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Say “Cheese!”

Ok everyone, this is it! After months of milking, cheese-making, testing, trying, revising recipes and figuring this all out…….we have our first cheese ready! It is a soft-ripened sheep milk cheese. To me, it seems like a mix of cream cheese and feta. We have plain (which we love with preserves or hot pepper jelly) or we have some rolled in garlic/herb spices. They are $10/round (which is 1/2 pound of cheese.) Give us a call here at the farm and we will have them reserved for you, and we will also be bringing some into the Keller Market in Lancaster. (Or we will deliver it to you! We want to get the word out!) We have some hard cheeses aging in the cheese cave, and they will be ready later this summer. All of our cheeses are named after our girls. So this first one is made on Tuesdays and named after Emma, so it is Tuemma. Call today to try it! 740-536-7853

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Ch~Ch~Ch~Changes~~~~

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Sooooo…….there is so much going on at the farm.  I know I need to update our site more often, but just the busy days of life (and my bed calling me each night!) keep me from getting on here more often!

Our first news is that we will not have black raspberries this summer.  We had our plants in for 9 years, and each year we would lose some to weather, disease, or pests.  The big thing we noticed was a lot of orange rust in the plants, which is common in black raspberry plants.  Our crop had decreased enough that John decide to take the plants out last fall.    We will replant this spring, but this first summer we won’t have a big crop to harvest.  The summer of 2018 we should be open again for our U-Pick Black Raspberries.  Now that we know a little more about raising berries, when we replant we will make the rows longer and the space between them wider so we can get our equipment through the rows easier.  No more push mowing the rows for me!  On an acre of berries!

This is a picture from the summer of the berry plants.

 

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This is a picture now of the empty field. 🙁IMG_3096berries

The other BIG change is that we have added a creamery onto our barn.  What?  Yikes!  I know, right?!  We have had Polypay sheep on our farm from the start, which are meat sheep.  Last fall John took a trip to Wisconsin and brought back some dairy sheep, East Friesians.  They are now pregnant, and once they lamb, we will start milking them….and make yogurt….and cheese…yes a big undertaking, but anyone that knows my farmer John knows that he doesn’t rush into things lightly and without doing his research and homework.  The funny thing that so many people say to us when we say we will be milking our sheep is, “Oh, so you’ll make goat cheese.”  No, we will make sheep milk cheese.  Sheep milk has a very high percent of fat in it, and it makes lovely, creamy, great-tasting cheese.

Here is a little tour of the creamery so far.  We still have some equipment to get hooked up and a pasteurizer that needs to come in, but you can get somewhat of an idea of our set-up.  198343_480454471971191_591052943_n

 

 

This is a picture of our barn before the creamery was added.

 

 

 

This is the barn after the creamery was added.   It doesn’t look that different.  Where the overhang used to be is now enclosed with rooms.  The cooler that you see in the very back of the “before” picture is now moved to right inside the door we walk in.

IMG_3149back doorAs soon as you open the door, there is a hallway that runs the whole length of the barn.  On the right, you can see the cooler doors where the cheese will be aged.

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This is the cheese making room, the next room past the cooler.   There will be stainless tables and shelves added in addition to a pasteurizer.  The door in the corner is a back door to the milk holding tank.

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This is the next room past the cheese making room.  The big tank is where the milk will go once the sheep are milked.

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The next picture is at the end of the hallway and on the left, across from the room where the milk tank is.  This is the milking room.  The sheep will come up a ramp and go to a spot to be milked.  There is a trough so they will feed while they are being milked.  People have told us that after a few times the sheep will know where to go and will go to the same spot to be milked each time.

IMG_3155milkingroomThis is the ramp from the barn that the sheep will come up, (there will be a solid piece on the middle) and they will go in the door into the milking room.  If you look closely in the milking room picture, there are two doors.  They will come in one door and out the other.

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John has the Polypay and East Friesian sheep in separate areas in the barn. To me they are hard to tell apart.  John says you can tell by looking at their bodies, so I will take his word for it!

