Springtime in Arkansas is beautiful. My children and I took advantage of a beautiful day and drove about an hour from Little Rock to Rose Bud to visit a raw milk cheese maker. For about two years I’ve been telling Ray (Sr.) at the Argenta Farmers Market I wanted to visit and see how the cheese is made.
|Raymond and Ray Daley saying “Cheese!”|
Currently the Daleys have their cows and dairy on leased land. Raymond (Jr.) is building another dairy on land he owns not far from their current operation and has hopes of moving everything soon. The farm, Honeysuckle Lane, got its name from the honeysuckles that grow on the lane that leads to their farm.
Ray Sr. lives about 20 minutes from the farm and drives to Rose Bud about one a week to help make cheese. Raymond Jr. lives close by, is a police officer at night, and milks the cows twice a day – he’s a busy man! In peak cheese season they make cheese twice a week. The milk not used to make cheese they sell to be pasteurized.
Once inside, we saw a huge vat of curds and whey…just like Little Miss Muffet’s. The paddle needed to stir a bit longer so we took a tour.
This is a picture of the full “horns” that are curing for 60 days.
This is one of the Daley Dairy babies. They raise Jersey cows, a breed that provides the most milk fat – which makes yummy cheese.
I also saw the milking parlor but didn’t take pictures.
Back inside it was time to drain the whey.
I asked how they knew when it was time to pull the plug and separate the whey, Raymond Jr. showed me. ”It’s when you can squeeze it and it sticks together like this.”
My 7.5 year old son got a real kick out of saying, “They’re cutting the cheese, Mom!”
After 15 or 20 minutes they flipped over the big blocks of cheese to let more whey drain and gravity to do its thing and push the curds together.
At this point we said goodbye because my toddler wasn’t nearly as interested in the process as I was. I could have stayed a LOT longer. As I understand it, the Daley men will stack the cheese cubes, then cut them into one-inch cubes using a press. Then the cheese goes into molds to make the horns (shown refrigerated, above).
Honeysuckle Lane cheese can be purchased from the Local Food Club, Little Rock Athletic Club, or at the Argenta Farmers Market (opening day THIS SATURDAY, April 14).
See also GreerAR by the Day’s blog post on her visit to the farm.