We would like to know more about all the "followers" of our blog. So, we're always happy to do an interview when we get the chance. Many thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer our questions. This is the second of what we hope will be a long series.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I live on a 5 acre farm outside of a town named Beecher, Illinois. It's quite a beautiful place. The big White farm house was built in 1866. I have two lovely teen age daughters, one of whom is graduating from high school this year (where did all that time go, sigh). I also have another young lady who I consider my daughter who is in college that lives with us.
The rest of the family looks like this: One black Lab named Rex, three cats named Chubs, Frankenstein and King Kong, two retired race horses named Toy and Uncle Merf (you can see Uncle Merf race on youtube if you search his name), one goat named Mallory, three old laying hens and twenty eight chicks who are about a month away from laying and one cockatiel named Taco that I found at a Taco Bell drive up. I run a small industrial laundry in Chicago. I am also a home beer and wine maker.
You have a goat?
Yes, that is Mal the goat. She is a complete flying nut job! The first goat I had came with my horses. That goat was really mellow and cool but ended up with a hip problem and I had to put her down.
Mal and I really did not start off too well. She is completely full of mischief and kept escaping. She ate all of my pine trees, would run next door and pester the neighbors (their kids love her though), and chase strangers down the road. I've since put an extra electric wire on my fence and she can't escape anymore.
She really does love to play though. She runs and flips in the air when there are people around. we also take her for hikes without a leash and she does really good with that. She's a sweet goat but full of energy.
Mal is a Nanny but I don't have a buck so it's hard to keep her pregnant so we have not milked her.
What made you decide to make cheese?
I love cheese! In summers passed my daughters and I would take wandering vacations through Wisconsin. We would drive on whatever road we felt like with no real destination. We would stop at every brewery and cheese factory that we saw for a tour. Needless to say we had a blast!
One of my favorite destinations is Monroe, Wisconsin in Green county. There is a heavy Swiss influence there and many cheese factories. My favorite is Roth Kase cheese company. Plus, I eat a lot of cheese!
I've been a home brewer for twenty seven years and have always dreamed of brewing beer commercially. I have a new dream now which includes a Belgian style Farmhouse brewery/Cheese factory. For right now it's just a dream but I am serious about going further with it.
I am of Dutch decent and remember when I was little my Mom and Dad would get this wonderful Dutch caraway cheese that in those days, was only available from Holland. I recently did a search and found a cheese factory in Thorp, Wisconsin named Holland's Family Cheese that makes the Dutch cheeses here. That really inspired me and I thought, "Hey, I live on a farm, maybe I can use this place for more than I am now".
What was the first cheese you tried?
My first cheese was a mozzarella. I could not believe how easy that was! My second cheese was ricotta. I used both the mozzarella and ricotta to make lasagna for my girlfriend's birthday. It was amazing!
Any tips for others starting out?
Don't fear the cheese! If you follow directions it is really very simple!