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This is a Polypay.                                                                                                                         

 

 

 

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This is a Friesian.

 

 

 

 

And then, if you didn’t visit the farm this summer, you may not know about our other news.  We have a new llama, Jack Sparrow.  But the llama had a buddy that had to come along….so we got an alpaca named Dusty.  He is the most handsome one on the farm.

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Whew….that is enough news for now!  We will have lots to share with you once we start milking and cheese making and figuring this whole process out!

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Closed for the season

imageWe are now closed for the season🙁 There are not enough ripe berries to open again.  Thanks to all who came out!  It is so fun each year to catch up with our “regulars” and to meet new customers!

 

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A Great, Cool Day!

Thanks to all who came out to pick berries today! We had a great day with great, cool weather for picking! We will close for a few days and will update when more berries ripen up so we can open again!

 

**This is one of my favorite farm pictures. We grew sugar baby watermelons, and the vines made a beautiful, imprinted pattern on the rind of this watermelon.**

 

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Berries on Saturday!

We will open again for our U-pick Black Raspberries on:
~~~~~~~~Saturday, July 2, 2016 7:30 a.m.~~~~~~~~~~

Until then, I will be putting caution tape and cones up in the field where sweet Lily found this little guy! And she asked to bring him home! I would have hugged her, but….well, you know….she was holding a SNAKE!

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Next open day: Wednesday, June 28

We will open again for our U-Pick Black Raspberries on:
**Wednesday, June 28 at 7:30 a.m.**

We had a great, steady day today! Thanks to everyone who came out to pick! It was fun to see our “regulars” and fun to meet some new customers! Have a great Tuesday, and we’ll see you Wednesday!

The following pictures are Ava at 4 years old and Ava now at 10 years old…not much has changed when she picks berries!

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Open Monday, June 27, 7:30 a.m.

We will open Monday, June 27, for our U-Pick Black Raspberries at 7:30 a.m. We will stay open until we get picked out so call before coming to see if our phone message says we are running low on availability. Hope to see you on the farm!

 

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My hand after a morning of picking black raspberries!
My hand after a morning of picking black raspberries!

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A Great Opening Day! See You Next Week!

 

 

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We are now closed for the day (2:30 p.m. Friday, June 24)  We are pretty well picked out! Thanks to all who came out this morning. The plan is to open again Monday, but check here or call to be sure…no matter how much I talk to the berries, they do things on their own time and in their own way! Happy Weekend!

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We will open Friday, June 24, 2016 7:30 a.m.

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This Friday, June 24th, we will open for our U-Pick Black Raspberries!  No worries if you can’t make it, we will have more days over the next few weeks that we are open.  Here is a reminder of how the berry season works:

**I will update our sites (Facebook and Ruffwingfarms.com) and our phone message with any updated information.   (740-536-7853) We have a lot of people call each day to hear the updated message of when our berry picking days will be.  I will say the day and date on the message so you know that the update is current.

**When we are open, we usually have a large number of customers come in the morning to pick, since it is cooler.  If we have a large number of people come, our field may get “picked out” (all the ripe berries get picked!) and so we will close. As soon as we make the decision to close, I will update our phone message.  So we always tell people to call before coming out.

**We have to give 2 or 3 days for more berries to ripen before we open again, so keep checking when our next open day will be.

**We have waxed boxes for you to pick berries in, which are yours to take.

**We have an acre of black raspberries.  They are trellised up on wire for easy picking.  We keep the rows between the berries mowed, too.  When people ask what they should wear, I tell them they can wear shorts and flip-flops if they want.  The berry plants are thorny, so your arms and fingers may get poked, but it’s not too bad.  There isn’t any shade in the field, but you can come to the barn and get out of the sun.

**We have a sink in the barn to wash your hands and splash cold water on your face.

**Our black raspberry season lasts between 2 and 3 weeks.

**Our prices are: $4.00/lb for U-pick….I no longer take orders for pre-picked  🙁

 

We hope to see you on the farm!