The making of our award-winning cheeses starts with our pastures. Here in northern Michigan, we are blessed with abundant snow and rain and proximity to Lake Michigan, which combined with the richness of our soils and the sun’s energy, turns into chèvre.
Our goats graze about 200 acres of Leelanau Peninsula lush grasses, trees, leaves, brush and wildflowers. Ensuring that we feed the soil as well as our goats, our farmers manage these pastures to be as fertile as possible by adding our organic compost and probiotic whey (from our cheese making) and using rotational grazing practices. We attend the needs of the soil in many other ways including adding beneficial worms so that nature tills our farm. We thus mimic and harness nature’s complex processes. The results of these efforts can be found in the health of our goats, the flavor of their milk, and ultimately in the flavor of Leelanau terroir in the cheese— essentially, a “taste of the place.”
Unlike conventionally managed dairy animals raised primarily on grain diets for production, of most commercially available cheeses (and even some artisanal cheeses), Idyll Farms’ goats are pasture-fed. Pasture is the natural food for ruminants. From the diversity and bounty of nature, our goats instinctively choose to eat what their bodies need and crave, resulting in changing properties in their milk according to the season.
Our creamery team constantly adjusts our cheesemaking recipes according to diverse variables including fat and milk solids. This attention to nuance and finesse results in our truly outstanding artisanal cheeses.
Our goats are milked twice daily using a gentle ‘low-lying’ vacuum system. Each milking goat produces up to about a gallon of milk per day. The milk is pumped directly into a bulk tank room and vat pasteurizer just feet away from the milking parlor. The milk never sits in a pooled milk tank for a week, as at some other creameries; nor does a delivery truck slosh it like a butter churn. Idyll Farms milk is transformed into cheese daily using the freshest milk from the goats being milked in the next room!
Every day in our newly minted cheese make rooms, our expertly trained cheese makers use old world techniques and recipes to transform our fresh milk, using natural enzymes, bacteria , and cultures. Our cheeses are gently hand ladled into molds so as to not disturb the fat molecules, allowing them to coalesce into award-winning cheeses.
Our farmstead operation does not end here. To control the final part of the cheese making process, we flip, wash and care for each cheese in our state-of-the art cheese affinage caves, designed to maintain just the right temperature and humidity for each type of cheese we make. When each cheese achieves its peak aging, we carefully package it in specially designed papers to keep it at its best all the way to market.
Idyll Farms’ cheeses… bites of heaven from nature.
Goats in the spring pasture…