even with a cows milk, very golden. In the end we really loved Logan. It is a quaint little city with a highly regarded college up in the mountains. Oh and we did get snowed in so we had to go right back to the hotel after a futile attempt of trying to leave and a trip home that normally takes 3 hours took alomst 6 and saw 25 accidents along the way. What a fun trip! Logan, Utah Temple