When Daniel Barber started farming here back in 1833, making cheese was the ideal way to use up surplus milk produced in spring and summer. Although a few things have changed since then, the start of spring still signals an increase in production - for the cows and for our cheesemakers! Lots of cows on our local farms have recently calved and this, combined with them feeding on lush new grass and longer days, means they produce more milk - an annual event known as 'the spring milk flush.'
Lots of fresh, West Country milk is great for our cheddar but it comes with its pressures too. The composition of milk changes, depending on what the cows are eating and how recently they gave birth. When the cows are inside for the winter, prior to calving, a diet of preserved grass means the milk changes very little. But now they have given birth and are feeding on fresh grass, as well as an increase in volume, the protein and fat levels and structures all change
'The milk flush can be a real challenge,' says Anthony Barber. 'As well as working longer days to make more cheese, we have to monitor the process very carefully. Because of the changes in the milk, we need to make adjustments to everything from the amount of starter culture we use to how long we mature the cheese for. Luckily we have a skilled team whose experience is essential in understanding the continual fine tuning required throughout the cheesemaking process, at this time of year, to ensure the highest quality and consistency. Hard work it may be but ultimately more milk means more cheese, which for fans of our authentic West Country Farmhouse Cheddar can only be good news.