Well we are officially one week into the cheese business!
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! We are so overwhelmed by the love and support we have gotten this week! From close family and friends to acquaintances to complete strangers you guys are all making a huge impact on our lives and we are so very thankful. I thought I'd take some time tonight and share about how we got to this point and in a future post I will share a little bit about our plans for the future.
Justin and I have been milking cows together for almost five years now! (Where does time go!?) We love farming. Like, we live, breath and sleep farming. We love taking care of the land and animals. We love getting up early and getting our hands dirty. We love talking farm with each other, with our friends and with our family. Sometimes I honestly wonder what we would talk about or have in common if it wasn't for the farm?! When we put together our original business plan to start farming about six years ago, listed under the long term goals (10+ years) was to process our own milk and sell it directly to customers ourselves. Being completely honest, at the time we felt like it was such a huge dream. We were building up a farm and planning to start a family and we just kind of had it in the back of our minds that it was something that probably would never happen.
But as our farm and family grew, we couldn't help but feel like something was sort of incomplete. We have been missing that interaction with the consumer. We want to open up our doors and letting people enjoy the beauty that we get to day in and day out. We want to watch our hard work bring joy to others and see it nourish them and make their lives better. We want to teach others about farming and why it is so important for our future. Sharing our passion with others is what has been missing. But you know how farming goes- there's always a to-do-list a mile long and never enough money or time to invest in a huge project like this and your mind goes right back to the "that will probably never happen" mode.
Until something like this happens...
One year ago almost to the day, we were very close to being forced to sell the cows and move on with life without them. To make a long story short, our milk truck driver wanted to quit driving our milk route as he was short of help and not making money at it anymore. When he told our milk plant that he needed more money to keep driving for us and several other small farms in the area, they told him that they didn't need our milk so if he wouldn't keep doing the route for the same price then no one would be doing it. Our milk truck driver said he would keep doing it for another month or so but we needed to find a new milk plant. Justin immediately began calling all the other plants in our area but everyone was full and no one would take us. We were still feeling somewhat hopeful that something would work out until we got news that our milk plant sent letters to about 75 other farms in southern Wisconsin notifying them that they had 30 days to find a new milk buyer also. This sent shock and panic into the whole dairy industry. There were now a lot of farms looking for a new plant and no one was taking any of us in. We were scared. All the other farms were scared. Justin and I started to run the numbers on liquidating and prayed A LOT that something would work out. And luckily it did. Another farm not too far from here sold out and we were able to take their spot on a truck that was going right past our farm.
That close call was enough to make us really reevaluate the future and made us look at how we wanted to continue our path with dairy farming. So we had an idea and I got to work. Luckily I had some good connections in this industry as my dad was cheesemaker and we got some really great advice. I signed up for a few classes- probably too ambitiously since I had an 18 month old, a 2 month old, Justin :) and a farm to take care of and I may or may not have had to beg to take one of the classes at a later time when I just couldn't keep up... We took it day by day and as we approached each obstacle we somehow came up with a creative way to overcome it and kept moving forward. This whole project has gone nothing like I expected it would but yet here we are, less than 60 days away from seeing our customers enjoy OUR CHEESE!
Thank you again for all of your support and please reach out if you have any questions or comments!