US Sheep Milk Economics

First, if you haven’t already signed up to get Janet Fletcher’s excellent weekly/bi-weekly newsletter on artisan cheeses, I highly recommend you do. Fletcher used to write the cheese column for the San Francisco Chronicle, and is now a freelance cheese writer, and author and co-author of many books on food, most recently Cheese and Beer published by Andrews McMeel.

In this week’s newsletter Fletcher researches the closing of an award winning sheep milk cheese business (Many Fold Farm) in Georgia. It’s a sobering look at the tough economics of sheep dairying in the US, and worth taking a look at.

Maintaining Herd Health on a Sheep Dairy Farm

MESAS (Maine Sustainable Ag Society) is sponsoring an event on Sheep Dairy Herd Health that is free and open to the public (NO pre-registration required) on

Saturday, August 17th from 2:00pm to 4:30pm at
Northern Exposure Farm
18 Country Lane, Dedham, ME

There will be a tour of their livestock and milking facility, as well as a discussion of the farm’s approach to biosecurity, disease management, and identifying healthy foundation stock.

For questions, contact Dick Brzozowski: richard.brzozowski@maine.edu or 207-781-6099

The Birth of Blue

The village of Roquefort, France is located on the southern tip of the high Massif Central plateau about 100 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, and it is built into the cliffs containing the caves that “invented” blue cheese. Natural air currents vent these caves (called “fleurines“) and carry the naturally occurring Penicillium roqueforti spores through them, as well as keep the caves at a constant temperature and humidity. As part of the AOC definition of “Roquefort” cheese, all cheeses with that name must spend at least two weeks in these caves. This means that 24 hours a day trailer trucks full of young cheese are brought to the caves while each cheese that has already been two weeks in the caves are loaded back onto the same trailers and taken away to cold storage for final aging. Below are some pictures of the village, as well as of an antique cheese piercing machine that looks more like a medieval torture device (which is apt because long ago the Catholic Church purged non-believers from this region through a reign of torture and terror).
Continue reading