I documented the cheese making year of a goat farm.
My client wanted to tell the story of how they make their artisan cheese in visual form. Whilst they had some photos they had taken they now felt that they needed a more dedicated set of images.
My first encounter with their Kids involved a lot of nipping, particularly of the hair on the back of my neck when I crouched down to get level with these lively youngsters. Unfortunately at one point a Kid jumped on my back whilst I was crouched down and I was thrown headlong onto the floor of their pen. I am sure you can imagine what I was then covered in! When I got home, Lola thought I smelt very interesting.
Making award winning goats’ cheese is hard work. There are all the jobs that go with looking after the herd, including managing their breeding and of course milking them – essential for the cheese. But then comes the making process in a controlled clean and warm environment. Without automation it is a hard physical job.
And the cheese has to be mixed with any particular ingredients for the type of cheese that is being made. In this case some cheese included a local ale, some chilli, and so on. All this dairy’s cheese was semi-hard, like most cheddars from example, rather than the soft cheese that his most closely associated with goats. As well as being very tasty, this artisan cheese is a good option for those intolerant of cow’s milk.
Control of breeding is of course vital to control over the cheese-making process. The ‘girls’ are kept separate from the bucks until the right point and then the bucks are introduced to all the ‘girls’ at once. The bucks show their interest in part by sticking their tongue out, which looks quite bizarre.
Of course new Kids arrive in due course but not until after their mothers have had their scans and any vet issues dealt with. I didn’t realise that goats can control the time of delivery and they do not let themselves go into Labour at night time. Something that sheep farmers and indeed expectant humans should be very envious of!
The Kids of course grow up to join the herd or be moved on. And the milk that is gathered in the byre is, nearly every day, taken into the cheese-making area to create these award-winning cheese. I was full of admiration watching this process being done by hand in true artisan fashion.
Once the cheese has been created it is matured for the necessary time. During that time it may need regular ‘painting’ to help the process and create the rind. And once ready to be sealed and packed for market this gets underway.
Like all good local and artisan food producers, the owners are passionate about their product and proud of creating something that so many people value and love. Their friendly and committed personalities say as much about their cheese as the cheese does about them.
This kind of documentary commercial photography helps a food business tell its story to the public and the media, not just promote a product. It was great fun working with them.
I love working with food businesses so if you have a project in mind, just drop me a line.