Tuesday, 9 July 2019

WI Visit

Bit of a different WI meeting for Big WI this month. We all met up along the A140 at   Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses.

Picture from their website

Farmhouse Cheese
Photos from their website

Jason and Katherine started their business making cheese with milk from their Pedigree Guernsey  cows in 2004 but it was 2009 before they were able to buy this farm and have everything in one place.

We had a look round the farm. Saw the cows and the robotic milking machine - installed in 2017 and Jason told us  about the care of their milking herd, their feeding regime, health checking (Katherine is a vet- handy!) and how the computer chips on collars around their neck works just like a fit-bit relaying information to his phone day and night. (Not a new concept for me because at the smallholding we lived just a mile from one of the first farms in Suffolk to install a robotic milking parlour, although they retired and sold up before we moved away). By using a robot machine the cows can wander out to the fields, in and out of the barn and then through the milking parlour whenever they like day and night.The machine recognises each cow and automatically washes the teats and fits the vacuum pump. If the cow has decided to go through the robot machine too soon after it's last milking then the gates open again, the cow gets no feed and soon wanders off........clever stuff.

They also keep a Hereford bull. Jason uses Artificial Insemination for the Dairy herd to get pure bred cows - the females are added to the herd and the males kept for veal. But if A.I. doesn't work on some cows he lets them run with the bull to produce a cross breed calf which can be grown on and sold as beef.
Their first cheese they produced was called Suffolk Gold, quickly followed by Suffolk Blue. Then they started making a Suffolk Brie and just in the last few weeks now also a Suffolk Blue Brie.
As well as the cows he also keeps a few pigs, which are fed partly on the whey left from the cheesemaking and they send them off to a local butcher who makes sausages of all sorts  plus gammon and bacon.
The couple have a farm shop which is open through the week to sell their cheese, pork products, veal and beef but they also have a self-service vending machine to sell their fresh pasteurized milk. So you can go almost any time to buy milk and eggs.
Jason was very excited to tell us that they are in the process of importing butter and cream making machines from Eastern Europe so that very soon they will be adding fresh Guernsey Butter and Cream to the farm shop. They will be one of only 2 farms in East Suffolk making their own butter to sell and he said the other farm's butter is Very Expensive.

After looking round we all crowded into the shop for a cheese tasting. I've had their cheese several times before and Son and DiL had cheeses from them for their wedding and they are all delicious. I couldn't pick a favourite when he asked us to vote.

We then had a chance to look in the freezers and chillers to buy some produce but of course they are the price we should be paying for our food rather than the knock down prices supermarkets are able to negotiate with farmers, so seem expensive. I bought a chunk of Suffolk Blue which I'll enjoy.
Back Tomorrow


  1. What an amazing visit - I wounder how far away they are from here (Southwold). Must look it up!

  2. I wonder if the price people pay for their food in
    France, mentioned on their blogs, is also what we should all really be paying.

  3. What an interesting visit that must have been. Amazed by the cows wandering in at will to be milked. As you know, we live next to a (big) dairy farm and it's still pretty old-fashioned - cows brought in at 4.30 and 2.30 for milking, then turned out again. Udders washed by hand etc.

    Enjoy your cheese - as you say, there is a premium for proper cheese but you will enjoy it more I'm sure, knowing the background and care for the livestock is so sound.

  4. I really learnt a lot from your WI outing.

    Hazel c uk

  5. Cheeses and ice creams seem to be the way forward with dairy farmers now.

  6. How interesting was that!! Its amazing what goes on behind-the-scenes that we know nothing about. We have a farm near us in Kent that sells raw milk, eggs, etc in a revolving machine and they supply the bottles for the milk so that you can fill your own. I was going to start buying the milk until I found out it was whole milk and I dont drink whole milk and plus it doesnt freeze - I always keep a stock of milk in my freezer.

    1. Doesn't freeze ?....I milked our 2 cows for 6 years and milk went straight to the freezer, yes it separates into milk and cream but you just give it good shake in the bottle .

  7. Sounds like a wonderful visit. I am very intrigued with the robotic milking machine. I wonder if any of our dairy farmers use such as I would love to see it.

    Enjoy your cheese.

    God bless.

  8. I adore cheese and love farm shopsso that trip would be right up my alley Sue.

  9. What a fun and fascinating visit.

  10. A farm near us does robotic milking and they find the cows are much happier and yield well at going in far more times than the usual twice a day. They are also a tourist venue and the DP and I may well visit soon. Interesting post. Like the sound of the cheeses.

  11. I like your writing about this farm. That would be great to see. Local food is great as it's fresh and delicious! Years ago when I was young we got ice cream, milk and eggs from a farm half an hour from us. Yum! Have a blessed week!

  12. What an interesting visit, Sue. I've heard of robotic milking before, but am amazed the cows know what to do, or more to the point when to go. I love farm shops and there are quite a few down here. One actually has their own trawler to sell the fish in the shop. They also do fantastic fish and chips in the cafe apparently.

  13. My grandparents had a dairy farm till he died in 1962. I have memories of the barn being filled with purebred Holsteins and all the kids learned how to milk cows. They sold most of their milk to a dairy co-op and the remainder to a local cheese factory where one of my uncles worked. They made cheddar and colby cheese. There is a unique smell to a cheese factory like that.
    It is so neat that you got to go and see how the cheese comes to be. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I never realised there was so much to keeping a cow! Sounds very interesting visit - enjoy the cheese.

  15. Your visit sounds so interesting and informative! I've heard of the automatic milking but not where the cows wore a device and took themselves in and out to be milked - brilliant! It sounds like that couple have quite a good little business going and I bet the cheese is delicious.

  16. Great post, Sue. So interesting to see how the couple has invested in new ideas to make such high quality products. When you taste food made with such care, you realize what we sacrifice by buying the generic stuff (all types of food--from cheese to vegetables to meat) found in most supermarkets. Would that we had purses that could afford those peerless food products on a regular basis.

  17. Very interesting post. Thank you