Our story

Millie and Friday



The idea is born...

In 2012 we went to see Dave's daughter, Cara, in Europe.  While we were there we worked on a tiny dairy farm in the North of Italy.  I learned how to milk sheep and goats by hand while Dave did some building, scything and shearing (with old school clippers!).  We also took the animals out to pasture every morning and evening (just like Heidi).  The farm owners were very good with food and made their own raw milk cheese to a traditional recipe.  That started us thinking...

The Pilot...

When we got home we did a bit of research about milking sheep and the NZ dairy regulations while we tamed up our existing flock by feeding them sheep pellets.  Dave designed and built the Mark 1 milking platform and in the summer of 2013 we had a go at milking some of our Romney ewes.  I successfully used the milk to make feta, halloumi and ricotta.  We realised that the idea was workable so we bought some East Friesian rams and Poll Dorset ewes to get our milking flock started.   Some of the white sheep get sunburnt ears in the summer so we started experimenting with breeding from some black sheep to try and overcome this.  



pouring the concrete


The Present...

Today we have a flock of 50-60 milking sheep and I use their milk to make halloumi, feta and pecorino in spring and summertime.  

In the autumn and winter I run cheese-making workshops where I teach people how to make their own delicious cheese.  

You can read about our cheese workshops by clicking here and find out how to buy our cheese by clicking here.  

 

We are Dave Chapman and Kirsty Silvester.  We live in Woodville which is a small, rural town next to the Manawatu Gorge .  We have 18 acres of lush green grass with a few sheds and a collection of animals.  Dave has lived here since 1995 and has built the place up over that time.  He's always had a few animals in the paddock to keep the grass under control, sometimes calves or cows, always sheep and chickens, even a few ducks for a while.  Then I (Kirsty) joined him and introduced alpacas, cats and whatever else turned up!  One year Dave gave me a cheese making kit for my birthday and I started making cheese from local organic cows' milk in 2011.  I really enjoyed it so I went to a couple of courses to learn more.  Our friends and family liked eating the cheese I made and were usually keen for more!



 


Some of the girls

 

Happy Sheep


The Project...

Next Dave turned his building skills to the old stable building while I read the regulations about three times!  Bit by bit the stables were transformed into a cheese making room.  A new concrete floor went down and was covered with a smooth epoxy coating.  The doors and windows went in and the wall lining went up.  The milking shed also got an overhaul with a new floor and clean, white walls.  Our local engineers built us a shiny milking platform.  I finally conquered the paperwork pile and wrote our Risk Management Plan.  Now, the building is finished, the paperwork is ticked off and the 'real' work of making cheese has begun!  


In the milking shed