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Friday April 18, 2014
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Firesign Family Farm

 

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You can drive out and buy some of her raw milk cheese, $20 a pound, pretty much anytime. By appointment is best: though she's not averse to drop-ins, she may put you to work shoveling manure. When I came out, she was sitting on her kitchen counter stirring a pot of curds and whey. "Door's open," she shouted. "I can't leave the stove." She left me stirring the pot while she cut up a plate of sample slices.

Ehman uses raw milk from her two antibiotic- and hormone-free Jersey cows--she calls them "the ladies"--to make four kinds of hard cheese: gouda, Swiss, cheddar, and Manchego. Asked if she requires a minimum purchase, she looks skyward for a minute and says, "Well, if someone wants to drive all the way out here for five dollars' worth of cheese, I guess that's fine with me." And then she adds a short aside: "Everything I sell meets the legal standard for raw milk products. I only sell hard cheese aged for sixty days." There are legal ways to get your hands on the younger soft cheeses she makes too, but it's more complicated than a cash transaction.

Her farm is the only place you can buy her cheese. She doesn't sell it to stores or restaurants: "I've been asked, but they want to buy it at a deep discount. I understand they have their own profit margins, but I don't really feel like making twice as much so I can sell it for half price."

To bring in a little cash during the slow winter months, Ehman also teaches cheese-making classes. With spring here, though, she probably won't be teaching again until after the fall frost.

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