I know, we always say that we never make cheese on a Friday. This is true except for sheep cheese. We are due five deliveries of sheep’s milk this year which arrive on a Thursday and we process the following day, on a Friday. This year, Simon, the owner of Sheep Milk UK or SMUK has bought a baby tanker that holds around 3,000 litres which can be towed by an ordinary car by Andrew who has an HGV licence, so is covered. It was so nice to see Andrew again! He is very well and was pleased to see us too.
It seems to us that making cheese on Fridays is just jinxed: first off, we had around 2,160 litres. We should know now by experience that our faithful little pasteuriser finds it hard to cope with much more than 2,000 litres of sheep’s milk because it is so fatty and dense and sure enough, it started to cough and splutter after 2,000 litres, going on divert four times which set us back and we lost a little, maybe 30 litres or so. Note to self: don’t agree to take more than 2,000 litres of sheep milk.
Making sheep cheese really is an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of make because it generally yields around 17%, which on 2,160
litres is 367 kgs to shovel. We process it in two vats, but nevertheless, it is an awful lot of curd and takes a long time to turn the blocks, cut and shovelling really is back breaking work when you have so much curd in the vat.
Stu put his back out the other day and I was very worried for him and as I wasn’t there for the best part of the day, we decided to ask for help. Andrew our part timer came in, despite the severe snow warnings as did Simon, one of our cheese class attendees, which was very good of him (thanks, Simon and hope you are recovered!)
I was up at Jervaulx Abbey, freezing my backside off filming making sheep cheese in the ruins. Well, that was the idea….John Craven was the presenter and all I can say is that it was -2 oC in my little corner and -6 oC outside my sheltered corner. I do not know yet whether it will end up on the cutting room floor, or if it will appear on tv. It is due to be aired on 3rd Feb 2013 and if our little bit hasn’t been cut, I apologise in advance for looking and sounding like a prat, but making sheep cheese in minus conditions is not easy and I had to abandon the milk in the crate system we use for the cheese make classes and try and make 2 litres in a mould which is not ideal.
I got back at around 4pm, in time to help cloth up, wash up and clean the dairy down. It was a hard day all round, but big thanks to Stu, Andrew and Simon for persevering and getting the first sheep make of the year done and dusted.