We’ve had so many tremendous visits with cheesemakers that it would be unfair to play favorites and single anyone out in terms of providing a particularly good tour. And yet, it’s hard to get around the fact that not only did newly graduated master cheesemaker Tom Torkelson show us around his plant, canned milk loading dock and warehouse, he also got us access to two of the Amish farms that supply his milk. The result is one of the most engaging photo collections we’ve obtained since following Bruce Workman around at four in the morning.
Here’s Torkelson with a make procedure for cheese (I believe it’s the Cowbilly, but I don’t recall):
He tweaks the recipe often enough that he often just writes out new versions by hand.
And here he is standing in one of the cellars in his warehouse, cradling a wheel of mixed cow/goat washed-rind cheese called Cowbilly. These things have been flying off the shelf since its Best in Class win at the 2008 World Cheese Championship. It’s a mixed blessing, because the cheese is labor intensive — Torkelson handles each wheel about 50 times before it’s shipped to the customer.
A few of the cans that carry Torkelson’s milk:
The plant is located the heart of an Amish area, so it’s not unusual to see a buggy cruise past:
Here’s the milking parlor of one of the two Amish farms we visited:
And here’s one of the barn’s residents:
Over on the goat farm, we received a lot of curious attention. This goat tried to eat the sleeve of my sweater.
Finally, here’s Torkelson chatting with one of his milk producers:
This is just day-to-day life out in Cashton, WI. But for city folk such as Becca and myself, Torkelson’s farm and plant tour was a horizon-demolishing experience made all the nicer by perfect weather.